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Summary for March 5 - March 9, 2007:

China Shipping forms alliance for sea-rail transport network

China Shipping Container Lines (CSCL), the country's second-largest container line, has formed a strategic alliance with China Railway Container Transportation Company to launch the first sea-railway intermodal transport network to cover the entire mainland, cutting haulage costs.

Under the framework agreement signed Mar 1 in Beijing, CSCL will use trains to move containers mainly to inland regions at least 300 kilometers from the major ports, such as Inner Mongolia, Xian, Chengdu and Guizhou, said Huang Xiaowen, managing director of CSCL.

Huang estimates that 20% to 30% of costs could be cut by using trains instead of trucks for shipments to points more than 300km away from the ports.

Banking on the economic development in inland areas, CSCL forecast that the volume flowing there will increase from last year, when it moved 60,000 TEUs inland.

Global LNG market to double by 2010

The global market for liquefied natural gas is expected to grow rapidly until the end of the decade, doubling in size over five years to 2010, according to a report published Feb 28 by PriceWaterhouseCoopers.

That will mean LNG will be contributing around 40% of the anticipated growth in global gas supply between 2005 and 2010, it said.

Qatar, Nigeria and Australia will lead the growth, said Michael Hurley, head of the Global LNG team at PWC.

"The rise of Qatar is a key factor in a more global market, with supplies able to serve both the Atlantic and Pacific markets. In addition, new LNG capacity is planned to be developed in Iran, the Russian Federation and Yemen," he added.

But the report also highlighted the risks facing companies involved in the LNG business, stressing that previous LNG activity has been the subject of "enormous ups and downs", with some infrastructure built in the 1970s remaining unused until the 1990s.

Malaysia’s MISC rose 17.6% in Q3 net profits

MISC Bhd has posted third quarter net profit of RM944.48mn ($269.6mn), up 17.6% year-on-year after chalking a RM342.11mn gain from the sale of ships.

Revenue for the three months ended 31 Dec 2006 edged up 2.1% to RM2.83bn, the world's largest carrier of natural gas said in a filing to Bursa Malaysia on Mar 1, 2007.

MISC's nine-month net profit of RM2.149bn was marginally lower than RM2.155bn previously.

Revenue for the period increased 5.5% to RM8.33bn.

On future outlook, MISC said it expects demand for oil rigs to offset weak shipping charges.

Vietnam’s Saigon Shipmarin builds first cargo vessels for Japan

The Saigon Shipbuilding and Maritime Industry Company (Saigon Shipmarin) has started building two 8,000-ton cargo vessels for Japan.

These are the first cargo vessels that Saigon Shipmarin has built for foreign customers.

They are expected to be completed by the end of 2007.

To raise its capacity, the company has invested more than $40mn in building a new shipyard, which is capable of building and repairing 70,000 ton ships, in Soai Rap district of the Mekong delta province of Tien Giang.

Safmarine ship in oil spill drama

A Safmarine container ship, the SA Helderberg, was damaged and leaked fuel oil into the Malacca Strait near Singapore after a tanker collided with it.

The ship, on an east-bound voyage from South Africa to Singapore, Hong Kong and Shanghai, China, was carrying cargo from various origins, including semi-finished goods from South Africa, when the tanker slammed into it in clear weather on Feb 17. Delivery of the cargo was delayed by about 10 days.

According to reports from Malaysia, authorities were hunting the Singapore-registered tanker Ocean Sapphire after it fled to international waters following the collision. The Helderberg was meant to dock in Singapore he week of Feb 5, but first had to undergo temporary repairs before she was allowed into port, said Safmarine spokesman Victor Shieh.

None of the Helderberg's crew was injured but about 50 tons of fuel oil flowed from a hole at the point of impact in the container ship's hull.

Salvors and a salvage tug from Svitzer Wijsmuller were at the scene. The crews of Malaysian anti-pollution vessels had deployed an inflatable oil retention boom around the Helderberg to prevent the oil from drifting towards shore, said Shieh.

