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 Post subject: Re: Belle River and Monroe Power Plant retirements announced
Unread postPosted: May 22, 2017, 12:10 pm 

Joined: March 13, 2010, 10:51 am
Posts: 872
One could argue that the entire development of naval architecture on the Great Lakes was determined by the need to avoid transshipment. An overall aim of the logistical transport of goods is to reduce or ideally eliminate transshipment, which can (and often does) result in damage, pilferage, and an overall inefficient use of money, plant, and labor. The case of the Great Lakes carferries is a prime example. The time and cost of breaking down freight from rail cars to load aboard a ship, only to have to break that freight at the destination for replacement back onto rail cars drove the management of the Pere Marquette, for example, batty, not too mention the capital investment in warehouses. Better to just put the whole car aboard and avoid all that, as well as the frequent work stoppages by dock wallopers on both sides of Lake Michigan. The development of the self-unloader and present day containerization practices are the most obvious attempts to rationalize cargo handling. Buffalo was a huge transshipment point for the water transport of grain since the St. Lawrence and (earlier) Welland Canals precluded direct shipment from the Lakehead to Canadian "ocean" ports like Montréal and Québec by far more economical "lakers" in excess of 258 feet in length, hence the primacy of the long-gone but unique canaller back in the day. Buffalo also sent a lot of grain down the Erie Canal and the succeeding New York State Barge Canal to Albany and New York City for shipment on saltwater. The appearance in the 1920s and beyond of low slung Diesel-powered carriers capable of negotiating both the lakes and the Barge Canal sought to avoid transshipment of grain for the New York market. The opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway in 1959 changed everything. One can engage a Seawaymax FoC bulker relatively cheaply to haul grain directly from Duluth or Thunder Bay to whatever overseas destination requires it.


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 Post subject: Re: Belle River and Monroe Power Plant retirements announced
Unread postPosted: May 22, 2017, 8:42 am 

Joined: December 8, 2010, 1:03 pm
Posts: 16
Location: Buffalo, NY
The time for Buffalo as a grain transshipment port has come and gone unfortunately. It's far more economical to run a saltwater hull to Duluth/Thunder Bay and carry it to the ocean via the seaway than running the transshipment route if the grain is foreign-bound. Less handling, less cargo dwell time, fewer parties involved and it provides an excellent backhaul option which makes it very attractive to vessel operators who will in turn offer to haul a grain load for a song rather than steam out of the lakes empty.

What remains of grain transshipment market is pretty well locked down by the Canadian fleets.


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 Post subject: Re: Belle River and Monroe Power Plant retirements announced
Unread postPosted: May 21, 2017, 7:36 pm 
The more times a cargo is handled the bigger the chance for damage. I know Brian W. would know better than me, but didn't
Buffalo used to be a transshipment port? There's still iron ore to be hauled, plus stone and other commodities. I just don't think the money would be spent to make a transshipment facility/port. Not with the Canadian fleets hauling grain from Lake Superior.


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 Post subject: Re: Belle River and Monroe Power Plant retirements announced
Unread postPosted: May 21, 2017, 5:27 pm 
Would the American fleets be able to take advantage of the grian trade by setting up transshipment facilities on Lake Ontario or eastern Lake Erie? The American fleets could transport grain from Duluth to such facilities, then other shipping companies could load grain there and take it across the Atlantic. Other shipping companies might like such an arrangement because they wouldn't have to travel he full length of the seaway system to pick up wheat. Of course, this wouldn't save the 1000 footers, but it could help the fleets survive. Are there any other dry bulk commodities that could benefit from such a transshipment arrangement? Looking forward to hearing everyones thoughts.


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 Post subject: Re: Belle River and Monroe Power Plant retirements announced
Unread postPosted: May 21, 2017, 9:58 am 
Mining coal is down to well less than 100,000 thousand jobs. Any emphasis on coal would not bring back jobs to that industry like when the great John L. Lewis was in charge. Wind generation and solar power jobs is one of the fastest growing segments in the economy. And this is when some states pass laws to making fracking easier and installing solar panels harder.


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 Post subject: Re: Belle River and Monroe Power Plant retirements announced
Unread postPosted: May 20, 2017, 7:59 pm 

Joined: July 2, 2010, 1:36 pm
Posts: 552
Ohio Bob wrote:
Bad science wins out and we can all pay a lot more now.


That is certainly one opinion.

