Cargo Business Newswire Archives
Summary for April 30 - May 4, 2012:

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Top Story

APM Exec: Productivity is battleground for container terminals

Global container terminals will need to increase productivity, as almost 80 percent of new box ship capacity in the next few years will be super post-Panamax, according to an executive of APM Terminals at a recent port industry event in Stockholm, Sweden.

"Our customers are building bigger and bigger ships and it is imperative that we are able to increase our delivered productivity at minimum the same pace as the ships grow - but preferably much more," said APM Terminals' director of project implementation, Soren Sjostrand Jakobsen in his presentation at the Future Ports conference.

Shipping lines require larger vessels to compete but cannot afford these megaships to remain in port for days, Jakobsen said.

"Productivity will be the battleground for terminal operators and those who are able to meet our customers' requirements will be the winners," he said.

APM Terminals is launching "a range of initiatives to improve processes as well as applying new and innovative solutions and technology to lift productivity" Jakobsen said, with the goal of increasing productivity upwards of 40-50 percent at some of the company's terminal facilities.

As reported by CBN's Cargo Techwire recently, APM is slated to open a new container terminal at the Port of Rotterdam in 2014 that will feature ship-to-shore cranes that unload containers directly onto a fleet of automated guided vehicles that can shuttle two boxes at a time to a container yard, guided by an on board navigation system that follows a transponder grid.

"If we can improve productivity by 50 percent in a one-million-TEU-capacity terminal we create a game-changer in the industry for our customers through better economics, reliability and capacity availability," Jakobsen said.

Con-way beats Q1 earnings estimates

Trucking and logistics firm Con-way Inc posted net earnings of $25.6 million for its first quarter, beating analysts' estimates and the $6.9 million in profit the company earned for the same period last year.

Con-way's revenue was $1.37 billion, compared to the average Wall Street forecast of $1.35 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

The less-than-truckload division, Con-way freight, the largest division of the company, reported an 8.2 percent rise in revenue to $831 million that was attributed, in part, to fuel surcharges and increased tonnage carried.

For the full Reuters story:

Port of L.A.'s Fitch rating at "AA"

The Port of Los Angeles, the busiest seaport in the Americas, received a stable "AA" rating by ratings agency Fitch based on approximately $840 million worth of outstanding revenue bonds.

According to Fitch's report, the Port of L.A. enjoys a "very strong market position" combined with the Port of Long Beach where "45-50 percent of imported cargo stays in the port's home market."

Despite the fluctuations in global trade, economies, and fuel cost volatility, Fitch contends the L.A. port's "long-term guaranteed contracts with most tenants mitigate cargo volume risk."

A flexible and modestly sized $1.4 billion capital program, coupled with "a strong balance sheet" with "very strong liquidity" were other determining factors to the Fitch stable bond rating.

However, Fitch said substantial changes in container tonnage, a marked shift in the port's revenue sources, or a "divergence from current leverage levels" could "trigger" another rating action.

"All-in-one" logistics service launched for seafood industry

Nova Fresh Logistics and foodcareplus announced what they term an "all-in-one international logistics service for the seafood industry."

The two companies said in a statement that they are combining their "expertise" in shipping, handling and distribution, as foodcareplus specializes in food product distribution and Nova Fresh said it provides "international perishable handling services" to provide an "integrated" seafood logistics service.

The companies claim their partnership provides a single point of contact for the complicated shipping process of seafood that includes the transport, handling, compliance, documentation issues, and the ability to avoid unexpected costs like container detention, demurrage and storage fees.

Ship's crew recounts four months with Somali pirates

An international crew of seven Indians, six Italians and five Ukrainians of the vessel Enrica Ievoli recounted their four months in captivity in Somali waters with pirates while negotiations dragged on for their release.

The crew said once they were near Somalia they were able to make phone calls home to sobbing family members, according to an Associated Press report.

The Somali pirates reportedly stole everything could on board, including from the crewmembers, such as laptop computers, cellphones, watches, leather shoes, and money.

The pirates would bring a sheep on board and slaughter it for food, according to the former captives.

The Somali pirates were well organized using stolen cellphones or through the satellite phone on the vessel, the crewmembers said.

The Enrica Ievoli was also reportedly used twice to assist other pirates, including a rescue operation of nine Somalis who had failed in a hijacking. When they arrived at the scene, five of the pirates had been injured and one was shot and killed by the U.S. Navy.