Business groups help sink Senate cargo scanning proposal

With strong opposition from the shipping and trade industry, Senate Republicans and a handful of Democrats defeated a proposal Mar 1 that would have required all cargo be scanned at foreign ports before being put on ships bound for the US.

Senators voted 58-38 to table the proposal, which was offered by Sens Charles Schumer, D-NY, and Robert Menendez, D-NJ, as an amendment to a bill to implement unfulfilled recommendations of the 9/11 Commission.

"Requiring 100% scanning of all inbound sea containers (more than 11 million containers annually) may be well intentioned, but it is not feasible, given the current technology," the National Association of Manufacturers wrote in an open letter to senators. "A 100% scanning requirement could strangle commerce and have a significantly damaging impact on American manufacturers and cost jobs."

Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Chairman Joseph Lieberman, I-Conn., and ranking member Susan Collins, R-Maine, led opposition to the amendment.

They both argued that technology does not yet exist to scan all cargo at foreign ports. They also pointed out that a maritime security law -- the so-called SAFE Port Act enacted last fall -- requires the Homeland Security Department to conduct test programs to scan all cargo at three foreign ports.

The department must regularly report to Congress on the test programs, and move to ensure that cargo is scanned at all ports as soon as possible.

Schumer and Menendez countered that the department will only make progress if Congress sets a deadline for scanning all cargo abroad. Their amendment would require that all cargo at the world's largest ports be scanned within three years and at all ports within five.

Senators continued to look for a compromise to give Transportation Security Administration screeners more employee protections while dropping the bill's references to collective bargaining, which has drawn a White House veto threat.

Congress, citizen group ask Wal-Mart to stop opposing 100% scanning of port containers, America's campaign to change Wal-Mart, launched a new nationwide grassroots initiative today with a letter calling on Wal-Mart, America's #1 importer of port containers, to stop opposing 100% scanning of port containers and publicly support legislation and security measures that will strengthen our nation's port security.

The new campaign, entitled "Wal-Mart, Put America's Security First," is in response to an aggressive lobbying campaign launched by Wal-Mart and the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA) to thwart improvements, such as 100% scanning of port containers, to our nation's port security.

According to public reports, Wal-Mart and RILA believe that the 100% scanning provision contained in the US House version of the 9/11 bill would needlessly impede the speed of imports potentially hurting Wal-Mart's profits.

The "Wal-Mart, Put America's Security First" campaign is especially critical in order to ensure that the 100% scanning provision, which was passed in the House but not in the Senate, is added back to the final version of the bill when it is reconciled in the House/Senate conference committee.

As part of the campaign, also released two Congressional letters signed by 30 Members of Congress and another letter from a core group of 200 family members directly affected by loss on 9/11.

If Wal-Mart fails to adequately respond, will also launch a new 30-second TV ad campaign.

The ad campaign will be previewed on's website Monday, March 5th at noon, and will air in 6 states, including the key presidential battleground states of Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina, as well as selective port cities.

Cargo moving faster at Port of Baltimore

Longshoremen at the Port of Baltimore are loading and unloading cargo faster than national averages, according to officials at the Maryland Port Administration.

The MPA Mar 1 said longshoremen loaded and unloaded an average of 40 containers per hour at Seagirt Marine Terminal during Jan-Feb 2007.

The national average for container handling range is 25-35 containers per hour, according to the MPA. The Port of Baltimore is ranked 13th for overall tonnage and 12th for value of cargo out of 361 ports in America, according to the state.

In 2005, the port's foreign cargo increased for the fourth consecutive year with a total of 32.4mn tons. Since the beginning of the year, 17 of the 48 vessels docked at Seagirt were loaded or unloaded at 40 containers per hour.

Halifax port looks to double capacity

The Halifax Port Authority is moving forward with plans to almost double its capability to handle shipping containers.

With projections of increased global trade, particularly from Asia and India in the next several years, the authority is exploring ways it can expand its present physical capacity without having to get into any major terminal development.

