Cargo Business Newswire Archives
Summary for January 11 - January 15, 2010:
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Monday, January 11, 2010

Top Story

Asia stocks edge up on China exports, freight

Asian stocks mostly nudged higher on Monday, spurred by data showing growth in Chinese exports for the first time in more than year.

China’s exports climbed 17.7 per cent, well ahead of expectations, and followed last month’s strong export data from South Korea and Taiwan. Meanwhile, a 56 per cent surge in imports indicated domestic demand remained buoyant.

Meanwhile, the Chinese trade data helped fuel a strong bounce in freight stocks. Cosco Pacific the shipping group, added 6.9 per cent to HK$12.48, while port operator China Merchant Holdings gained 5.3 per cent to HK$27.80. Exporter Li & Fung gained 2.4 per cent to HK$34.65.

-Financial Times

U.S. Defense Logistics Agency to contract out $10 bil food delivery contracts

One of the least publicized elements of the cost of the fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq is the need to truck into Iraq and landlocked Afghanistan almost all the perishable and non-perishable food items consumed by U.S. forces and civilian personnel.

The Defense Logistics Agency is preparing to contract out delivery of more than $10 billion worth of food to U.S. troops and other government personnel serving in Iraq, Afghanistan, Kuwait and Jordan. The solicitation is broken into two contracts -- one for Afghanistan for five years and another for Iraq, Kuwait and Jordan for four years.

-Washington Post

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Future of Cleveland Port Authority in doubt

Does Cleveland still need a port authority?

The Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority ended its 41st year in critical condition. The taxpayer-subsidized agency lost its president and chief executive, its maritime director and its government liaison.

Its governing board drew criticism for its secretive ways and lax oversight. The agency indefinitely postponed a $500 million plan to move from downtown to a larger site off East 55th Street, a move the port board had hoped would attract international container ships.

And board members disclosed that the authority lacked enough money to ensure that Cleveland's harbor remains clear enough to function as a port.

-The Cleveland Plain-Dealer

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Bad timing for oil and gas shipping labor strikes in Australia

A series of labor strikes at Australian shipping companies servicing the oil and gas sector are a "national economic threat," the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry said Monday.

Members of the Maritime Union have stopped work a number of times since November to demand increased wages, impacting the operations of companies such as Woodside Petroleum Ltd. and Chevron Corp., at a time of rapid expansion in the sector.

The strikes--five 24-48 hour work stoppages in total since November--come at a time of concerns for looming labor shortages as Australia's oil and natural gas sector starts work on a number of multi-billion projects, foremost the Chevron-operated A$43 billion Gorgon liquefied natural gas project.


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Crowley restructures senior management

Crowley Maritime Corporation has announced a corporate restructuring involving three senior managers.

John Douglass takes over as senior vice president and general manager of Crowley's Puerto Rico and Caribbean liner services; Rob Grune will now be senior vice president and general manager of Crowley's petroleum transportation group. Rockwell Smith, Crowley's senior vice president and general manager based in Seattle, will assume responsibility for all of Crowley's marine contract services both domestically and internationally. Smith will continue to oversee the company's Alaska operations, as well as West Coast harbor services, the company said.

Douglass and Grune will remain in Jacksonville, the company’s main headquarters, and continue to report to Tom Crowley, chairman, president and CEO, the company said.


Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Top Story

China rail expands rapidly

At a national railways work conference in Beijing, Railways Minister Liu Zhijun forecast that in 2010 the larger rail network would carry 3.5 billion tons of freight, up 5.4% year on year.

In 2009, a total of 1.52 billion journeys were made, and 3.32 billion tons of freight were transported, both breaking records.

China's railways in operation reached 86,000 kilometers (km) in length by the end of 2009, second only to the United States.

Railway investments in 2009 alone were more than the total amount from 1995 to 2005, hitting $88 billion, up 79% year on year, according to the MOR.

