Cargo Business Newswire ArchivesSummary for January 12 through January 16, 2015:
Monday, January 12, 2015
Port of Oakland weekend gates help ease cargo congestion
The new Saturday and Sunday gates at the Port of Oakland are putting a dent in an extraordinary cargo buildup there.
The port announced last week that its moved more than 1,000 import TEUs out of its marine terminals every weekend for the past month. It's cargo that would otherwise move only on weekdays when terminals and harbor truckers strain to manage soaring volume.
"The weekend moves are only a fraction of what we send out the gates Monday-through-Friday, so they're not the complete answer to our big buildup," said Port Maritime Director John Driscoll. "But every little bit helps while we're working to keep cargo flowing."
The largest marine terminal operators at the port have been operating weekend gates since Thanksgiving. It's an unusual move, the port says, precipitated by an unprecedented cargo surge in Oakland.
Import volume has increased in each of the past three months compared to previous year totals, due to increased U.S. trade with Asia, diverted cargo from backlogged Southern California ports, and an impasse in the eight-month-long West Coast port labor contract talks.
Three-to-nine vessels anchor in San Francisco Bay every day awaiting berths at the Port of Oakland. It sometimes takes truck drivers several hours to get through weekday terminal gates.
The statement said that terminal operators are expected to continue moving containers on Saturdays and Sundays while demand persists. That could be another month as U.S. shippers import cargo before Lunar New Year factory shutdowns in Asia, according to the port.
Penske Logistics asks Supreme Court to review California meal-break decision
This week Penske Logistics filed a petition asking the United States Supreme Court to review the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals decision on the legitimacy of the California meal-break law, according to a company statement.
In the matter of Dilts et al. v. Penske Logistics and Penske Truck Leasing Co., Penske Logistics argued that the state law violates a provision of federal law that says states cannot regulate the prices, routes or services of trucking companies.
In 2011, the U.S. District Court ruled in Penske’s favor on this issue, but the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals later overturned this decision in 2014. Penske argues that the Ninth Circuit’s decision is at odds with Supreme Court decisions in other preemption cases.
Penske is seeking Supreme Court review because this case has sweeping impacts on how the trucking industry operates and disrupts competitive market forces.
"This case is about federal law preempting state laws that relate to rates, routes, and services offered by trucking companies," said Michael Duff, Senior Vice President and General Counsel for Penske. "We’re asking the Supreme Court to resolve this issue for our company and the trucking industry. The Ninth Circuit’s decision significantly impacts the entire transportation industry as well as the flow of commerce and ultimately impacts consumers."
Oil industry may take over Port of Seattle Terminal 5 during rebuild
For the next three years, petroleum industry activities may take over at Port of Seattle Terminal 5 until the revamp of the terminal to accommodate larger container ships is completed.
The temporary projects at the West Seattle terminal would include storage of Shell oil exploration rigs for Foss Maritime, according to a memo released last week by the Port of Seattle.
Up to eight Shell ships could dock at Terminal 5 starting in May, if port commissioners approve the plan Tuesday. Environmentalists in the community will likely oppose local involvement in oil development.
In a second project, a group of European companies would use 50 to 100 acres of the 192-acre terminal to assemble modules of a liquified natural gas plant, which is eventually destined for Prince Rupert, Canada.
These projects are a way for the port to keep the terminal making money while it is being upgraded.
Recently, Wallenius Wilhelmsen Logistics Vehicle Services America bought Carlogistics, an integrated logistics company serving Mexico’s finished vehicle logistics market, according to a WWL statement.
Founded in 2002, Carlogistics offers auto logistics, transportation and distribution. WWL says the acquisition will allow it to expand operations in Cuautitlán and Veracruz, two key locations in Mexico, leveraging a skilled workforce of more than 100 employees. The transaction will help WWL build on relationships with new and existing customers including Renault, Subaru, Hyundai and other major car manufacturers.
In Mexico, WWL delivers services from receiving and handling inland distribution to pre-delivery inspection and storage, as well as maintenance. At Veracruz and Lázaro Cardenas, WWL offers a shipping service between South America and North America.
