Thank you. That's an important question.
The economics of Churchill, if you are a player like the Canadian Wheat Board or a commercial operator whose value base is based on the farm gate, is simply that of drawing a line from the farm gate to the customer and saying, “What's the most cost-effective way to move that grain? It doesn't matter whether I own the terminal or not. It doesn't matter about any other pieces. How do I get it from point A to point B?” Churchill's advantage for customers going east is roughly $22 or $23 from Thunder Bay to a transfer elevator on the St. Lawrence—at least that was the number when I was a marketing manager. The ocean freight differential at that time—that is, instead of the customer picking it up on the St. Lawrence and going to Churchill—varied by the season and by customer, of course, depending on whether they had ice-reinforced ships. But you were looking at a number anywhere in the order of $8, which would have been a very aggressive offer to have them move that extra distance by ocean. These numbers are rough, but to the prairie farmer they're looking at a $14-a-tonne loss when that particular transshipment doesn't move through Churchill.
Ultimately, the Canadian Wheat Board is the only major shipper. There have been some other players that have moved small volumes to Churchill, but it is because you need to have a large commercial program. Churchill, of course, has a limited season. Customers need grain year-round, so you have to have a large enough program to service the customer somewhere else during the time Churchill isn't available and still have the capacity to adjust that at the most cost-saving pace, until such time as you can use Churchill again.
That's why a single-desk operation makes a lot of money using Churchill and why, ultimately, it'll be tough to create the economic incentives otherwise. Frankly, it'll be largely a false economy to try to get some private player to reciprocate that, unless you have a really large commercial operator, predominantly St. Lawrence-based, that wants all of a sudden to use a port that they don't own. There's just a bunch of pieces that are really hard to put together.
To the credit of the entrepreneurs involved on that line—both the owners of the line and the port—they've made a lot of effort. They have been trying. Since I've left the industry, I know people who have been involved in that development process. They've made tons of efforts to try to create an opportunity, but they just can't capture the same value that you have when you have the transferability of the single desk program.