Cargo Business Newswire Archives
Summary for April 4 through April 8, 2016:

Monday, April 4, 2016

Port of Long Beach wins lawsuit over L.A. port rail yard

A judge's ruling in favor of Long Beach and co-litigants in a lawsuit challenging a $500 million rail-yard project at the Port of Los Angeles puts the project on pause and may give Long Beach officials considerable leverage in negotiating greater environmental protections for any future project design.

"It certainly strengthens our hand, definitely," Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia said after Wednesday's ruling was announced. "The city is now in a position where we have a court standing on our side."

The case centered on BNSF Railways' plan to build a 185-acre rail yard, the Southern California International Gateway, in the Wilmington area of Los Angeles. The project site is located near neighborhoods, schools and the Century Villages at Cabrillo veterans housing complex in West Long Beach. Los Angeles' City Council approved the project, which is also known as SCIG, in May 2013 and several parties filed lawsuits against the project shortly thereafter.

Long Beach officials said in their lawsuit that Los Angeles and BNSF failed to provide a complete analysis of the SCIG's potential environmental impacts, which would have been disproportionately borne by people living in West Long Beach.

The multiple lawsuits were consolidated into a single case and proceedings moved to Contra Costa County Superior Court in January 2014. Judge Barry P. Goode ruled in favor of Long Beach and the other litigants on Wednesday after concluding the project's environmental impact report failed to deliver a complete analysis the environmental impacts of the project.

His decision voids Los Angeles officials' approval of the project and orders a suspension of any activities related to the construction of SCIG.

"We are disappointed with the court ruling that delays or deprives the region of many environmental benefits and both ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach of important rail infrastructure," said a statement from the Los Angeles port. "We will study the decision and discuss next steps with BNSF and the Board of Harbor Commissioners."

Goode's ruling requires the petitioners to propose the terms of a judgment that could end the case, or at least set the stage for Los Angeles officials to decide if they want to appeal the judge's ruling.

For more of the Press-Telegram story:

Maersk's APM invests in new Moroccan port

A.P. Moeller-Maersk's port operator arm APM Terminals will invest $863 million in a new transshipment terminal in the Moroccan port city of Tangier, the company announced Thursday.

The new terminal will have an annual capacity of five million TEUs and is expected to be operational in 2019, under the terms of a 30-year concession agreement with the local port authorities, APM Terminals said in a statement.

It will complement the current operations of the existing APM Terminals Tangier facility at Tanger Med 1 port, which started operations in July 2007 and handled 1.7 million TEUs in 2015.

The Tanger-Med port complex is strategically located on Africa's northwest coast near the mouth of the Mediterranean Sea.

According to Maersk, the new APM Terminals MedPort Tangier terminal will increase the port's total annual throughput capacity to over nine million TEUs.

For more of the Xinhua news story:

China Shipping profits down on low freight rates and ship glut

China Cosco Holdings Co. posted a 22 percent drop in earnings in 2015, while China Shipping Container Lines Co. swung to a loss as overcapacity of vessels led to lower rates.

Net income for China Cosco fell to $43.8 million in 2015, from $56 million in 2014, the company said in a statement to the Hong Kong stock exchange Wednesday.

China Shipping Container Lines Co. posted a net loss of $448 million last year, compared with a profit of $160 million in 2014, the nation's second-biggest container shipping company said in a separate statement Wednesday. In January, China Shipping had forecast a loss of $433 million for 2015.

Those results are the companies' last in their old, separate identities. China's state-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission announced approval in December for the reorganization of China Ocean Shipping Group and China Shipping Group, extending efforts to shrink industries plagued by overcapacity while creating globally competitive businesses. The announcement came days after CMA CGM, the world's third-biggest container shipping company, offered to buy Singapore's Neptune Orient Lines Ltd. for $2.5 billion.

"At the current shipping rate, most of the liners are losing money," Um Kyung A, an analyst at Shinyoung Securities Co. in Seoul, said before the earnings were released. He said the situation worsened after oil prices fell and cut shipping lines' expenses, reducing the urgency for them to continue efforts to trim capacity.

