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Today's Cargo News Archives
Summary for April 2 - April 6, 2007:

Höegh, MOL sign LNG deal with Suez

HOEGH LNG and Mitsui OSK Lines, Ltd (MOL) have signed long-term time charter agreements for two shuttle and regasification vessels with Suez LNG Trading SA.

The two ships will be constructed by Samsung Heavy Industries, and are scheduled for delivery in 2009 and 2010.

The vessels are specifically designed to service an offshore liquefied natural gas (LNG) import terminal to be built in Massachusetts Bay offshore Boston on the US East Coast.

The US Maritime Administration, which has given assurances of LNG safety, awarded Suez-owned Neptune LNG LLC the final license for construction of the terminal on Mar 23.

Neptune anticipates having a fully operational project, including construction of a pipeline connection, ships and a buoy system, to supply LNG in Massachusetts and the rest of New England from 2009.

Although such developments are controversial, Höegh and MOL said the LNG re-gasification vessels and the deepwater port installations can meet the most stringent environmental regulations anywhere in the US for such terminal facilities.

“The transportation of LNG by ship has an outstanding track record when it comes to safety,” the companies said.

Chinese industrial land booming

CHINA’S industrial real estate market is likely to see massive growth in the coming years, driven by strong manufacturing and retail activities, according to industry players and consultants.

China's logistics market, which includes freight, warehousing and distribution facilities, is expected to grow substantially in the near future, driven by dynamic retail activities, according to analysts at the China Industrial Real Estate Summit, a two-day conference held in Shanghai recently.

China's logistics market is expected to grow by almost 30% a year in the next 3-4 years, according to Trent Iliffe, director of Jones Lang LaSalle's Industrial Property team in China.

Iliffe told delegates that the booming manufacturing and retail sectors would serve as major engines for the expansion of the logistics industry in China. But he said the retail sector would be the biggest driver of logistics expansion.

The number of foreign retailers in China has tripled to 1,000 at the end of 2006 from 314 in 2004, according to Iliffe.

At the same time, he said, retailers such as Wal-Mart, BestBuy and B&Q have all set ambitious expansion goals in China and are expanding their retail networks in the country, creating huge demand for logistics needs.

India wants around-the-clock port operations

THE INDIAN Secretary of Shipping, A.K. Mohapatra, of the Ministry of Shipping, Road Transport, and Highways, has released a draft report calling for around-the-clock operations at all Indian ports by Jan 1, 2008.

The goal would be to increase the efficiency of the ports by reducing dwell time, or the length of time cargo spends in storage at the port, awaiting to be loaded to a ship or to land transport for distribution inland.

According to the draft report, the average dwell time for major container terminals in India is 1.88 days for imports and 3.78 days for exports, and this compares unfavorably with other major international ports.

The Ministry of Shipping estimates the total cargo handling capacity of Indian major ports for 2005-06 to be 660mn tonnes.

The report also calls for mandatory VTMSs (Vessel Tracking Monitoring System) to be installed and implemented at all major ports in India by the end of 2007.

Major investment is also called for in the areas of infrastructure, connectivity, and electronic information exchange.

Prime Panamanian land up for sale

THE TIME is ripe for the purchase of a 167-acre parcel of industrial land along the Panama Canal, according to John Carver, executive director of the Multimodal Services Group at Colliers International, a commercial real-estate service firm that is brokering the deal.

Called Isla Margarita, the parcel was purchased by a group of Taiwanese businessmen 15 years ago, and they think it is time to sell due to the Panama Canal’s projected $5bn expansion, which will accommodate much larger ships and double the waterway’s traffic.

Carver said Colliers is marketing the property — said to be one of the last undeveloped parcels of land on the area — to port and terminal operators, but the site also could support hotels, restaurants, and retail.

The site formerly housed the US Army’s Fort Randolph, which was established as part of the Canal’s military defenses on Apr 9, 1920. Fort Randolph later became the very first US military installation to revert to Panamanian hands when the Carter-Torrijos Treaties went into effect on Dec 31, 1999.

