Cargo Business Newswire ArchivesSummary for March 21 through March 25, 2016:
Monday, March 21, 2016
Capitol Watch: USDOT to Choose FASTLANE Grant Recipients, but Congress has Oversight
By Anna Denecke, Associate, Blakey & Agnew
On March 15, the U.S. Department of Transportation opened the application portal for the Fostering Advancements in Shipping and Transportation section of the Long-term Achievement of National Efficiencies (FASTLANE) competitive grant program. A total of $800 million is available this fiscal year for freight projects that improve the safety, efficiency, and reliability of cargo movement, generate national/regional economic benefits, increase global competitiveness, reduce congestion, and improve modal connectivity.
A broad range of entities are eligible to apply for FASTLANE funds, including a state or group of states, major metropolitan planning organizations, local governments, port authorities, and public authorities with a transportation function. Projects must demonstrate a price tag of at least $100 million, except in the case of a 10 percent set-aside, reserved each year for projects costing less than $100 million. Applications are due April 15, 2016.
USDOT will administer FASTLANE, but Congress retains some oversight of the program’s administration and grant selection process. The legislative branch’s expanded role may be in response to criticism leveled over the years at the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) program.
TIGER, a competitive grant program that funds capital investments in infrastructure projects across all modes, is now in its eighth round of grant awards. Despite some very important differences between TIGER and FASTLANE – most notably TIGER funds smaller surface transportation projects of all kinds, rather than freight-specific megaprojects – the two programs bear some similarities. They both have broad applicant eligibility, prioritize projects that aid the economy, and they also reward sponsors for bringing other sources of funding to the table.
The Eno Center for Transportation, in an April 2013 report titled "Lessons Learned from the TIGER Discretionary Grant Program," applauded TIGER for serving as a case-study in how to distribute federal funding to innovative, multimodal transportation projects. However, the report acknowledged Congressional concern that TIGER amounts to an "executive earmark" and that too much power was ceded to the Administration during the initial authorization of the program in ARRA.
Congress attempts to mitigate similar concerns over FASTLANE by increasing its own oversight of the award distribution process. The Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act, which authorized the five year FASTLANE grant program with contract authority from the Highway Trust Fund, asks USDOT to notify Congress at least 60 days in advance before it awards a FASTLANE grant.
The Senate and House have the authority to enact a joint resolution, disapproving FASTLANE funds for a specific project, within that 60-day advanced notification timeframe. Both the Senate and House must approve the joint resolution and the President must sign it in order for a project to be denied funds. If the President vetoes the joint resolution, it goes back to Congress, where the House and Senate must override the veto with a two-thirds vote in each chamber.
Lawmakers further responded to criticism of the TIGER program by improving FASTLANE transparency. In a May 2014 report titled "Actions Needed to Improve Documentation of Key Decisions in the TIGER Discretionary Grant Program," the GAO found that USDOT did not document key decisions the agency made in evaluating grant applications and selecting projects during the fifth round of TIGER. This lack of selection process transparency was leveled at TIGER often during the earlier years of the program; a similar critique appears in the 2013 Eno report.
The FAST Act includes a requirement that the Comptroller General provide a report to Congress describing the adequacy and fairness of the FASTLANE selection process, and the justification and criteria used for the selection of each project. This report is due within a year of the first round of grant awards.
Providing Congress with insight into the evaluation process may aid lawmakers in assessing whether the program is being implemented in-line with Congressional intent, as well as help interested applicants to understand how award decisions are made.
Blakey & Agnew, LLC is a public affairs and communications consulting firm based in Washington, DC.
Drewry: Liner service reliability falls to lowest level in a year
Drewry Supply Chain Advisors Liner said liner schedule reliability fell to its worst level in 12 months in February with the average on-time performance dropping 7 percentage points to 62.7 percent, according to Carrier Performance Insight.