Under the new structure, China Cosco operates container ships and China Shipping is a leasing and financing company for vessels and boxes. Cosco Pacific Ltd. holds wharf assets held by China Shipping to operate the combined company's terminals globally. China Shipping Development Co. will be the focal point for oil- and gas-transportation business. The combined Chinese company has 7.4 percent of the global container shipping market, the largest share among Asian operators, according to Alphaliner.

China Cosco moved 4.1 percent more TEUs last year, while China Shipping carried 3.5 percent fewer boxes. China Cosco's fuel expenses -- a large part of container shipping companies' costs -- fell 36 percent last year as the price of Brent crude dropped 35 percent.

Spot prices per-TEU to Europe from Asia fell to $247 in the week ended March 25, from $1,149 at the end of 2014, according to the Shanghai Shipping Exchange. A week earlier, they fell to $205, the lowest level since the exchange started providing data in October 2009. Levies to the U.S. West Coast dropped to $748 per-FEU, from $2,125 at the end of 2014. The two routes are the busiest trade lanes.

For more of the Bloomberg story:

Car carriers waiting to dock at Port of San Diego

Cargo ships carrying car imports have been stuck off the shore off Coronado for days because of delays at Pasha Automotive Services in National City, the Unified Port of San Diego said Thursday.

The ships cannot dock because there's not enough berthing space, the port said. The four ships are each more than 600 feet long and more than 47,000 gross tons.

Pasha senior vice president John Pasha declined to answer specific questions outside of a prepared statement.

"Our plans to optimize the National City Marine Terminal the last several years have been delayed and threatened by commercial gentrification even though many port funded studies forecasted this maritime growth," he said.

Port spokeswoman Marguerite Elicone said the car importer was working diligently to open up space but did not have a firm timeline when the ships would be able to unload.

"It's actually good news for the economy because people are buying a lot of cars and that's going to help the region economically," she said.

One of the ships, the Heritage Leader, has been anchored about 2.5 miles off Silver Strand Beach since at least Monday afternoon, said

Another ship has been in the same general area since Wednesday morning, and two others since Thursday morning.

For more of the San Diego Union Tribune story:

U.S. Coast Guard investigates oil spill in L.A. Harbor

U.S. Coast Guard officials on Thursday were investigating and cleaning up the second oil spill to occur this month in Los Angeles Harbor.

The spill occurred at the Vopak Terminal near Wilmington when an oily-water mixture coming from a dockside holding tank was spotted at about 11 a.m., according to a Coast Guard news release.

"Most of it is on the pier and what did enter the water was an oily water mixture," said U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer 1st Class Sondra-Kay Kneen.

Investigators from the Coast Guard were on the scene along with oil spill response teams from the National Response Corp., Ocean Blue and Patriot Environmental.

Crews were using oil skimmers and absorbent pads as well as a containment boom that was deployed around the tanker ship TULA to minimize the spread of pollutants.

For more of the Daily Breeze story:


Tuesday, April 5, 2016

China container traffic on the rise in Southeast U.S. port cities

For the smaller port cities along America's Southeast coast, the West Coast gridlock from July 2014 to March 2015 provided a major opportunity to boost their growing Asia traffic. Even though that shipping crisis has long since cleared, lower-profile Southeastern ports are experiencing big growth in their China trade.

Building on internal infrastructure improvements and looking forward to increased Asia traffic via the soon-to-be widened Panama Canal, smaller Southeastern ports are set to become China's new shipping sweet spots.

For example, Jacksonville's shipping and logistics center, Jaxport, used to be a regional stopover with short-distance links to South and Central America and Puerto Rico. Things changed in 2009, when Jaxport partnered with Trapac a subsidiary of parent company MOL, a Japan-based company boasting the world's largest shipping fleet to open a new terminal, prompting trade with the Asia-Pacific region, particularly China, to skyrocket.

The rise of Jacksonville and other smaller Southeastern ports, such as PortMiami, and Wilmington, North Carolina, have not been without struggle. Dennis Kelly, regional vice president and general manager of Trapac Jacksonville, described early growing pains from poor timing (the start of a recession) and continued competition from more seasoned southeastern ports in Savannah, Georgia and Charleston, South Carolina as an "uphill battle." But Jaxport has consistently outpaced its more established counterparts in Asia container traffic, posting an impressive 18.4 percent year-over-year growth rate since its opening, albeit from a much lower baseline.