The majority of container cargo is moved by rail but only about one third of the rail capacity is being utilized, so presently that is not an issue. More rail cars could be added as the business case warrants it.

"It is important to realize that this is about inland markets, Ontario, Quebec and the Midwest and our capacity to grow and service those markets," says George Malec, the authority’s vice-president of operations and security.

The port handles approximately half a million TEUs annually and has capacity to accommodate approximately 1.2mn.

The authority is already working on upgrades such as a new truck plaza and on-dock rail expansion — both at Fairview Cove — that will result in immediate capacity increases.

"We are looking at plans where we could reconfigure the footprint of Ocean Terminals to add significant more container handling area," Mr. Malec said. The area has on-dock rail, and although it doesn’t have on-dock cranes, the authority could install the infrastructure for that equipment.

Moving terminal cargo by rail seen easing Goethals traffic

Come spring, some of the cargo unloaded at the New York Container Terminal in Howland Hook will roll over the Arthur Kill to New Jersey on rails -- a change expected to take as many as 90,000 tractor-trailers a year out of traffic on the narrow Goethals Bridge.

A decade of planning and $180mn in city- and Port Authority-funded improvements resulted in the restoration in 2006 of the eight-mile rail line connecting Fresh Kills, VanBro Corp and Pratt Industries, the Arlington Rail Yard, and the ExpressRail Staten Island ship-to-rail facility, built at the site of the former Procter & Gamble plant in Port Ivory.

But before the tracks on the Staten Island side can link up with the nation's railway system via Elizabeth, NJ, the big blue Arthur Kill Lift Bridge over the water has to prove it can lift and lower consistently.

After sitting dormant for 15 years, the nearly 50-year-old bridge has been completely retrofitted for its new tasks, and tests are being conducted regularly by the city Economic Development Corp, which oversees the rail crossing.

When the bridge is cleared for service and the stock begins rolling, tractor-trailers will no longer have to cross the Goethals with goods to be shipped by train to destinations like Canada or Chicago. The freight will be loaded directly onto traincars on Staten Island and shuttled over with more efficiency and less pollution.

NRF says container traffic building at major retail ports

Traffic at the United States' major retail container ports is beginning to climb out of the slow season and could top last year’s peak as early as July, according to the monthly Port Tracker report released today by the National Retail Federation and Global Insight.

“The slow season is on its way out,” Global Insight Economist Paul Bingham said.

Bingham added that February was the slowest month of the year, as usual, but volume is starting to pick up now in March and we think July could top the peak for all of last year.

“We saw some weather disruptions in February, but US ports are operating without congestion, and truck and rail performance has been sufficient,” Bingham said.

“This is the time of year when retailers really have to begin watching what’s happening at the ports very closely,” said NRF Vice President and International Trade Counsel Erik Autor. “Summer merchandise will be coming through the ports soon, and we’ll be building toward peak season very rapidly.”

All US ports covered by Port Tracker – Los Angeles/Long Beach, Oakland, Tacoma and Seattle on the West Coast, and New York/New Jersey, Hampton Roads, Charleston and Savannah on the East Coast – are currently rated “low” for congestion, the same as last month.

Nationwide, the ports surveyed handled 1.26mn TEUs of container traffic in January, the most recent month for which actual numbers are available. The figure was down 0.35% from December but up 3.4% from January 2006.

Pacific Basin to buy more vessels

Pacific Basin Shipping, the world's largest handysize vessel operator, says it will acquire more dry bulk ships to cope with growing demand for commodities, despite seeing a 25% drop in net profit last year as its freight rates fell and fuel prices soared, more than eroding gains in sales.

The shipper Mar 5 posted net profit of $110.3mn for the year to Dec 2006, compared with $147.1mn in 2005, even as its revenue jumped 43% to $620mn. The results were in line with market expectations, according to Bloomberg.