They said the on-time average has fallen in each of the previous five months and is at its lowest point since the U.S. West Coast labor dispute impacted February 2015 when the average was 55.2 percent. And added to the worsening on-time average, the divergence from the expected time of arrival stretched out to 1.2 days in February, from 0.9 days in January.
Only two of the 10 trades covered were able to improve their on-time average in February versus January — the trans-Atlantic trade posted a 19.6-point rise to 60.8 percent, close to its 2015 average, while the Europe-South America trade gained 4 points to 89.1 percent.
For the third straight month, the same carriers occupied the top three spots in February, but unfortunately didn’t require high on-time averages to maintain their ranks. Japanese carrier MOL finished on top with an average on-time performance of 73.6 percent, down from 82.7 percent in January. Wan Hai took second place with 71.4 percent, down from 79.5 percent, while Maersk Line took third place with an on-time average of 70.1 percent, down from 77.0 percent.
Only MSC and Zim, made marginal improvements on their January performance.
"Worryingly, it seems that reliability is indeed now on a prolonged downwards trend although the severity witnessed in February was probably exaggerated by the effects of Chinese New Year. We expect March to show a small month-on-month improvement but for on-time averages over the coming months to remain below the series-high performances of the second-half of 2015," said Simon Heaney, senior manager of supply chain research at Drewry.
Carrier Performance Insight benchmarks the reliability performance of container carriers on a port-to-port, trade lane, service and industry-wide basis. The information is available via a user-friendly website powered by data from shipment management software provider CargoSmart.
Hong Kong port volume continues to fall
A little more than a decade ago, Hong Kong was the world's busiest port. Last week, the local government reported that cargo flowing through Hong Kong dropped by 13.8 percent in 2015, capping a bleak year in which the city's port declined to the world's fifth-busiest, dropping behind one-time also-rans Shanghai and Shenzhen.
It's likely to get worse, according to a Bloomberg editorial by Adam Minter. Last year, Deutsche Bank predicted that the volume of cargo moving through Hong Kong will decline by as much as 50 percent over the next decade.
That's not just an economic blow, Minter says. For a city that has long valued its independence and distinctiveness from mainland China, it also threatens something of an identity crisis.
The port's period of greatest prosperity was the latter half of the 20th century, following China's economic opening to the outside world. Between 1972 and 2012, the volume of cargo moving through the port increased almost 18 times over, with the fastest growth between 1990 and 2000.
Two types of business propelled that growth — and both are now under serious threat.
The first is direct shipping to and from South China. For decades, the port of Hong Kong offered better berths, technology and efficiency than Chinese ports across the border. Shippers preferred its predictable legal system to the mainland, where regulations and duty assessments could change on a whim.
In the past few years, however, China has been building advanced port facilities of its own. During the second half of the 2000s, while the volume of cargo moving through Hong Kong grew by about 2 percent annually, it grew by 20 percent in Shenzhen and 57 percent in Guangzhou. Hong Kong's share of South China's cargo business has declined from more than 70 percent in 2001 to less than 40 percent today.
The second crucial business is so-called trans-shipment. By Chinese law, foreign vessels can't carry cargo from one domestic port to another. But Hong Kong, considered an international port, is exempted from this restriction. Foreign ships can move freight from there to any number of mainland ports. One result is that a large industry of warehouses and other infrastructure has grown up in Hong Kong to support trans-shipment, which represents 72 percent of the port's business.
The local government is now entertaining proposals to upgrade and expand the port. But it's arguably too late. It can't change the fact that China's economy has expanded and modernized well past the stage where it needs a gateway.
The Panama Canal Authority (ACP) announced it is training over one thousand workers to operate the new locks of the Panama Canal Expansion. Once the first training phase is completed, courses will be standardized and offered to additional members of the workforce.
The training of Panama Canal workforce is a requirement under the new locks’ contract. The different project’s subcontractors, responsible for the electromechanical equipment, will offer the courses. Hyundai, manufacturer of valves and accessories, and Bosh Rexroth, supplier of the valves’ hydraulic cylinders, motors, and controls, will offer training courses. Training has already been provided on high-mast lighting, fenders within the chambers, bridge cranes, and the controls of the new locks’ equipment.