Jaxport Executive Vice President and Chief Commercial Officer Roy Schleicher calls the increased trade with China "extremely encouraging," adding that Chinese imports and exports over the past 5 years more than doubled, from 53,000 TEUs in 2009-2010 to 110,800 in FY2015. Starting from a zero baseline in 2009, China trade now makes up 15 percent of Jaxport's international container traffic.

China and the American Southeast have plenty to offer each other. Kelly told CER that China "brings in anything and everything," from furniture and fixtures to tires, consumer electronics, leather purses and frozen seafood. In return, US ports ship out metals, wood pulp and paper products, oranges, base metals, cotton and textiles for Chinese consumption.

Though Jaxport currently only plays host to one mainland Chinese ocean carrier (China Shipping), two Taiwanese carriers (Yang Ming and Evergreen) and one Hong Kong based carrier (OOCL), recent efforts have been made to increase the volume of China-Jaxport trade flow through multinational carriers.

In May 2013, the G6 Alliance (Hapag-Lloyd, NYK, OOCL, APL, Hyundai, and MOL) launched, expanding trans-Pacific trade services and incorporating two routes with stops in Jacksonville. In July 2015, Maersk-MSC, the largest container shipping line in the world, signed a new agreement with Jaxport to start a weekly direct service between Jacksonville and some of the largest ports in China: Tianjin-Xingang, Qingdao, and Shanghai. In February 2016, CMA-CGM upgraded its Pacific Express (PEX3) service with a new rotation linking Jacksonville, Miami, and Charleston with Chiwan, Shanghai, and Ningbo.

Southeastern ports are taking actions to improve infrastructure and increase capabilities in order to sustain momentum from the bump in Asian traffic. Jaxport has plans to dredge the St. John's River in order to accommodate larger ships coming in on the long-haul Asia-Pacific routes. PortMiami has also completed similar projects including a new fast-access tunnel that links the port directly to the highway system and an on-dock rail service to move cargo on and off vessels more efficiently.

For more of the China Economic Review story:

Port of Charleston to Vietnam service cashes in on direct-call trend

New service between Vietnam and the Port of Charleston models a growing trend in the shipping industry the addition of direct-call ports to save costs.

Beginning this month, containership alliance Maersk and MSC will provide direct inbound service from the Port of Vung Tau in southern Vietnam to Charleston. The first departure from Vietnam is scheduled for April 15 and the service will operate on a weekly basis, with the Arthur Maersk the first containership to make the trip.

Vietnam is one of the fastest-growing markets in Asia, according to Jim Newsome, president and CEO of the State Ports Authority. The nation has taken on some of the manufacturing operations that used to be located in China and its port system has seen rapid development.

That growth has allowed shipping lines to create direct routes to and from the country's ports where, in the past, Vietnam manufacturers would have had to transport their products to larger facilities in other countries for export to the U.S.

"Direct calls benefit shippers by providing shorter transit times and greater reliability, so the addition of a direct service call is always good news for the port and our customers," Newsome said. "Adequate cargo volumes are required for services to be added."

For more of The Post and Courier news story:

$10 million Honolulu Harbor revamp to be completed in June

The Hawaii state Department of Transportation expects a $10 million improvement to a couple of piers at Honolulu Harbor to be substantially completed by the end of May, a DOT spokesman confirmed to PBN this week.

When the DOT Harbors Division broke ground on the upgrade, which is across from Local Joe Honolulu Coffee Roasters and Murphy's Bar & Grill, it expected work to be done by May. Response Corp. vessels from Pier 35 to Piers 12 and 15, consolidating marine emergency response efforts during oil spills, broke ground in April 2015.

Other upgrades include a new electrical system, waterlines, dock fenders and mooring bollards. Healy Tibbitts Builders Inc. is the general contractor for the project.

Tim Sakahara, spokesman for the DOT, told PBN that the project will substantially be completed in May with the exception of some off-site work on Nimitz Highway to finish.

This project is among a number of other upgrades at Honolulu Harbor that aim to transform the former Kapalama Military Reservation into an overseas container terminal which will be known as the Kapalama Container Terminal.