Captain goes down with Norwegian cargo ship
The bodies of two sailors of the Norwegian cargo ship that sank off the coast of southern Vietnam have been identified as the captain and deputy captain, state media reported last week.
The bodies of Captain Ronel Acueza Andrin and Deputy Captain Jerome Maquilang Dincy were brought to southern province of Ba Ria Vung Tau on Sunday.
The Bulk Jupiter sank with 19 Philippino crewmembers off the coast of Vietnam en route from Malaysia to China.
Vietnamese rescuers and commercial ships passing through the area continued to search for the missing, according to Vietnamese authorities and the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs. The ship's chief cook, Angelito Capindo Rojas, is the only known survivor.
The U.S. Department of Transportation will open its roads to Mexican trucking companies, which will be allowed to apply to make long-haul cross-border runs into the U.S., according to a statement from the Federal Motor Safety Carrier Association.
The DOT says it expects the move will permanently end Mexico's sometime retaliatory tariffs on $2 billion in U.S. imports, ending a 10-year conflict that has delayed some provisions of the North American Free Trade Agreement.
The agency said Friday that a three-year pilot program that ended in October "showed that companies from Mexico had violation, driver, and vehicle out-of-service rates that met the level of safety as American and Canadian-domiciled motor carriers."
In the pilot, 15 Mexican trucking companies were allowed unfettered access to U.S. roads. After drivers and trucks passed safety checks designed and overseen by U.S. officials in Mexico, they crossed the border more than 28,000 times, travelled more than 1.5 million miles in-country, and underwent more than 5,500 safety inspections by American officials.
The issue of whether to allow Mexican freight trucks on U.S. roads has been controversial for more than a decade, according to the Wall Street Journal. Under the North American Free Trade Agreement, ratified by Congress in 1993, the U.S. and Mexico were supposed to open their roads to each other's trucks, at least partially, to strengthen economic and trade ties. But the trucking agreement was put on hold in 1995, WSJ reported, after U.S. trucker unions and other opponents lobbied against the move.
American trucking companies have been able to apply and operate long haul in Mexico through NAFTA since 2007. Currently, five U.S. companies use this authority to transport international goods into Mexico.
The department did not say when applications would start.
L.A.-Long Beach port truckers become union employees at Shippers Transport Express
After winning the fight to become official employees of their company rather than independent contractors, port truck drivers for Shippers Transport Express have decided to join the Teamsters Union.
Eighty-eight out of 111 drivers of the trucking company, based in Carson, voted to give Teamsters Local 848 the authority to negotiate their first labor contract. The election is a major milestone in a years-long campaign by the Teamsters to organize short-haul truckers at U.S. ports.
The fight was waged recently with labor actions against eight drayage firms at the Ports of L.A. and Long Beach. It was also fought in the courts and labor enforcement hearings, with lawsuits and complaints challenging the classification of the truckers as "independent contractors."
STE, a subsidiary of SSA Marine, was not one of the companies targeted by picketers, but last September, a federal judge ruled that its drivers were "employees" with the right to pursue wage-and-hours claims under state law. In November, the company notified its drivers it was transitioning to an employee-based business model on January 1.
Weyerhauser cites Seattle-Tacoma port delays in Longview lay-offs
Timber giant Weyerhauser is laying off employees at one of its Longview, Wash., facilities, citing union slowdowns at ports in Tacoma and Seattle.
Weyerhauser is temporarily closing the mill at the liquid packaging facility, which creates cartons for milk or juice that are chiefly shipped to Asia. The Washington-based company wouldn't say how many employees would be laid off. Spokesman Anthony Chavez said 535 people work in the plant.
Chavez said that the huge volume of paper products they export from that division means it was more affected than other facilities by the contentious contract negotiations between the longshore union and port operator employers. He declined to say whether there are further layoffs coming at any of the three other facilities at the 700-acre Longview complex.
He also wouldn’t say how long the layoffs will last, but asserted they are temporary. Once the mills are running again, the employees will be back at work.
"We're just hoping that both parties can reach a speedy resolution," Chavez said. "The majority of that product moves through the ports of Tacoma and Seattle. And due to the current port congestion, we’re unable to get our products to our customer."
