Cargo Business Newswire Archives
Summary for February 10, 2014 through February 14, 2014:

Monday, February 10, 2014

Top Story

Drewry: Container carrier reliability to worsen in Q1 of 2014

Container shipping is becoming less reliable as carriers skirt service standards in the push to cut costs, and Drewry Maritime Research predicts the problem will get worse during the first quarter of 2014 in its latest issue of Carrier Performance Insight.

Containership reliability reportedly worsened in every quarter of 2013, with fourth-quarter data dropping the on-time average below 64 percent, an 11.4-point drop lower year-over year.

The weaker performance coincided with a rash of canceled voyages and more planned for the first couple of months of 2014, Drewry said, which does not bode well for the short-term outlook for reliability.

“The focus on reliability seems to have been lost in the current cost-cutting environment,” said Simon Heaney, senior manager of supply chain research at Drewry. “Shippers are now paying more for poorer services.

“Shippers know that lines are saving money, so they will be unwilling to accept further rate increases. This could provide an opportunity for more reliable carriers to secure better rates.”

Maersk Line remained the most reliable major carrier in the industry, achieving 80 percent on-time reliability during a generally poor fourth quarter when most of its rivals experienced a big fall in on-time ship arrivals. Evergreen rose from 11th to second place with a 74 percent on-time result, and Yang Ming ranked third with an on-time average of 73 percent, according to the report.

Drewry said the worst performing carriers in the fourth quarter were MSC, with a 48 percent on-time record, and and CSAV at 51 percent.

Terminal giant Ports America refinances debt

U.S. terminal operator Ports America announced it refinanced the debt of both Ports America, Inc. and MTC Holdings into a single, unified capital structure.

"This financing consolidates the separate legacy credit facilitates of MTC and PAI into one integrated financing and provides for a long-term capital structure that will give the company the flexibility and runway to continue to be successful,” said Kevin Brown, Ports America’s chief financial officer.

The refinancing consisted of a new 5-year, $475-million senior secured credit facility, the company said, including $170 million of revolving credit and letters of credit, and new 7-year, $375-million Holdco financing.

The senior facility was provided by a group of new and existing lenders led by Royal Bank of Canada, and CPPIB Credit Investments provided the Holdco facility.

CPPIB will own 10 percent equity participation in the company, while Highstar Capital will remain the majority owner of Ports America, the statement said.

"The refinancing and investment allows us to continue to strengthen our position as an industry leader and best in class terminal operator,” said Ports America CEO Michael Hassing. “Most importantly, our management and staff remain dedicated to ensuring future growth, value creation, and world class customer service."

Ports America, headquartered in New Jersey, currently operates in more than 42 ports and 80 locations.

Cushman and Wakefield issues industrial real estate forecast for 2014 - 2017

Cushman and Wakefield Research recently released its North America Industrial Market Forecast 2014-2017, providing a 3-year outlook for industrial real estate markets in the U.S., Canada and Mexico.

The economic environment for the industrial real estate sector is expected to be the best since before the 2007-2009 recession. With demand for goods rising, manufacturing production and shipments will increase at a healthy pace, as will imports and exports, according to the report.

With regards to the U.S. market, the C&W research predicts that e-commerce will drive demand, with online sales reaching $370 billion by 2017, up from $231 billion in 2013, benefitting the industrial real estate market by increasing demand for e-commerce logistics facilities. This will influence investment in warehouse and distribution facilities, manufacturing and flex space.

The report forecasts shifts in U.S. warehouse and distribution strategies, returning manufacturing jobs to the U.S. and ports get ready for the expanded Panama Canal. Technological advances in order fulfillment will affect the demand for warehouse space, including building size requirements, location and build-out of the facilities. The company says that construction and demand for Class A warehouse and distribution space, currently at a low vacancy rate, will rise along with rents.

C&W said the U.S. manufacturing recovery looks positive, but that the comeback will look different than in the past by focusing on a more skilled workforce, access to distribution channels and highly automated processes. They predict that vacancy of manufacturing space will increase in 2014 to 6.6 percent, and will stabilize in the 6 percent range for the coming years, with rent growing at an average annual rate of 4 percent over the next five years.

