Monday, May 6, 2013
Columbia Grain locks out dockworkers at Port of Portland
The conflict between union workers and Northwest grain terminal owners escalated Saturday when Columbia Grain locked out Port of Portland dockworkers, saying the workers were obstructing exports through work slowdowns.
More than 50 picketed the terminal Saturday. The lockout, which began at 6 a.m. Saturday, echoes a worker lockout at United Grain Corp. in Vancouver that has been in effect since Feb. 27.
Columbia Grain says members of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union of are slowing operations at its terminal, where wheat, corn, and other U.S. commodities arrive by train and barge to be exported primarily to Asian countries.
Following the model of Mitsui's United Grain, Japan's Marubeni Corporation, which owns Columbia Grain, used managers and temporary workers to load a chip as ILWU members picketed.
"With bargaining stalled and the longshore workers engaging in 'inside game' tactics, including slowdowns, work-to-rule, and demands for repeated inspections of the same equipment – all designed to negatively impact Columbia Grain's operations – we have decided that a lockout is our best alternative," Marubeni said in a written statement.
Bruce Holte, president of ILWU Local 8, said Columbia Grain hired replacement workers at the start of negotiations in the fall, indicating that the company never intended to come to an agreement.
"Unfortunately, Marubeni-Columbia Grain has done what it's wanted to do all along, and locked out local workers who have made this company profitable for decades," Holte said in a statement. "Rather than reach a fair agreement, the company has hired an out-of-state strike-breaking firm, attorneys and a publicist to make allegations against local workers who simply want to do our jobs and support our community."
Compounding the conflict, Portland police officers stood with security guards contracted by the port, and ILWU Port of Portland security guards are saying the port improperly replaced them.
"We have filed a grievance and are seeking comparable hours to what the Port is paying its contracted security," said David Vale, steward for the ILWU Local 28 security officers, in an email. "That could eventually amount to hundreds of thousands of dollars, some of which is taxpayer provided."
For more of The Oregonian story: oregonlive.com
Senate looks at bill that includes dredging projects
This week the Senate will consider a controversial water resources bill that would help U.S. ports deepen their harbors to accommodate the ultra large container vessels expected after the newly widened Panama Canal locks open in 2015.
Most of the new federal commitment would involve dredging, including dredging berths next to piers and the clean up of some contaminated sediments that are currently the responsibility of individual port authorities.
The bill includes less cost sharing and more federal obligations, which has drawn criticism for making significant new funding commitments with federal funds.
Congress would require the Army Corps of Engineers to use all the funding in the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund each year. The trust fund gets its money from a tax on cargo that's imported or shipped domestically to another U.S. port.
The trust fund collects about $1.5 billion a year and has had an ongoing surplus of approximately $700 million that helps to reduce the federal deficit, according to Steve Ellis of Taxpayers for Common Sense.
For more of the The Journal News story: lohud.com
China tightens rules on capital flows of importers and exporters
China officials said the country would increase its examination of cross-border capital flows by importers and exporters to stop speculative money from entering the country disguised as trade bills.
The State Administration of Foreign Exchange will send out warning notices to companies whose goods and capital flows do not match, and also to companies who are bringing large amounts of cash into China.
Those who receive warning notices will have 10 days to respond and explain the need of the questioned transactions. Those who do not comply will be put on SAFE's B list, which means they will be closely monitored for three months.
SAFE said it would send out the first group of warnings before May 10.
For more of the Business Week story: businessweek.com
Halter and Crowley christen new tug and barge
VT Halter Marine and Crowley Maritime officials christened the tug Liberty and its 600-foot barge, called 750-3. The celebration was held last week in VT Halter's Bayou Casotte shipyard in Mississippi.
The Liberty, a 16,000 horsepower tug, was built by Dakota Creek Industries in Anacortes, Wash.
The barge is in the 750-Class and built by VT Halter. The barge has a capacity of 330,000 barrels of petroleum and are 45,000 deadweight tons.
For more of the Seattle Times story: seattletimes.com
Cargo ship finds missing sail boat
The Coast Guard found the crew of a missing sailboat Sunday, with the help of a passing cargo ship.
The Panamanian cargo ship Kristen Picer heard the Coast Guard's plea for help finding the crew, and when they spotted the Siesta, reported it to the guard at around 8:55 a.m. Sunday.
The Siesta, about 500 miles northeast of Honolulu, was unable to communicate with contacts in Honolulu due to a broken satellite phone.
