Marine Delivers Magazine 2021

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This striking photo of a project cargo carrier entering the Port of Duluth-Superior was taken by local photographer Robert Welton.



7 FROM THE PUBLISHER What will we leave in our wake post-pandemic? 8 Message by U.S. Congress Representative Jackie Walorski (R-IN) 2021 SPECIAL EDITION

9 Column by Vance Badawey, MP, and Canadian Senator Diane Griffin 10 POLICY Investing in a Smart Post-Pandemic Recovery

20 IN CONVERSATION Robert Bellisle, President and CEO, QSL 23 POLICY Canada-U.S. cooperation needed for ballast water rules 24 ECONOMIC GROWTH Seaway grain trade bolsters pandemic- struck economies 26 TRADE WINDS Wind powers robust project cargo shipping

12 ENVIRONMENT Ship operators step up carbon busting efforts


14 The quantum leap challenge of decarbonization

29 SPOTLIGHT Port Milwaukee builds future growth through diversification and coastal resiliency

16 PORT INITIATIVES New technology to clean air at Canadian ports

32 ECONOMIC OUTLOOK BMO Capital Markets’ forecast for the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Region

17 Community relations now a part of Green Marine framework


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18 PortsToronto expands Seabins program to scoop up plastic 5




What will we leave in our wake – post-pandemic?



s we kick off the 2021 shipping season, we are feeling optimistic about the prospects ahead to leave what can only be described as a “hell of a year” in the rear-view mirror. No, the pandemic is not over. But with every arrival of another batch of vaccines – the potential for better times draws closer. As we move forward, the question becomes: Will we be satisfied with returning to the status quo, pre-pandemic, or will we seize the opportunity to make “build back better” more than just a political mantra? In this edition of Marine Delivers Magazine, we demonstrate how the marine sector offers government officials infinite possibilities to partner with industry to build a more innovative, safe, efficient and environmentally smart future.

Many political leaders already recognize, for example, that our binational, 3,700-kilometre Great LakesSt. Lawrence waterway – that stretches into the heart of North America – is a unique asset that sets us apart from every other region of the world. Both U.S. Congress representative Jackie Walorski in her message on page 8, and Canadian MP Vance Badawey and Senator Diane Griffin, in their column on page 9, emphasize that this waterway is an economic engine that facilitates both internal, domestic movement of goods and is a gateway for countless businesses and communities to reach markets around the world. They also reinforce that Canadian-U.S. political partnership and cooperation will be essential to both leverage the economic recovery opportunities ahead and tackle challenges such as environmental health and aging infrastructure. We couldn’t agree more. Our article on page 10 outlines the Chamber’s top proposals for how Canadian and American federal governments can collaborate with the marine sector on shoreline resiliency, infrastructure renewal and decarbonization to achieve our mutual goals of sustainable, trade growth and job creation. And on page 23, I’ve outlined how the recently announced U.S.Canada Partnership Roadmap offers the opportunity for both governments to come together on key marine policy issues, developing aligned ballast water management rules for the Great LakesSt. Lawrence that treats both of their domestic fleets in a similar fashion, with a timeline that is fair, achievable and equal. Ballast water policy may seem “too much in the operational weeds” for the average politician to understand, but it’s exactly these kind of rules, if done incorrectly, that can

lead to our customers switching to less environmentally-friendly modes like trucks or shipping their goods through another trade corridor altogether.

We Are Not Slowing Down As you read this edition of Marine Delivers, I think you will agree that our Chamber members have no intention of returning to the status quo. In our exclusive interview on page 20, QSL President and CEO Robert Bellisle shares how their brilliant employees crushed the challenges of this pandemic by instilling new practices and digital technologies that will carry them forward to an even brighter and more productive future. Despite the economic downturn and declines in key cargo segments, our Canadian ship operators are pulling their weight and stepping up their carbonbusting efforts with new biofuel ship trials and more ship renewal in 2021 (see page 12), and our ports are striving to improve community relations (page 17) and investing in innovative cleanup solutions (page 18). Throughout the pandemic, we have never stopped moving. Marine shipping continued, without interruption, EVERY, SINGLE, DAY. This efficient, smart mode of transportation was a deal maker for North American farmers, which shipped 27% more grain via the St. Lawrence Seaway in 2020 (see page 24) and for wind energy suppliers that doubled their component shipments through the waterway for wind farm installations all over Canada and the United States (see page 26). Knowing our members, I’m confident that when this pandemic is over they will still be doing everything possible to be even faster, smarter and greener. We invite you to join us on our ride to recovery and beyond. n





he states that make up the Great Lakes region – including my home state of Indiana – have shown that through collaboration and innovative thinking, we can be good stewards of both the environment and the economy. The Great Lakes are among our most precious natural resources and represent a key driver of economic growth. Protecting them for future generations is vital to communities in northern Indiana and across the region. Bipartisan and international cooperation are hallmarks of efforts to keep the lakes clean, modernize and maintain water infrastructure, and strengthen the Great Lakes economy. As a member of the bipartisan Great Lakes Task Force, I’ve supported key conservation and infrastructure investments, such as the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) and projects managed by the Army Corps of Engineers. These successful efforts have helped improve the Great Lakes and address environmental threats such as pollution, erosion, loss of native habitat, destructive algae blooms, and invasive species like Asian carp, sea lamprey, and zebra mussels. Addressing these challenges includes maintaining and improving aging 8

infrastructure and responding to dynamic environmental conditions through flexibility and innovation. I recently joined my Great Lakes Task Force colleagues in urging the Army Corps of Engineers to prioritize funding for projects vital to the Great Lakes region in its Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 Work Plan. For instance, we called for improving our water transportation infrastructure by fully funding the new Soo Locks, which are essential to our nation’s economy and national defense. The Soo Locks and other projects will repair and upgrade essential infrastructure, protect our natural resources, and ensure safe and efficient access to recreational areas and transportation corridors for the surrounding communities, including my district in northern Indiana. Maintaining the health of the Great Lakes ecosystem and modernizing our water infrastructure are not only environmental issues. These are key economic priorities, too. The Great Lakes support tens of thousands of jobs in a variety of industries, from outdoor recreation and manufacturing to steel production and agriculture. Americans have long enjoyed the lakes and shorelines for outdoor recreation, including fishing, boating, camping, and hiking. These activities drive our nation’s $778 billion outdoor recreation

industry, which has an outsize impact on my district as home to numerous boat, RV, and trailer manufacturers and their suppliers. That’s why I was grateful to work with my fellow Hoosiers in Congress to pass a law in 2019 making the Indiana Dunes our state’s first national park. Now this treasured site, which hugs the southern shore of Lake Michigan about 20 miles northwest of my district, will draw even more visitors from across the country, enhancing Americans’ appreciation for the Great Lakes. Countless American businesses and farmers also depend on the Great Lakes for the efficient transportation of goods. According to the Great Lakes Seaway Partnership, shipping on the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway System in 2017 supported $35 billion in economic activity and more than 230,000 American and Canadian jobs. Because they play an essential role in commercial shipping, the Great Lakes are key to the trade relationship between the United States and Canada – especially now that the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) is in effect. This modernized trade agreement, combined with efforts to improve navigation infrastructure and keep the Seaway open when Lake water levels fluctuate, will only strengthen an already robust trading partnership and enable American producers to access new export markets. As we work to recover from the coronavirus crisis and rebuild our economy, the Great Lakes will no doubt play a central role in creating opportunities for growth and job creation. My fellow Hoosiers and our neighbors across the Great Lakes region know firsthand how important the lakes are to our past, present, and future. From maintaining the ecological health of the Great Lakes to strengthening our aging infrastructure, I am committed to continuing bipartisan efforts to ensure this natural treasure remains a vital part of American life for generations to come. n



ost Canadians view the Great Lakes as a playground: a place to cottage, fish, and to connect with nature. But they are also home to 3,500 unique plant and animal species and 30% of Canada’s population; a source of drinking water for millions; a source of sustenance and social influence for countless communities and Indigenous peoples, and they comprise 20% of Earth’s fresh surface water. The Great Lakes are an economic engine that churn out 240,000 jobs, $45 billion in economic activity, and $13 billion in recreation and resource interests. They facilitate the movement of $20 billion worth of goods annually, and they are a gateway to world markets. In recognition of the Great Lakes’ importance, the Canada–United States Inter-Parliamentary Group recently formed a new all-party, bicameral Great Lakes–St. Lawrence sub-group. This sub-group will informally link with US Members of Congress, including those on the US-based Great Lakes Task Force, to ensure constant and meaningful attention on all matters relating to the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence. Given the unparalleled economic, social, and environmental importance of the Great Lakes, the need for Canada– US collaboration may seem obvious. It may even seem unnecessary to have a dedicated body with a specific mandate to establish and maintain

working relationships across the border. History tells us not to take this important relationship for granted. Advancing solutions that benefit one’s neighbour is hardly intuitive. In fact, divided governance has long been a vexing part of the Canada–US relationship. The eight Great Lakes states and Ontario are, by virtue of their geography, routinely required to collaborate on environmental issues and fisheries management, but the struggle between national and binational interests has long challenged legislators. For example, almost 70 years ago, Louis St-Laurent’s Minister of Fisheries, Hon. James Sinclair (a BC resident), recognized the innate national value of the Great Lakes, but also recognized that this binational resource could not be sustained without thinking and acting beyond national boundaries. He knew that a failure to consider and advance US interests would almost certainly spell disaster for our own. Sinclair once noted, “When Great Lakes conservation became an international matter it was obvious that the province of Ontario could not do anything about the decline in lake trout unless action was taken by the United States. These words represent thinking that characterized the St-Laurent Government and allowed them to advance Canada’s interests by punching above our national weight when Canada was a newcomer to the global diplomatic stage.