  The report notes that demand for flex space remains stagnant and should remain slow through 2014, with vacancy rates holding at 84 percent of 2012 levels. Two stronger years are expected for 2015 and 2016.

The U.S. has set another annual record for the fourth straight year, exporting $2.3 trillion in goods and services in 2013, according to data released by the U.S. Commerce Department this week.

"As the numbers prove, American entrepreneurs will continue to outperform their competitors in the global marketplace, as long as they are given a level playing field," said Export-Import Bank Chairman and President Fred P. Hochberg. "Under the strategic direction established by President Obama's National Export Initiative, we continue to export more goods at a record pace. By exporting $2.3 trillion in U.S. goods and services and supporting 10 million American jobs, America's exporters continue to make critical contributions to our economy."

Exports of goods and services over the last twelve months totaled $2.3 trillion, 44 percent more than exports in 2009. During that timeframe, exports have been growing at an annualized rate of 9.5 percent when compared to 2009.

For more of the Digital Journal story:

Industry insiders: Hanjin Group will take over Hanjin Shipping

Hanjin Shipping Chairwoman Choi Eun-young may hand over the management of the container carrier to her brother-in-law, Hanjin Group Chairman Cho Yang-ho, industry sources told the Korea Times on Thursday.

Months ago the group offered liquidity to the shipping line, which has suffered a cash shortage due to the downturn of the shipping industry.

According to sources in the financial industry, Hanjin Shipping’s parent company, Hanjin Shipping Holdings, will be divided in two to set up a new corporate body.

The new entity would reportedly include Hanjin Shipping, which will be overseen by Cho. Choi will retain control of the other half in addition to other affiliates of the holding company, such as Hanjin Logistics, Cyber Logitec, ship management firm Hanjin SM, and Hanjin Shipping’s building in Yeouido, central Seoul.

It is also rumored that all shares of the shipping arm held by Choi would be transferred to Cho, including their respective managerial controls.

Korean Air, Hanjin Group’s flagship unit, will make the shipping firm its affiliate during the first half of the year, according to the sources.

Industry watchers have long forecast that Cho would take control of Hanjin Shipping following Choi’s decision to request a bailout from him last year.

For more of the Korea Times story:


Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Top Story

Port of Portland to pay Hanjin Shipping to stay at port

The Port of Portland plans to pay up to $4 million more to persuade Hanjin Shipping and other shipping lines to keep calling in the face of ongoing labor problems and weak terminal productivity.

Port commissioners will vote Wednesday on an incentive plan to pay Hanjin and other shipping lines $20 per-container moved through Portland up to a certain threshold. Carriers would get an added $25 payment for each increase in the number of containers they transported.

The incentive plan is being considered as Hanjin officials are poised to decide any day now whether to continue weekly vessel calls at Portland, and it is the most generous package the port has given shipping lines since labor disputes erupted in 2012.

"This is part of our concerted effort to keep Hanjin here," said Sebastian Degens, port general manager of marine business development. "I'm optimistic that it will be successful."

Hundreds of Northwest exporters and importers depend on Hanjin to carry cargo to and from Asia. But Hanjin has suffered heavy global financial losses and looking for ways to cut costs. Hanjin managers said the company may end calls on Portland or Seattle, or at one of two ports in British Columbia: Vancouver or Prince Rupert.

The incentive plan expected to be adopted Wednesday at the commissioners' monthly meeting doubles a $10-a-container carrot that the port gave container carriers last year, although that program was capped at $1 million.

But the 2014 incentive package would give nothing to the port's terminal operator, ICTSI Oregon Inc., which received $2.7 million in 2012 and $3.4 million in 2013. Those payments, essentially in the form of rental rebates, were attributed to losses stemming from disputes that the port and ICTSI had with the International Longshore and Warehouse Union.

"Given the enormous significance of Hanjin being on the edge of its decision, we thought moving all of our incentive payment this time to the carriers would be the most meaningful way we could do the retention," Degens said.