If we want to see post-coal shipping on the Great Lakes flourish, though, we might want to consider making it so the true cost of burning fossil fuels / emitting carbon dioxide is priced into the economy more accurately than it is today. If that was the case, you'd see a lot more cargo (and people) moving on North America's waterways (especially the Great Lakes!) and the decline of coal tonnage wouldn't be such a dire prospect for people who like to see ships sailing the Inland Seas.

In our current economy, the least fuel-efficient (and most carbon-emitting) modes of transportation are often subsidized by our tax dollars, while more efficient (and safer, and less intrusive) ways to move goods and people (like shipping) are either ignored or actively left out of favor. The oil and gas industry gets tons of handouts from our governments, which in the long term is something that will likely only benefit a handful of big shots while the rest of us and our descendents are left to clean up the mess and endure continual shocks to the economy from chaotically changing climate. If we were to calculate the amount of damage to the economy that fossil fuel-induced climate change is causing now and is almost certain to cause over the coming decades (something that even the U.S. Military considers to be the facts on the ground!) and if we were to price that into the cost of fuel today, shipping would suddenly look like a great option for a lot of things that currently move by air, government-subsidized roads, or certain parts of land-based transportation. There's certainly a place for jet air freight, personal cars, and freight trucking in a future economy. If we were to simply level the playing field, or even provide some incentives to use more efficient modes, ship traffic, rail transport, and other more cost-effective ways to move people and goods would play a greater role.

Pricing the true cost of burning fossil fuels all at once would probably be a significant shock to the economy, but time is running out to change things enough to prevent massive economic disruption from climate change in the near future. We in the U.S. and Canada have a huge opportunity to come together and work on a goal even bigger than the Manhattan Project or the Moon Shot. If we were to pace such a venture correctly and execute it meaningfully, a really cool side-effect of our labors would likely be a bustling, growing shipping industry. Raw materials for the steel and building industries, food items, manufactured goods, and even people will still need to move around even if coal does not. Letting shipping shoulder its true share of the workload would means job security for our friends, family, and neighbors in the maritime industry as well as plenty of boats to watch from the shores of the Lakes.


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 Post subject: Re: Belle River and Monroe Power Plant retirements announced
Unread postPosted: May 20, 2017, 3:20 pm 

Joined: March 15, 2010, 2:14 pm
Posts: 158
Location: Rossford, Ohio
Bad science wins out and we can all pay a lot more now.


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 Post subject: Re: Belle River and Monroe Power Plant retirements announced
Unread postPosted: May 20, 2017, 1:59 pm 
I know this may sound crazy to all of you and please don't get me for my ideas and suggestion here as it only a thought. With the phasing out of coal someday and as one poster just put it about ASC among the possible fleets being hit the hardest, again some thoughts and ideas come to mind at least for me. Could we possibly see maybe some US fleets either merge or go out of business once coal ends? Again I know it sounds crazy but, would ASC perhaps consider if most of their footers are someday gone maybe selling some of their ships to say GLF? Yeah I know they may not want to sell to a competitor but, ASC has done some runs that GLF would normally end up by doing. Again just a thought only and I can someday see the Block and Sykes with another firm especially with the closing down of the loading dock in Escanaba. Again just my thought only on all of this!


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 Post subject: Re: Belle River and Monroe Power Plant retirements announced
Unread postPosted: May 20, 2017, 8:18 am 

Joined: April 19, 2011, 4:01 pm
Posts: 207
I would say if and when the first footers are cut it, it will be from the fleets which have not spent the capital to modernize those boats. ASC comes to mind. Aside from the scrubber install on the American Spirit, they just seem to be focused on keeping them operating at the bare minimum. With 2 steamers and 4 diesels at the wall, when coal is finally phased out, I bet they will be hit the hardest. Fleets like Interlake and GLF would seem to be better positioned to keep going with whatever happens in the future.


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 Post subject: Re: Belle River and Monroe Power Plant retirements announced
Unread postPosted: May 19, 2017, 9:37 pm 
I almost sailed on the lakes back in 1986, but after talking to a few people familiar with the undustry, I wenr into Information Technology, instead.

There is no future in blast furnaces, only electric-arc furnaces, and every time there is a recession in the U.S., the number of blast furnaces declines. As an example, since the recession of 2008-2009, four blast furnaces have been dismantled, including one of the largest at Sparrows Point, MD and that had been built in 1978.

In 1973, the U.S. produced 141 million tons of raw steel, in 2015 it was 87 million tons.