For more of the KHON 2 story: khon2.com
Tuesday, May 7, 2013
Hong Kong docker strike ends with 9.8 percent pay hike, better conditions
Hong Kong dockers have accepted a 9.8 percent pay hike from management, resolving the 40-day strike of HongKong International Terminal.
Four contractors agreed to write the 9.8 percent increase into their contracts and improve working conditions for the longshoremen, according to a strike leader. The salary will be retroactively effective May 1.
The dockers unanimously voted against the 9.8 percent raise two days ago, trying to hold out for a double-digit raise.
"This is half successful," said Union of Hong Kong Dockers spokesman Stanley Ho Wai-hong. "The most important reason why we have decided to accept the offer is because of the written guarantee from the contractors."
Approximately 530 dockers participated in the strike at HIT's Kwai Tsing Container Terminals, beginning March 28. Monday, the 430 remaining strikers and unionists met after the High Court ruled that could continue protesting outside Li's Cheung Kong Center until a formal hearing on a permanent injunction was heard in July.
After the two-hour meeting, Ho announced that the dockers accepted the offer and the strike was over. About 80 percent of the workers voted to accept the offer.
In addition to the pay hike, employers agreed to allow dockers to stop work for meals and for toilet breaks whenever needed and to improve safety with the help of HIT.
For more of the South China Morning Post story: scmp.com
Kuryla withdraws from Jaxport CEO job
Juan Kuryla, withdrew his name from consideration for Jaxport CEO, and the Jacksonville Port Authority board will reopen its search for the executive position.
Kuryla, currently the deputy port director of PortMiami, was offered the job on April 22 and went directly into contract negotiations with the JPA. One week later, PortMiami's director, Bill Johnson, said he was considering leaving the port too. Johnson said he might step down as the Miami Port director and pursue the position of CEO at Beacon Council, the economic development agency for Miami-Dade, according to the Miami Herald.
Fromowitz said Kuryla received a counteroffer. According to WJCT News, Kuryla plans to stay in Miami.
"These things happen," said Alan Fromowitz, a principle of global executive search firm Heidrick & Struggles, at a board meeting Monday. "I don't think it's Jaxport. I don't think it's Jacksonville. It's not the process. It's not the ability to attract top talent."
Jaxport board member John A. Newman said, "We have nothing to be ashamed of. In fact, I think it's indicative of how strong of a candidate we chose and how well we chose."
Kuryla said in an email he withdrew his name as a candidate "due to personal reasons."
For more of the Jacksonville Business Journal story: bizjournals.com
Q1 report: E-commerce drives up U.S. commercial occupancy rates and expansion of distribution hubs
U.S. industrial real estate markets grew through the first quarter of 2013 as e-commerce continued to restructure distribution tactics and facilities across the country, according to data from commercial real estate services firm Cushman & Wakefield.
"Overall improving market fundamentals provide reason for optimism," noted Morris. "Demand continues to strengthen with three full years of consecutive quarterly gains in occupancy building steam. We anticipate that the current momentum will fuel additional progress."
Obama intends for Cabinet nominees to help improve sluggish exports
President Obama has asked his Cabinet nominees for Commerce Secretary, Penny Pritzker, and trade ambassador, Michael Froman, to help boost U.S. trade in an effort to double U.S. exports by 2014. Both appointments need to be approved by the Senate.
"I urge the Senate to confirm Penny and Mike without delay, because they've got a lot of work to do," Obama said in a White House Rose Garden ceremony. "I intend to work them to the bone as soon as they're official."
Obama has pledged to double exports to $3.14 trillion by the end of 2014. Last year, they were a record $2.2 trillion, a 39 percent increase from 2009, when Obama took office, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis.
While exports have risen during the Obama administration, the growth has slowed each year since he became president. U.S. exports grew 17 percent in 2010 over 2009 as the economy began to rebound from the global economic crisis. The rate of growth fell to 14 percent the next year and was 4.3 percent last year as demand slowed in Europe, a major market for U.S. goods.
Derek Scissors, a senior research fellow at the Heritage Foundation, told Bloomberg he doesn't think the U.S. will be able to achieve a doubling of exports by next year because the goal depends on the global economy recovering quickly, which isn't likely.
World trade growth declined to 2 percent in 2012 from 5.2 percent the previous year, according to the World Trade Organization.
For more of the Bloomberg story: bloomberg.com
New Port of Baltimore shipping terminal recommended at former steel mill site
A task force appointed by Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz recommends that a new Port of Baltimore shipping terminal be built at the site of a massive steel mill at Sparrows Point.