This new terminal will include a new container facility and berthing capacity for two container ships, increasing the harbor's container terminal capacity away from the main Sand Island terminals, and thus promoting efficiency.

For more of the Pacific Business News story:

$7.5 billion Doha port in Qatar to be global trade hub

Set for completion by 2020, the new Doha port in Qatar is expected to propel the shipping sector forward, double GDP, and consolidate the country's emergence as the world's largest producer of liquefied natural gas.

Strategically located at the center of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries, Qatar's maritime shipping industry has undergone tremendous transformational changes and has begun to take off. Back in 2010, the government launched an ambitious six-stage plan to develop a completely new and modern port on the coast near the capital of Doha.

In terms of maritime trade, the Middle East offers lucrative opportunities for companies that are able to take advantage of the region's emergence as a global logistics hub. In 2014, Qatar, UAE, Oman, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait ranked highest out of 45 emerging market countries in the key category of "market compatibility," highlighted by an ease of doing business.

As the region has emerged as an increasingly vital point in global shipping and trade, Doha has set itself apart from other logistical hubs such as Dubai by investing heavily in modern infrastructure. Qatar's maritime ports are undergoing significant expansion. National project spending is expected to top $100 billion across infrastructure, real estate and other energy and non-energy sectors over the next decade, according to research from the Investment Bank of Qatar.

The new port project alone accounts for $7.5 billion of that spending. Originally targeted for completion in 2030, organizers have sped up the timeline and provided the resources to cut 10 years off of the construction timeline, completing all six phases of the project within the next five years.

"By 2016 a state-of-the-art world class port will be completed," says Sheikh Ali bin Jassim al Thani, Chairman of Milaha Qatar Navigation, one of the region's largest maritime and shipping logistics companies. "Qatar is offering what other GCC nations cannot provide simply because they lack the resources to do so. The new port will provide clients with readily available gas and electricity, customizable warehouses and distribution centers, multi-purpose warehouses, third party logistics (3PL), a modern and high-tech data center, an enormous container yard, and a transport service shop. Furthermore, they will also have refrigeration services, chilled services and dry areas for those products needing to avoid humidity."

With the initial phase completed in 2016, the New Port will feature three terminals with an eventual combined annual capacity in excess of six million TEUs.

For more of the World Folio news story:

BNSF furloughs affect 4600 workers on low cargo demand

BNSF Railway Co., the carrier owned by Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Inc., has 4,600 workers on furlough in response to declining cargo traffic.

The railroad began accelerating a reduction in its workforce toward the end of last year, said Mike Trevino, a BNSF spokesman. It was the first time this year that the company said how many employees were on furlough. Trevino couldn't provide precise timing on when the pace of furloughs picked up. BNSF had 44,000 workers at the end of 2015.

"We will continue to adjust the workforce based on customer demand," Trevino said. "So it will fluctuate up and down based on demand."

Traffic for large U.S. railroads dropped 6.2 percent in the first 12 weeks of this year, dragged down by lower coal and oil shipments. Rail cargo fell 2.5 percent last year. Most railroads, including Union Pacific Corp., have responded by reducing their workforces.

For more of the Bloomberg story:


Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Drewry: Container industry will need to take more radical action on capacity

In its latest issue of Container Forecaster, Drewry says expected container shipping liner losses throughout the first half of 2016, worsened by the low prevailing spot and contract freight rates, will lead to a major trigger point at some stage later this year.

The researchers believe this will happen through radical capacity management at the trade route level and a much more logical approach to commercial pricing.

Global rate levels are no longer sustainable and with the carriers' GRI mechanism soon to be outmoded on European trades because of new EU regulations, carriers will need to find new tools.

Drewry estimates that global freight rates will deteriorate further this year while at the same time carriers will no longer be able to reduce costs at the same pace, since the main advantages of lower fuel prices will have already been realized.

Right now, Drewry says ocean carriers continue to cling to the belief that the lower slot costs of the 14,000-TEU and 18,000-TEU ships will bring them success. But Drewry says the hoped for economies of scale are much reduced after vessels of this size are deployed.