Finally, on April 22, over 30 armed pirates were on board the Enrica Ievoli with their faces wrapped in cloths and lined the crew up on the deck so they could be seen by a small plane overhead that dropped three containers full of money via parachutes into the sea that eventually secured the release of captives.

For the full A.P./Washington Post story:


Thursday, May 3, 2012

Top Story

American Feeder Lines ends U.S. Northeast service

A Jones Act shipping service that launched nine months ago calling ports in Boston, Portland (Maine), and Halifax, has reportedly ceased its operation due to lack of volume and investment.

"We're very disappointed. We thought the timing was right," said Rudy Mack, the chief operating officer of New York-based American Feeder Lines as reported by the Portland Press Herald.

The Port of Portland, Maine had been in the midst of a $5 million federally funded expansion of its container-handling capacity in order to go from 50 to 200 boxes per week. The port had also reportedly made a $200,000 loan to American Feeder Lines to assist in the shipping line's operations and similar loans were reported to have been made by the ports in Boston and Halifax.

The AFL service was carrying cargoes that ranged from products for L.L. Bean to grain alcohol for a distillery in Maine, the Press Herald reported.

Portland, Maine's port says it will continue its effort to attract a scheduled container-shipping service.

"There's a lot of interest. This is a lost opportunity, but it's not the last opportunity," said John Henshaw, executive director of the Maine Port Authority.

For the full Press Herald story:

Construction to start on $92 mil Norfolk Southern rail facility at Charlotte airport

Ceremonial shovels dug into the dirt this week to launch the $92 million construction effort for Norfolk Southern's 200-acre intermodal rail facility at Charlotte Douglas International Airport.

The eastern U.S. Class One railroad said it expects the facility to handle up to 200,000 lifts per year, and in addition to intermodal container transfers between truck and rail, will also handle sea-to-air cargo.

The intermodal yard, scheduled to open in late 2013, is situated between two parallel runways at the airport, the Charlotte Observer reported.

Norfolk Southern is reportedly paying for $76.3 million of the total facility costs, with $15.7 million coming from a federal grant, and $9.7 million from the city of Charlotte and the state of North Carolina.

For the full Charlotte Observer story:

YRC losses shrink for Q1 as demand rises

Trucking giant YRC Worldwide posted a loss of $79.8 million for its first quarter compared to losing $98.6 million for the same period last year, as freight demand is reportedly on the rise.

YRC's revenue for the quarter was $1.19 billion, beating analysts' projections of $1.185 billion, as the company's less-than-truckload division showed an increase in daily tonnage of 3.5 percent after a dip of 1.7 percent for the previous fourth quarter.

For the full Kansas City Business Journal story:

Long Beach ports retains AA rating

Fitch Ratings announced it has affirmed its long-term 'AA' rating on the Port of Long Beach's $693 million in outstanding bonds.

Fitch said in a statement that the Port of Long Beach retains a strong market position as the second largest U.S. container port, and when combined with Port of Los Angeles, seventh largest port complex in the world.

The port has a "resilient revenue stream despite exposure to [global container-shipping] volatility," according to the Fitch report, bolstered by long-term guaranteed contracts with most of the port's tenants.

The Port of Long Beach has a "sizable" $3.3 billion capital program and what Fitch referred to as "careful management of the plan's scope and cost."

The port's terminal facilities are modern.and have excellent access to intermodal transportation facilities," the Fitch report said.

"The port has a healthy balance sheet with a very strong liquidity position, with 2011 liquidity of $549 million, representing 2,463 days cash on hand," said Fitch.

A change in rating for the port could occur, according to Fitch, with there was a change in the port's ordinance that requires a minimum of two times debt service coverage ratio or delays, "scope changes" to capital improvement plan.

U.S. seeks death penalty for three accused Somali pirates

Three Somalis who have been charged with the fatal shooting of four Americans that were on board a yacht that was hijacked last year off East Africa, could face the death penalty as it was disclosed this week that the U.S. Attorney General's office is seeking just that.

The three accused - Ahmed Muse Salad, Abukar Osman Beyle and Shani Nurani Shiekh Abrar - are up against 26 charges stemming from the hijacking in February 2011 that resulted in the deaths of Jean and Scott Adam of Marina del Rey, Calif., and Bob Riggle and Phyllis Macay of Seattle, Wash.