As a former Minister of State for External Affairs himself, St-Laurent knew that when Canada played well with our allies, progress was easier and longer lasting than when we acted unilaterally. He and his ministers understood that Canada needed to resist the urge to turn inward for solutions to certain challenges because, as a middle-power, Canada was simply unable to accomplish large-scale, transboundary objectives in isolation. This kind of multinational thinking was and continues to be prudent, especially when it relates to files such as the Great Lakes fisheries and international shipping, both of which were the subject of bilateral treaties by the St-Laurent government. Today, almost seventy years later, the wisdom of St-Laurent’s approach remains despite a raucous global political climate that may suggests otherwise. Whether tackling environmental health, shipping, infrastructure, or fisheries management on the Great Lakes, a thoughtful response has proven to be most effective at advancing Canadian interests over the longer-term and it is in this context that our new Great Lakes and St. Lawrence sub-group will function. As Canada continues to tackle its priorities, we would do well to heed the St-Laurent example because fish don’t carry passports and water doesn’t stop at the border. n 9




he pandemic is far from over, but as governments develop their “what next” plans for economic stimulus, inland and coastal shipping is ready and able to help Canada and the United States reinvigorate trade, rebuild industries and return millions of people back to work. Great Lakes-St. Lawrence shipping has long been vital to the success of the agricultural, manufacturing, mining, construction and energy sectors. It annually transports more than U.S.$77 billion (CDN$100 billion) worth of goods and supports hundreds of thousands of jobs. Marine also offers critical public interest benefits as the safest and most fuel and carbon efficient transportation mode. Governments are faced with difficult choices on which stimulus measures will be most effective in unprecedented times. Now more than ever, they will need reliable, smart initiatives that meet multiple objectives and do the greatest amount of good. Great Lakes-St. Lawrence shipping has demonstrated for many years that it is a safe ‘port in a storm’. We believe these proposals will help strengthen the supply chain, support the success of multiple industry/user sectors and set up Canada and the United States for an innovative, safe, efficient and environmentally smart future.


Port and Waterway Infrastructure: Investing in port and waterway infrastructure helps to eliminate transportation bottlenecks and increase and diversify both cross-border and global trade opportunities for North American businesses. When governments modernize critical infrastructure, it attracts matching private sector investment and gives companies confidence to expand their activities and create new jobs. •

and has been critical for many Canadian port infrastructure projects to move ahead over the past several years.

In the United States, the Chamber supports a baseline of $300 million in funding for the Maritime Administration’s (MARAD) Port Infrastructure Development Program, which provides grants for port infrastructure, and intermodal and technology improvements. These projects create immediate jobs, facilitate international trade and will be crucial to the future reliability and efficiency of American supply chains.


Climate Resiliency and High-Water Management: Above normal precipitation has led to high water levels across the Great Lakes region during recent years, causing damage to port infrastructure, marinas, shoreline businesses and residential properties. High water levels on Lake Ontario and mitigation measures attempting to protect against flooding have also led to disruptions to the St. Lawrence Seaway shipping season costing the U.S. and Canadian economies multi-million dollars in lost economic activity. Investing in climate resiliency measures will be essential to the future economic success of the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence region and all of its stakeholders. •

The Transportation Assets Risk Assessment (TARA) program in Canada provided funding to assess the impacts of the changing climate on federally-owned transportation assets such as bridges, ports and airports. The CMC is now advocating that this program be continued but repurposed to fund infrastructure projects designed to mitigate the climactic risks identified by the original program.

The Chamber urges the Canadian federal government to double the funding for the National Trade Corridors Fund, which targets work to airports, ports, railways, • In addition to port resiliency infrastructure transportation facilities, and access roads, investments, the Chamber urges the U.S. 10


Congress to appropriate funds to the Army Corps of Engineers to start the Great Lakes Coastal Resiliency Study, which would be an effort to develop a coordinated strategy to manage and protect the Great Lakes coastline. The study was authorized through the Water Resources Development Act of 2020.


R&D investments and government support for alternative fuel and new propulsion technologies: Ships are the most fuel-efficient and carbon-friendly way to move goods and an important part of the solution to address climate change. The shipping industry, which contributes less than 0.55% of all GHG emissions in Canada, is working hard to further reduce its carbon footprint with smart fuel monitoring systems, more energy efficient ship and engine designs, and adoption of alternate fuels such as LNG or biofuels to power some of their vessels. But ultimately, alternative propulsion systems that have zero carbon emissions are needed in order to meet long-term goals. With no such systems available for large commercial vessels, more research and development is needed. •

The CMC urges the Canadian government to adopt policy and program measures that encourage increased use of inland shipping, incentivize technology development and the expansion of alternative fuels, all of which will deliver on national ambitions to Build Back Better.


Accelerated Modernizing of Coast Guard Icebreaking Assets: Coast Guard icebreaking services on our coasts, inland waterways and the Arctic ensure that communities in

Canada and U.S. continue to receive their daily essentials and goods even during seasonal cold-weather periods. Icebreaking also ensures that ice formation on lakes and rivers do not cause ice jams and winter flooding and damage critical infrastructure like bridges. However, in recent years, delays to shipping have been caused by insufficient icebreaker vessels, unexpected breakdowns and repairs from aging icebreaker fleets, and growing unpredictable weather events increasing icebreaking demands. Economists calculated the U.S. economy alone suffered a $1 billion hit due to a lack of icebreaking resources in the Great Lakes during the 2018-2019 winter. Every delay in the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence region also costs Canada, an estimated $400,000 in lost business revenues per ship, per day. •

In the short-term, the CMC seeks additional Canadian Coast Guard commitment for icebreaking assets in the Great Lakes and in the lower St. Lawrence River, along with finalizing arrangements for an additional interim icebreaker for the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence Seaway.

• We also urge rapid investment in Canadian Coast Guard fleet renewal, to kickstart the building of new ships this year, and to complete the remaining vessel life extension (VLE) projects before delivery of the new ships. The National Shipbuilding Strategy, which includes these Coast Guard projects, should also be expanded to include shipyards in the Great Lakes, which have the capability and capacity to build military and non-military ships. • The Chamber supports calls for U.S. Congress to include $162 million in the FY2022 Homeland Security Appropriations bill to begin acquisition and construction of a new Great Lakes heavy icebreaker for the U.S. Coast Guard. n

HARNESS THE GLOBAL POWER OF A GREAT LAKES PORT. Regional, national and international logisticians count on Port Milwaukee for a turnkey approach to solve their transportation and supply chain needs. Strategically located in the industrial center of the U.S., Port Milwaukee provides premier access to domestic and world markets.



Sustainable Shipping



anadian ship operators are pulling out all the stops to reduce their carbon emissions with new alternative fuel trials and improved designs for new ship construction. In 2021, Montreal-based CSL Group will be trialling biofuel on eight vessels in its Canadian fleet for the bulk of the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence shipping season. The pilot project comes following positive results from using 100% marine biofuel to operate the CSL Welland and the Rt. Hon. Paul J. Martin in September and October of 2020.The fuel is made from a diverse mix of resources such as recycled cooking oil, soybean oil and animal fats. “The results were incredible,” says Allister Paterson, Executive VicePresident and Chief Commercial Officer for CSL Group. “There were no technical issues. It’s a drop-in fuel so you don’t have to change any of the equipment.” The initial results show an estimated 80% lifecycle reduction in GHG emissions compared to using marine diesel oil. SOx emissions were so low that they were unmeasurable. When compared to petroleum-based fuels, particulate matter also decreases by 47%, thereby contributing to improved air quality and less pollution. Biofuels cost more than marine diesel oil. For the test, CSL and its suppliers are absorbing the extra cost rather than passing it along to customers. In the long-term, Paterson says the cost of biofuels would need to be offset by a carbon trading plan to make it economical. Paterson adds that if life-cycle analysis, which accounts for inputs and outputs associated with feedstock production through to biofuel end use, is used to calculate carbon reductions then it’s possible that CSL could beat 12

Berthed in Hamilton, the MV Damia Desgagnés was recently the first vessel to refuel directly with LNG at a Great Lakes port.