The Neo Panamax vessels, the newly expanded locks will have three different types of valves controlling water flow, including the following:
Main culvert valves: These valves control the water flow from Gatun Lake to the upper chamber, through the locks chambers, and finally to the ocean. Each lock complex has 32 of these valves.
Water-saving basins valves: These valves control the water flow from the new locks to the water-saving basins. Each lock complex has 32 of these valves.
Water equalization valves: These valves regulate the water flow between the new locks’ chambers and the rolling gates. Each lock complex has eight of these valves.
Panama Canal personnel participating in this training include: future operators and lockmasters of Agua Clara (Atlantic) and Cocoli (Pacific) Locks, as well as engineers, systems reliability, and information technology personnel. Human resources instructors will also attend the courses as they become certified in offering these courses to other Canal workers.
NASA to start fire on cargo ship in space
NASA's commercial partner Orbital ATK will launch its Cygnus cargo spacecraft, filled with supplies and science experiments, into lower Earth orbit on Tuesday. There, the spacecraft will dock with the International Space Station and replenish the crew with food, water, and other important inventory.
But the spacecraft's mission won't be quite done once the astronauts unload all the supplies on board Cygnus. The capsule will be loaded up with trash from the station and separate from the ISS — and then NASA will light the capsule on fire.
It's all part of a NASA experiment called Saffire designed to better understand how potential fires can spread across a vehicle in space.
Moody's: Outlook on global shipping sector turns negative
Moody's Investors Service changed its outlook on the global shipping sector to negative, noting it expects supply growth to outpace demand growth in 2016 by more than 2 percent, suppressing freight rates, especially in the containership and dry bulk sectors. The outlook for tankers remains stable as low crude oil prices will continue to boost demand for tankers according to Moody's report, "Outlook Update: Shipping – Global: Weakness in Dry Bulk, Container Segments Drives Outlook Change to Negative."
"Even though the tanker segment continues to perform strongly, we expect the supply-demand gap for the industry overall to exceed 2 percent in 2016, and possibly into 2017, as large new vessel deliveries coincide with subdued demand for dry bulk and container ships," says Marie Fischer-Sabatie, a Moody's senior vice president and author of the report. China's slowdown is weighing on demand for commodities, such as coal and iron ore, which in turn affects dry bulk seaborne transportation demand.
On the back of weaker freight rates in the dry bulk and containership segments, Moody's now forecasts a low single-digit percentage decline in aggregate EBITDA for the rated shipping companies in 2016, versus growth in the low single-digits in its previous forecast late last year.
While fuel prices, which make up a large cost item for container shipping companies, have continued to fall over the past six months, Moody’s predicts the benefits to the container shipping segment will fade somewhat in 2016 because they have already passed lower fuel costs on to their customers via reduced freight rates, limiting the upside.
Port head: Long Beach will see 5 percent volume growth in 2016
The Port of Long Beach will see 5 percent growth in cargo volume this year as a strong U.S. dollar spurs consumer demand, according to Chief Executive Jon Slangerup.
The port, which handles 20 percent of U.S. cargo, mainly from east Asia, just posted its strongest February on record, with the stronger dollar helping to drive imports by 45 percent compared to a year ago.
Slangerup said American consumer demand would sustain global growth, offsetting a slowdown in China and an economically weak Europe.
"The only real game in town right now is American consumers, that's the global game," said Slangerup, adding that lower prices and strong demand will sustain cargo growth this year.
Slowing imports from China are being compensated for by double-digit growth in southeast Asian countries such as Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam, and Thailand, which are the main drivers behind the port's growth numbers, said Slangerup.
In 2015 the port moved 7.2 million TEUs through the harbor, an increase of 5.4 percent over the previous year. February marked the eighth consecutive month of cargo growth, port officials said.