The mini-mills are moving into steel segments that were the domain of the integrated mills. Companies like Nucor make money, while U.S. Steel loses money. Mini-mills now make a majority of raw-steel making capacity in the US.

The youngest thousand footer is 36-years old, while the oldest is 45. By the time the retirements of the noted thermal plants are closed, those ships in the coal trade will either be moved into hauling ore pellets to whatever integrated steel mills are still operating or more likely, they will be dismantled.

I wish I could be more optimistic, but after observing the lake shipping industry for the past 42 years, I can only see the continued closing of blast furnace capacity - and this is something government can't change.


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 Post subject: Re: Belle River and Monroe Power Plant retirements announced
Unread postPosted: May 19, 2017, 8:50 am 
Darryl wrote:
Part of the changes are dependent on keeping a strong domestic (United States and Canada) steel industry. Great Lakes blast furnaces as just reported on these pages are running at capacities in the 70 percent range. It would be nice to see that 20 percent higher. But as you know that is political and even though the stock market has acted like this may happen, many on both sides of the fence will work agin' it. As new industries on the horizon to replace coal, maybe more people will be hauled on ferries and so forth as the population grows. Also, iron nuggets could help, but maybe not.


Iron nuggets have a higher iron concentration (90+%) than typical ore pellets (~60%) which means that fewer ships would be required to supply the same market demand for iron made in blast furnaces. Electric furnaces are another potential customer but many of those are located inland which makes water transportation less attractive. I think no matter how you look at it, the Great Lakes shipping industry faces a challenging future. The phasing out of coal and the continual and gradual contraction of the steel industry says it all. There isn't enough overseas demand to make up for these losses by trans-shipping down the Seaway. This could all change but the view from today looks bleak.


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 Post subject: Re: Belle River and Monroe Power Plant retirements announced
Unread postPosted: May 19, 2017, 7:51 am 
Part of the changes are dependent on keeping a strong domestic (United States and Canada) steel industry. Great Lakes blast furnaces as just reported on these pages are running at capacities in the 70 percent range. It would be nice to see that 20 percent higher. But as you know that is political and even though the stock market has acted like this may happen, many on both sides of the fence will work agin' it. As new industries on the horizon to replace coal, maybe more people will be hauled on ferries and so forth as the population grows. Also, iron nuggets could help, but maybe not.


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 Post subject: Re: Belle River and Monroe Power Plant retirements announced
Unread postPosted: May 18, 2017, 8:49 pm 
Not trying to sound negative so just trying to make a point here is all but, to me there isn't many US ships that are capable of making any type of long Seaway runs after the end of coal someday as most are beyond the standard 740 X 78 size limits. Last year you had three from ASC the American Mariner, Boland and H. Lee White along with the Block and Jackson whom all made Seaway Trips. At only 5 hulls that is not a lot of US ships IMO making long haul Seaway trips to me at least. The Sykes I don't believe had made any Seaway runs unless early in her career and the ASC river-class have not been out to the Seaway in a few years. As far as I know, the Calumet and Manitowoc have never made Seaway Trips? There not too many Ships on the US side that could fit through the Seaway and Welland Locks. Time will tell what the future holds but, things will change that is for certain and we all may not want to see and know what the future may be!


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 Post subject: Re: Belle River and Monroe Power Plant retirements announced
Unread postPosted: May 18, 2017, 1:34 pm 

Joined: December 8, 2010, 1:03 pm
Posts: 16
Location: Buffalo, NY
The end of coal will have a major impact on the 1000fters for sure, if not spell the end for the majority of them alltogether. There just isn't another commodity out there right now that could replace the tonnage needed to keep them operational profitably.

The export transshipment market via the seaway could certainly provide more work for seawaymax hulls currently working the lakes, but the market is already pretty cutthroat among the Canadian fleet from what I understand and will be a tough nut to crack for US Flag fleets.

In a perfect world and if I was pulling the strings at one of these companies, I would be taking a good hard look at gutting and refitting a 1000fter with tanks and handling systems to haul LNG or CNG as a way to remarket these ships since all of these plants are going to Natural Gas for fuel. It may not prove possible or profitable, but there aren't many other options.


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 Post subject: Re: Belle River and Monroe Power Plant retirements announced
Unread postPosted: May 18, 2017, 12:53 pm 
Be prepared to pay a lot more for your hydro! Ask anyone in Ontario, highest rates in North America!


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