During the incident, a rocket-propelled grenade was fired at the U.S. destroyer USS Sterett and subsequently shots were fired on board the yacht Quest.

U.S. Navy Seals boarded the Quest and reportedly found the Americans were critically wounded.

Four hijackers were killed on board and eleven others pled guilty to piracy and were sentenced to life imprisonment.

A pre-trial hearing for the three Somalis charged with murder, all of whom have pled not guilty, is set for May 22.

For the full CBS News story:


Friday, May 4, 2012

Top Story

E.U.'s premier container ports face uphill battle for profits

The most profitable container ports in Europe face facility overcapacity due to the opening of new terminals ordered before the 2008 economic downturn.

The new docks at the top three alone-Antwerp, Hamburg and Rotterdam-will increase Europe's yearly capacity by 21 percent, or 62.2 million TEUs within three years, based on numbers provided by M.M. Warburg and Co.

"We'll have a capacity surplus in the short-term and, as in other industries, an imbalance in supply and demand often leads to pressure on prices," said Warburg analyst Christian Cohrs to Bloomberg. "The relevant players are now bargaining for volumes."

Port operators DP World and Hamburger Hafen & Logistik, which made these substantive investments in the ports prior to Europe's credit crisis, will likely be forced to drop handling charges as more of the new terminals open for business.

For the full Bloomberg story:

Wilson appointed new director at Port of Anchorage

Rich Wilson, who served as the development director at Stevens International Airport for 13 years, has been appointed the new director of the Port of Anchorage. Wilson, who will take over the post from former governor Bill Sheffield, will assume the directorship on May 14.

During Wilson's years at Stevens, the airport underwent major renovations to facilitate air cargo expansion. Prior to that, he directed port planning and renovation for a fishing port as city administrator of St. George in the Pribilof Islands. He also served as the city manager of Cordova and as a crab fisherman in the Bering Sea.

Wilson will provide leadership at a crucial time in the port's development. The Port of Anchorage is in the midst of a disastrous expansion project that has been plagued with construction problems, delayed years past schedule, and has experienced cost overruns to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars. The city is now closely overseeing the project, initially led by the federal Maritime Administration, which had no prior experience directing the expansion of a port.

For the full Anchorage Daily News story:

West Coast ports remain Savannah's main rival

As Georgia seeks $650 million in federal monies to dredge the Port of Savannah to depths that will accommodate post-Panamax vessels, state officials regard other East Coast ports as their primary competition for container trade once the Panama Canal expansion is completed.

But McClatchy News Service reports that a substantive shift to the East Coast ports is "unlikely." Although it's cheaper to take the all-marine route to the East Coast rather than offloading cargo from the West Coast harbors onto trucks and trains, the West Coast method is faster by about a week. So many retail stores will pay more to get merchandise faster.

McClatchy also notes that West Coast ports already have the infrastructure in place to handle the post-Panamax ships, including deeper harbors, adequate container warehousing and established rail routes. The news service also points out it is unknown how much the Panama Canal Authority, which will owe billions on the expansion, will charge the larger ships in tolls.

For the full Atlanta Journal Constitution story:

Portland General Electric blocks Port Westward coal terminal

Portland General Electric has blocked a proposed coal terminal at Port Westward on grounds that the coal dust could negatively impact its nearby generator. PGE has a lease from the Port of St. Helens for 852 acres at Port Westward.

Although officials at the Port of St. Helens say this is a setback for the project, the port and Kinder Morgan will continue to seek a suitable location.

Kinder Morgan reports that they will scout the remaining acreage at Port Westward to find another apt location with the rail and water access it needs for the proposed $150- to $200-million-dollar coal export terminal, which is projected to ship 15 million tons of coal to Asia yearly.

For the full Daily News story:

$100M cargo theft ring charged

In Miami, federal charges were filed against 11 individuals for the theft of more that $100M in drugs and goods, in what is being called the biggest cargo theft arrest in national memory.

"This investigation represents the largest takedown in U.S. history involving cargo theft," said John V. Gillies, special FBI agent in charge, in a press release.

Miami residents Amaury Villa, Roberto Garcia-Amador and Suhong Wu were charged with conspiring to sell more than $75 million in anti-psychotic, anti-depressive and cancer drugs, the majority stolen from an Eli Lilly warehouse in March 2010.

For the full South Florida Business Journal story:


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