South Carolina Ports Authority container volume up 3.3 percent in February
The South Carolina Ports Authority reported 4.4 percent container growth through February, since the 2016 fiscal year began in July.
SCPA handled 157,962 TEUs in February, an increase of 3.3 percent over February 2015. SCPA’s total fiscal year-to-date container volume reached nearly 1.28 million TEUs last month, compared to 1.23 TEUs handled during the same period last year.
Containers handled totaled 88,643 containers in February. Fiscal year to date, 721,810 total containers have moved across the docks of SCPA’s two container terminals.
"February volumes showed modest increases over last year, and we expect continued moderate upticks in our volumes through the spring," said Jim Newsome, SCPA president and CEO.
Non-containerized cargo volumes were strong last month, with 66,619 pier tons handled in Charleston in February. Total fiscal year-to-date breakbulk volume is nearly 31 percent ahead of plan, with 799,687 pier tons handled during the period.
The Inland Port handled 8,623 rail moves in February, its highest ever monthly volume since the facility opened in November 2013. Fiscal year-to-date rail moves have increased nearly 66 percent, with 58,211 moves since July.
China COSCO Shipping signs 27-year deal with Vale to haul iron ore
China COSCO Shipping Corporation and Vale have signed a 27-year agreement that will have the Chinese shipping giant carrying 16 million tons of iron ore per year for the Brazilian miner.
"The signing of the agreement marks the commencement of a new chapter of the cooperation between the two companies," the shipping line said in a statement.
China COSCO Shipping Corporation was launched last month following the merger of former rivals China Ocean Shipping (Group) Company and China Shipping Group COSCO who previously had a long-term shipping deal with Vale.
Counterfeit headphones, Apple watches seized in NJ
Police confiscated a pile of counterfeit Apple and Beats by Dre products and arrested four in connection with an international knock-off electronics scheme, authorities said Thursday.
The counterfeit goods arrived via shipping container at the Port Newark Container Terminal in Newark, New Jersey, then were trucked to the CubeSmart self-storage facility in Flushing, Queens, authorities allege.
Inside that container, investigators found "4,250 generic speakers, 4,320 generic headphones and what were purportedly 339 Apple Watches," the release said.
The items, worth more than $100,000 – or an estimated $200,000 on the street – included generic headphones, watches and speakers made to resemble Apple Watches, Beats by Dre headphones and Beats Pill speakers.
The suspects have been charged with trademark counterfeiting, according to an announcement from Queens District Attorney Richard Brown Thursday.
"The defendants are accused of running an underground business that catered to wholesale and retail buyers who were interested in purchasing counterfeit products of major brands for resale," Brown said in a written statement. "An operation such as the one allegedly run by the defendants fuels an underground economy. They are cash businesses that pay no taxes and damage the reputations of reputable brand owners and lower consumer confidence in the name brands by foisting inferior products into the marketplace."
The NYPD collaborated with the Department of Homeland Security to make the bust, the release said.
The Port of Savannah Garden City Terminal moved 307,035 TEUs in February, an increase of 8.1 percent over February of last year and a new record.
"Our container volume growth continues to exceed our expectations in light of last year’s unprecedented cargo diversions from the West Coast," said Curtis Foltz, executive director of the Georgia Ports Authority. "Efficient access to market, proximity to major Southeast populations and GPA’s ability to quickly expand on-terminal container capacity are a few of the reasons for Savannah’s continued success."
In February, Garden City Terminal moved 307,035 twenty-foot equivalent container units, an increase of 8.1 percent, or 22,998 TEUs compared to the same month in 2015. In contrast to 2014, GPA moved 23 percent more containerized cargo in February.
Total freight for February equaled 2.67 million tons across all cargo sectors, an improvement of 3.9 percent, or 100,495 tons. It was the seventh highest monthly performance ever recorded. Of the total, containerized trade accounted for 2.18 million tons, up 8.7 percent, or 175,184 tons.
As a result of such strong numbers month in and month out, the Port of Savannah said it recently became the nation’s third-busiest port for containerized cargo.