Horizon Hawk enters service

A NEW 2,824-TEU containership in the Horizon Lines Inc. (NYSE: HRZ) fleet made its maiden call at the Port of Tacoma on Mar 30. The Horizon Hawk, the first of five new Hunter class ships that Horizon Lines will bring into service this year, was built in South Korea by Hyundai Mipo Dockyard.

The ship launches Horizon’s enhanced Trans-Pacific-1 (TP1) service between mainland US, Guam, Micronesia, and Asia.

John V. Keenan, senior vice president and chief transportation officer for Horizon Lines, said “These five new vessels ... are of a proven design incorporating the latest technology.”

Chuck Raymond, president and CEO of Horizon Lines, stated that the acquisition of the new vessels “commences our long-term vessel replacement strategy in a very cost-effective and capital-efficient manner [and will reduce] the age of our operated fleet to one of the lowest in the markets we serve."

The Horizon Hawk is a US-flag vessel with a service speed of more than 23 knots. Horizon Lines is chartering it and the other four ships from subsidiaries of Ship Finance International Ltd.

Wal-Mart announces new chief admin officer

WAL-MART Stores Inc. (NYSE: WMT) Mar 30 announced that Vice Chairman John Menzer will become Chief Administrative Officer, a new position, and as such will take a more active role in global procurement, an area of increasing strategic importance for the company.

Lee Scott, president and CEO of Wal-Mart Stores Inc., in making the announcement said that Menzer will “play a critical role in leading our global procurement efforts” and that additionally Menzer “will focus his time and attention on expanding our growing financial services business to benefit the underserved." In mid-March Wal-Mart Stores withdrew a bid for a banking license.

Menzer will continue to oversee key administrative functions such as information systems, benefits, sustainability, compliance, and corporate planning.

It was also announced that Eduardo Castro-Wright, president and CEO of Wal-Mart Stores-USA, who had previously reported to Menzer, will now report directly to Scott. "Under the leadership of Eduardo and his team this year, Wal-Mart Stores in the US underwent more change in a shorter period of time than at any point in our history, while achieving record financial results," said Scott.

Asian economy robust in 2007

A key segment of Asia's business leaders believes their region's economy will continue to enjoy strong growth in 2007, but many are more excited about the growth of India than they are China – a key finding in the latest UPS Asia Business Monitor.

The survey of 1,200 leaders of small- and mid-sized business enterprises (SME) in Asia also found wide agreement that China will surpass the US as the world's largest consumer economy in 10 years or less.

Only 5% of those surveyed said that China's consumer market would never grow as large as that of the US. Some 57% said the two markets would reach parity within 10 years, with 20% of those respondents expecting the gap to close within five years.

"These findings are significant because these small business leaders on the ground in many Asian economies say that China's consumer market is growing faster than some leading researchers project," said Alan Gershenhorn, president of UPS International (NYSE: UPS).

"American businesses must understand that their future customers are just as likely to hail from Beijing as from Boston," Gershenhorn said.

The UPS Asia Business Monitor is an annual survey designed to gauge the competitiveness of small- and mid-sized enterprises in Asia. About 1,200 SME decision-makers were interviewed across 12 different markets in the region.

Kuehne + Nagel signs with Celestica

Kuehne + Nagel has signed a new two-year contract with Celestica Inc. to supply logistics and global supply chain solutions to the electronics manufacturing services (EMS) company.

Under the agreement, Kuehne + Nagel’s Lead Logistics Solutions unit will provide transportation and logistics management services to Celestica, including contract administration/bid management for logistics services, and global performance management of logistics service providers.

The agreement also covers global metrics management, in-transit visibility, logistics network analysis and design, and project management/execution of supply chain–related improvement opportunities.

Richard Williamson, director of Global Logistics & Trade Compliance for Celestica, said Kuehne + Nagel will evaluate existing operations and systems.

He said Kuehne + Nagel also will identify possible improvements at various global manufacturing and warehouse facilities aimed at streamlining the flow of products from Celestica’s suppliers to its manufacturing facilities and on to its end users.