For more of the Oregon Live story:

Drewry: Seattle - Tacoma port alliance might succeed with terminal ownership consolidation

Bigger ship sizes and increasing liner alliances have caused the port authorities of Seattle and Tacoma to try to ally their ports to combat the growing bargaining power of carriers, according to the latest issue of Container Insight by Drewry Maritime Research.

Seattle and Tacoma have applied to the U.S. Federal Maritime Commission for permission to share information and discuss matters such as rates of return, planning, utilization, operating costs and charges. This is a groundbreaking move, Drewry says, but notes that consolidation of terminal ownership will probably need to occur to pave the way for true success.

As with other U.S. West Coast ports, Seattle and Tacoma have to live with a system in which each major carrier tends to have its own terminal. Drewry said this arrangement made sense when carriers were smaller, but with today's mega carriers and alliances, the fragmentation of terminal capacity makes it harder to accommodate the massive collaborations of the P3, G6 and CKYH alliances.

Each of the Puget Sound ports handles less than 2 million TEUs, and Seattle has four container terminals and Tacoma five. The Canadian ports of Prince Rupert and Vancouver have been steadily winning market share from the two U.S. ports, Drewry reports.

Greater cooperation between the two port authorities, if approved by the FMC, will certainly help to better manage the situation but, in the short term, it will not change the nature of their physical assets.

For this to happen, separate applications made by the terminals to the FMC will need approval (like, for example, the one submitted jointly by the Seattle port authority and its three terminal operators in late 2013), or there needs to be some merger and acquisition activity, Drewry said.

Given carriers' current need to raise cash by selling assets such as terminals, this is a viable likely option but will take time.

For Seattle and Tacoma, it makes sense to work more closely together, especially as the two ports ultimately share the same owner, Washington State. The two Wash. ports could improve their market share by coordinating berthing windows between the two gateways, said Container Insight, or by dovetailing intermodal rail services, for example, which would require the involvement of the terminal operators and railroad companies and requisite regulatory approvals.

In conclusion, Drewry said that the move by the Seattle and Tacoma ports is a logical one, and if approved by the FMC, the common ownership of the port authorities gives the ports more chance of success than other possible port authority co-operation agreements. Fragmentation of terminal capacity in the two ports will make the task more complex and difficult though, and consolidation of terminal ownership will most likely need to be part of the solution.

Illinois River ice halts transport of grains by barge this week

Icy waters brought barge traffic to a halt on the Illinois River this week, slowing the transport of grains and other raw materials to terminals on the U.S. Gulf Coast, with no relief expected as weather forecasts call for more bitter cold temperatures in the coming days, officials said on Friday.

Some barge operators were "tying up" their vessels while others were sailing single-file through a break in the ice on the Illinois River near Peoria Lake in the central part of the state. Tows were restricted to six or eight barges, down from 15 or more normally, since the ice buildup thinned the chambers on the river's locks.

"They're having a hard time getting through the ice," said Ron Fornier, public affairs officer for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' Rock Island district.

Shipments of grain along the Illinois River become more important in the winter after shipping stops on the upper- and mid-Mississippi River. The Illinois flows into the Mississippi, the main channel to U.S. Gulf export facilities, north of St. Louis.

For more of the Reuters story:

Suez Canal sets cargo record Friday

Egypt's Suez Canal set a record on Friday of the number of vessels and the cargo passing through it, according to the Suez Canal Authority Chairman Mohab Mamish.

A total of 54 vessels carrying 4 million tons of cargo crossed the canal on Friday, Mamish said, noting that the good news provides a "glimmer of hope" for the improvement of the conditions of Egypt's national economy.

In January Mamish said that the government had allocated two billion Egyptian pounds for a project to develop the Suez Canal Axis.

Egypt's Armed Forces have warned against external forces that seek to harm the international shipping canal. The Suez Canal was attacked last August in an attempt to influence the shipping movement in the canal.

For more of the All Africa story:

Cargo ship sank Saturday, crew rescued

A cargo ship sank Saturday afternoon in the Black Sea near a Bulgarian village, close to the border with Romania.