For more of the Northwest Public Radio story: nwpr.org
Asia-N. Europe spot rates fall 10 percent
Container freight rates from Asia to Northern Europe fell by 10.1 percent to $975 per-TEU in the week ended Friday, according to the Shanghai Containerized Freight Index.
It was the fourth straight week of spot rates plunging on the world's busiest trade route.
Container freight rates increased in 13 weeks in 2014 and fell in 39 weeks.
Shipping giant Maersk Line was one of the few container firms that made a profit in the first six months of 2014. Last week, Maersk announced it would raise Asia-Europe freight rates by $800 per-TEU starting Jan. 15.
One of the tugs holding the stricken car carrier Hoegh Osaka near the Isle of Wight has crashed into the vessel.
The tug shifted its position during high winds and collided with the ship on Saturday afternoon. No injuries were reported, but the tug was damaged and was replaced.
"Yesterday, weather conditions prevented any activity on the vessel other than to connect the third tug," said a spokeswoman of the Maritime and Coastguard Agency. "Unfortunately, during the afternoon, one of the two tugs already in place moved from her position and collided with the Hoegh Osaka. There were no injuries to personnel, but the tug received some damage and it was replaced by another tug. No pollution occurred during this incident."
The Singapore-registered ship set sail for Germany on Saturday Jan. 3, shortly before being deliberately run aground by the crew after it started to list. There were 1,400 cars on board, including 1,200 Jaguar and Land Rover vehicles and 65 Minis, as well as 105 JCB machines and 500 tons of fuel.
PMA: West Coast port backups "no longer sustainable"
Backups at the five largest West Coast ports have reached levels that are "no longer sustainable," according to a statement from the Pacific Maritime Association, the bargaining agent for employers in labor contract talks for 29 West Coast ports.
Ten ships were anchored offshore at the L.A./Long Beach harbor on Monday, up from as few as five in December, said Phillip Sanfield, a spokesman for the Port of Los Angeles. He said backups could get worse with a push to move goods in advance of the two-week Lunar New Year holiday in Asia, which begins Feb. 19.
The PMA statement suggests the long-running labor conflict may be approaching a work stoppage similar to the one that shut down 29 West Coast ports for 10 days in 2002. The association and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union have been in contract talks since May. Up to 20,000 union dockworkers have been working without a contract since July.
"The PMA has a sense of urgency to resolve these contract talks and get our ports moving again," said association spokesman Steve Getzug in the statement. "Unfortunately, it appears the union’s motivation is to continue slowdowns in an attempt to gain leverage in the bargaining."
Craig Merrilees, a spokesman for the ILWU, said association negotiators have conceded that the delays are mostly due to a shortage of truck chassis to unload shipping containers. In a written statement, he said management is proposing to end night shifts at many ports, which would only serve to worsen backups, "in a self-serving attempt to gain the upper hand at the bargaining table."
Both sides agree that congestion at the ports of Los Angeles, Long Beach, Oakland, Seattle and Tacoma has slowed the movement of goods from overseas to stores in the U.S.
Port of Oakland breaks cargo volume record in 2014
Cargo volume achieved an all-time high at the Port of Oakland in 2014, according to a port statement.
The port handled 2.394 million TEUs in 2014. That broke the record of 2.391 million boxes moved in 2006. A 20 percent surge in December of containerized imports contributed to the record performance, the statement said.
"An unprecedented series of events has brought us to this point," said John Driscoll, Oakland’s maritime director. "It’s our job now to efficiently manage the growth."
The port said stronger demand for Asian goods, strengthened marketing efforts and cargo diversions from congested Southern California ports contributed to the cargo surge.
The chronic backlog at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach has triggered thousands of containers to be diverted to Oakland. The surge has temporarily slowed cargo throughput, port officials say, and the labor dispute between harbor employers and dockworkers is exacerbating the slowdown.
Up to 15 ships are anchored in San Francisco Bay daily awaiting berths at Oakland marine terminals, the port says, and some truckers report waits of several hours to pick up cargo. They say the condition is expected to persist until labor and management agree on a new contract.
