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Today's Cargo News Archives
Summary for January 22 - January 29, 2007:

Lines unite to improve Asian/South African/South American trade

Hamburg Süd, Maersk Line, and NYK will operate jointly to combine an extensive scope of direct calls with fast transit times in the trade between Asia, South Africa, and the East Coast of South America.

Starting in April, the lines say they will collectively operate two strings with larger, faster, modern vessels, which will hold roughly the same overall capacity as the current three string operation.

String 1 will be operated with 10 x 3,500 TEU vessels of which Hamburg Süd will provide six and Maersk Line four: Shanghai – Hong Kong – Singapore – Tanjung Pelepas – Sepetiba – Santos – Buenos Aires – Rio Grande – Paranagua – Santos – Port Elizabeth – Durban – Singapore – Hong Kong – Shanghai.

String 2 will be operated with 10 x 2,500 TEU vessels of which NYK will provide six, Maersk Line three and Hamburg Süd one: Nagoya – Yokohama – Pusan – Hong Kong – Laem Chabang – Singapore – Tanjung Pelepas – Durban – Santos – Itajai – Santos – Sepetiba – Singapore – Hong Kong – Nagoya.

Horizon tests new RFID on Alaskan trade

Horizon Lines is gearing up to provide shippers with real-time shipment information throughout their container's transit, from loading facility to final destination. The line has instituted a pilot study in Alaska to debut what it calls “the ocean container shipping industry's first fully-functional intermodal active radio frequency identification (RFID) solution, providing customers real-time shipment visibility during all phases of transit.”

The system was engineered and implemented by Horizon Services Group, the information technology subsidiary of Horizon Lines, Inc. Grocery retailer Safeway is participating in the pilot study, monitoring shipments from its Pacific Northwest distribution centers to stores across Alaska.

Kalmar signs lease with Wallhamn AB

Kalmar Industries has signed long-term contracts with Wallhamn AB, Sweden’s largest private port, expanding a collaboration that began in 1999. The contracts outline the financing, insurance, leasing and maintenance of two reachstackers, one 33-ton fork-lift truck, one 25-ton fork-lift truck, four terminal tractors, four 8-ton fork-lift trucks, and a number of smaller Linde trucks.

Car imports from Hyundai/Kia in South Korea represent the bulk of Wallhamn AB’s handling activities. According to Henrik Sundin, CEO of Wallhamn AB, operational leasing is very common in the automobile industry and makes good business sense for his company.

Port of Oakland first to receive dual ISO 9000 certification

The Port of Oakland has been recognized for being the first organization in the US to achieve ISO 9000 certification for both its seaport and airport. Oakland was the first seaport in the nation to receive ISO 9000 certification and just became the first airport (Oakland International Airport) in the country to achieve the same status.

The certification acknowledges the Port for its quality management and customer satisfaction programs at both sites. “This accomplishment is unparalleled in the US transportation industry, and most significantly, in the public sector”, said David Church, the ISO registrar certifying the Port of Oakland.

Washington Governor unveils ports plan

Washington state Governor Christine Gregoire unveiled her Container Ports Initiative Jan 18. Aiming to improve the movement of products to markets and workers to jobs statewide, the initiative calls for an increase in mainline rail capacity, improvement in truck freight movement, and resolutions to land use compatibility and protection issues.

"Part of this vision is to make critical investments in our infrastructure so that goods can be delivered to their markets in a timely fashion,” said Gregoire. “The ports of Seattle and Tacoma provide a critical foundation for our state's trade economy, creating hundreds of thousands of jobs statewide."

To view the Governor’s Container Ports Initiative, visit: http://www.governor.wa.gov/priorities/economy/ports.pdf

TSA to track rail shipments with toxic cargo

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) will for the first time monitor rail shipments of potentially deadly cargo passing through cities to make sure cars vulnerable to attack don't sit unguarded for too long.

Such unguarded rail cars filled with toxic chemicals, explosives or radioactive materials are the single biggest terrorist threat to cities related to the nation's railroads, the TSA says. The US Naval Research Lab has said such an attack could kill 100,000 people.