The cargo ship Elland sent out a distress signal around 6.00 a.m. local time, and soon a nearby Turkish vessel rescued all the 11 sailors on board, Xinhua reported.

The ship, loaded with lumber and travelling from Romania to Turkey, sunk around 4.30 p.m., the Bulgarian ministry said, saying the crew includes five Georgians, five Turks and a citizen of India, they said.

The cause of the accident is being investigated.

For more of the India T.V. News story:


Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Top Story

U.S. retail imports on track to slow and drop in February

Cargo volume at the nation's major retail container ports is expected to drop 8.4 percent in February, but will rise 4.3 percent in the first six months of 2014 year-over-year, according to forecasts in the monthly Global Port Tracker report released by the National Retail Federation and Hackett Associates.

"Ports and distribution centers are getting the break they deserve after the busy holiday season, but it won't last long," Said Jonathan Gold, NRF vice president for supply chain and customs policy. "Retailers will be moving spring merchandise toward their shelves in just a few weeks, and early numbers point to a busy season ahead."

U.S. ports followed by Global Port Tracker handled 1.3 million TEUs in December, which brought 2013 to a total of 16.2 million TEUs, up 2.3 percent from 2012's 15.8 million TEUs.

The report estimates that January up 4.5 percent year-over-year at 1.37 million TEUs, and February, usually the slowest month of the year, is forecast down 8.4 percent at 1.17 million TEUs. March is forecast at up 13.7 percent at 1.29 million TEUs, April up 6.9 percent at 1.39 million TEUs, May up 4.2 percent at 1.45 million TEUs, and June up 5.6 percent at 1.43 million TEUs. Those numbers a total of 8.1 million TEUs predicted for the first half of the year, up 4.3 percent compared to first six months of 2013.

NRF is forecasting 4.1 percent sales growth in 2014, depending on how Washington policies on economic issues affect consumer confidence.

"On the consumer side, there is continued hesitancy in spending as net disposable income remains virtually flat," said Ben Hackett, Hackett Associates founder. "As a result, the inventory-to-sales ratio remains stubbornly high."

Global Port Tracker covers the U.S. ports of Los Angeles/Long Beach, Oakland, Seattle, Tacoma, New York/New Jersey, Hampton Roads, Charleston, Savannah, Port Everglades, Miami, and Houston.

COSCO International executive talks industry recovery

According to Xu Zhengjun, managing director of COSCO International, the shipping industry hit the bottom in 2013 and while capacity oversupply remains a problem, "we expect it to recover gradually this year amid a better world economy."

Xu said supportive policies from the Chinese government in 2013 helped, but "the capacity oversupply cannot be resolved in the short term."

Xu sees a bright outlook for shipping with room for improvements and growth. He said the subsidiary of COSCO Group, the mainland's leader in shipping and logistics, will focus on insurance and trading, leveraging resources within the group.

A cargo-handling facility with a capacity of 677,000 tons was completed in Qingdao last year, Xu said, while another in Shanghai will be completed in 2015.

He said the company has other acquisition targets, but declined to name them because talks have not been completed.

For more of the Standard story:

South Carolina port and state work together to draw business

The growth of the South Carolina Ports Authority is drawing business to the state, according to a S.C. maritime official.

Element Electronics is moving a $7.5 million T.V. manufacturing facility in Winnsboro, S.C., shifting the company's flat-screen television assembly from Asia to the U.S. this month and adding 500 area jobs.

Element is one of a dozen companies the S.C. Ports Authority has highlighted in a new report about its 2013 business recruiting efforts. The two-page briefing documents how the port agency helped state officials persuade companies to invest millions in new or expanded operations and add hundreds of jobs.

"The port is one of our state's most strategic assets," said Jim Newsome, president and CEO of the SPA. "It offers connectivity to the global marketplace that influences many companies to locate or expand their operations in South Carolina."

CEO Mike O'Shaughnessy said Element decided to "make a go" with its decision to assemble TVs in the U.S. after weighing a raft of issues, such as the workforce availability and access along the East Coast.