Port of Los Angeles hires new CFO
The Port of Los Angeles has hired Marla Bleavins, former assistant general manager for finance and administration at the city’s convention and tourism division, as their new chief financial officer.
Bleavins will mage 60 employees and oversee accounting, financial management, debt and treasury, risk management, audit functions and other financial affairs for the busiest seaport in the U.S., according to a port statement.
"Marla brings an outstanding, results-oriented public finance track record to the Port," said Gene Seroka, executive director of the port. "With her extensive knowledge of the City of Los Angeles and its financial structures, she will help us maximize the financial performance of all our Port assets."
Bleavins most recently served as the assistant general manager for finance and administration at the City of Los Angeles Department of Convention and Tourism Development. Prior to that, she served as a project manager and debt and treasury manager at Los Angeles World Airports.
She replaces Karl Pan, who retired last week after six years with the port.
Matson cuts fuel surcharge
Matson shipping line said it is lowering its fuel surcharge for its Hawaii and Pacific shipping services by 4 percent, starting this weekend, for the third month in a row.
The fuel surcharge for its Hawaii service will be lowered from 35.5 percent to 31.5 percent starting Sunday, the company said. The surcharge for Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands will be decreased from 36 percent to 32 percent, and the surcharge for the Federated States of Micronesia will be lowered from 41 percent to 37 percent.
The decreases will mean a decrease in shipping costs that will span from $80 to $140 per container, according to Dave Hoppes, Matson’s senior vice president of ocean services.
"This is the third consecutive decrease we have made to our Hawaii and Guam/CNMI fuel surcharges; with this latest reduction, our fuel surcharge for those services will have dropped 11 percentage points since (Nov. 2)," he said. "We continue to be encouraged by the recent moderation in bunker fuel prices, and remain focused on diligently exploring ways in which we can maximize fuel efficiency for our fleet."
L.A./Long Beach terminal operators cut dockworker night shifts
Photo credit: Chuck Bennett/Press-Telegram
Starting Tuesday night, employers at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach have cut night shifts, stopping dockworkers from loading and unloading ships at night.
The Pacific Maritime Association, which represents employers at West Coast port terminals, said their members would not be assigning any vessel crews to move cargo off of and onto ships at night. Instead, the PMA wants to focus on reducing an increasing backlog of containers they attribute to work slowdown tactics by the union.
The ILWU, which has denied orchestrating labor slowdowns, said ships are normally assigned six to eight vessel crews.
Crane operators who usually work with the vessel gangs will instead be moving containers out of the shipping yards and onto trucks, PMA officials said.
"It’s designed to get containers that have been stranded moving," PMA spokesman Steve Getzug said.
This is the latest move amid contentious contract talks between the PMA and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, who have been trying to agree on a new contract for dockworkers at 29 West Coast ports.
Following a series of accidents, the union is only allowing trained and certified crane operators to work at the terminals for safety reasons, according to ILWU spokesman Adan Ortega. He said terminal operators are not offering enough training for workers and have become "over-reliant on untrained and uncertified crane operators."
Getzug dismissed the claim that only certified crane operators should be working on the yards, and contends the union is covering for its negotiating tactic of slowing down work at the ports.
Ortega said the PMA’s decision to relieve even more workers Tuesday night "defies logic" and will only lead to the "mountain of containers growing higher and higher."
Last week a federal mediator stepped in to help the two parties reach a new contract. The move doesn’t seem to have eased the tension, with both parties issuing releases this week blaming each other for cargo congestion that has been negatively impacting the supply chain and businesses across the country.
"[Employers appear] to be abusing public ports and putting the economy at risk in a self-serving attempt to gain the upper hand at the bargaining table," the union said in a statement.
L.A./Long Beach port truckers counter container fees with fees of their own
Fraught over growing fees charged by shipping lines for congestion-based issues, local trucking firms that serve Los Angeles and Long Beach ports are countering with fees of their own.
The Harbor Trucking Association, which represents 65 percent of the drayage companies serving the ports, is "strongly encouraging" members to charge shipping lines for storing empty containers that don’t fit in the congested terminals. They also are urging members to charge for the "unnecessary diversion" of drivers and equipment and for dry runs that leave truck drivers with no containers.
