Monday, May 5, 2014
Gov. Christie names former NJ attorney general as Port Authority chair
Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey has named former New Jersey Attorney General John Degnan as the next chairman of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. His appointment is pending approval of the state Senate.
Degnan, a Democrat, succeeds Christie insider David Samson, who resigned in March amid allegations of conflicts of interest. Port Authority officials drew media scrutiny after a Christie administration scandal broke that involved a September lane closure at the toll plaza to the George Washington Bridge, which created a severe traffic jam in Fort Lee, New Jersey. Christie appointees ostensibly were retaliating against a Fort Lee mayor who refused to endorse the governor by orchestrating the gridlock.
Degnan is a former insurance executive who was appointed Attorney General in 1978 under Gov. Brendan Byrne. He quit in 1981 to run for governor in a field of Democratic candidates. His ties to Christie include serving on the governor's task force to prevent violence in 2010.
Degnan went to work for the Morristown law firm of Shanley & Fisher, prior to joining the Chubb Corp. in 1990 as senior vice president and general counsel. He was named president in 1996, vice chairman and chief administrative officer in 2002 and vice chairman and chief operating officer in 2008. He retired in 2010.
Christie said Degnan is "a respected, distinguished public official" and has asked him to take over the agency while it faces "a number of really critical issues."
By tradition and custom, the governor of New Jersey appoints the Port Authority chairman while and the governor of New York names its executive director. The Port Authority is governed by a 12-member commission — six from New Jersey and six from New York — appointed by the two governors.
For more of the NBC News story: nbcnews.com
Credit Managers' Index holds firm in the mid-50s
The Credit Managers' Index rose slightly in April from 55.5 to 56, according to a statement from the National Association of Credit Management, which noted that the fact that the index has remained solidly in the mid-50s this year is a trend in the right direction.
April's index of favorable factors improved from 59 to 60.7. However, the index of unfavorable factors posted a fall from 53.2 to 52.8, its worst performance since July, which NACM said indicates growing distress in the trade debtor community.
The association reports that all of the favorable factors tracked by the CMI improved in April, including sales from 59.1 to 61.8, new credit applications from 57.3 to 59.3, dollar collections from 56.4 to 58.1 and amount of credit extended from 63.1 to 63.8.
"It is always a good sign when an indicator exceeds 60, as sales did, and the increase in extended credit indicates more desire to expand now that winter is over and there are signs of improved business," said Chris Kuehl, Ph.D., NACM economist.
"Good news did not come out of the unfavorable factors and these will be the ones to watch in the next month or so," Kuehl warned. "For the past several months, the most consistent part of the survey was the unfavorable factor index. Even as the favorable factor index numbers slipped, there was no real evidence of mounting distress. Now there are concerns that overall business suffered a little more than expected in the last few months."
Rejections of credit applications slipped just slightly from 52.4 to 52.3, but the problem is this category is down at the same time that applications are up.
"This signals that some of those applying for credit are not in great shape," Kuehl said.
Accounts placed for collection slipped dramatically from 54.1 to 51.7, while bankruptcy filings dropped slightly, from 58.4 to 58.1, according to the index.
ICTSI to develop Melbourne, Australia container terminal
International Container Terminal Services, Inc. is developing a new global container terminal in Melbourne, Australia. ICTSI has joined with Anglo Ports to form the consortium, Victoria International Container Terminal Limited, inked a 25-year contract to develop and run the terminal at Webb Dock.
Under the agreement, VICTL will design, build and operate the new terminal at Webb Dock and also design, build and operate the new, on-port empty container park at Webb Dock East, both in Melbourne, until June 30, 2040.
"It is a premier project in a country that is considered to be a leader in infrastructure development, and we plan to introduce leading edge and proven technologies that will consistently deliver the highest levels of port performance," said Christian Gonzalez, ICTSI head of the Asia-Pacific region.
ICTSI owns 90 percent of VICTL and Anglo Ports owns 10 percent.
Phase 1 of the terminal, which will be capable of handling ships with a capacity of up to 8,000 TEUs, will likely be operational by December 31, 2016.