-China Economic Review

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Report: Transport stimulus not creating more jobs yet

An Associated Press analysis of stimulus spending found that it didn't matter if a lot of money was spent on highways or none at all: Local unemployment rates rose and fell regardless. And the stimulus spending only barely helped the beleaguered construction industry, the analysis showed.

Road spending would total nearly $28 billion of the Jobs for Main Street Act, a $75 billion second stimulus to help lower the unemployment rate and improve the dismal job market for construction workers. The Senate is expected to consider the House-approved bill this month.

But AP's analysis, which was reviewed by independent economists at five universities, showed the strategy of pumping transportation money into counties hasn't affected local unemployment rates so far.

-ABC News/AP

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Georgia port handles additional Mercedes-Benz business

More than 1,600 high-end autos rolled down the ramp of Mediterranean Ocean Line's massive auto transport vessel Monday as Mercedes-Benz USA opened the doors on its newest vehicle-processing center at the Port of Brunswick.

The ship's arrival marks the first delivery of Mercedes imports to Brunswick's Colonel's Island Terminal.

Ports America Inc. served as the stevedore, directing the unloading operations on the MOL vessel, Paradise Ace.

Mercedes' 70,000-square-foot facility is the second vehicle-processing center to locate on the south side of Colonel's Island Terminal. The center consolidates the company's Southeastern shipping operations and makes the Port of Brunswick its South Atlantic hub.

The new facility is expected to bring more than 40,000 Mercedes-Benz vehicles into the port annually, increasing the overall total units at Colonel's Island Terminal by more than 16 percent this year.

-Savannah Morning News

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Maersk victimized by internal piracy

In charging papers, prosecutors with the U.S. Attorney's Office for Western Washington claim a clerk at Maersk's Sumner office stole more than $250,000 from the shipping giant through a long-running wire fraud.

Federal prosecutors have charged Sumner resident Virginia Lee Uy with wire fraud, alleging the 47-year-old bilked the company through a scheme involving falsified billing statements sent to vendors.

From June 2006 and continuing until her termination in June 2009, federal prosecutors claim Uy sent bogus check requests to obtain payments from her employer. To do so, she is alleged to have altered invoices and purchase orders for supplies, then absconded with the checks issued by Maersk.

In a separate scam, Uy allegedly over-billed Maersk for vendor services, prompting the company to send excessive payments to vendors. The vendors would then refund the excess payment to the Sumner subsidiary where Uy was employed, allowing her steal the checks and deposit them in bank accounts she controlled.

Prosecutors claim Uy repeated the frauds at least 116 times before she was caught. In total she's alleged to have made off with $263,600.

-Seattle P-I

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Container with PETN punctured at NC port

Officials shut down a North Carolina port and urged people to leave the area Tuesday after a forklift operator punctured at least one container filled with a powerful explosive.

The material was pentaerythritol tetranitrate, but it's not clear what form it was in, Mayor Jerry Jones said.

The chemical is also known as PETN, the substance authorities say was part of a device a Nigerian man used to try to bring down a Detroit-bound Northwest flight on Christmas Day. PETN is often used in military explosives and found inside blasting caps. It is also the primary ingredient in detonating cords used for industrial explosions.

Jones said the damage appeared to be an accident and there were no concerns about terrorism. He said a dock worker punctured a container as he was unloading barrels of the chemical.

-Wilmington (NC) Star News

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Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Top Story

Three Virginia port bids to be reviewed by independent panel

The appointment of an independent review panel to weigh three proposals by private groups interested in leasing or helping to operate the Virginia Port Authority's terminals will be made by the incoming administration in Richmond, according to a spokeswoman for Gov.-elect Bob McDonnell.

Last year, three private firms - CenterPoint Properties Trust, The Carlyle Group and a partnership of Carrix Inc. and Goldman Sachs - submitted proposals to form profit-sharing, operating partnerships with the Virginia Port Authority lasting as long as 60 years.