Having focused on the cost side for so long, the maritime analysts say it is vital that carriers turn themselves to the revenue side of the equation if shippers are to have a sustainable container industry.

Sixty-six void sailings in February in the major East-West trades did nothing to raise freight rates. A global idle fleet that hit one million TEUs by March also seemed to do little.

While global handling growth is forecast to reach an estimated 2.1 percent in 2016 and this is by no means back in 2009 negative territory, the industry could get very ugly by the second half of this year if current commercial trends continue. Drewry believes a trigger point will be reached when more radical action on the capacity front will have to take place.

"This inflection point will only deliver any kind of market stability if carriers start to use their in-house rate profitability models and offer commercially sustainable freight rates," said Neil Dekker, Drewry's director of container research. "Ocean carriers should be looking at revenue per TEU rather than industry load factors. In a world where overcapacity is a given on every trade, head haul load factors of, for example, 85 percent need not be considered a disaster by any means. With 2.6 million TEUs of new capacity to be delivered by the end of 2017, this kind of load factor and potentially even lower is the new reality, so get used to it."

Container weighing survey highlights implementation woes

The results of the second round of a major survey on the status of implementation of the SOLAS container weighing mandate has been released, and with just three months to go before the July 1 deadline, the view varies widely across more than 50 countries represented in the membership of the Federation of National Associations of Shipbrokers and Agents.

The results of the survey conducted by FONASBA covered a wide range of topics, from the nomination of the "designated authority" to how transshipment containers and those shipped under FOB sales will be treated.

Of particular concern at this late stage is that 18 associations have advised that no guidance has been issued on the practical application of the measures in the country concerned. This situation has been worsened by the failure, until very recently in some cases, of governments appointing a designated authority.

In terms of actually weighing the containers, many countries say that while using a weighbridge is expected to account for a significant proportion of all declarations, they also frequently report that weighbridges are few in number and often in poor condition. The cost of weighing the container also varies widely, from free of charge to $227 being quoted. Similarly, for an alternate method namely, calculating the weight by the sum of the parts there is evidence that in many cases no provision has been made to ensure the process is regulated or undertaken in accordance with agreed principles.

"It is staggering that with such little time left before implementation, a significant number of countries had so far failed to take action at the national level to ensure that the required measures will be in place on time," said FONASBA president designate and Liner & Port Agency Committee chairman, John Foord. "The SOLAS amendment has been under development in IMO for four years so it is worrying that at this late stage ship agents, forwarders and shippers in many countries still lack appropriate guidance as to how they should comply. As supporters of the accurate verification of container weights since its initial proposal, FONASBA's members have been proactive in working with their national authorities and the container transport chain to ensure the measures are in place in good time and so it is frustrating that little or no progress has been made in some countries."

"This is one of the most important developments in maritime transport since the introduction of the container itself and the potential for significant disruption on July 1st (or even earlier in the case of some transshipment containers) is considerable," Foord added. "The shipping lines are adamant that from that date containers presented for loading without a certificate of verified gross mass will not be carried onboard their vessels and no amount of posturing by shippers or, in some cases national authorities, will change that."

FONASBA, located in the UK, provides a united voice for the world's ship brokers and agents. Founded in 1969, the organization promotes fair and equitable practices at international, regional and individual national level across the maritime industry. The federation has consultative status at the International Maritime Organization, the United Nations Conference on Trade & Development and the World Customs Organization.

China Cosco Shipping orders 11 ultra large container ships

China Cosco Shipping has ordered 11 ultra-large container ships worth $1.51 billion, the largest vessels in the company's history, to maintain market share.

South Cinshipyards will build the 19,000-TEU ships, all to be delivered in 2018.

"19,000-TEU ships are essential for Cosco," said Daiwa Securities analyst Kelvin Lau. "Some shipping companies have already ordered up to over 20,000-TEU class ships."

Currently, China Cosco's biggest ships are eight 13,350-TEU vessels and it placed an order to build five 14,500-TEU container ships last year.

The new 19,000-TEU ships are expected to serve the busiest Asia-Europe trade routes. "The downtrend of freight price is inevitable as more and more large vessels come to the market," Lau said. "If you don't build large ships, then you can't keep your margin."