The second phase is expected to open by December 31, 2017.
When fully developed, the 35.4 hectare terminal will be able to handle up to 1.4 million TEUs annually, with the empty container park's capacity rising to 280,000 TEUs.
For more of the ABS-CBN News story: abs-cbnnews.com
Port of Rotterdam and Brazil business group make deal to build Brazil port
The Port of Rotterdam Authority and Terminal Presidente Kennedy Logistica signed a joint venture agreement on Tuesday for the development of Porto Central, a new multi-use Brazil port, according to a Port of Rotterdam statement.
TPK Logistica, owned by a group of Brazilian companies, brings experience in the mining, construction and offshore industries.
The statement said the deep-sea industrial port will be built in the southernmost region of the state of Espirito Santo in the industrial center of Brazil, and will handle oil, gas, dry bulk, containers and general cargo.
Porto Central will also serve as a support hub for the growing offshore sector.
The Rotterdam Port Authority's main role, it said, will be providing its extensive expertise and knowledge in the field of port development. An investment decision will not be made until a later phase.
SEALs on Maersk Alabama died of heroin and booze
The two former Navy SEALs that died aboard the Maersk Alabama in February reportedly died from a mixture of heroin and alcohol, according to Seychelles police.
The toxicology report found no poison in the men's blood, according to the state news agency. Police had previously reported they died from respiratory failure and were thought to have had heart attacks.
Mark Daniel Kennedy and Jeffrey Keith Reynolds were security contractors providing anti-piracy services for Virginia Beach maritime security firm The Trident Group.
For more of the Hampton Roads story: hamptonroads.com
Tuesday, May 6, 2014
Trans-Pac westbound ocean carriers to push for higher rates on protein exports
Container line members of the Transpacific Stabilization Agreement are advising a July rate increase for westbound shipments of U.S. beef, pork and poultry exports, according to a TSA statement.
The shipping lines, anticipating growth in meat shipments to Asia in 2014, say more expensive reefer equipment and service costs are behind the proposed increase. Westbound carriers are recommending a $700 per-FEU increase for protein shipments, effective July 1, 2014.
The growing middle class in Asia is providing an opening for U.S. protein exporters and the carriers said they need to make sure they have a enough temperature-controlled container equipment at a time when refrigerated equipment is costly to lease and freight rates aren't covering their acquisition, maintenance and operating costs.
The increase has been released early for the benefit of protein exporters, who typically book shipments 60 to 90 days in advance.
"We're seeing a perfect storm develop in the westbound transpacific refrigerated segment," said TSA-Westbound executive administrator Brian Conrad. "On top of expected organic demand growth in Asia and normal competition for equipment from other seasonal cargoes such as summer fruits, a shortage of refrigerated rail cars in the U.S. is driving inland intermodal demand for containers and generator sets. Premature scrapping of specialty-refrigerated ships is drawing equipment to north-south trades, particularly Central and South America. Sustainable rates are critical to equipment availability in this environment."
TSA lines include APL Ltd., China Shipping Container Lines, CMA-CGM, COSCO Container Lines, Evergreen Line, Hanging Shipping, Hag-Lloyd, Hyundai Merchant Marine, K Line, Maersk Line, Mediterranean Shipping Co., N.Y.K. Line, Orient Overseas Container Line, Yangming Marine Transport Corp, and Zim Integrated Shipping Services.
Former head of NY-NJ Port Authority pleads the Fifth
David Samson, the former head of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, refused to comply with investigators' Friday deadline to provide additional documents associated with the Bridgegate scandal and is pleading the Fifth Amendment.
Samson's attorneys claim the committee investigating the September traffic lane closures at the George Washington Bridge was biased and had violated confidentiality rules, according to The Star-Ledger.
"The way this committee has conducted itself, combined with Mr. Samson's constitutional rights to fundamental fairness, now compel him to decline to produce the documents requested," his lawyers wrote in a letter to the committee.
Members of the New Jersey Legislative Select Committee on Investigation voiced disappointment that Samson had decided not to comply with their subpoena.