The demand for handysize vessels - with a capacity of 22,000 to 33,000 deadweight tons of dry cargo, such as coal and timber - was healthy thanks to the strong appetite for commodities, said Richard Hext, deputy chairman of Pacific Basin.

The benchmark Baltic Handysize Spot Index at the end of last month was $20,447 per day, up from $18,000 in Jan 2006.

To fill the projected growing demand, Pacific Basin will invest $250mn to acquire 12 handysize vessels this year.

At the end of Feb 2007, its core fleet consisted of 70 handysize ships and seven larger handymax ships, which can hold up to 60,000 deadweight tonnes of dry bulk cargo.

Tanker fees have been recovering since they bottomed out in the first-half of last year and dragged down the company's overall earnings.

Suez Canal to raise fees

The Suez Canal Authority will raise fees on passing ships in April 2007 by an average of 2.8%, adding roughly $150mn to revenues this year, a canal official said.

The official said the canal authority decided to levy the higher fees in 2007 on all vessel types.

Egypt's annual revenues from the Suez Canal reached a record $3.8bn in 2006.

The Suez Canal saw 8.2% of global trade traffic in 2006, compared to 7.4% in the previous year, the official said.

The canal is an important source of foreign currency for Egypt, along with remittances from Egyptians living abroad, tourism, and oil and gas exports.

Huge e-waste haul returned to Japan

Hong Kong’s environment officers have intercepted the largest haul of electronic waste found at the city's busy container port and returned it to Japan.

The waste, in eight containers on a vessel that left Yokohama early Feb 2007, weighed 131 tons and comprised about 8,000 television sets and computer monitors.

Environment and customs officers intercepted the shipment at the Kwai Chung Container Terminal after the vessel arrived on Feb 12. With the consent of the shipping company and Japanese authorities, it was returned to Yokohama on another ship on Mar 4.

The cargo was declared in Japan as television sets and computer screens but the import document showed it as audio equipment and air conditioners. A random sampling of about 100 items in the containers found many had their power cables cut and their shells removed. They included old TV sets dating back to 1993 but some brands were made in 2005.

Under the Basel Convention on hazardous waste, which took effect in 1992, international movement of electronic waste is banned unless agreed to by both the importing and exporting countries. It is also the exporting country's responsibility to take back waste illegally sent out.

Had the waste landed in the city, it could have been diverted to illegal dismantling yards on the mainland or even locally, though officials said it was rare for local recycling agents to disassemble monitors.

Brazil anti-trust body investigates air cargo cartel

Anti-trust investigators at Brazil's Justice Ministry have started an investigation into a possible cartel in the air
cargo industry involving a number of major international airlines, a ministry spokesman said Mar 2.

The ministry started a preliminary investigation into AMR Corp's American Airlines, Air France-KLM, Lufthansa Cargo, Alitalia SPA, Brazil's Absa, Swiss WorldCargo and Brazil's VarigLog over allegations that they colluded to fix prices for international freight, a press officer at the ministry said.

The government received information that the airlines had made a deal to raise the maximum prices for fuel surcharges that carriers levied on the freight handling charges between 2003 and 2005. These surcharges are automatically raised or lowered depending on oil price movements.

The Justice Ministry has raided the offices of American Airlines, VarigLog and Air France-KLM in search of information, according to local business daily Valor Economico.

US and European anti-trust enforcers are already looking into possible price-fixing and collusion in the air cargo industry.

The Brazilian investigation started after one of the cartel members blew the whistle on the scheme. According to sources, Lufthansa supplied information in return for limited immunity.

World's emerging and developed markets fall in February

Standard & Poor's Mar 7 announced that the world's emerging and developed markets posted negative returns in February due to vast declines after China's benchmark Shanghai Composite Index fell 9% on Feb 27, 2007.

According to Standard & Poor's global stock market review, The World By Numbers, emerging markets declined 0.75% in February, while developed markets fell 0.26%.

Although emerging markets underperformed compared to developed markets for the month, developed market returns continued to trail that of emerging markets for both the 3- and 12-month periods.

