Thunder Bay

Thunder Bay port authority CEO optimistic about 2018 shipping season

A backlog of grain, coupled with increasing shipments of relatively-unusual cargo like steel, wind turbines, and pipe, should all add up to a busy year at Thunder Bay's port, the CEO of the city's port authority says.

Tim Heney expects 2018 to be a busy one at the city's port

Tim Heney, Thunder Bay Port Authority CEO, said a delay to the opening of the Seaway between Lake Ontario and Montreal should not have an impact on Thunder Bay. (Jeff Walters/CBC)

A backlog of grain, coupled with increasing shipments of relatively-unusual cargo like steel, wind turbines, and pipe, should all add up to a busy year at Thunder Bay's port, the CEO of the city's port authority says.

"There's a lot more carryover this year than usual," Tim Heney said Thursday. "It was a rough winter in the prairies; they had a lot of trouble getting grain across the Rockies to Vancouver, so there's more leftover this year than usual, which bodes well."

"The prices are starting to come up a bit, so the farmers are going to want to start shipping it," he said. "It's looking very positive at this point."

Thunder Bay's port, Heney said, is well-positioned to handle a surge in grain shipping, as it has the capacity to move large quantities of grain.

"We really only run about half to 30 per cent of capacity of the port," he said. "To handle surges is what Thunder Bay can do."

But it's not just grain quantities that have Heney optimistic.

Shipping season open

"We've had the first shipment of pipe last year, repeat shipments of steel will be here again," he said. "And we're looking for a lot more wind turbines this year than we've done in prior years, as well."

"It's going to be a good year, I think."

The Thunder Bay port's shipping season officially opened this week, when the first ship CSL Welland arrived in port on Tuesday, March 27. The annual Top Hat Ceremony kicking off the season was held Thursday.

This year's opening is slightly later than average, Heney said, as things usually get underway by about March 24.

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