"We will obviously continue forward with this bipartisan inquiry until the people of New Jersey get the answers they deserve," they said in a statement.
For more of the NY Daily News story: nydailynews.com
U.S. DOT says oil-by-rail shippers slow to provide data
According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, very few oil-by-rail shippers have responded to calls for information to help prevent dangerous accidents in the future. On Friday the DOT named the three companies that have provided the requested data.
The agency said testing data has been received from Exxon Mobil, Continental Resources and Savage Companies. Several other companies said Friday the info was forthcoming or that they had provided it to DOT regulators in North Dakota.
"We have shared it with their people in the field, voluntarily," said John Roper, spokesman for Hess Corp.
Regulators examining the Bakken energy field in North Dakota as the source of several shipments that have gone awry, including this week's derailment in Lynchburg, Virginia involving several tank cars that jumped the tracks and burst into flames.
There have been warnings by officials that Bakken crude may be more volatile that conventional crude oil, and thus more dangerous on the tracks.
This week the DOT sent a plan to improve tank car standards for trains carrying highly flammable materials to the Office of Management and Budget. Details of those proposed rules have not yet been released.
For more of the Reuters story: reuters.com
New PMI indicates China's manufacturing sector trending down
China's manufacturing declined for a fourth month in April, according to the latest reading from HSBC, a sign that economy's sluggishness is worsening.
The purchasing managers' index was at 48.1, as assessed by HSBC Holdings Plc and Markit Economics. That was a bit lower than expected by analysts polled by Bloomberg, who forecasted a median estimate of 48.4. Numbers below 50 indicate a contraction of growth in the sector.
"There is no substantial improvement in terms of momentum," said Ding Shuang, senior China economist at Citigroup Inc. in Hong Kong, who added a decline in the real estate market is "certainly" having "some impact" on manufacturing.
For more of the Bloomberg story: bloomberg.com
Spider-infested ship ordered away from port
A ship arriving from California was ordered dock off Guam's port after black widow spiders were discovered onboard.
Thursday night, stevedores unlashing cargo noticed the spiders and spider webs aboard the Green Ridge and notified Guam Customs and Quarantine, according to Joanne Brown, general manager of the Port Authority of Guam.
The ship was allowed to return to the wharf for treatment once the species was verified by officials at the University of Guam and the Department of Agriculture and an exterminator was engaged.
Ambyth Group, the owner of the Green Ridge, contracted exterminator firm Pestex to eradicate the spiders.
For more of the Guam Pacific Daily News story: guampdn.com
Wednesday, May 7, 2014
Hapag-Lloyd to levy congestion surcharge on U.S. imports/exports
Hapag-Lloyd announced it would implement a congestion surcharge in June on all U.S. import and export containers in the event of labor unrest at U.S. ports, anticipating potential work stoppages as a result of West Coast longshore worker contract negotiations this summer.
The shipping line said in a statement that the surcharge — $800 per-TEU and $1,000 per-FEU — would be incurred when a strike, lockout, work stoppage, work slow-down or other labor-related disruption to operations at any U.S. port causes congestion.
In instances of labor disruption, Hapag-Lloyd said it would implement this fee for all import cargo based on the date of cargo arrival at all U.S. ports, direct or via ports in Canada or Mexico, on or after June 10, 2014. The charge would be payable on a freight collect basis, unless otherwise agreed by carrier and shipper.
In the case of exports, the statement said, the congestion fee would be levied for all cargo received by the carrier or its agent on or after June 10, 2014 at any U.S. location, whether shipped through ports in U.S., Canada or Mexico. This charge on export boxes would be payable on a freight prepaid basis, unless otherwise agreed by carrier and shipper.
The carrier said that once labor unrest has occurred, the charge would continue to be assessed until the company gives notice that the impact of the labor unrest on its operations and those of any port affected has ended.
U.S. exports rebound in March, narrowing trade gap
March brought the largest boost in U.S. exports in nine months, according to data released by the Commerce Department, indicating a rebound in global demand.