Chong new director at Meridian IQ

MERIDIAN IQ, a wholly owned subsidiary of YRC Worldwide Inc. (Nasdaq: YRCW), has announced the appointment of Roland Chong as managing director, Asia.

Chong, with significant experience in both logistics and freight forwarding, will be responsible for all Meridian IQ activities throughout Asia.

He will also oversee the China forwarding venture between JHJ International Transportation Co. Ltd. and Meridian IQ, China, through his position on its Board of Directors.

Chong joined Meridian IQ in April 2006 as senior vice president, logistics, Asia. He will report directly to Jim Ritchie, president and CEO, Meridian IQ, in his new position.

Chong is a Fellow of Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport, UK (FCILT), a committee member of China International Forwarding Association (CIFA), and a Committee member of China Customs Broker Association (CCBA).

He also serves as Economic Consultant and Advisor for the Chinese Government in the Tianjin Airport Industrial Park Administration, Tianjin Port Free Trade Zone Administration, and Shanghai North Bund Freight Development Committee.

Before joining Meridian IQ, Chong worked with Exel, Kyocera, AT&T, and Crown Pacific.

CN to build C$20mn yard in Prince George

CN announced Mar 30 it will construct a C$20mn transload operation and intermodal rail terminal in Prince George, BC, for the export of containerized products to and from Asian markets through the new rail/maritime intermodal facility at the Port of Prince Rupert, BC.

Prince George, 500 miles inland from Prince Rupert, is in close proximity to BC’s large fiber reserves and other natural resources and is CN’s divisional headquarters and main operations hub in northern BC.

“The Prince George facility is ideally located to tap backhaul export opportunities, filling empty containers moving to Asia via Prince Rupert with lumber, panels, wood pulp, and paper, as well as ores, plastics, and some metals products,” said Peter Marshall, senior vice president for CN’s Western Region.

CN’s new Prince George transload facility, expected to open in fall 2007 with an 84,000 sq-ft warehouse and 10 acres of outside storage, will load containers with products arriving by rail or truck and then lift them onto railway flatcars at the new intermodal rail yard. CN will offer daily service from this terminal to the Port of Prince Rupert.

Port of Tacoma makes room for development

THE PORT of Tacoma, seeking ways to create additional terminal space, has completed demolition work on a 96-acre parcel of land that formerly housed the Kaiser Aluminum Smelter.

Originally built in 1941, the aluminum smelter had been expanded to a total of 740,000 sq ft by 1980, including a 500-ft smokestack. According to Bill Evans, port project manager, it took less than a year to demolish the plant, recycle the steel and other assets, and dispose of waste.

“Our work here was fairly straightforward,” Evans said. “The real achievement was planning the overall plant dismantling.”

“We were able to recycle more than 150mn pounds of various products, including steel, copper, aluminum, lead, concrete, alumina ore, oil, and carbon anodes,” he said. Nearly 40mn pounds of waste, including asbestos, PCBs, and other dangerous materials, were disposed of properly, according to Evans.

Next the site will be raised with clean fill dirt, a process that should be completed by the close of 2007, said Evans.

Eventually, the site will be integrated into the port’s core maritime cargo business.

First-ever “Woman Trucker Award” announced

SCHNEIDER National Inc., a transportation, logistics, and intermodal services provider, announced Mar 27 that professional truck driver Glenda Campbell has won the first-ever “Woman Trucker Award.”

The award was presented to Campbell by officials from the Orlando Truckers’ Conference, Inc., and the Women in Trucking (WIT) Association in February at the 2007 Orlando Truckers’ Conference (OTC).

The three organizations recently joined forces to spotlight one female truck driver every year who demonstrates dedication to the profession and to encourage women to enter the predominantly male trucking and freight brokerage industries.

Campbell decided to become a Schneider driver after a successful career in computer electronics. In her 50s when she began training, she earned her commercial driver’s license (CDL) through Schneider’s training program.

“I feel privileged to be the first winner of this award,” said Campbell. “I really enjoy driving. I hope I’m able to influence other women to pursue truck driving and enjoy its many rewards.”

Women make up just 4.5% of the industry’s drivers, according to the American Trucking Associations (ATA).