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BusINess » Business Transportation » Project shipments boosting Burns Harbor port business

Project shipments boosting Burns Harbor port business

Large poles to be assembled as part of a wind turbine sit in storage on earlier this month at the Port of Indiana Burns Harbor. (Photograph by The Times.)

Large poles to be assembled as part of a wind turbine sit in storage on earlier this month at the Port of Indiana Burns Harbor. (Photograph by The Times.)

Shipments at the Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor are up 55 percent so far this year compared to the same point in 2009 as stronger economic conditions helped land the largest project cargo shipment in the port’s 40-year history.

And executives from the port and its general cargo terminal operator believes there may be opportunities to catch more business in 2011.

At a business meeting Thursday at the Portage Yacht Club for the Ports of Indiana Commission, Burns Harbor Port Director Peter Laman said he hopes to keep strong momentum through the end of the 2010 shipping season. Since April, the port has handled more than 1 million tons of cargo, and by year’s end Laman estimated the total could be about 1.3 million tons.

“It has been a fairly good year for us,” Laman said.

Michel Tosini, executive vice president for Montreal-based Federal Marine Terminals Inc., said business at the Burns Harbor port has been better than expected and upgraded its 2010 tonnage projection made in June by 20 percent.

Shipments of project cargo—such as wind turbine components and equipment tied to the BP Whiting Refinery modernization effort—are at 80,000 tons this year, which is up from 18,000 through all of 2009. Project cargo describes heavy or oversized items that generally are too large to fit in a normal shipping container or conventional transporter.

The port soon will wrap up handling the final two of 11 ships to send components for 134 wind turbines to an Invenergy LLC wind development in Illinois. The shipments, which took place over multiple months, are part of the largest project cargo effort in the port’s history.

The port also handled its first export of wind turbine components from an Acconia Windpower plant in Iowa to Nova Scotia. While the majority of shipments handled at the port are imported, Tosini said the successful management of the Acconia and Invenergy projects shows that Burns Harbor can support a burgeoning wind energy market. He said more money is being spent on sending business development officials to trade shows to capture opportunities for the port.

“The attention of handling that type of business brings some export oportunity,” Tosini said.

Laman said mainstay businesses at the port such as grain and limestone have shown double-digit increases year-over-year, and coke shipments are up more than 300 percent compared to last year.

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