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Regional Commerce Flows through Oswego’s Port Authority

By Rebekkah McKalsen, Contributing Writer

OSWEGO, NY – The impact of the Port Authority in Oswego is misunderstood by some people, according to executive director Jonathan Daniels.

“People don’t understand that we are an international port, and we take locally grown crops to domestic and international markets,” Daniels explained. “We serve as a facilitator and a mediator for the more than 10 different companies that we are serving now. Our port’s impact is not only felt locally, but regionally.”

Aluminum, in all shapes and sizes, is a common sight at the Port Authority these days.
Aluminum, in all shapes and sizes, is a common sight at the Port Authority these days.

Daniels noted that shipments of aluminum have increased, with more than 7,500 tons of aluminum from Quebec currently at the port.

The St. Lawrence Seaway reported that the Port Authority in Oswego has had six aluminum shipments already with McKeil Marine and that 11 more have been scheduled before the end of the season.

Daniels said that the aluminum is destined for the Novelis Mill, located five miles east of the port.

The shipping of windmill components has also increased, not only for Oswego’s port but nationally as well.

According to the St. Lawrence Seaway, shipments of general cargo, which includes wind turbines, are up 404 percent.

Rebecca McGill, director of trade development for the Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation, noted that the oversized components can move more economically by water to ports, where they are then moved by truck or rail to their destinations.

Such an arrangement can take time, however.

In mid-June, the M/V Flinterstream offloaded 25 nacelles and 25 hubs at the Port of Oswego Authority for a windmill project in Howard – a town south of Cayuga Lake – some of which are still at the port.

“Each day we ship out one hub and one nacelle [to the project] by truck,” Daniels said.

The ship also offloaded blades, tower sections, and 11 containers which have since been trucked to a windmill project in Euclid, Ohio.

Daniels explained the importance of the port as a facilitator to businesses, “The port is an important part of business methodology for the companies that we handle. We are currently serving companies from markets as varied as manufacturing, clean energy and nuclear power.”

Daniels said that the port has supported the Ginna nuclear power plant in Rochester by loading a crane destined for the plant onto tug and barge, ensuring a safe and timely delivery.

Daniels also noted that the port has had 400 tons of nuclear transformers installed as part of its expansions.

“We are maximizing the utilization of existing assets [through our expansions],”  he explained.

Right now, the port is in what Daniels called Phase One of the East Terminal Project, a $250,000 project involving the widening of an entrance as well as the institution of new security measures such as new access control units and a guard check in order to promote overall efficiency, security and ease of access.

“We are always improving and expanding,” he said.

The port’s dedication to efficiency is crucial to their continued success because, according to the latest statistics from the St. Lawrence Seaway, grain shipments are up more than 20 percent across the board due to an international demand for American and Canadian wheat.

McGill noted respectable gains this year for both general cargo and agricultural products; “The Seaway has experienced a competitive advantage through June due to a Russian grain export ban; however, with its lifting, the U.S. could expect grain exports to level out in the months to come.”

The rise in grains has certainly been noticed at the Port Authority in Oswego, with a recent boom in wheat shipments.

Daniels said that more than 40,000 bushels of wheat have come through this week alone due to the beginning of the wheat harvest.

“And this is only week one! We’re loading out soybeans by railcar and just as quickly refilling their places with wheat,” he added.

With so much of the harvest and other cargo coming and going through the port, Daniels is working towards his goal of “creating a critical mass of shipments” which will best accommodate the demands of the area while maintaining efficiency, accuracy and ease of access.

The port employs throughout the season about 96 people, Daniels said, and he intends to work with those numbers in order to ensure a quality shipping experience for all businesses involved.