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Partnership for Lake Ontario short sea shipping corridor with USA

Partnership for Lake Ontario short sea shipping corridor with USA

(Posted on 07/06/24)

The Hamilton Oshawa Port Authority (HOPA Ports) has announced an agreement with an affiliate of Beowulf Electricity & Data Inc (Beowulf), the U.S. owner of an expansive 1,800-acre site on the southern shore of Lake Ontario to create a bi-national, low-emission, short sea trade corridor. The new partnership will forge connections between the Port of Oshawa, Ontario and a new port in Somerset, New York by establishing a multimodal shipping terminal at the former location of New York’s last coal plant, which retired in 2020.

In a Memorandum of Understanding, the two parties pledged to enhance the current $494 billion annual US-Canadian trade partnership by creating a new two-way trade route that would significantly reduce carbon emissions and border congestion from truck traffic by introducing a marine transportation option. The Somerset location is approximately 37 miles directly southwest of the Port of Oshawa.

“The creation of a new port-to-port connection with our most important trade partner clearly makes economic and environmental sense,” said Ian Hamilton, President & CEO of HOPA Ports. “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 $6 billion annually. Both regional economies will benefit from a cleaner, faster and more efficient maritime trade corridor.” While marine transportation is already the most environmentally efficient mode of transportation per tonne-mile, the short distance between the two partner locations sets the stage for future opportunities to explore the use of alternative-fuel vessels.

The Somerset site has been undergoing redevelopment since the closure of the coal plant in 2020 and has worked with the State of New York on its transition to a new economic engine for Niagara County and western New York.  Making use of its existing energy infrastructure and nearby access to low-cost hydropower, a portion of the site is now home to the Lake Mariner Data facility, a high-tech campus focused on supporting various computational applications, including bitcoin mining, artificial intelligence and high-performance computing.

“Somerset’s promising future has long been anchored in its advantageous location along the shores of Lake Ontario, bolstered by valuable energy infrastructure and the exceptional quality of our local workforce,” said Paul Prager, CEO of Beowulf.  “We are thrilled that HOPA has recognized these same qualities and sought to partner with us on this exciting transportation project.”

Work will begin immediately on a detailed market analysis of the cargoes currently moving cross-border by truck with an origin or destination point at each port. The study will develop the value proposition for a new marine service, including transportation cost savings and GHG reductions. While technical and market studies on a future Port of Somerset get underway, the port’s owner, Beowulf will work with HOPA and key stakeholders in both countries (including local, state, provincial and federal officials, regulatory agencies, and business groups, among others)  to develop and make public a project plan and schedule for the Port of Somerset development, including  short-, mid- and long-term milestones and deliverables, as well as potential management options for a new port. A traffic study on potential port scenarios at Somerset will also be part of the public process.

The partnership also enhances the Port of Oshawa and Durham Region’s role as a key connection point for Canada-US trade, supporting regional economic development priorities in manufacturing, agrifood and others.

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