GPA Board Chairman James Walters noted the Port of Savannah is the third busiest in the nation for the export of containerized goods, behind only Houston and Los Angeles. "Last year, Savannah moved nearly 11.8 million tons of containerized exports," Walters said. "One out of every 10 tons of containerized U.S. exports went through Georgia’s ports."
For the fiscal year to date, the Port of Savannah has moved 2.41 million TEUs through February, a 3.6 percent (84,629 TEU) increase compared to FY2015, and 17.7 percent increase over the same period in FY2014.
Report: Container weighing rule could raise shipping costs significantly
The Wall Street Journal reports an upcoming international requirement that shippers verify the weight of their goods before transport. This will sharply raise shipping costs on major trade lanes and trigger delays in moving cargo through ports, according to a new report.
In an assessment released Monday of the SOLAS weighing regulation, Cowen and Co. said the total cost of shipping an ocean container from Los Angeles to Shanghai "could increase by approximately 14 percent" because of the extra time and expense that shipping lines and their customers face. Those costs may include fees for weighing shipping containers and charges for holding goods while information on the goods is collected and verified.
The report said apparel importers face the biggest potential impact when the rule takes effect July 1, since they will be moving new clothing lines to stores for the fall. Many of those importers may start shipping via airfreight, which is far more expensive than ocean transport, to get around potential cargo back-ups, the Cowen report said.
"Extended shipping times could result in greater airfreight usage for key back-to-school deliveries," the report said. "And potential inventory markdown or cancelled orders risk from delayed shipments."
The new requirement was adopted by the International Maritime Organization, the United Nations body that regulates ocean transport, as part of the Safety of Life at Sea Convention, known as SOLAS. It requires shippers in about 170 countries include the "verified gross mass," or weight, of all containers and any filler material before they are loaded on to ships.
Although the weighing is seemingly simple for any one container, the requirement adds a new wrinkle to logistics operations that may handle hundreds of shipping containers at busy ports on a single day — potentially adding daunting complications across shipping networks.
Port of Oakland and OHT reach lease termination agreement
A federal judge has approved a lease-terminating agreement between the Port of Oakland and Outer Harbor Terminal LLC, just six years into the company’s 50-year lease, according to The Wall Street Journal.
OHT, which runs one of five container terminals at the Oakland port, filed for bankruptcy in January after announcing plans to shut down its operation there. As part of the bankruptcy proceedings, OHT negotiated a settlement with the port to pay about $3 million per month in rent through March and an additional $5.1 million for clean-up and repairs. A Delaware federal bankruptcy judge approved the agreement last week.
Maritime Director John Driscoll, in an earlier statement on the settlement, said he was "not pleased" that the terminal was closing, but that the port was focused on a "smooth transition" for cargo shippers. That has included shifting cargo to the port’s four other container terminals, and operating extended hours at some cost to the port.
The port had budgeted about $36 million in annual revenue from its tenant for the current fiscal year, with annual increases built in for the duration of the lease. A spokesman said port officials have been in negotiations to lease part of the terminal property, and they hope to recoup some of the lost revenue.
In court documents, lawyers for OHT said the company had been operating at a loss and sustaining negative cash flows for years before deciding to terminate the Oakland marine terminal business.
The docks are empty at Avondale Shipyard and the property is up for sale.
Owner Huntington Ingalls is looking to divest itself of the site that once employed 5,000 skilled workers. The Port of New Orleans confirms it is among the parties expressing interest in the site.
Port Director Gary Lagrange called it a huge piece of property with endless possibilities.
"You could get on a vessel at Avondale and you could literally traverse 33 states and 3 Canadian provinces and never touch dry land with a barge load of cargo," Lagrange said.
Avondale has 8,000 linear feet of deep water access, 260 acres and 16 major buildings. Lagrange says Avondale could also be used for handling breakbulk cargo like steel, lumber and automobiles. Other possibilities include value added manufacturing and warehouses.