"All of our parts come from different parts of Asia, be it panels and power boards. We knew we had a lot of product coming and it would be very ineffective to bring it in from California and have it trucked to the East Coast," O'Shaughnessy said, saying that's why they chose the Port of Charleston.

Last year South Carolina reported $5.4 billion in capital investment from new and expanding employers, according to S.C. Commerce Secretary Bobby Hitt. The state uses incentives, including credits designed to entice companies to increase their use of the port.

State officials defend the use of tax breaks to attract jobs, saying the incentives are performance-based, thereby safeguarding taxpayers' investment. Element Electronics, for example, received a $1.3 million rural infrastructure grant to offset site preparation costs and job development credits based on how many workers it hires.

The SPA report points to its other successes from last year, like Keer Group, which received a $4 million infrastructure grant and job development credits. The Chinese textile manufacturer plans to spend $218 million in Lancaster County and increase its payroll to more than 500 employees within five years at its first U.S. factory, which will export finished goods through the Port of Charleston.

The SPA's new inland port and cargo terminal in Greer has also helped to lure more business, according to the SPA report. For example, it prompted automaker BMW to build a 413,000-square-foot new export center nearby for Greer-made vehicles that will get shipped overseas through the port's Columbus Street Terminal.

For more of the Post and Courier story:

Tampa Port Authority officials to be questioned in Liberty Channelside lawsuit

Hundreds of pages of new documents have been filed in the Liberty Channelside lawsuit against the Tampa Port Authority and the Irish bank as the parties continue their legal battle over the port's deal to buy Channelside Bay Plaza, a downtown waterfront complex.

Liberty's lawyers will depose Tampa Port Authority officials this week at the Tampa office of Stratos Legal, a national courtreporting firm.

Liberty tried to buy the lease to the Channelside building from the Irish Bank Resolution Corp. last year. After negotiations stalled, the port's governing board voted to end Liberty's bid.

The port owns the land under Channelside, and has a say on who can buy the building. Then the port signed its own deal to buy the building.

That sale requires court approval from a federal bankruptcy judge in Delaware, who is overseeing the IBRC's American assets, and a Hillsborough County circuit judge. But Liberty sued to challenge the sale in federal court, delaying approval of the deal.

Liberty's principals, local real estate investors Santosh Govindaraju and Punit Shah, want the Tampa Port Authority to pay them actual damages, punitive damages and legal fees, claiming that the port of sabotaged its deal to purchase Channelside so that the Tampa Port Authority could swoop in and strike its own deal to buy it instead.

According to court documents filed Thursday in the bankruptcy court, Liberty wants the port to turn over documents regarding the Channelside deal and also wants to question port officials about several topics, including: negotiations and contact between the port and bank, between Liberty and the port, and any contact between port officials and "architects, financial advisors, engineers, urban planners."

For more of the Tampa Bay Times story:

Warehouse fire erupts at Port of Savannah

Burning rubber from a warehouse fire at the Port of Savannah Saturday sent up a tube of black smoke that could be seen for miles.

Firefighters worked Saturday to contain and extinguish the blaze that erupted at the port's Ocean Terminal not far from downtown Savannah. The cause of the fire wasn't immediately known.

A Georgia Ports Authority spokesman said all port workers were accounted for and unharmed.

For more of the Appeal Democrat story:


Thursday, February 13, 2014

Top Story

U.S. beef, lamb exports rose, pork exports fell in 2013

By Richard Knee

U.S. beef exports in 2013 topped $6 billion for the first time while lamb exports also rose and pork exports declined from the record set in 2012, according to the U.S. Meat Export Federation, a Denver-based group that promotes sales of red meat and meat products abroad.

The outlook for this year depends heavily on grain prices, drought and other factors, and an updated forecast is expected soon, said Jim Herlihy, the organization's vice president of communications.

Philip Seng, USMEF's president and chief executive officer, pointed to new and ongoing difficulties for the industry including Russia's closing its gates to U.S. red meat products in 2013, China's 10-year-old ban on U.S. beef and "challenges in other markets, ranging from Indonesia to Saudi Arabia."