RG Steel closed the plant last year, and the new owner of the property plans to demolish the steel mill.
The task force, appointed by Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz, advised that the 3,300-acre site be transformed into an annex of the Port of Baltimore. The task force said Sparrows Point could also be used for clean energy production, manufacturing and distribution and logistics.
Kamenetz said Friday that building a new shipping terminal at the site could create 10,000 jobs, although it would be at least a decade before it could be built.
For more of the Washington Post story: washingtonpost.com
Wednesday, May 8, 2013
Germany's $13B container "ghost port" surviving on Maersk Line service
JadeWeserPort, Germany's only deepwater harbor, opened for business in September 2013. The 33,000 containers the port has handled since fall woefully short of the annual 2.7 million TEUs forecasted when the $13.1 billion project was launched ten years ago.
The debut of the port last year coincided with a shipping industry plagued with vessel overcapacity and falling freight rates, combined with a sluggish EU economy. Consequently, JadeWeserPort has turned into a ghost port that depends on two weekly services from the operator's primary shareholder, A.P. Moeller-Maersk, to support the harbor's 400 employees.
The weaker-than-expected start meant operator Eurogate had to cut costs. Since March 18, 332 of its 400 workers in Wilhelmshaven have been put on shorter hours, which will continue until traffic increases.
"It is not yet the success story we wished for, but it was right to build the port," Deputy Economy Minister Hans-Joachim Otto said in an interview on April 25. Otto, who leads the Germany's maritime policy, expects the shipping industry to rally by the end of 2014.
The port's 1.7 kilometer-long quay can handle four large container ships at once. Eight giant cranes, among the world's biggest, can stretch over 25 rows of containers. The port's depth of 59 feet means the world's biggest vessels, ultra large container vessels that will carry up to 18,000 TEUs, can dock regardless of the tide.
That gives JadeWeserPort an advantage over Hamburg, which can't accommodate vessels of that size at low tide. But it may be a while before the port welcomes its first super-sized vessel, since Maersk is its only major customer.
Thilo Heinrich, head of trade and marketing at Maersk Line's German arm, said the shipping industry crises couldn't have been predicted when the port plan was launched more than a decade ago.
Investors are still purchasing the bonds of port operator Eurogate, a unit of which owns 40 percent of JadeWeserPort, and which runs 10 European terminals.
Bremen and Lower Saxony, the two German states that constructed JadeWeserPort, announced that they will invest in a study to examine the technical and economic feasibility of a second container port north of JadeWeserPort by early 2015.
For more of the Business Week story: businessweek.com
Four vying to run new $1.2B Aussie container terminal
Four bidders are competing for the contract to run the new $1.2 billion container terminal at Australia's Port of Melbourne, according to a port statement.
Hutchison Ports, owned by Hong Kong billionaire Li-Kashing, is seen as the lead candidate for operating the port's Webb Dock East, according to the Sydney Morning Herald. The other competitors include Qube Holdings, a joint venture between ICTSI and Anglo Ports, and a collective comprised of CMA CGM and ANL.
"The shortlisted bidders will prepare their detailed submissions along with furnishing the required financial guarantees, which will enable their bid to be considered," Stephen Bradford Port of Melbourne Corporation CEO said in a statement. "In evaluating the bids, we are seeking innovation to deliver higher levels of operational efficiency alongside the requirements to operate a growing port in the middle of one of the nation's largest cities."
The port will announce the successful bid in 2014.
Webb Dock East will handle an annual capacity of one million TEUs, and is scheduled to begin operations in late 2016.
Port of Long Beach completing $100M dockside plug-in project
The Port of Long Beach is completing a $100 million project that involves installing dockside plug-in stations to enable container ships to access electricity through the national power grid rather than burning diesel as they idle. Long Beach currently has four such berths and a dozen under construction.
Shore power, or cold ironing, allows vessels to switch off their auxiliary engines and plug into land-side electricity to power on-board systems, including lights, pumps and refrigerated containers, according to port officials.
"Some of the cargo containers are actually refrigerated containers," said Port of Long Beach chief harbor engineer Al Moro. "They take a lot of electricity to keep the produce, or whatever the contents (are), cold."
California's shore power requirement begins in January 2014, which requires all container carriers that make more than 25 visits per year to the Ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles to plug into port for 50 percent of their visits. Both ports combined handle more than 10,000 ship calls each year, port officials said.
"What that simply means is being able to connect the ship, when it's 'hoteling' in the port, up to power on the grid," said Bob Foster, mayor of Long Beach. "That is the equivalent of taking 33,000 cars off the road."