But some analysts do not think such a trend is healthy.

"If container lines remain focused on upsizing their fleet to the super-sized +18,000-TEU mega vessels, this could lead to longer-term pain for the sector given additional newbuild orders are slated for delivery from 2017 onwards," a Macquarie research report said.

China Cosco said the funds to buy the ships would come from internal resources and bank borrowings. It will also receive huge subsidies from the central government for ordering the ships as Beijing has promised to grant $234-per-gross-ton to shipping companies replacing old ships, with 50 percent awarded once the scrap sale is completed and the remainder payable after placing newbuilding orders.

For more of the South China Morning Post story:

Port of Tampa Bay takes delivery of 2 gantry cranes

Two massive cranes designed to handle wider freighter ships arrived at Port Tampa Bay on Friday.

The 16-story gantry cranes, made in China, will allow Port Tampa Bay to serve the super-sized vessels that will travel through the recently expanded Panama Canal. The $24 million cranes are expected to lead to more local jobs for truck drivers, operators, laborers and logistics services.

The new cranes will have a reach of 160 feet, the width of 19 cargo containers. New post-Panamax ships can hold 19 containers across their girths. The new cranes replace a pair of 42-year-old cranes at the port that extend only 110 feet, the width of 11 cargo containers.

The cranes were purchased with a grant from the state and a loan from the Florida Department of Transportation's State Infrastructure Bank.

Port Tampa Bay CEO Paul Anderson said the cranes will have an impact on the port's ability to grow.

For more of the Tampa Tribune story:

Port of Bellingham to pay $16M in damages to injured worker

A federal jury has ordered the Port of Bellingham to pay $16 million in damages to an Alaska ferries employee who was injured while operating a faulty passenger-loading ramp at the port's cruise terminal in 2012.

The verdict was returned Friday after a nine-day trial before U.S. District Judge Marsha Pechman. Jim Jacobsen, one of the attorneys representing the employee, Shannon Adamson, and her husband, Nicholas, of Juneau, said the eight-member jury deliberated about five hours before deciding the case.

The jury found the port negligent for failing to fix a control panel that operated the passenger gangway ramp at the Bellingham Cruise Terminal, even though evidence at the trial showed the port knew the panel was faulty and officials there knew of a previous, similar accident in 2008.

For more of the Seattle Times story:


Thursday, April 7, 2016

New U.S. Customs electronic system off to rough start

Photo credit: Bloomberg

A new electronic customs system is off to a rough start, with some shippers reporting their goods held up at the U.S. border for hours, according to The Wall Street Journal.

The technology, which the U.S. Customs and Borders Protection started phasing in on Thursday, is supposed to automate the filing of customs forms and transmit data gathered from shippers to nearly 50 government agencies.

Known as the Automated Commercial Environment, the new system has been in the works for years. ACE is meant to simplify the movement of goods across the border by collecting data required by various federal agencies in a "single window." Previously, shippers had to meet a variety of requirements and deadlines. The system is being phased in over the course of the year.

Problems came up with ACE almost immediately, with some users receiving "system failure messages" and others waiting hours at border points of entry, according to Celeste Catano, a logistics software specialist with Kewill Inc. who has been advising Customs on the new system. The delays affected a small number of shipments, mainly along the Mexican and Canadian borders, a group representing freight forwarders said.

"The [filing] system did not go down completely, but they did have many issues," Catano said.

By early Monday afternoon, Customs issued another update reporting the problem had been fixed, all pending filings were being processed and users would be notified once the backlog was cleared.

A spokesman for Customs said that the agency regrets the slowdowns. Technical experts working around the clock "have increased monitoring of ACE system performance to address any additional need for faster response times while maintaining the security and integrity of the system," the statement said.

For more of The Wall Street Journal story:

New Maersk/MSC container service starts at Port of Houston

Maersk Line and Mediterranean Shipping Co. have joined forces to operate a new direct all-water container service between the U.S Gulf and Asia, according to a statement from the Port of Houston.