Canada’s 2030 target to reduce GHG emissions by 30% compared to 2005, during its 2021 test.

THROUGH THEIR COLLECTIVE EFFORTS, CHAMBER OF MARINE COMMERCE SHIP OPERATOR MEMBERS HAVE REDUCED THEIR TOTAL CARBON EMISSIONS BY 183,000 TONNES OR 19% BETWEEN 2008 AND 2017. The Inter national Maritime Organization has a goal to reduce global marine shipping’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by at least 50% by 2050, regardless of trade growth – but that target will require further development and deployment of new zero-carbon technologies and propulsion systems, such as green hydrogen and ammonia, fuel cells, batteries and synthetic fuels produced from renewable energy sources. “At this point, we don’t know which technology will be best to meet these long-term goals,” says Paterson. “What I’m looking at is how in the short-term

can we kick carbon in the butt. If this test works, I think a lot of shipping companies can learn from it. If it works, we will be happy to share the results with the wider industry.” Canada Steamship Lines, the Canadian division of CSL, also announced earlier this year a strategic partnership with its customer K+S Windsor Salt Ltd. to build a new state-of-the-art self-unloading ship to transport road salt from Mines Seleine salt mine on the Magdalen Islands to stockpiles in Montreal, Quebec City, and other destinations within the provinces of Quebec and Newfoundland. Compared to the previous vessel servicing the same salt routes, the new ship, which has an improved design and a diesel-electric tier 3 engine, is expected to emit approximately 25% less greenhouse gas emissions and 80% fewer harmful air pollutants. When the ship goes into service in 2022, it will be the 7th new vessel constructed by CSL during the past 10 years to renew its Canadian fleet. ALGOMA RAMPS UP FLEET RENEWAL WITH 2 MORE SHIPS St. Catharines-based Algoma Central Corporation has invested over $500M CDN over the last several years to build 10 new energy efficient vessels for the

Sustainable Shipping Great Lakes trade. These Equinox Class vessels have been shown to be 40% more energy efficient than older laker vessels and they emit much less GHGs to carry more cargo. “We continue to refine the design of our Equinox Class vessels, improving performance in several areas with each new arrival. One of the most notable is increased cargo carrying capacity, which reduces our GHG produced per ton kilometre while increasing operational efficiency both for Algoma and its customers. The Algoma Intrepid, a new River Class self-unloader, was delivered in 2020. The Captain Henry Jackman, a new gearless bulker, is scheduled for delivery mid-2021,” says Dave Belisle, Algoma’s Manager of Vessel Performance. “In our on-going efforts to optimize fuel consumption we have also implemented new performance monitoring and control systems across the fleet and continue to pursue GHG reduction initiatives,” he adds. “The performance monitoring system allows us to identify best practices in the fleet, which crew champion and share.” PILOT PROJECT PROVIDES LNG REFUELLING IN GREAT LAKES A strategic partnership between the Hamilton-Oshawa Port Authority and REV LNG to refuel marine vessels that stop at Hamilton port with LNG will continue in 2021.

In December 2020, the MV Damia Desgagnés was the first vessel ever to refuel with LNG in the Great Lakes after docking at the Port of Hamilton’s Pier 22 before departing for Detroit. A mobile transfer station moved the fuel from truck to the vessel. Pennsylvania-based REV LNG presided over the commercial and technical development of the project, LNG transportation and all shore-side operations. Their partner Pivotal LNG supported the project with its expertise and LNG supply from the recently operational Towanda Liquefaction and Storage Facility, located in Bradford County, Pennsylvania. The pilot project is a major milestone in the energy evolution of the Great Lakes marine shipping industry. Up until now, the only LNG capacity at ports in Canada existed along the west coast in B.C. and the St. Lawrence River in Montreal and Quebec City. Ian Hamilton, CEO of HOPA Ports, says: “Our motivation is to support sustainable and continuous improvement in greenhouse gas reductions by providing more service options for the shipping industry. We see LNG as one of the many ways to address this problem.” LNG is a cleaner alternative to conventional oil-based bunker fuel, which can achieve GHG reductions in the entire well-to-wake lifecycle by up to 21 per cent. It also improves air

quality by eliminating 100 per cent of sulfur (SOX), 90 per cent of NOX and all particulate matter. Hamilton says that the December refuelling “worked perfectly” in terms of efficiency and following all safety protocols and that further refuelling pilots during the 2021 season will help them determine whether the port should invest in more permanent infrastructure to support the initiative. “The real driver is demand. With the ability to now supply LNG, we see it as an opportunity to attract LNG-fuelled ships that have not come into the system because of a lack of fuelling options.” Based in Quebec City, Desgagnés has been one of the early Canadian adopters, investing heavily in R&D and innovation across its fleet to reduce emissions. “Our LNG fueled fleet has now expanded to five Canadian flagged tankers all operating in the Great Lakes, St. Lawrence Seaway system, Eastern Canada and U.S. as well as the Canadian Arctic,” says Jacques Beauchamp, President, Petro-Nav Inc. (a subsidiary of Desgagnés). “We are proud to be leaders in energy efficient, low emission, low carbon marine transportation. We are especially excited to participate with the Port of Hamilton and Rev LNG in this first marine LNG bunkering location in the Great lakes.” n

Domestic marine vessels account for 0.55% of all Domestic marine vessels account for 0.55% of all Canadian Canadian t ransportation-related emissions transportation-related GHG GHG emissions

GHG Emissions Intensity Comparisons

Domestic Domestic Aviation Navigation (Marine)



1.10% 0.55%

558% more 9.2

31% more 12.1

Other Transportation



Road Transportation


CO2 grams per metric ton/km

Source: RTG analysis based on each mode carrying CMC Members’ cargo with auxiliary fuel adjusted for a like-for-like comparison.

Source: National Inventory Report 1990–2018: Greenhouse Gas Sources and Sinks in Canada

Source: National Inventory Report 1990–2018: Greenhouse Gas Sources and Sinks in Canada


Sustainable Shipping



ecarbonization is arguably the biggest challenge facing marine transportation. The Inter national Maritime Organization (IMO) has called upon ship owners to reduce their global CO2 emissions by at least 40% by 2030 (compared to 2008 levels), and half by 2050. All greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions must be eliminated soon after. Individual countries are setting even more ambitious targets. Canada is considering setting a national target for net zero emissions by 2050 and would join several other nations in doing so. The maritime industry is undertaking this decarbonization challenge, estimated to cost upwards of US$1 trillion, but while there’s will, it still needs ways. Simply put, the technologies required currently do not exist at the scale modern ships need. “A quantum leap in decarbonized technology similar to the switch from sail to steam over a century ago is required if shipping’s current CO2 reduction targets are to be achieved,” emphasizes Guy Platten, secretary general of the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS). “However, we do not have the same

luxury of time to transform.” The ICS issued a blunt November 2020 report about the scale of this venture. Catalyzing the Fourth Propulsion Revolution emphasizes the need for global fleets to be modernized and new energy supply networks established. The report warns that the required zero-carbon technologies can only come about in time with a huge increase in worldwide R&D. Although steadily advancing, none of the possible technologies has yet overcome the difficulties that it poses for maritime use. Hydrogen and ammonia are less energy dense than diesel, which means ships would need up to five times the volume. If current ammonia volumes were tripled to achieve the amount required, maritime transport would consume 60% of the world’s current renewable energy production to obtain this cleaner fuel. Battery power likewise poses a challenge at present with a typical container vessel needing the power of 10,000 Tesla S85 batteries daily.

As for hydrogen, under current industry technologies, it is produced during petroleum refining, while ammonia is made from natural gas. Members of the Chamber of Marine Commerce have joined global ship owners in supporting the establishment of a US$5-billion fund dedicated to identifying one or more technical approaches to introduce zero-carbon vessels across the sector by 2030. They want to raise the funds by having the IMO oversee a global levy on marine fuels. The ICS report warns that a failure by governments to promptly support the initiative to both spur and de-risk R&D could result in trillions of misspent investment dollars and the sector failing to decarbonize in time. “Even using conservative estimates for trade growth, a 50% total cut in C02 by 2050 can only be achieved by improving carbon efficiency of the world fleet by around 90%,” the



Sustainable Shipping

report states. “This will only be possible if a large proportion of the fleet is using commercially viable zero-carbon fuels.” CANADA’S HYDROGEN ADVANTAGES The fund would further research and optimize already identified zero-emission options, such as hydrogen. Already among the world’s top 10 hydrogen producers, Canada is now actively pursuing a strategy to become a leading producer, user and exporter, while also using it to help achieve the country’s 2050 net-zero goal. Canada’s advantages include ample feedstock (as biomass for production energy), a strong energy sector, and geographic assets that include water proximity and supply. Approximately 10 kilograms of water is required for every kilogram of hydrogen. While the water’s purity is essential, research is already underway to use sea water by having it first go through a purification. “When hydrogen is produced through electrolysis, which involves running electricity through purified water to split the hydrogen and oxygen atoms, clean oxygen is immediately released into the air and the spent hydrogen becomes a vapor that ultimately reverts to water,” explains Nirmal Gnanapragasam, the senior process/ modeling scientist at the Hydrogen Technologies Branch of Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (CNL) Ltd.