The nationwide tracking system, starting a month from now, will help TSA inspectors enforce an agreement TSA reached with 257 railroads to cut the amount of time hazardous rail shipments spend unguarded in 46 major urban areas by 25% this year. Inspectors will travel to problem areas and work with railroads on safety improvements. Railroads can store toxic cargo in guarded yards or give it priority so it doesn't sit on tracks waiting for other trains to pass.

The tracking comes as cities consider banning or restricting hazardous rail shipments. Local officials fear attacks and accidents like the train derailment near Louisville KY that spewed toxic smoke, forcing people from homes and businesses. Some rail-safety advocates insist rerouting is key, and rail companies fear such laws would force them to send hazardous cargo hundreds of miles around cities.

TSA chief Kip Hawley said barring hazardous rail cargo from cities could force it onto trucks, which are more easily attacked and accident-prone. "You want to keep it on rail," Hawley said.

HK throughput in danger, says DHL

A senior executive of DHL Express, the leading express cargo carrier, foresees a drop in air cargo from the mainland passing through Hong Kong, as trade growth between China and North Asia shifts more of the flow further north.

"Further trade links between Japan, South Korea and China mean fewer shipments in and out of Hong Kong," said DHL Asia Pacific chief executive Scott Price.

DHL channels 70% of its China consignments through its southern China hub in Hong Kong. Currently, 40% of China's export goods originate in the delta, from which more than 80% of the air cargo handled by Hong Kong operators comes.

Price said foreign investment in the Pearl River Delta is shrinking due to the increase in labor costs and a lack of workers in southern China, which will lead to a drop in air cargo demand in the delta.

Japan’s December crude steel output up 10.6% on year

Japan's annual production of crude steel climbed 10.6% higher in December than the previous year, to 10.05mn tons for a seventh straight month of rises, the Japan Iron and Steel Federation said.

The figure, the second biggest for December since 1973, reflects continued upbeat demand for high-grade steel for use in automobile and ships.

For 2006, Japan's crude steel output rose 3.3% to 116.22mn tons, marking the third-highest annual production figure on record after 119.32mn tons in 1973 and 117.13mn tons in 1974, the industry group said.

China’s demand for transportation expansion persists in 2007

Investment, consumption and export will remain three main factors behind China's economic growth in 2007, and transportation growth will figure prominently in that equation.

China’s demand for transportation will go on expanding in 2007. Container transport, which may retain two-digit growth, will spur the continued construction of special wharf berths for containers. It is expected that the volume of goods transported in 2007 will exceed 21.8bn tons, up 8% from 2006.

The steady development of industrial departments and import and export, all of which pose huge transportation demands, has made the demand for freight transport brisk, especially transport of coal, oil, mineral ores, and containers.

Containers washed off MSC Napoli

Following the adverse weather conditions, the situation surrounding the 'MSC Napoli' deteriorated overnight and the vessel rolled over to 30 degrees. 158 containers are believed to have been lost, two of them transporting dangerous cargo. One held perfume and battery acid; the other, small car parts.

The vessel’s owners have appointed contractors to recover containers and materials lost from the vessel, with some 40 containers having been located ashore.

Long Beach LNG project terminated

Long Beach Harbor commissioners Jan 22 effectively killed a controversial plan to build a $750mn liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal in the port. A flawed environmental impact report, stalled negotiations and lack of cooperation were the reasons cited.

"After deliberation, based upon the opinion from the city attorney which concludes that the EIR on the proposed LNG project ‘is and in all likelihood will remain ‘legally inadequate,’ and since an agreement between Sound Energy Solutions and the city does not appear to be forthcoming, the Board of Harbor Commissioners disapproves the project and declines to pursue further negotiations," said Board President James Hankla.

Approval of the SES-backed project has rested primarily with the five-member Harbor Commission, which represents the city, although the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, California Coastal Commission and California Public Utilities Commission also helped to evaluate the project.