The Port Authority would continue to own the port, while the private groups offer hundreds of millions of dollars in upfront cash payments and other inducements to manage the port's operations. The upfront cash offers range from $250 million to as much as $700 million.

-The Virginian Pilot

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BP, ConocoPhillips to invite shipping bids for Alaskan natural gas project

The pipeline venture of BP Plc and ConocoPhillips will in April invite bids from companies interested in shipping Alaskan natural gas to Canada and the rest of the U.S. to gauge demand for the $30 billion project.

The “open season” will last until at least October, Denali -- The Alaska Gas Pipeline LLC said in a statement. It will allow the project to understand potential needs and to “consider our next steps,” Bud Fackrell, Denali’s president, said in the statement on the project Web site yesterday.


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Freight transport rose 1.8 percent in November

The Freight Transportation Services Index (TSI) rose 1.8 percent in November from its October level, rising after two consecutive monthly declines, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) reported today.

The Freight TSI rose in four of the last six months, the BTS said. The index has increased 2.9 percent in six months, following three consecutive monthly increases that began in June.

The November Freight TSI of 96.2 is a 2.9 percent increase from the recent low of 93.5 reached in May, the BTS said. In May, the index was at its lowest level in more than a decade since June 1997. The Freight TSI is down 14.7 percent from its historic peak of 112.9 reached in May 2006.

Crowley suspends service to Haiti

Due to the 7.0 earthquake in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Jacksonville-based Crowley Maritime Corporation announced it has temporarily suspended regularly scheduled cargo services to and from the country, while damages to the infrastructure there are being assessed. This temporary suspension comes as port infrastructure damages are being assessed.

The company said it is cooperating with, and assisting, U.S. government agencies including USAID, SDDC and other relief agencies with emergency shipments to the country.

Crowley said in a statement it “stands ready to ship emergency supplies and needed cargo as soon as port conditions allow.”

"We are deeply concerned for our colleagues as well as all Haitian citizens affected by this disaster," said Tucker Gilliam, general manager, Dominican Republic/Haiti services.

"We are closely monitoring the situation through our agent in Port-au-Prince and our Incident Management Team and are maintaining communications with both relief agencies and our customers ensuring that cargo moves are resumed as quickly as possible."

The company urged those wishing to contribute humanitarian supplies to Haiti's relief effort should contact non-profit organizations such as Food for the Poor or Catholic Relief Services.

NC port delays opening in wake of hazmat scare

Authorities at the North Carolina State Ports Authority announced the delayed reopening of the NC State Ports Authority Port of Morehead City in the wake of a hazmat scare on Tuesday after a forklift operator punctured at least one container filled with a powerful explosive.

The material was pentaerythritol tetranitrate (PETN), which was part of a device a Nigerian terrorist suspect reportedly used to try to and bring down the Detroit-bound Northwest flight on Christmas Day. PETN is often used in military explosives and found inside blasting caps. It is also the primary ingredient in detonating cords used for industrial explosions.

Reports indicated there was no damage from the accident, nor that it was an act of terrorism. A dockworker reportedly punctured a container while unloading barrels of the chemical.

The port said: “safety procedures are exercised in the remediation of a hazardous materials incident.”

The port terminal was closed yesterday as Carteret County first responders and emergency management officials responded to the hazardous materials incident with no reported injuries or environmental damage, the port said.

The remediation work is being performed under the direction of the U.S. Coast Guard.

“The Ports Authority’s goal is to reopen the Port of Morehead City as safely and as quickly as possible,” said CEO Thomas J. Eagar.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Top Story

Airborne aid tricky for Haiti

As many as 50,000 people perished in the earthquake that struck Haiti, according to a new estimate from the Haitian Red Cross, even as aid groups struggled to meet the overwhelming needs of the increasingly desperate survivors.

Planeloads of search-and-rescue teams, medics and supplies were trickling into the devastated capital of Port-au-Prince, but the aid pipeline remains agonizingly slow. U.S. officials said Thursday that they have been asked by Haitian officials to halt all civilian flights from the United States to Haiti because there is not enough room on the ground for more planes or enough jet fuel for planes to fly back.