Herlihy explained that the Chinese and Saudi embargoes of U.S. beef stem from detections of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE, also called "mad cow disease") in cattle, respectively in 2003 and in April 2012. China in 2013 bought $1.3 billion worth of beef from other countries, and does import U.S. pork, he said.

Regarding Indonesia, he cited a cattle industry report that that country in the fourth quarter of 2013 loosened quotas on beef and live cattle imports that it had imposed in 2012 to support domestic producers. The quotas drove prices up and the government's latest action has increased buyers' access to imported beef, the report said. Indonesia was among the top 10 markets for U.S. beef, peaking at nearly 18,000 metric tons of beef and beef variety meat worth more than $28 million in 2011, the report said.

The 2013 beef export mark of $6.16 billion surpassed the previous record, $5.5 billion, set in 2012, USMEF said. Beef export volume rose 3 percent to 1.17 million metric tons. Lamb exports rose 7 percent in value, to $28.1 million, but dipped 6 percent in volume, to 12,332 metric tons. Pork exports fell 4 percent in value, to $6.05 billion, though they exceeded $6 billion for the third straight year, the report said. In volume, port exports slipped 5 percent, to 2.14 million metric tons.

Exports of all three product groups increased in December, both in value and in volume, from year-earlier levels, the report said.

Complete USMEF export statistics are available at

Baltimore longshore union votes down latest contract offer

Union dockworkers at the port of Baltimore voted Tuesday to reject the latest contract proposal from their employers, extending a labor standoff that has shaken up the state's main port for months.

The local union's national labor officials backed them, warning that approval of the contract would mean millions of dollars pulled from the union's — and local longshoremen's — pockets. Others fear working without a contract could increase concerns of labor instability among port customers, causing cargo to be diverted.

Members of the International Longshoremen's Association Local 333 voted 416 to 140 to reject the local contract. The Steamship Trade Association, which represents employers at the port of Baltimore, has repeatedly referred to this contract its "best and final" offer.

There's no labor agreement in place, but no threats of a strike or lockout either.

"We're going to continue to work," said Riker "Rocky" McKenzie, Local 333 president, after the votes were counted. "We're going to continue to negotiate."

The local contract covers automobiles, paper and other break bulk cargo. The union has already agreed to a separate master contract for container cargo that covers operations up and down the East Coast.

Michael Angelos, president of the Steamship Trade Association, said he had expected union members to approve the new contract, which he said is fair and would raise wages dramatically. But things took a turn Monday, he said, when Local 333 received powerful support from national ILA officials — rare in a local contract vote.

McKenzie said the contract addresses none of the union's concerns about how jobs are filled, how discipline is meted out and how safety is ensured.

Dennis Daggett, president of the ILA's Atlantic Coast District, wrote a letter urging the membership to reject the contract, saying it would put the local union in a "better position" to negotiate down the $3.8 million debt it owes to port employers — damages a federal arbitrator ordered the union to pay after the October strike.

"I believe that if the final offer is accepted by the Local 333 membership, STA and its member companies will proceed with enforcing the award against Local 333's treasury and your future dues money, which obviously will be financially devastating to Local 333," Daggett wrote. "On the other hand, if you reject the offer, Local 333 will likely be in a better position to deal with the arbitrator's award."

Daggett stressed the need to protect leverage in settlement discussions while dismissing the "concern" among some longshoremen that a down vote would mean another strike.

For more of the Baltimore Sun story:

ILWU says terminal operator ICTSI will benefit from Port of Portland container subsidies

In order to keep the business of Hanjin Shipping and other container lines, the Port of Portland is incentivizing container terminal use, and ILWU officials say ICTSI shouldn't be getting public subsidies.

Port commissioners are scheduled to vote at their monthly meeting Wednesday on $20-per-TEU incentive payments to help persuade Hanjin Shipping Co. to continue calling on Portland.