"If you're going to convert a site, similar to Avondale if you will, into something else, then you have to look at how to retrofit, how much is it going to cost, so on and so forth," Lagrange said.
Right now, there is no timetable as to when the port will make a decision on the Avondale property. However, the port's engineering and feasibility study of the site is expected to be completed in the next several weeks.
"Then I think at that point in time, we'll have something of substance to talk about, with any potential clients that have an intended use for the property," Lagrange said.
The port has ruled out container shipping at Avondale, determining the site in not suitable. The Huey P. Long bridge is too low to allow modern container ships to access the facility.
Vessel to carry plutonium to U.S. arrives in Japan
An armed nuclear transport vessel preparing to ship a huge shipment of plutonium — enough to produce 50 nuclear bombs — to the U.S. arrived at a Japanese port on Monday under tight security, local media said.
The stockpile, provided by the U.S., Britain and France decades ago for research purposes, is being returned to the U.S. as part of a bilateral storage deal.
Television footage showed the Britain-registered ship entering a port in Tokaimura, northeast of Tokyo, close to where the highly-toxic substance has been stored.
Tokyo Broadcasting System (TBS) reported that police boosted security around the port where anti-nuclear activists were also boarding a boat to monitor the arrival offshore. So far there have been no reports of protests.
TBS and Kyodo News said the ship is set to leave the port soon carrying the 730 pounds of plutonium, guarded by another vessel.
A Japanese official told AFP last week that the material will be disposed of in the U.S.
Seaspan: U.S. East Coast ports not ready for big ships
U.S. East Coast ports hoping to use the Panama Canal expansion to lure traffic from congested West Coast ports have not sufficiently invested in infrastructure and are years away from being ready for extra business, Seaspan Corp Chief Executive Gerry Wang told Reuters this week.
"The infrastructure’s just not there," said Wang, who heads up the world's largest lessor of container ships. "At the end of the day... you want the volume to come, you want big ships to come, but you just don’t have the infrastructure to handle them." Seaspan owns large container ships it leases on long-term contracts to the world's biggest shipping companies.
The Panama Canal expansion project is due to be finished in the second half of 2016, and will open the waterway to some of the world’s largest ships.
Since a labor dispute at the Los Angeles-Long Beach port complex in the winter of 2014-2015 slowed container traffic from Asia, to a trickle, U.S. East Coast ports have been touted as an alternative.
In February, volume through those West Coast ports jumped 42 percent over the 2015 period in to a record high, and Wang said congestion there should allow ports like Boston, Charleston, Norfolk and Miami to benefit.
But necessary infrastructure projects have moved slowly. Deepening of the harbor at Charleston, for instance, won’t be completed until 2020.
Wang singled out the raising of the Bayonne Bridge linking New York and New Jersey to allow larger, new ships to pass under it as a choke point for carriers, as it is years behind schedule. The Bayonne Bridge project is "just delays, delays, delays," he said.
Wang said rail, highway and warehousing infrastructure is also inadequate. If containers cannot move inland, a port shuts down, he said. "The first two, three years (after the expanded canal opens) the U.S. East Coast has to learn to adapt to the new traffic coming," Wang said. "Then it will take years more to settle down the distribution system."
U.S. ports and rail hubs step up security in wake of terrorist attacks in Brussels
The U.S. government is stepping up security measures in response to Tuesday’s bombings in Brussels as President Barack Obama pledged to do "whatever is necessary" to help bring the perpetrators to justice.
Security will be tightened at airports, rail stations and ports in the U.S. in response to the deadly attacks in Belgium, according to a government official briefed on the plan.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security is expected to make an announcement later Tuesday, said the official, who wasn’t authorized to disclose the plans and asked not to be identified. The stepped-up security includes assigning additional law enforcement personnel to the facilities, the official said. Some of the measures won’t be publicly disclosed because they are classified, according to the official.
Brussels became the latest European city to be targeted in a terrorist attack as three coordinated blasts killed at least 31, injured more than 230 and deepened the sense of crisis across the continent.
