HOPA Ports and Beowulf partner to establish low-emission trade corridor across Lake Ontario

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CaDCR staff writer

The Hamilton Oshawa Port Authority (HOPA Ports) has announced a new agreement with Beowulf Electricity & Data Inc., the U.S. owner of an1,800-acre site on the southern shore of Lake Ontario.

The partnership creates a bi-national, low-emission, short-sea trade corridor between the Port of Oshawa, Ontario, and a new port in Somerset, New York.

The MOU outlines specific goals for the new Port of Somerset, including a low carbon emission profile, sustainable carbon practices, enhanced supply chain resilience, versatile infrastructure accommodating diverse cargo, year-round operation, redevelopment, and future growth opportunities on brownfields, as well as strategic investment and growth in Niagara County and Upstate New York.

“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.”

A multimodal shipping terminal will be built at the site of New York’s last coal plant, which ceased operations in 2020. A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed by both parties aims to enhance the current $494 billion annual US-Canadian trade partnership by creating a new two-way trade route.

The site is expected to significantly reduce carbon emissions and border congestion from truck traffic by introducing a marine transportation option. The Somerset site is located approximately 37 miles southwest of the Port of Oshawa.

“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.”

Since the coal plant’s closure in 2020, the Somerset site has been undergoing redevelopment, working with the State of New York to transition into a new economic engine for Niagara County and western New York. Part of the site is now home to the Lake Mariner Data facility, which supports various computational applications, including bitcoin mining, artificial intelligence, and high-performance computing.

“Niagara County’s location as a border community with Canada has always been a major focus of our efforts to drive economic growth and opportunity, and today’s announcement will unlock that potential and result in significant investment in our region,” said Becky Wydysh, Chairman of the Niagara County Legislature. “The fact that the port would be sited at the former Somerset coal plant is a tremendous reuse of that property and needed in a community that took a big hit in the loss of revenue and jobs when the coal plant closed.”

Work is set to begin on a detailed market analysis of the cargoes currently moving cross-border by truck, originating or destined for each port. The study will develop the value proposition for a new marine service, including transportation cost savings and GHG reductions. Beowulf will work with HOPA and key stakeholders in both countries to develop and publicize a project plan and schedule for the Port of Somerset development, including milestones and deliverables, as well as potential management options for the new port. A traffic study on potential port scenarios at Somerset will also be part of the public process.

The partnership will also enhance 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 other sectors.

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