Burns Harbor port tonnage down slightly from '12, but bright spots remain

2013-06-13T14:15:00Z 2013-06-13T23:13:12Z Burns Harbor port tonnage down slightly from '12, but bright spots remainTimes Staff nwitimes.com
June 13, 2013 2:15 pm  • 

WASHINGTON, D.C. | The St. Lawrence Seaway reported that year-to-date total cargo shipments for the period March 22 to May 31 were 8.1 million metric tons, down 12 percent over the same period in 2012.

By contrast, through May, the Port of Indiana handled more project cargo than the same 2012 period. The Burns Harbor port also saw significant increases in shipments of fertilizer, up 37 percent, soybeans, up 15 percent, and various dry bulk cargoes, including slag shipments, which were up nearly five times more than the previous year’s five-month total.

“Our tonnage is down slightly from last year’s fast start, but we are 15 percent ahead of our previous five-year average,” said Rick Heimann, port director for the Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor.

“We have seen significant increases in bulk commodities and project cargoes, and had the added bonus of being able to handle the world’s largest crawler crane for the second time in two years as it was shipped back to Germany from the BP Refinery Expansion in Whiting. Looking ahead, we expect to see an increase in barge traffic coming up through the inland water system in June, but the outlook for Seaway shipments is more uncertain at this point.”

Craig Middlebrook, St. Lawrence Seaway acting administrator, said, “We continue to feel encouraged about the 2013 navigation season. The significant public and private reinvestments currently being made in the North American economy and the Great Lakes region are laying the groundwork for sustained future growth.”

“U.S. grain tonnage shipped through Seaway locks more than doubled  compared to last year’s figures through May 31, and there was a solid increase (7 percent) in liquid bulk products totaling almost a million metric tons," said Rebecca Spruill, director of the St. Lawrence Seaway Development Corp.'s Office of Trade Development. "These two commodities are the bright spots in the navigation season so far.”

Iron ore and coal, traditionally top producers for Seaway shipments, showed downturns of 17 percent and 7 percent, respectively. Coal shipments in the Great Lakes have been dropping due to electric utility plants converting to natural gas operations. However, U.S. ports have seen an increase of exports of low sulfur coal to Europe. Scrap metal and pig iron posted upturns of 69 percent and 16 percent respectively.

General cargo was down 19 percent to 389,000 metric tons. In the liquid bulk category, petroleum products showed a 24 percent year-to-date increase to 642,000 metric tons. The dry bulk category was down 27 percent to 1.7 million metric tons.

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