"Market variance and investor uneasiness grew in February with inflation concerns mixed prior to the market turmoil, and growing with the added fears of currency and trade volatility," said Howard Silverblatt, Senior Index Analyst at Standard & Poor's.

"Countries and sectors began to move in opposite directions after the initial drop in the Shanghai Composite, and their performance is expected to be based on the health of their local markets more so than on global issues such as oil, interest rates and currency rates," Silverblatt said.

Esperanza announces plans for Long Beach LNG Terminal

Esperanza Energy, LLC, a subsidiary of Tidelands Oil & Gas Corp, Mar 7 announced plans to file applications with state and federal agencies to build a floating liquefied natural gas (LNG) receiving facility 15 miles off the Port of Long Beach, CA.

The project, named Port Esperanza, will aim to bring natural gas to the Southern California marketplace.

Esperanza plans to formally file its application in late 2007.

"When we announced our interest in building an LNG facility in April 2006, we indicated that we would pursue a project only if it could be sited, designed and operated in the safest, most environmentally responsible and economically viable manner possible," stated Jim Smith, president and CEO of Tidelands Oil & Gas Corporation.

Port Esperanza's offshore receiving terminal would allow carriers to transport LNG from overseas, dock and offload at its deepwater facility.

The LNG would then be converted into natural gas at the vessel location and sent to shore via undersea pipeline connecting with the onshore natural gas pipeline grid for use by California consumers.

Esperanza Ebergy's Web site

CBP seizes more than $13mn in counterfeit goods

US Customs and Border Protection has announced the seizure of more than 100,000 pieces of counterfeit Fendi and Gucci handbags along with other fraudulent merchandise bearing the Chanel, Coach, Louis Vuitton, Mickey Mouse and other trademark labels.

The shipment had arrived from China Feb 22 aboard the container ship MV Ever Ultra into the Port of Oakland.

New York was the final destination of the goods.

These goods, had they been authentic, would have had a manufacturers suggested value of approximately $13 million, or nearly $500,000 domestic value.

The fake goods were hidden among other legitimate merchandise being imported and were said to be blankets for import.

“Companies lose billions of dollars in revenue each year [from trademark violations],” said Nat Aycox, San Francisco CBP field operations director.

“We’re working with other government agencies and legitimate manufacturers to eliminate the widespread distribution of these products. CBP is dedicated to protecting against the importation of counterfeit goods.”

NYK secures charter contract with Taiwan Power Co

Nippon Yusen Kaisha (NYK) has secured a charter contract with Taiwan Power Co, calling for the transport of 1mn tonnes of coal to Taiwan from Indonesia and Australia.

The contract term is from March 2007 to January 2008, and represents the third consecutive year since 2005 that NYK and Taiwan Power Co have agreed to a one-year contract.

Due to recent increases in petroleum prices, most electric companies are focusing on fossil fuels such as coal, which is abundant and cost-efficient.

This increases the demand for coal transportation. NYK will further expand its transportation business by responding to the needs of worldwide power suppliers.

Yucaipa plans to buy car hauler

Allied Holdings Inc., the biggest U.S. hauler of new cars, will be taken over by billionaire Ron Burkle's Yucaipa Cos. under a bankruptcy exit plan the company and Yucaipa filed jointly on Mar 3.

Leaders of the Teamsters union, representing 3,300 Allied drivers nationwide, have approved the deal in spite of a 15% wage cut, saying it's the best the employees can do.

"The linchpin to the reorganization of the debtor is an amendment to the collective bargaining agreement,'' Allied said in its disclosure statement, a bankruptcy court document given to creditors so they can decide whether to support the plan.

By taking over Allied, Los Angeles-based Yucaipa would control between 60-70% of the US new-car hauling market. In December, Yucaipa acquired Performance Transportation Services Inc., a bankrupt hauler based in Wayne, MI.

The exit plan must still pass a vote of Allied's union drivers and be approved by US Bankruptcy Judge Ray C. Mullins in Atlanta.