The payments, $4 million in all, would go to Hanjin and other shipping lines, not to terminal operator ICTSI Oregon Inc. But International Longshore and Warehouse Union officials, locked in conflict with ICTSI, see the payments as indirect subsidies of the Terminal 6 operator. Once they receive the subsidies, union officials argue, shipping lines will be able to afford higher terminal rates that ICTSI aims to charge them.

ICTSI's parent company, International Container Services Inc. in the Philippines, saw a 22 percent increase in net income to $129 million during the first nine months of 2013 year-over-year.

"ICTSI's insistence on public support is unwarranted, as the company has soaring profits worldwide (and according to Forbes, a CEO whose personal wealth stands at $4.5 billion and growing)," ILWU spokeswoman Jennifer Sargent wrote in an email.

For more of the Oregon Live story:

Mexico plans $9.4B in cargo and passenger rail projects

Mexico's transport and communications ministry (SCT) is planning cargo and passenger rail projects with expected investment of at least $9.4 billion, according to a release from the SCT.

The SCT is planning some $2.2 billion in cargo rail transport including the Aguascalientes-Guadalajara line in Encarnación that will reduce the distance between Manzanillo and Altamira ports by 16 hours.

Construction of the Manzanillo rail tunnel will also double the amount of rail cargo handling to 4 million TEUs.

Other key projects include the Coatzacoalcos, Celaya and Matamoros rail bypasses that will increase the speed of transport, and in the case of Coatzacoalcos, divert the transport of hazardous material away from the city.

Some 13 projects are planned, including the Mexico City-Toluca, Mexico City-Querétaro and the Yucatán peninsula passenger trains at a cost of $7.1 billion, said SCT rail director Carlos Almada during a railway conference in Cancún.

For more of the BN Americas story:

More than 12 hurt in manufacturing plant explosion

More than a dozen people were injured after an explosion at a manufacturing plant in Peterborough, N.H., this week.

The explosion happened at about 3:30 p.m. Monday at New Hampshire Ball Bearings. Nine other communities helped Peterborough emergency crews at the scene.

The Jaffrey Fire Department tweeted that their units were dispatched to the scene after a report of a "major explosion." The force of the explosion blew out the windows of the first floor of the building.

Officials said 11 people were transported to the hospital with injuries. Two others were treated as walk-ins at the hospital.

For more of the Fox Boston story:


Friday, February 14, 2014

Top Story

U.S. Federal Maritime Commission reportedly likely to approve P3 Alliance

The U.S. Federal Maritime Commission is expected to approve an alliance among the world's three biggest container lines by the end of March, but will attach conditions to help protect smaller competitors, freight forwarders and fuel providers on the busiest trades, according to sources of the Wall Street Journal.

Denmark's Maersk Line, France's CMA CGM and Switzerland's Mediterranean Shipping Co. announced in 2013 they planned a route-sharing alliance called the P3 Alliance, to start the second quarter of this 2014.

Regulatory approval is needed from the U.S., European and Chinese officials, and sources told the WSJ that Europe and China will likely wait until the U.S. decides on whether or not it will approve the alliance.

The EU regulator has initiated a separate price-fixing investigation of container carriers, including Maersk, MSC and CMA CGM.

The P3 Alliance partners submitted new documents to the FMC last Friday after a request by the regulatory body for additional information late last year. The FMC now has 45 days to issue its ruling.

All three of the P3 shipping lines have declined to comment on the regulatory review process.

"It is going to be a period of deliberations, where conditions on the P3 operations will be attached," one of the people familiar with the matter said. "The FMC already sees this as more of a partnership rather than a merger, so if it gets the necessary safeguards for fair competition, the P3 will be approved."

Small shipping companies worry that the proposed alliance would push them out of many trade routes. Freight forwarders, importers and exporters want the alliance blocked because they have lose control in negotiations on freight rates with the big container lines. Fuel suppliers are concerned that once the P3 alliance is up and running, they won't be able to separately negotiate fuel prices with the three vessel operators.

If approved, the P3 would control an estimated 43 percent of the Asia-to-Europe trades, 41 percent of the trans-Atlantic market and about 24 percent of the trans-Pacific market.

