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Port of Oswego says increase in aluminum shipments puts it on pace for record season

Gino Geruntino
WRVO News (file photo)
The Port of Oswego says its seeing huge gains this season. (file photo)

The Port of Oswego says its working toward a record year, thanks to an increase in shipments of aluminum coming in through the St. Lawrence Seaway for use at Oswego's Novelis aluminum plant.

Port Director Zelko Kirincich says it's been a great year, and that the facility is expecting to receive about 20 barges of aluminum from facilities in Quebec and Ontario.

"We made some improvements in the way we handle aluminum, and the market has been rather positive with our local consumer," Kirincich explained. "So the season has actually been above average in terms of our prediction, and we expect the season overall, for us, to be a record season. Somewhere in the neighborhood of plus 25 percent over last year's."

Credit Gino Geruntino / WRVO
(file photo)

Kirincich says increasing demand, combined with Novelis’ expansion, will help the port see even more growth in the coming years.
“I think the next phase is going to be transportation, both the finished goods and raw goods," Kirincich said. "So I think the next couple years are going to be growth years, and then perhaps 2016-2017, there’ll be sort of a plateau. But don’t forget, Ford is now on the leading edge. GM is looking to catch up, Chrysler is looking to catch up, so demand is bright.”

But Kirincich says the added work, which was bunched up at the beginning of the shipping season because of a delay on the St. Lawrence Seaway, has helped the facility become much more efficient with its unloading process.

"A typical ship’s stay now is less than a day," Kirincich said. "It depends on the volume, but we’ll work the ship steadily, and the production rates are incredible. We exceed over 400 metric tons per hour. I can actually say 450 metric tons per hour, which means we are rather busy. In our terms, that’s almost double the production we did last year.”

With ships staying for less time, more work gets done and more ships can make deliveries. He says this season he expects the port to receive about 120,000 metric tons of aluminum. That doesn't include shipments of grain and salt, which the facility also receives and sends out.

But increased efficiency isn't the only thing happening at the Port of Oswego. Kirincich says the facility will soon add more rail lines to move freight more conveniently.

"It's faster, further, and most importantly, a lot more economical," Kirincich said. "They'll be a lot more economical, more competitive. A train service is a lot more competitive and economically friendly. I believe a train service will save a shipper close to 30-40 percent over a truck service. We envision our market growing, particularly to center states."

The Port of Oswego currently sends aluminum, grain and salt shipments to about a dozen states, including as far away as Texas, Indiana and North Carolina.