Shipping lines circumvent canals on low fuel costs
Due to low fuel costs, tankers and cargo ships are taking routes across the world similar to the ones taken by schooners in the 19th century, according to Vice News.
The most dramatic shift appears along routes from Europe and North America to Asia, where up to 115 ships since October chose to bypass the Suez and Panama canals on their return trip home. Instead, they took the longer route around the Cape of Good Hope, according to Sea Intel Maritime Analysis, which tracks the activities of container ships.
"This is not something I've ever seen before," Kasper Hansen, a shipping analyst with SeaIntel, said.
"I've also talked to my bosses — they have been in container shipping the last 20-25 years. It's not something they can recall ever happening either," he said of the development, which was first noticed in October. "It seemed odd but then we looked into it and you could see more and more vessels doing it. We could actually spot some of the vessels doing it as we were looking, so we were very sure it was happening."
Most cargo ships bypassing the Suez Canal are doing it on the return leg back to Asia, when they have much less cargo. So, they can increase their speed to ensure they don't lose any time when they add the extra 4,700 nautical miles of the longer route — adding from several days to 20 more days depending on the speed of the ship.
Vessels sailing to North America and Europe are still going through the canals, since ships often are already cruising at maximum speed to make sure they get their high value cargo of computers, clothing, or cars to their customers on time.
"If you did it on the way there, the vessels would have to do 25-28 knots which they are simply not capable of doing," Hansen said of the route known as the head haul.
"If you want to do it on the head haul, you would have to tell your customers that they would have to wait for cargo three, four, five days more which they probably won't be willing to do," he said. "On the way back, you simply speed up the vessel without adding transit time. You of course burn more fuel but, as fuel has become less expensive, it's worth doing."
China Merchants Group and Singapore Exchange in bidding war for Baltic Exchange
One of London’s oldest shipping institutions is facing a Far Eastern takeover which could be worth at least $99 million.
The Baltic Exchange has been at the heart of global shipping since its founding in 1774. The exchange sells information on freight prices to clearing houses for around $700,000 a year. Its Baltic Dry Index is widely regarded as a measure of world trade.
The exchange is now the subject of a fierce bidding war between the state-owned China Merchants Group and the Singapore Exchange, which is fighting for a greater share of the global container market. Other bidders could include American firms CME Group and Intercontinental Exchange, and Platts, which is owned by New York company McGraw Hill Financial.
Buyers are attracted by the wealth of data the exchange collects. A source close to the deal said: "The market data it’s producing is absolutely embedded at the core of the shipping industry. It’s something the Baltic has used to cover the daily running cost of its operations, but never really moved to exploit."
The Baltic Exchange employs 28 staff and made a $2 million profit in the year to March 2015. It is owned by 380 shareholders, which are mostly shipping companies.
Turkish cargo ship hits piers of bridge under construction
A Turkish dry cargo ship hit the piers of a bridge under construction in the Kerch Strait, a source in the "Crimean Bridge" information center told TASS on Wednesday.
The Kerch Strait connects the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov, separating the Kerch Peninsula of Crimea to the west from the Taman Peninsula of Russia's Krasnodar Krai to the east.
The incident happened on March 19 but was just recently reported. It has not affected the construction works of the bridge to Crimea in any way.
"On March 19 at 11:25pm Moscow time, the 'Lira' motor ship under the Panamanian flag, belonging to Turkuaz Shipping Corp, deviated from the recommended route near buoys 21 and 23a when sailing down the Kerch-Enikalsky canal, and then hit construction elements of the bridge," the source said.
As a result of the incident, pier number 80 was damaged, including piles of 1,020mm diameter and 58 meters long, as well as crossbars and pile heads.
The "Crimean Bridge" information center said that "changing the piers will not affect the date of putting the technological bridge into operation."
The crew of the ship - nine people - did not sustain any injuries. The dry cargo ship was put on raid at Taganrog’s port.