SES, which invested in environmental reports, community functions, LNG demonstrations, staff and an aggressive marketing campaign, now faces an uncertain future.

There is some talk that the company may sue to recover some of the associated costs; other options may include an appeal urging the city to finish the EIR or a motion asking the state or federal government to intervene.

City Attorney Bob Shannon said the city's decision would withstand a legal challenge.

The commission's decision comes after more than three years of heated debate over safety issues and the economic impact of the project, which would have been the first of its kind in California.

Vancouver experiences worst-ever backlog

The manager of Deltaport, Vancouver's biggest container port, blames foul winter weather for the worst backlog in the port’s history. Nearly 7,000 containers are sitting piled on the docks of the Fraser River, just south of Vancouver.

The problem is so severe that some ships have had to sit at anchor as they wait to unload. As a result, liner services like Evergreen America Corp.have diverted traffic to other ports.

The backlog isn't likely to clear before mid-February, when the Chinese New Year will create a lull in shipping loads, said Mark Hallman, a spokesman for Canadian National Railway, which ships 80% of the containers at Deltaport.

As of Jan 15, the delays had generated a backlog of 69,500 meters of containers at Deltaport (nearly 100% of the port's storage capacity), and 30,500 meters at TSI's other terminal, Vanterm.

Chinese  interested in $2.3bn China-Europe road project

A major Chinese company has expressed interest in a project to create a road linking eastern China with European Russia via Central Asia, Kazakhstan's Transport Ministry said Jan 24.

During talks with Kazakh government officials on Jan 23, officials from China Road and Bridge Corp said they were ready to join the East-West transport project, worth an estimated $2.3 billion, the ministry said. The project is currently at a negotiation stage.

The 8,445-km transport corridor is designed to go from the eastern Chinese port city of Lianyungang through China's northwestern Xinjiang province, the southern Kazakh cities of Almaty and Shymkent and the Uzbek capital, Tashkent; then across western and northern Kazakhstan and on to St. Petersburg, which is Russia's second largest city and a major Baltic Sea port.

Japan, US to test smart tags

Japan and the US will begin a joint experiment to test the efficacy of a smart tag system for tracking marine cargo, beginning in March 2007.

It will be the first time two countries will cooperate to test the system, which the US Department of Homeland Security has been considering. If tests prove successful, the system may become a global standard.

In the experiment, smart tags, which can be tracked by the Global Positioning System, will be attached to 50-100 cargo containers that  will then shipped from Yokohama to the US West Coast. From there, they will be transported by rail to Chicago.

The containers will be monitored during the entire month-long period to see if their location can be instantly detected at all stages of the journey. The program will also monitor the tags' durability and the ability to identify individual containers when they are placed together.

Work continues on MSC Napoli

Work continued Jan 24 to salvage the cargo of the 'MSC Napoli,' including clearing cargo from beaches. A contractor has now constructed a fence across the main area of Branscombe beach, which became the main scavenging site Jan 23.

People rushed the East Devon beaches Jan 23-24 to scavenge cargo from the washed up containers. They trampled over gardens and borders, bringing large vehicles and homemade carriers in order to make away with cargo ranging from diapers and empty barrels to BMW motorbikes.

Containers which held people's personal possessions also were looted and their property discarded on the beach. These activities have caused damage estimated to be 800% more significant than the damage caused by the incident itself.

From Jan 25, the area will become an enforced work site with no public access to the beach. The vessle’s minor oil leak has been stopped, and work will continue for the next week to transfer all of the remaining oil from the ship.

China sees fastest growth in 11 years

China’s full-year growth for 2006 has outstripped expectations, with gross domestic product (GDP) expanding by 10.7%, the fastest annual rise in more than a decade.

China has recorded double-digit economic growth for four consecutive years. If the pace of growth continues, China’s economy could be third largest in the world by 2008.

The strong growth was tempered by a surge in inflation to 2.8% in December, compared with the whole-year rise of 1.5%.

The increase in inflation and continued strong overall growth lifted expectations of further tightening measures from China’s central bank in the near future.

