Bumper crop for St. Lawrence Seaway closes out 2013

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St. Lawrence Seaway

CORNWALL, Ontario - For the second consecutive year, a surge in grain movements led to a strong finish for the St. Lawrence Seaway.

The seaway closed for the season Jan. 1 and a relatively late harvest in the prairies led to a delay in the movement of grain.

But once the grain began to move, the seaway played a key role in enabling farmers to move their crops to market, contributing to a surge in shipping during December. Despite the cold snap enveloping much of North America, a total of 4.4 million tonnes of cargo moved through the seaway last month, exceeding December 2012 volume by 130,000 tonnes, and eclipsing the five-year average for that month by some 20 per cent.

"The record-breaking crop proved to be both a bounty for farmers and a logistical challenge for the grain handling industry,” said Terence Bowles, president and CEO of the seaway. "Once again, marine carriers moving grain through the seaway proved to be an invaluable part of the transportation network, enabling farmers to reach markets that they may otherwise not have been able to profit from."

Seaway tonnage for the 2013 navigation season, which began on March 22, amounted to 37 million tonnes, some 5.3 per cent lower than the volumes experienced in 2012. Despite the late season surge in grain, overall grain tonnage was down 3.2 per cent in 2013 as much of the record crop was quite late.  However, the high volumes of grain currently going into storage and the pent up demand for grain movements bodes well for the start of the Seaway’s 2014 navigation season.

The bright spot in the seaway’s cargo mix was a 12 per cent increase in liquid bulk, as double hulled tankers moved volumes of petroleum distillates between distribution locations to smooth out inventory levels and ensure adequate supplies in key markets.

Organizations: North American

Geographic location: St. Lawrence Seaway, Ontario, North America Great Lakes

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