The bi-national St. Lawrence Seaway, which links the Atlantic Ocean to the industrial heartland of North America, showed considerable resiliency in facing the pandemic challenges of 2020 and 2021. And in 2022, the waterway is continuing to demonstrate its effectiveness and appeal as a strategic marine transportation corridor amidst the world economic uncertainties ushered in by the Russian invasion of Ukraine last February.
Such is the central message expounded by Seaway officials and the just-released annual corporate report of Canada’s St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation (SLSMC) on its 25th year of commercialization. The continental waterway’s prime vocation is succinctly summed up in the report’s title: A green corridor leading to economic growth and opportunity.
“This season the Seaway has continued to play a key role month after month as a reliable export corridor for farmers and businesses during these uncertain times,” stressed Jean Aubry-Morin, SLSMC vice-president of external affairs.
Following the traditional winter closure for maintenance, the waterway entered the fourth month of its navigation season in July.
Pointing to a major highlight of the period to end-June, Aubry-Morin indicated that potash shipments nearly tripled to 376,000 metric tons.
“A vital ingredient in fertilizer, the potash was destined for Europe, South America and North Africa, helping to alleviate global shortages caused by the Russian/Ukraine war,” he told AJOT.
Overall cargo tonnage shipments from March 22 to June 30 via the St. Lawrence Seaway totaled 11.9 million tons. While down 8.3% compared to 2021, the trend was significantly closing the gap in comparison to April, when tonnage was down 18% following the start to the season.
Approaching mid-season, Aubry-Morin noted there have been strong movements of U.S. grain, potash, coke and some liquid bulk products. Ontario grain has also shown strength, offsetting some of the decline in grain from western Canada due to last year’s smaller crop.
“These are all indicators that nourish our hope of finishing the 2022 season a little above last year,” he stated.
Seaway traffic reached 38.2 million tons in 2021, 0.4 million tonnes (1.1%) above 2020 results. In a year that tested supply chains around the world, the corporate report commented that “the Seaway remained a beacon of unwavering reliability. Seaway users could depend on the System to deliver their goods, allowing them to maintain operations in an environment of strong demand.
“Several Seaway staples bounced back after being negatively impacted during the COVID-19 pandemic, including general cargo shipments, which improved by an imposing 73% over 2020, as North-American manufacturers once again turned to the Seaway to ensure timely and reliable delivery of critical steel and slab imports.
“Also, the lifting of COVID-19 containment measures allowed liquid bulk cargoes to gain back a portion of the ground lost during the pandemic.
“The category closed the year with a 5% increase. Beyond being a dependable supply chain for their core business, Seaway users count on the System’s adaptability to take advantage of opportunities offered by international…
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