Commerce data shows the trade gap decreased by 3.6 percent in March to $40.4 billion, compared to February's $41.9 billion. Sales to foreign customers increased 2.1 percent to the second-highest level on record, as exports of capital goods, industrial supplies and materials, and cars increased.
Exports to Canada, South Korea and Germany all reached record highs in March.
"Exports rebounded after a few weaker months, and that's good to see," said Paul Edelstein, director of financial economics at IHS Global Insight. "Imports were also up, and that's a good sign because it suggests that business and consumer spending are back on track. In general, this is a pretty good report."
For more of the Bloomberg story: bloomberg.com
Environmental impact draft released for Yusen terminal project at Port of LA
On Monday the Army Corps of Engineers and the Port of Los Angeles released a draft of the environmental impact statement for the Yusen Terminals Inc. container terminal improvements project, which calls for the renovation of docks on the north side of Terminal Island along the Cerritos Channel, according to a port statement.
YTI has a long-term lease to operate the terminal through 2016, and the port says the company plans to exercise its option to extend the lease through 2026.
The prospective project will improve the wharves at Berths 214-216, increasing the depth from 45 to 53 feet. Berths 217-220 will be altered to facilitate 100-foot gauge gantry cranes, the statement said, and dredged to a 47-foot depth. Additional on-dock rail yard capacity will also be constructed.
The Yusen project follows on the heels of the port's $370 million main channel dredging project, now complete, which deepened the port's main channel and turning basins to 53 feet.
YTI, a subsidiary of Nippon Yusen Kabushiki Kaisha, operates cargo terminals in Los Angeles and Oakland.
The port said the public comment and review period of the environmental impact statement is from May 2, to June 16, 2014.
G6 adds London Gateway to East-West service
G6 member lines — Hapag Lloyd, APL, MOL, OOCL, NYK and Hyundai — recently added London Gateway to its Pacific Atlantic 2 service, according to a statement from Hapag Lloyd.
This will be London Gateway's first major east-west service, according to the port's website.
The first vessel in the new PA2 service will be MV Margrit Rickmers, slotted to leave Rotterdam May 11, 2014.
The service's eastbound rotation will be: Miami -Jacksonville - Savannah - Charleston - New York - Rotterdam - Bremerhaven - London Gateway - Le Havre.
11 missing after cargo ship collides with container vessel and sinks
Eleven crewmembers are missing after their cargo vessel sank following a collision with a container ship outside Hong Kong waters before dawn on Monday.
The 97-meter Zhong Xing 2 was hauling cement from Hebei province to the port of Haikou in Hainan province when it collided with a 300-meter container ship, MOL Motivator, which was leaving for Yantian in Guangdong from Hong Kong, according a Marine Department spokeswoman.
"Zhong Xing 2 reportedly sank after the collision," she said. "One of the crew was picked up by a fishing boat, while the other 11 are missing."
For more of the South China Morning Press story: scmp.com
Thursday, May 8, 2014
U.S. issues mandate that states be informed of oil train shipments
The U.S. Transportation Department issued an emergency order on Wednesday requiring railroads to inform state emergency management officials before moving large shipments of crude through their states.
The order stopped short of mandating the replacement of older model tank cars for such shipments. Instead, the DOT asked the rail companies not to use older rail cars, which can rupture even at slow speeds, to ship crude oil.
Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, Senate Commerce Committee hearing, also said DOT-111 tank cars, currently the car of choice of the oil-by-rail industry, were not fit for such cargo and should be avoided or reinforced wherever possible.
The emergency order requires that every railroad operating trains hauling more than 1 million gallons of crude oil — approximately 35 tank cars worth — from the Bakken region of North Dakota, Montana and part of Canada provide information on their movement to states they navigate.
Much of the oil from the region is being shipped in trains of 100 cars or more — or what accident investigators have described as "moving pipelines."
"All options are on the table when it comes to improving the safe transportation of crude oil, and today's actions, the latest in a series that make up an expansive strategy, will ensure that communities are more informed and that companies are using the strongest possible tank cars," Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said in a statement.