Transport Canada has awarded CNL a contract to assess the realities of using hydrogen as a marine fuel to achieve IMO targets. CNL is researching hydrogen’s advantages, challenges, practicalities and logistics, including the lifecycle of this energy’s production and use with, for example, liquid natural case. “In addition to zero GHG, hydrogen offers an opportunity to eliminate particulate matter from ships,” notes Gordon Burton, CNL’s hydrogen program manager. CNL is also exploring some technologies that would enable feasible emissions-free hydrogen production. Some of the major challenges relate to the energy required to make hydrogen, establishing ample supply, as well as how to store a fuel that needs at least triple diesel’s space. “It could be ships will have to do two bunkering stops instead of one,” Gnanapragasam says. CNL is developing a tool to provide these answers on a fleet basis. “If we know the power required by a fleet of navy, coast guard, or ferry vessels, or a fleet’s ships by classification, we can determine whether obtaining the necessary energy to make and supply the required hydrogen is a sustainable proposition,” Gnanapragasam explains. Various options are being studied in terms of onboard fuel storage with vessel designers and operators helping to identify every possible space unoccupied by diesel.

Storing hydrogen gas as a pumpable liquid would provide a better mass/ volume ratio. “Another option is to turn the hydrogen into ammonia that could be used directly or converted back to hydrogen depending on engine requirements,” Gnanapragasam adds. ENERGY SOURCE HURDLES Huge among the considerations is the energy required to ‘split’ water into hydrogen and oxygen. “You can use all electricity, but this could put excessive demands on the grid as we move towards greater overall electrification,” Gnanapragasam says. “So, we can also use a combination of electricity and heat that involves burning a biomass.” CNL is also investigating the possible use of a small-scale landside nuclear reactor as a production energy source. Having the hydrogen readily supplied by all ports would reduce onboard storage issues. “It’s a question of how to set up either a biomass gasification or a small nuclear reactor source of reliable energy to produce the necessary hydrogen to keep vessels supplied at the scale required,” Burton says. The Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières already has a pilot project that uses biomass gasification to create hydrogen. A British Columbia company is looking at using forest waste to create hydrogen for export to Japan by tankers. n

A typical container vessel would need the power of 10,000 Tesla S85 batteries daily.


Sustainable Shipping



company in British Columbia is developing a system to capture the emissions released by ocean-going vessels at Canada’s largest ports. Albion Marine Solutions is designing a technology with the support of Transport Canada that would siphon and treat the emissions from a ship’s funnel. “We’re proposing to use a selfpropelled barge to position our technology alongside a vessel so that our abatement process can be done without interfering with ship or port operations,” explains Sergiy Yakovenko, Albion’s director. “An extendible crane will position an adjustable suction unit atop the ship’s stack while that vessel is being loaded/unloaded or fueled.”

The abatement technology, which is a multi-year project, would eliminate the pollution now caused when large ships run auxiliary diesel engines and boilers while at port or in berth. “With the kind assistance of the major Canadian ports, we’ve been able to determine the kinds of vessels calling at each port, the length of their stays, and the resulting amounts and types of emissions,” Yakovenko says. “This has greatly helped us in determining the required scope of our emission abatement technology to fit even the largest calling vessels, and the number of units that would likely best serve each port based on its traffic.” A self-propelled barge will eliminate the need for tug services and keep crew

to three or four individuals for the mostly remote-controlled operations. “We’re doing all the required engineering to ensure that the tower structure remains stable whether the barge is next to a ship at berth or in anchor in a realistic range of harbour wind and wave conditions,” Yakovenko says. “We’re looking at various options to power the barge with batteries or other zero-emission technology but could also treat emissions from a backup diesel engine with our own technology.” Rather than re-invent technologies, Albion is consulting with existing commercial suppliers to determine the best components for its design. n

Ontario, Canada

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Port Initiatives

Community relations now a part of Green Marine’s environmental framework BY JULIE GEDEON


reen Marine has added community relations to the issues that ports and terminals will have to address to be certified by the environmental program. “We already had a landside indicator to deal with noise, dust and other community impacts,” says David Bolduc, Green Marine’s executive director, “but members wanted an indicator to specifically assess their dialogue and social acceptability with neighbouring communities.” The issue has gained prominence as more people become concerned with ecological preservation as well as seek to live or leisure in waterfront areas once solely occupied by industrial activities. Green Marine has consulted extensively over the past two years with representatives of the maritime industry, government, communities, environmental organizations, as well as field experts to elucidate the issue and determine effective responses. “This indicator posed unique challenges,” shares Véronique Trudeau, Green Marine’s program manager. “Outcomes aren’t readily measurable as, let’s say, a reduction in stormwater runoff with the installation of a new collection/drainage system.” Significant discussion went into simply agreeing on a definition of communities. “We also talked extensively about how ports and terminals determine their relevant community stakeholders, communicate information, and obtain feedback,” Trudeau adds. Experts in community engagement provided key insights. “For instance, we learnt that our goal should never be to change people’s minds,” Trudeau explains, “but rather to facilitate information exchange and discussion opportunities so differing opinions can be expressed and genuinely considered.”

Green Marine has established tangible benchmarks for each of the program’s five increasingly demanding performance tiers. The Level 2 criteria include providing a phone service for comments/complaints, maintaining up-to-date contact information for local stakeholders, regularly monitoring media posts about the port’s or terminal’s activities, and using at least two well-established means to communicate information. At Level 3, a port must fulfil at least three major criteria that range from identifying potential future collaborative opportunities with already identified stakeholders, to implementing a documented communications strategy, to participating in annual environmental community events. Level 4 requires participants to achieve several goals that involve meeting at least twice yearly with community representatives, becoming actively involved in an organization unrelated to the participant’s activities, and developing a communication process to make it easy to pose questions. At Level 5, a participant has to assess a community’s perceptions over the previous three years and take active steps to improve relations. Or collaborate on a new joint project/initiative. “Our membership recognizes that to maintain social license, it’s increasingly necessary to establish and maintain strong two-way communication, as well as engage in a meaningful way in a local society’s overall well-being and brighter future,” Bolduc says. As with all new indicators, community relations indicator is optional for the first year (i.e. 2021 reporting) but mandatory thereafter. n




Port Initiatives

PortsToronto Expands Seabins Program to Clean Up Plastic Pollution BY LEO RYAN


anaged by PortsToronto and the University of Toronto Trash Team, the Seabins Program to capture plastics and microplastics debris in Great Lakes waterways has had auspicious results upon entering its third year. U of T Trash Team researchers report that over the 2020 season, between July and October, PortsToronto’s Seabins diverted an average of 85,000 small pieces of anthropogenic debris from Lake Ontario. Other than tiny trash, including microplastics (smaller than 5-millimetres), which are by far the most common items collected by the Seabins, other commonly found macroplastics include clear plastic packaging, hard plastic fragments from takeout containers or plastic packaging, and cigarette butts. During the course of the 2020 research season, the U of T Trash Team also discovered that vegetation collected by the Seabins has an important role to play in accumulating microplastics. While the Seabins are effective in capturing floating litter and debris as small as 2-millimetres, plant material collected in the bins acted as a magnet to capture tiny microplastics, such as pre-production plastic pellets, that might otherwise pass through the Seabin’s capture bag. On average,

Seabins diverted 85,000 pieces of debris in a 4-month period

PortsToronto’s Seabins diverted more than 11,000 plastic pellets from Toronto’s harbour. The initial phase in 2019 saw two bins installed at the Outer Harbour Marina – a first in Canada. In 2020, two additional bins were secured to a floating dock at Pier 6. In 2021, further expansion is planned. Meanwhile, with plastic debris accounting for about 80% of the litter

found on Great Lakes shorelines, the Council of the Great Lakes Region (CGLR) announced the launch of the first phase of the Great Lakes Plastic Initiative with a wide range of partners in 2020. It provides for 16 Seabin devices and additional Littatraps to be installed at marinas across Ontario. Littatraps are installed inside storm drains to catch refuse before it enters waterways. n

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In Conversation



Based in Québec City, QSL has become a force to reckon with in North America as a terminal operator, stevedore and transport enterprise. In an exclusive interview, Robert Bellisle, president and CEO, comments on overcoming the challenges of COVID-19, innovation, expansion strategies and sustainable development.




