Short sea US/Canada link


HOPA Ports and Beowulf are partnering to create a short shipping route across Lake Ontario, connecting existing and new ports on opposite shores.

The Hamilton Oshawa Port Authority (HOPA Ports) has entered into an agreement with Beowulf Electricity & Data Inc (Beowulf) to try and set up a short sea service across Lake Ontario.

The border between the US and Canada runs through Lake Ontario. Beowulf is the US owner of an expansive 1,800-acre site on the southern shore of the lake.

The partnership aims to create a “bi-national, low-emission, short sea trade corridor” that connects the Port of Oshawa, Ontario with a new port in Somerset, New York at the former location of New York’s last coal plant. The location is approximately 37 miles directly southwest of the Port of Oshawa.

A new shipping service should reduce carbon emissions and border congestion from truck traffic by introducing a marine option.

“The creation of a new port-to-port connection with our most important trade partner makes economic and environmental sense,” said Ian Hamilton, President & CEO of HOPA Ports.

A short sea service would bypass the busiest land border between Canada and the US / Credit: HOPA

“Southern Ontario is struggling to keep up with the demand on its highways; the economic cost of congestion in the greater Toronto/Hamilton area is estimated to be up to C$6 billion annually. Both regional economies will benefit from a cleaner, faster and more efficient maritime trade corridor.”

Short sea container services on the St Lawrence Seaway have been tried before, but none have had any lasting success.

Some of the main obstacles include the winter closure, the cost of operating vessels with US and Canadian crews, lock fees and the cost of pilotage on the Seaway.

A point-to-point service across Lake Ontario is a much simpler proposition in this respect.

In addition, HOPA notes that the short distance sets the stage for future opportunities to explore the use of alternatively-fuelled vessels.

HOPA said that work will begin immediately on a detailed cargo and market analysis. The study will develop the value proposition for a new marine service, including transportation cost savings and GHG reductions.

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