For more of the Wall Street Journal story:

Some Port of NY/NJ truck gates closed Friday due to severe weather

Due to inclement weather some truck gates at the Port of New York and New Jersey will be closed on Friday, Feb. 14, according to the port website. All truck gates at the port complex were closed Thursday, Feb. 13.

Please be advised that on Friday, Feb. 14 the Maher, PNCT, and APM truck gates will be closed due to the severe weather. Global Terminal, NYCT and RHCT plan to open truck gates at 0800.

The port website said to continue to monitor terminal websites for more details.

Maher Terminal will open truck gates from 0700-1600 on Saturday, Feb. 15, but all other terminals will be closed.

On Feb 17, Presidents' Day, several terminals will be open. Hours are as follows:

Maher: 0600-1900

PNCT: 0600-1800

APM: 0600-1700 (reefers until 1630)

NYCT, Global and RHCT will be closed.

New Virginia Port Authority director tackles budget

Virginia Port Authority executive director John Reinhart, former chief executive at Maersk Line Limited, decided to address the struggling finances of the port during his first week on the job.

Although the port projected a small profit this year, their figures were off, drawing criticism from new Transportation Secretary Aubrey Layne.

The port's operations have been in the red for five consecutive years, though the loss has been somewhat mitigated by an annual subsidy — a bit over 4 percent of the state's Transportation Trust Fund is allocated to the ports.

In the first six months of the fiscal year, "there's been a $10.5 million operations loss across the board … and you can't make it up on (higher cargo) volume," Reinhart told a group of maritime officials at the Virginia Maritime Association breakfast. "We're losing money on some of the cargo" moving through the port, he added.

VPA board chair Jeff Wassmer has said one of the problems includes big increases in rail traffic, which has increased overtime payments for the workers who deal with the associated cargo traffic jams.

The port's budget has been extended in many other ways. The agency's board of commissioners committed $4 million annually to finance the expansion of Route 460, which runs from Hampton Roads to Petersburg. They also paid for two recent port-related consultant studies, and the one focused on the VPA's operational arm, Virginia International Terminals, cost more than $1 million.

Reinhart named a couple areas in which the port can save money. He noted three large container ships are scheduled to call on Hampton Roads one after another after another, and getting the resulting glut of containers out of the port and toward their final destinations will be expensive. The ships ideally "should have been spread out over 2 months," he said.

He also said the Craney Island terminal, a project that when completed will dramatically increase the port's cargo capacity, should be pushed "a little bit to the right" on the timeline, noting a cheaper and quicker way to expand port capacity is to build out the state-operated APM Terminal facility in Portsmouth.

For more of the Daily Press story:

COSCO announces rate restoration for Far East to Middle East trade

COSCO Container Lines announces rate restoration for all shipments from Far East to Red Sea and Persian Gulf Trade as following schedule, the company said in a statement this week.

The rate for Far East to Gulf is $150 per-TEU effective March 1, 2014, and goes up to $150 per-TEU effective March 15, 2014, the company said.

The rate for the Far East to Red Sea route will be $200 per-TEU effective March 1, 2014.

COSCO's Far East rotation includes China Mainland, China Hong Kong, China Taiwan, China Macao, Philippines, Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Korea, Brunei, Cambodia, Myanmar and Bangladesh.

Persian Gulf rotation includes Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia (Persian Gulf Coastal), Bahrain, Qatar, United Arab Emirates and Oman.

Red Sea includes Saudi Arabia (Red Sea Coastal), Yemen, Jordan, Egypt and Sudan.

Cargo train cuts semi in half at railroad crossing

A Union Pacific cargo train collided with a tractor-trailer stuck at a railroad crossing on Wednesday, according to police in Payette, Idaho.

Police tell KTVB-TV that no one was injured in the collision that occurred at about 3:30 p.m. Wednesday, cutting the trailer in half. They said the semi became high-centered on the crossing when gear on the semi dug into the asphalt.

The collision scattered the cans of food being carried in the truck.

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