In Conversation QSL operates in 50 ports and terminals in Canada and the USA – this past year has been unprecedented in its impacts on the world, including essential services like marine transportation. How has the pandemic impacted QSL and its workforce? Values should always be the starting point of strategy to navigate the business world. When facing a crisis, personally or professionally, aligning decisions to values is, in my view, critical. Consequently, the first actions taken were aimed at providing our people and partners with the best health and safety processes and ensuring adequate contingency plans were made based on the most recent information gathered daily. Second, we took the decision that, despite potential short-term financial consequences, we needed to minimize the financial impact on our people. If more pessimistic scenarios were to occur, we would first look for salary freezes and reductions before layoffs. Thanks to our state-of-the-art new integrated management system, financial and operational information was flowing in real time to management offering the best possible outlook on the business. Third, in time of crisis we all know that cash is king. Investments and purchases were reexamined and capex and opex were reviewed daily by senior management. Since our business is well diversified geographically and by product/ client portfolios, we always felt we could face this crisis, or any other economic downturns with confidence. Our relationships with our customers are closely knit and based on their success. Therefore, all focus was put on multiplying internal process audits to find new innovative solutions to drive improvements and a better service offering. This crisis brought the best out of our people. Our people, QSL’s greatest asset, did a fantastic job. The pandemic’s impacts have required innovative approaches and new ways of doing things — what has QSL had to change that will endure post-pandemic? This crisis first confirmed to us the benefits of having heavily invested in digitization. Innovation has always

been part of QSL’s DNA, and this crisis put it to a great stress test. Among others, virtual training and improved communications are here to stay. Indeed, the implementation of our new system was coming to its ultimate phase last March. This phase was the deployment of the operational module across more than 40 port terminals in Canada and the USA. We decided to pursue the implementation despite the pandemic. Training sessions were remastered and offered online. The recent acquisition of an internal video communication system allowed us to easily reach all our people in real time. News updates were done regularly, and this also proved to be really appreciated.

• • •

QSL was founded by Denis Dupuis in Québec City in 1978, thanks to a $10,000 loan from his mother - and with a staff you could count on one hand. Today, QSL operates maritime terminal, stevedore and transport enterprises in Canada and the USA, employing more than 2,000 people. Robert Bellisle, who joined QSL in 2016, has been President and CEO since 2017.

Transparency was delivered better than ever. Improved communications will remain post-pandemic for sure. The project TC3 won 2 awards one for best of projects (ELIXIR) and the other for digital transformation 4.0 (Innovation Gala). This is true recognition when candidates included Fortune 500 companies from the technology and medical industry. As we move forward in 2021, how do you see the post-COVID recovery future for terminal operators such as QSL? Our values are always at the forefront of our decisions and our mission and vision remain unchanged. The strategy map we have deployed has been updated and what has come out is us accelerating our portfolio of services. We have essentially doubled the company in the last four years and expect to do so again by

2026 through organic growth in both greenfield and brownfield projects as well as M&A opportunities that fit our business model. The future will undoubtedly bring a need to serve our clients in new ways as we all adapt to a new normal. Our people are ready for the rebound. We have focused intensively on training, technology, engineering and our product and service offering to bring innovative tailor-made success to our customers, a great place to work for to our people and an unwavering commitment to making a difference in the communities where we operate. What can Canadian and U.S. governments do to help with these efforts?

• • •

QSL operates facilities in 50 terminals which handle in excess of 21 million metric tons of cargo. Products handled are mainly bulk, breakbulk and steel. In addition to being named one of Canada’s most admired corporate cultures in 2020, QSL has received an award as one of Canada’s Best Managed Companies. Also received the Digital Transformation 4.0 Award for its new integrated custom-made management system.

In our view, the role of government is to ensure a predictable business environment as well as supporting much needed investments in maritime infrastructure. These investments will help us to actively participate in the growth of the Canadian and U.S. import and export markets. For those outside of the marine sector, tell us more about QSL. Which is your largest terminal and what kind of goods do you handle the most? Tell us also about some of the contracts you have with some of Canada’s largest companies. QSL’s portfolio is mainly built on three types of service offering: Stevedoring and Terminal operations, Marine services, and Oversized trucking. The products we handle are mostly bulk, breakbulk, general cargo, project cargo, steel and containers, with the acquisition of Empire 21

In Conversation Stevedoring. Our largest terminal is still our headquarters, Québec City. The Port of Québec offers deep sea draft that allows us to transship bulk commodities going further up the St. Lawrence towards the Great Lakes or for exports down towards the Atlantic. However, we also have developed consolidation services for the mining community. Over the years, we have earned the trust of carriers, producers, shippers, receivers, and brokers with our skilled workforce, innovative engineering, and experienced management team. This legacy, passed on from our founder Denis Dupuis, fuels our ongoing quest for excellence. Among our clients, we are proud of our long-term agreements with large mining companies, steel producers, agriculture players and many other industry key players. Through the years, QSL has expanded its presence in the U.S. and Canada, with a Texas unit recently joining U.S. operations in Chicago, Illinois and Ogdensberg, NY. What has driven this expansion and contributed to its success? The addition of QSL Texas Terminals, in the Gulf of Mexico, is now offering our customers access to the central part of the United States via the Mississippi River, the key transportation artery of the U.S. economy. This highly strategic presence is the first phase of a deployment on the East Coast of the United States. This expansion is mainly driven by our customers who wish to benefit from QSL’s offering an expanded footprint. The same


motivation is fueling our expansion on the St. Lawrence River with the addition of a second port terminal in Sorel-Tracy. In late January, we also announced the acquisition of Empire Stevedoring of Montreal. This further spreads our footprint in North America and enables QSL to round out the range of its services by adding the extensive containerhandling expertise developed by Empire Stevedoring. Well before the pandemic, the marine sector was facing skilled labour shortages and working to increase awareness of marine careers to diversified audiences. What has QSL been doing in recent years in this area? We focus intensively on attracting and retaining talent among our workforces. This is achieved by offering our people better work-life balance, competitive compensation package, appropriate training, and career growth opportunities. Innovation is also the key here. As an example, years ago we created flying teams, a concept offering full time work to employees located at less busy port facilities. However with Covid we needed to re-engineer the approach to align ourselves with all the safety requirements around traveling, therefore we have a department which is focused on offering the support to our operations. All these efforts paid off as we were awarded Most Admired Corporate Culture in Canada in 2020. At QSL, we feel it is a unique opportunity to be able to rely on an experienced team that allows us to meet challenges and increase our performance.

Sustainable development has long been a focus for QSL. What are the company’s environmental priorities for 2021? At QSL, we know that operating at exceptional sites comes with considerable social and environmental responsibility. Doing a good job is not enough; we must constantly strive to excel. As part of our sustainable development efforts, we implement innovative measures to mitigate impacts, protect the environment and ensure harmonious cohabitation with the surrounding communities: water cannons, settling basin, use of electric conveyors, local production of equipment, weather station, white noise backup alarms, citizens’ committees and circular economic business practices. Above all, we are committed to continuous improvement with the goal of minimizing the impact of our marine operations on the environment and on the health and safety of our people and communities. In 2020, we finalized our Green Marine certification process by adding the port terminals located in the USA. We have reduced the usage of disposable water bottles by 50%. Together, we saved 100,000 bottles to date. Our goal is to eliminate all disposable water bottles on our premises by 2023. Finally, we are undertaking the ISO 14001 & 45001 certifications across our network. This process should be completed in the upcoming months and is an additional tool to ensure continuous improvement in environment, health & safety to offer the next generations a legacy that we can be proud of. n


Canada-U.S. Cooperation on Ballast Water Rules Needed to “Build Back Better” BY BRUCE BURROWS, PRESIDENT AND CEO OF CHAMBER OF MARINE COMMERCE


arlier this year, U.S. President Joe Biden and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the U.S.-Canada Partnership Roadmap, an initiative that aptly recognizes that cooperation between Canada and the United States to strengthen supply chain resilience and create clean growth will be paramount to “Build Back Better” following the pandemic. Given the strategic importance of the shipping sector for sustainable, economic well-being in the region and beyond, a coordinated approach to regulating our sector is crucial. And that raises the very thorny issue of the complete misalignment between proposed ballast water regulations for ships operating in the bi-national Great Lakes-St. Lawrence region, which threatens a conflict between Canada and the U.S. on an equal trading environment for its respective domestic-flag fleets. This misalignment has already led to a U.S. Federal Marine Commission study to investigate whether Canada’s proposed rules discriminate against U.S.-flag vessels. With this new Roadmap, we now have an opportunity for Canadian and U.S. government officials to go back to the drawing board and work towards a bilateral arrangement that treats both of their domestic fleets in a similar fashion, with a timeline that is feasible, fair and equal.