"It’s gotten really bad in the last two months, and it’s intensified to the point where drayage companies are losing hundreds of thousands of dollars for not returning an empty container or not being able to pick up a container," said Weston LaBar, executive director of the Harbor Trucking Association.
The trucking association said the shipping lines are charging trucking companies a daily fee for not returning empty containers. But companies are forced to hold onto the empty containers because lines don’t have room to store them. They say they are also being charged a fee for not picking up a loaded container within a certain period of time, which is unfair because containers aren’t readily accessible for pickup.
"The port is aware of this issue and remains focused and committed to resolving the root cause of congestion in our terminals," said Noel Hacegaba, managing director of Commercial Operations at the Port of Long Beach.
Drewry: Newbuild delays are necessary to balance supply and demand
Approximately 100,000 TEUs worth of new containerships intended for delivery in 2014 will actually be delivered in 2015, according to the latest issue of Container Insight from Drewry Maritime Research. This helped to narrow the gap between supply and demand in 2014, the analysts say, but will add to the overcapacity this year.
Drewry said the 19,000-TEU CSCL Globe is the latest box ship to claim the title of world's largest containership. Newer, bigger ships from MSC and UASC will soon usurp the title in 2015, highlighting the race among carriers to acquire ever bigger, more fuel-efficient ships.
For individual carriers, the researchers say the rationale for ordering larger, more technologically advanced and fuel efficient ships is sound because it lowers their slot costs, but it presents the industry with a huge problem in how to absorb the extra capacity.
The appetite for new ULCVs (Ultra Large Container Vessels) is making it much harder for carriers to match supply with demand.
Drewry’s latest Container Forecaster report revealed that 2014 was another year of excess supply growth. By end 2014, the total global cellular fleet had nominal capacity of 18.1 million TEUs, up 6 percent from 2013. World container traffic lagged behind at 5.2 percent.
The researchers say the gap would have been wider if the estimated 100,000 TEU worth of scheduled newbuild capacity had arrived on time. Without this slippage the global fleet would have grown by a further 0.6 points to 6.6 percent in 2014. This year the problem is particularly acute as the overhang in 2014 deliveries will be in addition to the huge 1.85 million TEUs already due to be added to the fleet.
Scrapping of old ships along with further slippage of newbuilds into 2016 will lower the net addition to the fleet to around 1.35 million TEUs, but this would still represent the largest surge in annual capacity since 2007. Drewry still sees the global fleet growth exceeding demand at 7.2 percent versus 5.3 percent.
In conclusion, Drewry said further delays to newbuild deliveries are required to prevent the gap between supply and demand widening in 2015. More ULCV orders will only extend how long carriers will have to wait for harmony.
Great Lakes-St. Lawrence shipping system gets $7B makeover
A new study finds that $7 billion is being spent on asset renewal and infrastructure improvements in the bi-national Great Lakes-St. Lawrence shipping system, according to a statement from the Chamber of Marine Commerce.
Compiled by maritime trade consultants Martin Associates, the investment survey outlines a total of $6.9 billion in capital spending on ships, ports, terminals and waterway infrastructure.
More than $4.7 billion was invested in the navigation system from 2009-2013 and another $2.2 billion is committed for 2014-2018. Private companies invested 67 percent of the capital with 33 percent from government funding.
Amongst the most significant investments, American, Canadian and international ship owners are spending $4 billion on Great Lakes-St. Lawrence fleet renewal. Ports and terminals are also collectively investing more than $1.7 billion.
The bi-national Chamber of Marine Commerce, one of the trade associations that commissioned the survey, said that the right regulatory climate has been key for the boost in capital expenditures, citing New York's decision to not move ahead with more stringent standards for ballast water treatment systems as a prime example.
Canadian icebreakers work to free last of five icebound freighters
The Canadian Coast Guard continued to work into Monday night to free the last of five freighters that were trapped in the icy waters of the St. Clair River over the weekend.
Several Canadian Coast Guard icebreakers were deployed Sunday to rescue the freighters stuck in ice near Port Lambton.
While crews were able to free the fourth freighter Monday afternoon, the fifth and final freighter is stuck sideways in the channel near Fawn Island.