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Lower Lakes Towing

Lower Lakes Towing recently committed $15 million (USD) to convert its steam-powered ship SS Michipicoten to diesel power, reducing its fuel consumption and carbon emissions by more than 40 percent.

Built in 1952, the ship trades from Marquette, Michigan to Sault St. Marie, Ontario and is a primary mover of iron ore for Essar Steel.  She was repowered at the end of 2010 and is now operational with a considerably improved environmental footprint.  The new system is also expected to lower nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions by 33 percent and sulphur oxide (SOx) emissions by 46 percent.  These reductions will help diminish emission contributions to smog and acid rain.

The SS Michipicoten, which was bought by Port Dover, Ontario-based Lower Lakes Towing Ltd. in 1993, was the last steam-powered vessel in its fleet. The conversion involved installing a state-of-the-art engine and automated control systems. The SS Michipicoten has always operated in the fresh water environment of the Great Lakes and as a result has experienced very little structural deterioration over the years.  Along with significantly reducing its environmental footprint, the repowering will add another 20 years to the lifespan of the ship and improve its annual carrying capacity.

The design of the new engine room left space to accommodate future scrubbing technology that is expected to further reduce emissions.  For now, the technology for vessels operating in a fresh water environment is still being trialed.

Since the acquisition of Lower Lakes Towing by New York-based Rand Logistics Inc. in 2006, the company has invested more than $100 million (USD) in fleet expansion, life extension and operating improvement projects.

These investments have reduced its annualized fleet fuel consumption by 32 percent.  The total sulphur content in the fuel consumed by the fleet annually has decreased from 1.75 percent to 1.45 percent — which is significantly below the current international standards of 4.5 percent set out by, the International Maritime Organization, a regulatory body of the United Nations.

Further enhancements, including the SS Michipicoten repowering, will lower that annualized fleet number to 1.29 percent.

About Lower Lakes Towing Ltd.

Lower Lakes group of companies, which also includes the U.S. subsidiary Lower Lakes Transportation, carries approximately 18 million metric tons of iron ore, salt, milling grain, and construction materials annually on its 12 vessels through the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway System to markets such as Cleveland, Saginaw, Toledo and the Sarnia-Windsor corridor.