What Are the Proposed Regulations? When not fully loaded, cargo ships must take on water (ballast) to maintain stability. Currently both countries are updating their rules on how ships should install ballast water management systems (BWMS) to prevent the introduction or spread of invasive species during ballast water discharges – and with little regard for coordination, unlike with other marine regulatory matters, they have come up with completely different approaches for domestic ships operating in the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence region. Notably, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the chief regulator on BWMS performance standards in the United States, is proposing not to impose any deadline for the installation of BWMS for any vessels – whether they are Canadian or U.S. – that operate exclusively in the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence region.

The EPA’s rationale, with which the Chamber of Marine Commerce agrees, is that due to vessel design, operating conditions such as salinity content in the water, water temperature and turbidity, trade patterns, voyage length and other issues, there are no current BWMS that are practical or suitable for the domestic Great Lakes –St. Lawrence fleets. The EPA has instead suggested that more research be done before any alternative approach is developed for those vessels. This is a prudent approach, as these vessels do not travel to global markets overseas and pose zero risk of introducing new invasive species. Conversely, Transport Canada’s proposed regulations would require all large Canadian and foreign vessels operating in Canadian waters to meet a certain ballast water management standard in the International Ballast Water Management Convention by installing a BWMS before September 8, 2024. The rules do not make any considerations for the unique role or challenges of vessels operating exclusively in the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence region. Transport Canada has erroneously based its benefit analysis to justify the new proposed rules solely on the risk of invasive species introductions from international ships, and its cost analysis on the lowest denominator technology cost, despite those systems not being suitable or viable for domestic vessels in the Great Lakes. It also doesn’t account for any economic loss from the decrease in competitiveness of its domestic fleet, which competes against land-based modes and the American domestic fleet for trades on inland and coastal waterways.

Proposed Rules Will Cost More than $560m A recent study by Research and Traffic Group, calculated that Canada’s rules as currently proposed would cost CMC members’ Canadian-flag vessels that operate in the Great Lakes St. Lawrence region $564 million to install and operate BWMS. The likely scenario is that those costs will be passed on to their customers, impacting the competitiveness and trade opportunities of our grain farmers, manufacturers and miners, for example, trying to get their products to market. This could also lead to additional losses for the marine sector in Ontario and Quebec, if customers switch to other modes of transportation or other trade routes. In contrast, RTG estimated that the incremental benefit (if extending the government’s own analysis to the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence fleet only), would be just $31.3 million. Both countries have regulated ballast water from arriving ocean-going ships since 2006, and there have been no major invasions into this fully-connected, inland waterway system for 15 years. With our history of cooperation, a bilateral arrangement would offer a level playing field and environmental protection, allowing both Canadian and American domestic fleets to continue delivering cargoes that support over $41 billion in economic activity for the region each year. With all that in mind, there’s little downside to the Canadian government pressing the “pause” button by providing a “limited time” exemption for vessels that operate exclusively in the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence until government leaders can work together to get the regulatory framework right. n 23

Photo credit: Michael Hull

Economic Growth



he Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway will be bustling this spring with large volumes of wintered grain being shipped to markets as global demand is anticipated to remain strong throughout 2021. Spurred by the higher pricing caused in good part by pandemic stockpiling, farmers are also expected to increase Canada’s overall export crop by one to three million metric tons if the weather cooperates. “We see producers seeding as many acres as they can and really ramping up the amount of grain that is available,” shares Jean Marc Ruest, Senior Vice-President, Corporate Affairs and General Counsel at major grain handler Richardson International. “How much will go through the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence system as opposed to other coasts will depend on pricing, and where the international demand is. But, all things point to an optimistic season.” 24

The Great Lakes-Seaway network had proven its readiness to handle larger grain volumes even in pandemic circumstances. Inland shipping buoyed last year’s challenged economies in Canada and the U.S. with record grain handled by the system. Larger harvests and strong overseas demand increased the Seaway’s grain volume by 27% over 2019, significantly offsetting the decline in other cargo. “Although challenging with COVID-19 impacts, 2020 will also be remembered as a year of Seaway performance with our successful ability to manage a complex but vital transportation system that contributed to economic recovery – especially with the high levels of grain exports,” says Terence F. Bowles,The St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation’s president/CEO. The second largest Prairie harvest on record contributed to 11 million metric tons of Canadian grain being

shipped through the Seaway – up from 8.8 million metric tons in 2019 for a 26.5% increase. U.S. grain shipments increased by 29% to 2.1 million metric tons, compared to 1.66 million metric tons in 2019 when extensive flooding suppressed planting. Newly purchased or reassigned grain cars, along with the Seaway structure’s 99.6% availability, facilitated smooth crop movement, despite the required COVID-19 precautions. The St. Lawrence Seaway Bi-national Pandemic Unified Command Centre was established, adapting earlier SARS and H1N1 safety protocols to current risks. The safety of ship-shore interactions were further ensured by the Chamber of Marine Commerce establishing the Marine Industry Trusted Partners program which helped align safety measures and opened the channels of communications between ship operators, pilots, ports and marine suppliers.

Economic Growth

Hands-free mooring throughout the Seaway with the U.S. locks implementing the technology last year proved timely in minimizing contact. “While installed for safety reasons, it also improved transit times, potentially adding sailing days,” Bowles says.

Benefits of Welland Canal extension Seaway authorities received praise for keeping the Welland Canal open an extra week for a second year of a pilot project, as well as later taking advantage of milder weather to only close the system January 8. The additional time helped ports like Thunder Bay to have its best year since 1997. The port handled 9.2 million metric tons of grain, up 1.3 million metric tons from 2019. While more grain moved East, another major factor was the abundance of Manitoba canola and soybeans. “With its larger, more diversified harvests, Manitoba outpaced Saskatchewan in terms of shipments to our port for the first time,” notes Tim Heney, the port’s CEO. “The strong, particularly European demand for canola and soybeans kept domestic ships busy, but also had more than 150 foreign vessels calling on our port – the second highest number since the Seaway’s opening. “In some cases, they carried 22,000 million metric tons down the Seaway and topped up to 35,000 metric tons from lakers at the Port of Quebec before heading to Europe, North Africa or the Middle East,” Heney adds. The bumper year definitely led to more grain business at the nownetworked ports of Hamilton and Oshawa. Recent investments to bolster capacity facilitated the ports handling 2.57 million metric tons (including soybeans) in 2020. “That’s 37% higher than in 2019,” notes Ian Hamilton, the Hamilton-Oshawa Port Authority’s president/CEO. The longer season permitted seven additional vessels, each with 25,000 to 30,000 metric tons of steelmaking commodities, wheat and canola, to get through the system. “In that one extra week, those vessels replaced up

to 6,700 trucks, reducing the carbon footprint of those goods by 500%,” Hamilton notes. Oshawa handled a record 82,000 million metric tons of grain with a brand-new facility loading six vessels. “Constructed by QSL for Sollio Agriculture, this facility completed its first full season, for the first time allowing some 200 Durham region farmers to deliver soybeans, wheat and corn to an export facility within their own region, rather than trucking often clear across the Greater Toronto Hamilton area,” Hamilton says. Canada definitely benefitted from overseas stockpiling of domestic food supplies. “Advanced ordering was deemed necessary to reduce price pressures in Asia – particularly China, but also places like Pakistan – as concerns mounted about possible shortages,” explains Andrea Gardella, EDC’s senior economist.