Yucaipa owns the majority of Allied's unsecured debt, a position that would give it control of the trucking company under the exit plan's debt-for-equity swap.

DHL orders six Boeing 767 freighters

Boeing and DHL agreed on an order for six 767-300ER (Extended Range) Freighters. DHL, wholly owned by Bonn, Germany-based Deutsche Post World Net, is a leading international express delivery and logistics company. The order is valued at $894mn at list prices. This order has previously been accounted for on Boeing's Orders & Deliveries Website.

The Boeing 767 Freighter has excellent fuel efficiency, operational flexibility and low noise levels. The airplane meets and exceeds international Chapter 3 noise requirements.

Cargotec receives terminal tractor order from Dubai

Kalmar, the business arm of Cargotec providing container handling solutions, has received an order for 84 terminal tractors from port operator DP World.

The terminal tractors will be delivered during summer 2007 to Jebel Ali Port situated close to Dubai, specifically to a new terminal currently under construction and starting its operations in 2007.

The Jebel Ali Port handled approximately 9mn TEUs in 2006 and it is the largest duty free port in the Middle East. The new terminal will expand the port's capacity by 5mn TEUs.

Australia's iron ore ports shut as Cyclone George approaches

Major iron ore export ports and gas operations were being shut down Mar 7 as Cyclone George approached the northwest coast of Western Australia.

A Rio Tinto Ltd spokesman said the company was taking all reasonable precautions and "tying down" its Dampier Port iron ore export facilities in preparation for the approach of the cyclone.

Dampier Port has requested that iron ore ships in the region sail out to sea, he said.

BHP Billiton Ltd said it is also tying down operations at its iron ore port of Port Hedland and staff are being sent home to secure their own houses.

A spokesman for the Woodside Petroleum-operated North West Shelf said that oil production from the Cossack Pioneer floating production, storage and offloading vessel was shut-in late Mar 7.

The Bureau of Meteorology has issued a severe category three cyclone warning for coastal areas and says very destructive wind gusts up to 235 kilometers an hour may develop overnight Mar 8 or the morning of Mar 9 as the storm approaches.

Four groups bid for Omani maritime works contract

Four leading groups have submitted firm bids for a contract covering the first phase development of a major port and dry dock complex at Duqm on the Wusta coast of Oman.

In the race for the contract, estimated to cost upwards of RO 170mn ($442mn), are the joint venture of Consolidated Contractors Company and Sezai Turkes Feyzi Akkaya Ltd (Turkey); Van Oord (FZE); the joint venture of Boskalis Westminster Middle East Ltd and Galfar Engineering; and Larsen & Toubro (Oman) jointly with Dredging International.

The selected contractor will carry out the main Maritime Works Package, entailing the construction of breakwaters and quay walls, as well as carrying out dredging and reclamation works.

Container ship capsizes in Belgian port during cargo loading

A large container ship capsized during loading Mar 8 in Belgian port city Antwerp, officials said. No injuries were reported.

The cause of the capsizing of the Republica di Genova, a roll on/roll off vessel of the London-based Grimaldi Lines, was not immediately clear, authorities said.

Grimaldi Group vessels carry containers and Fiat cars from Italy to Antwerp.

Port of Antwerp Captain Jan Persi said the 215-meter-long (705-foot-long) vessel slowly rolled onto its starboard side in a dead end dock early the morning of Mar 8. He said the ship began taking on water and that the captain ordered the crew to evacuate. The white-and-yellow vessel lay resting on its side, part of its hull above the waterline in the dock.

Karel Verbeke, head of Grimaldi Belgium, told the VRT radio network that about 300 containers and cars were on board when the ship rolled over.

Several ended up between the capsized ship and the shore. Verbeke said retrieving them will take a few days and was happy to report there were no victims or consequences for the environment.

Shipping in and out of the Verrebroekdock was halted, but not on the Scheldt River that links Antwerp to the North Sea.