The new service by the 2M Alliance features the "Lone Star Express" by MSC and "TP18" by Maersk. The first sailing is scheduled to depart Asia May 2, with Houston as the first U.S. inbound port call. The Lone Star/TP18 Gulf service will have a rotation of Qingdao, Ningbo, Shanghai, Xiamen, Yantian, Busan, Cristobal, Houston, Mobile and Miami.

The estimated inbound transit time to Houston is 26 days from Yantian and 23 days from Busan. The vessels deployed will have a capacity of about 4,500 TEUs.

"This new service will enhance the existing weekly Asian services operated by CMA CGM, COSCO and Hanjin calling at the Port Authority," said Executive Director Roger Guenther. "We are very pleased that Maersk and MSC are expanding their operations here as well."

Port of Oakland launches smart phone apps for truckers

The Port of Oakland has introduced two smart phone applications that could transform containerized cargo handling at seaports. The apps use Bluetooth and GPS to provide tech-based calculations of harbor trucker turn times.

"We know of no other port measuring trucker transaction times with this precision," said Port of Oakland Executive Director Chris Lytle. "This takes the myth out of measurement and gives us a window into port performance."

The apps, DrayQ™ and DrayLink™, employ Bluetooth, WiFi and GPS technology to tell drivers how long they'll wait to enter marine terminal gates and how long their transactions will take. They can give shippers a glimpse of the location and productivity of the drivers they hire, according to the port statement.

The port said it commissioned the apps to meet demand for accurate measurement of turn-times. It retained Reston, VA-based Leidos to license, deploy, and maintain the solution, working with the company to expand a wireless network throughout the port to more closely connect the drayage truck community with marine terminal operators, cargo owners, and other stakeholders.

The Oakland port said its new apps can transform container shipping in several ways. Drivers and cargo owners can receive up-to-the minute information on turn times and can plan transactions around peak periods of marine terminal activity. Second, ports can get uncontestable data on how quickly terminals are moving containers for cargo owners. And shippers and trucking firms will be able to monitor driver location and progress in real time to improve dispatching.

"Drivers understand that when it comes to moving shipping containers, it pays to know your wait time," said Taso Zografos of Leidos. "DrayQ™ is the first smart phone application to provide real-time estimates of street wait times, terminal turn-time calculated from entry to exit, combined aggregate wait time and even the trend of that wait time."

Prospective Nicaraguan canal project seems to stall

The prospective plan for a canal in Nicaragua three times as long and twice as deep as the Panama Canal, would slice 170 miles across the southern part of the country, bulldozing through fragile ecosystems. Chinese billionaire Wang Jing's project would allow for passage of the world's largest ships, vessels too big for the expanded Panama Canal.

Yet 16 months after breaking ground, Wang's project which would be the largest movement of earth in the planet's history is shrouded in mystery and producing angry local protests, according to The New York Times. President Daniel Ortega has not talked about the canal in public for months. And there are no visible signs of progress. Cows graze in the field where Wang officially began the project.

Experts say they are baffled by Wang's canal. It may be backed by the Chinese government, part of its growing interest in Latin America, or may simply be a private investment cast adrift by the vagaries of China's stock markets and its slowing economy.

At the groundbreaking in December 2014, the Chinese government said it was not involved with the project. This and Wang's recent setbacks he has reportedly lost about 80 percent of his $10 billion fortune make some experts say the deal is probably dead.

For more of The New York Times story:

Huge tanker traffic jam backs up at Iraq's Basra port

A traffic jam of nearly 30 large oil tankers has built up outside the Iraqi port of Basra due to loading delays, with some waiting up to three weeks and costing ship operators around $75,000 a day per vessel.

Shippers and port sources said more delays are expected throughout April as the city's facilities struggle to cope with Iraq's soaring crude output.

The problems at Basra, coupled with continuing storage tank shortages in China, have pushed supertanker rates from the Middle East to Asia to atypical highs as the delays disrupt future sailing schedules.

"The VLCC (very large crude carrier) market is being sustained by a whole pattern of delays and congestion, affecting ports in Basra," said Ralph Leszczynski, head of research at ship broker Banchero Costa in Singapore, adding that there were further delays in China and South Korea.

There are 27 VLCCs and Suezmax tankers with a combined capacity of 43 million barrels, waiting off Basra about twice the norm.

For more of the Reuters story:


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