Doubling of wheat shipments to China As a result Canadian wheat shipments to China doubled, and substantially increased to other markets with a lot more people at home eating pasta or baking muffins and bread. “We expect this trend to continue with export demand already high this year,” Gardella adds. In Quebec, the story is soybeans. China is the main purchaser as it rebuilds pork stocks after the 2018 swine flu. “By the end of October, Quebec’s soybean shipments were up 37%, boosting the province’s agri-food exports by 11%,” Gardella notes. Staying in that game will be challenging but, even as a small player, Quebec has possible advantages. “Quebec harvests soybeans well ahead of Latin America and parts of the U.S.,” Gardella explains. Recent precipitation has ended the severe drought for Latin America’s major producers, but La Niña is expected to make the 2021 growing season drier than normal throughout Argentina, as well as Brazil’s northeast and southern regions. “The recent rains will allow South American production to be a competitive

factor,” emphasizes Bill Krueger, the president of the Andersons Trade Group, which transports wheat, oats and other agricultural crops and feed through the Port of Toledo. “Assuming that we see continued Chinese demand for soybeans and corn, we believe we will continue to see Seaway grain exports be robust in 2021 – although maybe not quite as robust as 2020,” he adds. U.S. grain movement has recovered from 2019’s spring flooding. In 2020 the Port of Toledo welcomed restored crops from Ohio, Michigan and Indiana, leading to 1.55 million tons being handled – the largest volume in five years. “We’ve increased animal feed shipments – specifically distiller’s dried grains as a by-product of corn refined for ethanol, as well as corn gluten,” says Joe Cappel, Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority’s vice president of business development. “We’re also seeing marine transport used more often to move smaller volumes of various commodities on grocery boats.” Making the most of shortsea shipping, the port receives basically all the soft Canadian wheat used by the Mondelez Flour Mill by freighter. The port also handled 400,000 tons of Canadian alfalfa, canola and oats via Thunder Bay as horse-feed. U.S. exports were also helped by the arrival of more foreign vessels. “They’re looking for something to take back – and that’s usually grain,” Cappel says. “A lot of corn and soybeans went overseas.” Entering 2021, cautious optimism reigns at the Port of Duluth-Superior, the biggest U.S. maritime gateway on the Great Lakes. “The Upper Midwest had good 2020 harvest conditions,” explains Jayson Hron, the Duluth Seaway Port Authority’s communications/marketing director. “Last November, however, EU tariffs were placed on U.S. cereal grains that will impact our exports.” And it remains too early, Hron adds, to determine how the new White House administration might influence trade patterns. n


Trade Winds

Great Lakes/St. Lawrence trade corridor



irtually anywhere you cast your eyes on the waters of the Great Lakes/St. Lawrence maritime corridor, you spot a specialized multi-purpose or heavy lift vessel transporting project cargo. There may be negligible loads of mining equipment destined for Alberta oilsands or machinery for factories still impacted by the global pandemic. But ports in this key economic region of North America have been setting records in the handling of wind farm components manufactured domestically or abroad. In 2020, wind cargo shipments through the St. Lawrence Seaway doubled to more than 200,000 metric tons. It’s a reflection of the soaring expansion of the renewable energy sector, a sector expected to be further encouraged by the new Biden Administration in Washington and the Trudeau government in Ottawa. The Canadian Renewables Association of Canada is predicting a bright future for renewable energy. “Despite considerable challenges posed by the global pandemic, Canada ended 2020 with a total wind capacity of 13,588 MW, a total solar capacity of

Port of Trois-Rivières 26

approximately 3,000 MW, significant growth in energy storage and a positive forecast for 2021,” CanREA president Robert Horning recently said. Wind power is currently estimated to be the world’s lowest-cost energy source, with prices having declined by 70% in the past decade. The capacity of Canadian wind energy projects slated for construction in 2021 is listed as 745 MW. Ontario and Quebec account for more than 9,000 MW of installed capacity. However, Rystad Energy, a prominent world energy research consultancy based in Norway, forecasts that Alberta will emerge as the leader among Canadian provinces in utility-scale wind and solar assets as early as 2025 – potentially a boon for the Port of Thunder Bay, a major gateway for various projects in Western Canada. For its part, the U.S. wind industry had its strongest year ever in 2020, with new power capacity surging 85% over 2019. This brought the total capacity to 122,478 MW, or enough to power 38 million American homes. States with installed wind power include Minnesota and Illinois in the Great Lakes, though Texas alone accounts for one quarter of the U.S. total.

FURTHER GROWTH FORESEEN ON ST. LAWRENCE SEAWAY Bruce Hodgson, director of market development of The St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation, expects to see robust shipments of wind turbine components continue in 2021. The 2020 season, he says, witnessed equipment shipped “not just within the Great Lakes region, but in some cases, much farther inland than the system’s 3,700- kilometer marine highway.” Hodgson explains: “Thunder Bay handled vessels of wind equipment for wind projects in Western Canada, one arriving with equipment from Germany and another from Spain. Duluth, along with Ogdensburg, Buffalo, Erie, Monroe, Bay City, Burns Harbor, Chicago and Menominee also handled wind project cargo shipments which originated from Spain, South Korea and Germany. “This highlights the benefit of keeping shipments on the water as long as possible in order to reduce the greenhouse gas footprint,” he says.

Port of Duluth

Trade Winds

2020 SPECTACULAR “BIG-LIFT” PROJECTS Among Canadian Great Lakes ports, an impressive move handled by HOPA Ports (Hamilton Oshawa Port Authority) in 2020 was the shipment of a set of oversized power generation modules, manufactured in southern Ontario. A spectacular convoy journey to the Port of Hamilton led by Precision Specialized lasted several days. The modules were then loaded onto the BBC Eagle at Federal Marine Terminals’ Hamilton port facility before departing for France. “HOPA and its partners are looking forward to more heavy lift shipments in 2021, with new capacity in HOPA’s extended network in Oshawa and Niagara,” says Larissa Fenn, director of public affairs. “A newly-expanded facility at FMT in Hamilton offers improved docking and additional laydown area to accommodate more project cargo.” Late in 2020, the Port of Toronto was the recipient of another striking project move: the delivery of the first of four new bridge spans that will connect Villiers Island to Toronto and the revitalized Port Lands. Manufactured by Cherubini steel fabricators, the 57-metre, 340-tonne bridge was transported on its long journey from Dartmouth, Nova Scotia aboard McKeil Marine’s tug and barge, the Lois M and Glovertown Spirit. Three more bridge loads are due to be completed during the 2021 Seaway navigation season.

Port of Monroe

On the U.S. Great Lakes, the Port of Duluth-Superior’s 2020 record 525,000 freight tons of project cargo easily eclipsed 2019’s mark of 306,000 freight tons. The shipments by 30 oceangoing ships from eight countries included the longest wind blades (242 feet) and towers (100 feet) ever handled at the port. Looking beyond the numbers, Deb DeLuca, executive director of the Duluth Seaway Port Authority, stresses that “the Port’s emergence as a wind cargo hub is an important win for cargo diversity and for the expansion of renewable energy nationwide. Being North America’s furthest inland seaport really lends well to Duluth being the Midwest hub for wind cargo arrivals.” The Port of Monroe in Michigan also benefitted from the largest project in its history in 2020, handling 14 vessels that delivered a total of 560 wind turbine segments from Bécancour, Quebec for General Electric’s wind energy activities in the state. The project helped offset the pandemic-related scarcity of cargoes at the beginning of the season. General Electric has a partnership with Monroebased Ventower, which has produced several wind energy components for the company. “If there is one word that defines the Port of Monroe during these challenging times it is ‘resilient,’”, says Paul LaMarre III, Port Director. “In the midst of an ever evolving economic and social climate, our team has adapted to new protocols and reinforced longstanding relationships leading to the Port’s most prosperous

year in its history. As the home to one of only four wind tower manufacturers in the U.S., Ventower Industries, the Port has become a regional congregation and distribution hub for GE Wind.” CONTAINER SERVICE ON HORIZON Meanwhile, back in the Canadian Great Lakes, a small port to watch on Lake Ontario is Picton. Handling chiefly aggregate products (150,000 metric tons in 2020), it has big ambitions indeed. Since purchasing the port facility in 2015, Odessa-based, family-owned Doornekamp Construction has invested substantially in the terminal infrastructure, expanding the dock area and equipping it notably with a Liebherr crane to handle heavy lift and project cargoes. On site is a fleet of two flat-deck barges, three hopper barges and two tugboats. But there is more. The Doornekamp family has announced the launching in 2021 of a weekly Picton-Halifax container service, using Canadian-flagged, geared general cargo vessels. Ben Doornekamp explains that “Doornkamp Lines will offer an alternate and different logistics solution for businesses. Presently, regional manufacturers have rail and trucking options to/from the Port of Montreal, but shortsea shipping on eastern Lake Ontario will provide companies with more options and opportunity to reduce costs to get their products to the global market.” n

Port of Thunder Bay 27


Spotlight Trade Winds

PORT MILWAUKEE Building future growth through diversification and ‘coastal resiliency’ BY BRENT FREDERICK


n an unusual year with historic challenges, Port Milwaukee finished 2020 with its highest annual cargo volume in the past seven years. The results, says Port Director Adam Tindall-Schlicht, were the culmination of the port’s recent mission to be a key catalyst in domestic and international trade through rediscovery, reinvention and diversification. “In terms of rediscovery, one of our areas of emphasis has been reintroducing ourselves to the Great Lakes maritime industry, to local businesses, manufacturers, growers and producers, as a vital supply chain for their use, for their ready access to both domestic and world markets,” he explains. Despite pandemic conditions, Port Milwaukee’s overall tonnage increased by 5.4% in 2020 compared with the previous year, led by agricultural exports and cement handling. The 2.81 million tons of cargo handled in 2020, also included construction material, salt, limestone, steel and other general cargo.