President Obama said Thursday that the U.S. government was launching "one of the largest relief efforts in our recent history" to help the stricken country, but that it would take "hours, and in many cases, days" to get the aid there. As many as 5,500 U.S. infantry soldiers and Marines will be in the Caribbean nation or in ships offshore by Monday, and Obama authorized $100 million in emergency aid for Haiti, while a source has told NPR's Don Gonyea that former President George W. Bush will join former President Bill Clinton in a Haiti relief fundraising effort.


For the full story:

Seaspan marks first containership charter of 2010 with MOL

Hong Kong-and-Vancouver, BC-based Seaspan Corporation announced its first containership delivery of the year to Japan’s MOL for the 5,100-TEU MOL Empire, which will go on a 12-year, fixed rate time charter. The vessel will was build by Hyundai Heavy Industries Co.

CEO Gerry Wang said the acquisition further builds on its contracted revenue stream bringing up the company's modern fleet to a total of 43 vessels. "With the delivery of the MOL Empire, we now have four vessels on 12-year charters to MOL, one of the largest Japanese shipping companies," said Gerry Wang, CEO, Seaspan Corp.

Seaspan’s fleet now stands at a total of 43 vessels, and 25 additional newbuilds are expected to be delivered over the next two-and-a-half years thanks to long-term charters with COSCO and “K” Line, the company said.

Seaspan said its containership charter customers also include China Shipping Container Lines, Maersk, Hapag-Lloyd, and CSAV.

Long Beach port optimistic over year-ending box growth

Despite a nearly 22 percent decline in its shipping business in 2009, the Port of Long Beach announced a reversal of fortune in its monthly containerized volume, the first in two years, moving a total of 467,586 TEUs in December 2009, compared to 429,946 TEUs for the same period a year go.

Although Long Beach’s marine terminals posted its weakest year since 2003 at 5.1 million TEUs, December’s imported cargo increased by more than 13 percent for the period, with a 30 percent increase in exports, the port said.

“These numbers are far better than expected, and may very well be the first signs of an economic recovery,” said Port of Long Beach Executive Director Richard D. Steinke. “That’s great news for our region and the nation. We are cautiously optimistic that this marks the beginning of an ongoing, upward trend.”

Imported cargo rose to 232,586 TEUs, in December, and exported cargo jumped to 123,084 TEUs, the port reported. The number of empty containers declined by 14.8 percent to 111,567 TEUs, the port said.

December is normally a weaker month for trade, coming well after retailers have already stocked up for the holiday season, but December 2009 was an exception, the port said. December was the second highest month for imports during the year, behind only August. The port said “the uptick indicates that stores had stronger than expected sales through the fall and are now aggressively restocking their inventories.”

Chinese logistics group signs MOU for Yangshan logistics park development

China’s Grand Power Logistics Group Inc. (GPLD) announced it has signed a memorandum of understanding to develop Shanghai’s Yangshan International Container Transit Logistics Park. The MOU was signed with the Shengsi County People's Government (SCPG) in Zhejiang Province, China.

As part of Yangshan Deep-Sea Port's next phase of growth, SCPG and GPLD said they would develop and operate Yangshan International Container Transit Logistics Park, located at the north shore area of the Port, which covers 214 acres of reclaimed land.

Under the terms of the MOU, the total estimated investment to develop the logistics park is approximately $485 million. The Grand Power Logistics Group said it expects to utilize a combination of debt and equity funding to help pay for the project.

The MOU states final terms of the land purchase for the development, including price, will be agreed to no later than October 2010.

Yangshan Deep Sea Port is located 26 kilometers off of Shanghai's southern coast. When the port is fully developed in 2020, it is scheduled include over 50 berths capable of accommodating up to 15 million TEUs. The entire project is to be completed in four phases at a total estimated cost of $12 to $18 billion.