For more of the Reuters story: in.reuters.com
FMC: NY/NJ Port Authority lease terms did not unfairly favor Maersk-APM
The Federal Maritime Commission rejected a claim by Maher Terminals that the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey had illegally favored competitor Maersk-APM by offering them favorable lease terms.
Maher, one of the region's largest container terminal operators, had filed a complaint with the FMC claiming that the PANYNJ had violated the Federal Shipping Act of 1984 by providing the port's second biggest terminal operator, Maersk-APM with tens of millions of dollars worth of favorable lease terms.
The FMC decision conceded that a lease granted in 2000 by the port authority to Maersk-APM on 350 acres along the Elizabeth waterfront did at first appear like a better deal than the one for Maher's 445-acre site.
However, the FMC ruling found that the PANYNJ had a legitimate reason to demand tougher terms from Maher.
"The evidence shows that there are differences in the leases: For example, Maher was required to post a security deposit, while Maersk-APM was not," wrote Administrative Law Judge Erin Wirth in her decision. "More significantly, Maersk-APM's initial annual base rent was $19,000 per acre while Maher's annual base rent started at $39,750 per acre with a two percent annual escalator."
"However," Wirth continued, "PANYNJ negotiated leases with both Maher and Maersk-APM based upon the particular facts and circumstances presented. For example, PANYNJ relied upon an evaluation of relative credit worthiness and corporate guarantees in determining the security deposit. Moreover, the rent discount was required to retain Maersk-APM as an ocean common carrier servicing the port and even Maher, at the time, urged the Governor of New Jersey 'to do all that you can to prevent' Maersk-APM from leaving the port. No similar risk was presented by Mayer."
For more of The Star-Ledger story: nj.com
Port of Long Beach hires fiscal consultants pending CFO search
The Port of Long Beach has hired two consultants to perform key duties in the Harbor Department finance division, following the departure of two senior executives who left the port this year for positions with Metrolink.
The port's former chief financial officer Sam Joumblat quit in March for a $225,000-a-year job at Metrolink, a regional commuter rail service. Thomas Franklin, appointed acting CFO after Joumblat's departure, left in April to become Metrolink's comptroller, reporting to his former boss.
The consultants were recently hired to handle financial affairs while an executive search begins to replace Joumblat and Franklin, according to port spokesman Art Wong.
Chuck Adams joined the Harbor Department to provide financial management to the port support on a part-time basis. He was formerly the deputy director of administration for the Los Angeles County Department of Public Works before he retired in 2010.
Dan Miles, an accountant with more than 20 years of experience in the finance and accounting sectors, was also hired to take on financial work in the Harbor Department full time while the port searches for a permanent assistant CFO.
For more of the OC Register story: ocregister.com
MOL, Evergreen, CONSCON embark on new Asia-to-West Africa service
MOL, Evergreen and COSCO Container Lines just announced a new direct service from Asia to West Africa, the WA1.
The jointly-operated, weekly express loop will allow the lines to cover strategic markets in Africa to meet diverse commercial requirements, according to an Evergreen statement.
The rotation for the WA1 will be: Shanghai (Mon/Mon) - Ningbo (Tue/Wed) - Hong Kong (Fri/Fri) - Nansha (Sat/Sat) - Singapore (Thu/Thu) - Lagos Apapa (Mon/Thu) - Tema (Fri/Mon) - Lome (Mon/Fri) - Abidjan (Sun/Wed) - Singapore (Mon/Mon) - Shanghai (Mon/Tue).
Importers: 4,000 cars disappear from Mombasa port
Importers of used motor vehicles say they cannot locate 4,000 cars and fear they have been impounded at various private container freight stations in Mombasa after being declared older than the permissible eight years.
The national chairman of the Association of Importers of Motor Vehicles, Peter Mambembe, reported almost all of the 4000 cars they saved from destruction through courts in 2012 were missing.
The importers allege that the vehicles could have been stolen at the container freight stations or secretly destroyed by the government.
For more of the Standard Media story: standardmedia.co.ke