Adjusting to decline of coal cargo Regarding reinvention, Port Milwaukee already is looking generations ahead. “By sheer necessity, changes in market dynamics have forced us to consider

a new future at the port,” TindallSchlicht says. “For many, many years, Port Milwaukee handled via ship 750,000 tons per year of coal. That industry has gone away, and it has taken several years to really consider and strategically plan for some of the port’s big new uses to support industry locally and globally.” Cruise shipping is among those uses. In December, the port entered into an agreement with Pearl Seas Cruises to give the company priority docking rights for its ships at the downtown Pier Wisconsin. The agreement helps solidify Milwaukee’s position as an embarkation and debarkation port for the company’s itineraries. Under the lease, Pearl Seas can extend the initial 10-year agreement until 2040. In January 2020, Viking Cruises chose Milwaukee as its turnaround homeport for some 20 voyages in 2022. “Cruise ships on the Great Lakes has been an exciting opportunity that many of us in the Great Lakes world have been working to realize fruitfully over years and we’re finally, notwithstanding the pandemic, realizing that opportunity,” Tindall-Schlicht says.

New infrastructure to spur agricultural exports Diversification includes the identification of new opportunities and new cargoes. The port, in coordination with The DeLong Co., is establishing a $31-million agricultural product maritime export facility. It will handle dried distillers grain and other agricultural commodities. “This is clear evidence of our ability to respond to market demand and build a future port here in Milwaukee that is flexible, that is dynamic and is really able to respond in a growing capacity for market demand and the products that sustain both local and international economies,” TindallSchlicht says. The DeLong facility will be online as early as 2022. In November, Port Milwaukee and infrastructure contractor Michels Corporation signed an up to 99-year lease agreement as the company expands its marine construction operation at the port. “Further diversification attempts really will be much more fully realized in the years ahead, post pandemic,” Tindall-Schlicht says. Looking ahead, a long-term coastal resiliency and capital asset approach will be essential to the port’s continued success. 29 29


Algoma vessel with salt shipment at Port Milwaukee

“Sustainability and coastal resiliency are going to be important,” TindallSchlicht says. “While providing economic impact and handling freight is of incredible value and the backbone of what we do, approaching that through multiple lens of stewardship, protecting capital assets and waterfront infrastructure, and making sure that our ongoing and growing operation is done in an environmentally sensitive and increasingly mature way is going to be a hallmark and is a hallmark of Port Milwaukee’s approach going forward.”

Meeting climate change challenges The port director says the impacts of climate change are undeniable. “Water fluctuations on the Great Lakes are nothing new,” he explains. “What we’ve seen over the last decade, where we went from historic lows to exceeding high, high levels of water, means that Port Milwaukee and other Great Lakes ports need to be prepared for climaterelated and Great Lakes weather-related impacts to our operation.” The port suffered some $2 million in damage to its international docks and terminals during a devastating storm on January 11, 2020. “Port Milwaukee had an exceptional safety and response plan which allowed us to react readily to that catastrophic 30

event,” Tindall-Schlicht recalls. “We have been able to maintain and grow our international season in 2020 despite that damage because we had a ready response for the crisis, and because we have really spectacular partners. It was a can-do attitude that allowed us to open and maintain our international season so successfully in 2020.” The capital asset renewal program is a “best practice model” that the port is implementing. “Most of the infrastructure that we use, and I would submit multiple other Great Lakes ports use, really was developed and brought into frequent use with the opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway System. So, you have infrastructure that’s 50, 60 years old,” TindallSchlicht says.

An essential multimodal hub in North America “(We) will really comprehensively inventory those assets, look at their future use, look at the cost related with their perpetual maintenance and, ultimately, with those tools, pursue in the future a robust funding approach to fully modernize the port and bring it forward for generations of use. “We are seeking to position ourselves as the foremost port on the Great Lakes and certainly an



essential multimodal and marine transportation hub in the heartland of North America,” Tindall-Schlicht continues. “Our aspirational goal is that over the next 10 to 15 years we will be able to bring a preponderance if not all of our capital assets to modern specification. It’s a big goal, but the Board of Harbor Commissioners here and the entire staff of Port Milwaukee are not shy in pursuing big goals, aspirational work and visionary projects.” n

Administration de pilotage des Laurentides Laurentian Pilotage Authority 31

Yves Demers

Economic Outlook

Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Region:




he COVID-19 pandemic, aggressive shift in monetary policy and political change in Washington have all made for an historic period. That said, the worst of the pandemic is presumably behind us as vaccines roll out across North America. The Federal Reserve will maintain exceptionally stimulative monetary policy well beyond 2021, as the central bank seeks to let inflation run above target in the near term. And, another dose of fiscal stimulus from Washington will be met by further spending measures from Ottawa in the year ahead. Against that backdrop, U.S. economic growth is forecast to grow 6.5% this calendar year, after a 3.5% contraction in 2020. Growth numbers could look exceptionally strong after the first quarter as containment measures ease and vaccination becomes more widespread. In Canada, early-year containment measures were meaningfully more restrictive in 32

Ontario and Quebec, which has set the year off on a weak note. Vaccine deployment has also begun more slowly. But, Canadian growth will still clock in at 6.0% this year (after a 5.4% decline in 2020), in part because of a strong late-year handoff, and should similarly see growth accelerate after the first quarter. As always, the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence region is a vital driver of North American economic output, employment and trade, accounting for roughly a third of combined Canadian and U.S. output, jobs and exports. The regional economy is expected to rebound strongly in 2021 and, despite another wave of lockdown measures currently in place in some jurisdictions, that process is well underway. Real GDP in the region is expected to jump 5.7% this year, after a 4.5% contraction estimated for 2020. In a nutshell, the region saw a slightly shallower decline than the rest of North America overall, and will similarly see a more modest recovery. Fiscal stimulus continues to provide a major support through the recovery. In fact, this pandemic provided a rare episode where household disposable income actually rose through a recession, thanks to massive government transfers in excess of 10% of GDP. In Canada, stimulus is expected to flow, albeit at a more modest pace, for the upcoming three years. In the U.S., the Biden Administration’s latest stimulus package will add another

$1.9 trillion of stimulus to an economy already recovering quickly. More broadly, the Democrat sweep could bring prospective policy changes in the areas of immigration, education and health care along with some form of a Green New Deal. Together, these should counter the impacts of increased taxes on corporations and high-income individuals. The auto sector recovered swiftly from pandemic lows, with sales in the U.S. and Canada carving out sharp V-shaped recoveries. U.S. sales have settled in above 16 mln annualized units in recent months, consistent with pre-COVID norms. This in part reflects a dramatic shift in consumer spending into goods and out of services. In other words, as service spending (including travel) has been necessarily curtailed by the pandemic, spending on cars, homes, sporting goods and other durables has surged. We suspect that these areas will moderate in the coming years as spending gradually gets redirected toward services once vaccination becomes more widespread—pentup travel demand will eventually be substantial. In the meantime, factory activity has come back relatively well, with North American auto production running at pre-COVID levels. The housing market is exceptionally strong on both sides of the border, as the pandemic has created new demand for larger suburban/rural properties, and mortgage rates probe historic lows. In the U.S., sales and starts are

Economic Outlook

at decade-plus highs, while prices are accelerating the most since 2006 (and even faster by some metrics). While some pockets in the South and West are outperforming, the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence region overall seems to be keeping up with national trends. This is a market that has quite a bit of room to run post-COVID, with valuations relative to income and interest rates still attractive, and demographic flows possibly getting a boost under the Biden Administration. In Ontario and Quebec, rural markets are surging, with prices up nearly 50% from pre-COVID levels in some pockets, while urban rents (namely in Toronto and Montreal) have come under pressure. After the Federal Reserve and Bank of Canada each cut interest rates to their effective lower bound, we expect rates to remain unchanged well into the recovery—it could be 2022 before we see movement on this front. The Bottom Line: The Great Lakes-St. Lawrence region’s economy was hammered by the pandemic, as no region avoided its grip. But, the downturn was slightly less severe than other areas, and the recovery is well underway. The combination of expansionary fiscal policy, highly-accommodative monetary policy and progressing vaccination sets the stage for a very strong expansion later in 2021—and the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence region will not be left out. Real GDP (% change) 2020E 2021F 2022F United States Canada Great Lakes-St. Lawrence

-3.5 6.5 4.5 -5.4 6.0 4.0 -4.5 5.7 3.7

Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Region Detail Ontario

-5.8 5.9 4.3


-5.5 5.7 4.1


-4.0 6.0 3.7


-3.2 6.0 3.1


-4.3 4.6 3.2


-3.7 6.3 4.1

New York



-4.1 4.9 2.4


-4.0 4.5 3.0


-4.5 5.7 3.0


Source: BMO Capital Markets Economics





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