The principals in the project have stated the goal is to become the biggest international shipping hub in the world.

Sea-Tac Airport partners with Univ. of Illinois and FAA on bird detection

The Port of Seattle announced that it has partnered with researchers at the University of Illinois the Federal Aviation Administration, in order to make Seattle-Tacoma International Airport what the port claims is “the first airport in the country to implement a new advanced bird tracking system with real-time displays of bird activity on and around the airport.”

Sea-Tac Airport has been the demonstration site for avian radar research since 2007, the port said. Three avian radars are currently installed at Sea-Tac, two on the top of the airport's office building and one in the middle of the airfield between two runways.
"Sea-Tac is a leader in the evaluation of this technology," said Dr. Edwin Herricks, the leader of the University of Illinois research program, a professor of civil and environmental engineering.

Through the FAA-designated Center of Excellence for Airport Technology (CEAT) at the University of Illinois, the research program is based upon equipment from Accipiter Radar Inc. that provides geographic displays of bird activity on Google Earth maps.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Top Story

Haiti airport overwhelmed, seaport a mess

 A demolished seaport, a congested one-runway airport, a shattered communications system, and even questions about how to coordinate the multi-national relief effort delayed the delivery of aid to an increasingly desperate Haiti and highlighted the immense obstacles that lie ahead.

The Toussaint L'Ouverture International Airport in Port-au-Prince is overwhelmed. The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration has put a ground stop into place for all U.S.-originating civilian aircraft until 6 p.m. EST. Military flights carrying water purifying equipment, medicine and generators have been given priority to land.

Making matters worse is the that supplies cannot come in by sea. Haiti's main seaport has "collapsed and is not operational," says Maersk Line's Mary Ann Kotlarich. The main dock is partially submerged. Cranes that moved containers on and off ships at the port are now partially under water and listing badly. Ships carrying supplies have nowhere to dock.

Numerous maritime companies are trying to devise stop-gap solutions, but nothing is in place yet.


For the full story:

FedEx raises LTL rates 5.9 percent

FedEx announced it would raise rates for its less-than-truckload shipments by 5.9 percent on Feb. 1. The Memphis-based freight company raised shipping prices at its other units by a similar amount.

Hanjin, ILA resume talks over automation for proposed JAXPORT terminal

Hanjin Shipping and the International Longshoremen's Association resumed talks this week over a labor agreement for Hanjin's planned cargo terminal in Jacksonville, a union leader said Thursday.

At issue is how the planned Hanjin terminal, which would be highly automated and would affect the type of jobs on the dock and how many of those workers would be represented by the union.

Hanjin's terminal would open in 2013, but construction is contingent on the company and ILA reaching agreement.

-Florida Times Union

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Greek shipping group to invest $50 mil in containership operation

The Greek dry bulk shipping concern, Diana Shipping Inc. announced it would invest a $50 million minority stake in a containership operation over the next 12 to 18 months, with the balance to be raised in a private offering to institutional and accredited investors.

Diana Shipping said its wholly-owned management company would also enter into administrative and vessel management agreements with the new company, and some of its executives would also hold positions as executives of the new company. 

In addition, Diana Shipping said that “as long as the administrative agreement or any of the vessel management agreements remain in effect, not to invest in containerships via other entities, while the new company would agree not to invest in dry bulk carriers.” 

“The proposed investment is subject to the completion of fundraising on acceptable terms,” the company said.

FedEx Express to launch first Boeing 777F for Memphis-Shanghai service

FedEx Express is rolling out its first Boeing 777 Freighter to service mainland China.

The larger, faster and more fuel efficient 777F will connect Shanghai with Memphis and reduce cut-off times for customers by two hours, the company said.

By April, FedEx Express will have four 777F’s serving routes between the U.S. and the important Asian market. They hope to have as many as 15 of the planes in service by 2014.

-Memphis Business Journal

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