The government’s response to the GDP figures hailed the success of a credit crunch, which has slowed growth from a peak of 11.5% in the second quarter to 10.4% in the fourth.

“The government has avoided the economy shifting from fast growth into overheating,” said Xie Fuzhan, head of the National Bureau of Statistics.

Investment remained the largest driver of growth in 2006, backed by contributions from consistently strong consumption and rising net exports.

Confidence in Beijing’s ability to continue to manage and maintain such high growth prompted economists at investment banks, nearly all of whom had tipped below double-digit growth this year, to lift their forecast for 2007 to 10% and above.

City Attorney Bob Shannon said the city's decision would withstand a legal challenge.

The commission's decision comes after more than three years of heated debate over safety issues and the economic impact of the project, which would have been the first of its kind in California.

Hong Kong exports rocket

The value of Hong Kong's exports increased 13.7% year on year last month to HK$214.7 bn, according to government figures released
Jan 24.

Re-exports increased 18% by value to HK$206.2bn last month, offsetting domestic exports, which fell 39.1% to HK$8.5 bn, the Census and Statistics Department said.

For last year, the value of exports rose 9.4% year on year with re-exports 10% higher while domestic exports fell 1.1%.

A government spokesman said the value of exports continued to grow at a double-digit rate in December last year. He said the mainland market remained the bright spot, and exports to other major markets, particularly the United States and European Union, also continued to hold up well.

Senate may reject cargo-screening bill

Requirements for intensified cargo screening on passenger aircraft and ship-borne goods heading toward the US, passed by the House of Representatives, are unlikely to pass the Senate, conceded Democratic Rep. Bennie Thompson, chair of the House Homeland Security Committee.

The measures were an attempt by Democrats to push through recommendations of the commission that investigated government activities before and after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.

The House bill also provided money to improve emergency communications systems, to make it harder for terrorists to obtain nuclear weapons and improve information-sharing among federal, state and local agencies.

The Bush administration and other opponents of the two screening proposals have said the technology does not exist to scan all US-bound cargo in foreign ports for radiation, and all air cargo loaded onto passenger planes for explosives. There is also concern the measures would slow global commerce to a crawl.

Russian Railways may get stake in port

Russia's Federal Property Management Agency (Rosimuschestvo) backs the transfer to Russian Railways (RZHD) of a government-owned 20% stake in Novorossiysk Commercial Sea Port (NMTP), said Valery Nazarov, the agency's chief.

"The integration of the two largest transport operators in the south of the country - NMTP and RZHD - is an objective phenomenon," he said.

The RZHD proposal on transferring the NMTP shares is being reviewed by an interdepartmental group, which is working on the transfer of federal assets to RZHD, Nazarov said.

Apart from NMTP, RZHD is expected to receive several other federal assets -Transcreditbank, Yakutia Railways, RAO VSM and the newspaper Gudok.

RZHD Chairman Vladimir Yakunin proposed that a 75% government take in TCB and a 50% stake in Yakutia Railways be transferred to the RZHD charter capital in the spring of 2006.

The TCB government stake, which is valued at about 3 bn rubles, was previously to be transferred to RZHD in exchange for the completion of the Berkatit-Tommot-Yakutsk rail link in Yakutia.

UK detains seven foreign ships

The UK’s Maritime & Coastguard Agency (MCA) announced Jan 25 that seven foreign ships were under detention in the nation’s ports during December 2006 after failing Port State Control (PSC) safety inspection.

Latest monthly figures show that there were seven new detentions of foreign flagged ships in UK ports during December 2006, compared with nine new detentions during November.

Two vessels remained in detention from the previous month. The overall rate of detentions compared with inspections carried out over the last twelve months is just under 5%, a slight increase compared with November's 12-month rate.

One ro-ro cargo vessel, five general cargo vessels and one container ship were detained in December. Two vessels were registered with flag states listed on the Paris MOU black list, four were registered with states on the white list and one was registered with a state not appearing on any of the Paris MOU lists.