The Port of Los Angeles offered a plug-in dock as early as 2004 and now has 10 berths that allow ships to use on-shore electricity, according to the LA Times.
For more of the NBC Los Angeles story: nbclosangeles.com
Brazilian chosen to lead World Trade Organization
Roberto Carvalho de Azevêdo of Brazil will be the next leader of the World Trade Organization, a Brazilian official said Tuesday. Azevêdo, Brazil's permanent representative to the W.T.O., will be the first Latin American to lead the global trade organization since its creation in 1995.
Representatives of the 159 W.T.O. member states reached consensus on Azevêdo late Tuesday. Azevêdo bested seven candidates, including former Mexican trade minister Herminio Blanco Mendoza, who was favored by the European Union and the United States.
The W.T.O was established as a forum for setting global trade rules, reducing barriers to commerce and settling disputes, but the group has been fighting to remain relevant, according to The New York Times.
Petros Mavroidis, a professor of trade law at Columbia University, said that Azevêdo had an insider's knowledge of the W.T.O., something that might help him work out "a face-saving compromise" over the deadlocked Doha round of trade negotiations.
"They haven't delivered anything for years," Mr. Mavroidis said. "Mr. Azevêdo is a skillful ambassador, but I think you need someone to shake the place up. And I don't know if he's the one to do it."
The current chief, Pascal Lamy, took office in 2005 and will step down after his second four-year term expires Sept. 1.
Seven dead, 2 missing after cargo ship crashes into Genoa port control tower
At least seven people died after a cargo ship slammed into the dock at Genoa at around 11 p.m. Tuesday, toppling the control tower. All that was left of the tower, which was situated at the edge of a dock that jutted out into the harbor, was its exterior staircase, twisted on its side.
The Jolly Nero cargo ship, owned by the Ignazio Messina & C. SpA Italian shipping line, was leaving port accompanied by tugboats when it crashed into the dock during a shift change in the control tower.
"This event is unbelievable because we had the best weather navigation conditions," said Luigi Merlo, president of the Genoa port authority. He declined to speculate what caused the crash, saying the ship had plenty of room to maneuver in the harbor and shouldn't have ended up so close to the dock.
One theory was that a possible mechanical failure aboard the ship left the captain unable to steer it properly, Italian news reports said, citing prosecutor Michele de Lecce.
Rescue workers recovered seven bodies in the ship's wreckage. Four people were hospitalized and two remain missing, according to Luca Cari, spokesman for the fire rescue teams. There were fears that the two missing individuals were trapped inside the tower's submerged elevator, Cari said.
The dead included three coast guard officials in the tower at the time of the crash, a port captain and a tugboat operator, said Cmdr. Filippo Marini, a coast guard spokesman.
The Genoa port, located on Italy's Ligurian coast, is Italy's busiest in terms of cargo handling, according to the port authority website.
For more of the Washington Post story: washingtonpost.com
Thursday, May 9, 2013
L.A. approves $500M port rail yard despite protests from environmental groups
Yesterday the Los Angeles City Council approved the $500-million Southern California International Gateway, a new rail yard to be built near the Port of Los Angeles. Possible court challenges of the controversial 153-acre project are likely, based on alleged violations of environmental and civil rights laws.
The proposed staging center for trains moving freight from the largest port complex in the U.S. has raised questions about environmental justice, especially for the working class neighborhoods near Long Beach that will be most affected by the new rail project.
The freight yard, built by the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway, would be capable of handling up to 2.8 million TEUs a year by 2035 and 8,200 trucks a day. The yard would be situated in Wilmington next to California 103, between Sepulveda Boulevard and California 1 and east of Alameda Street.
Council members approved the SCIG and certified its environmental analysis, based on the supposition that the project would boost efficiency in the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, provide jobs, and include measures to improve air quality in surrounding communities.
Before the vote, David Pettit, an attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council, appeared before the council and threatened to sue over possible violations of state civil rights laws and the California Environmental Quality Act. After the hearing he added that the NRDC and other environmental groups are considering filing an administrative claim with the U.S. Department of Transportation, alleging violations of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.
For more of the Los Angeles Times story: latimes.com
Maersk Line buys 8 newer ships at $500M for U.S. service
Maersk Line has purchased and is reflagging eight newer container ships to improve the services it provides to U.S. commercial, military and government customers, according to a company statement.
The larger ships will service trade routes from the U.S. East Coast to the Middle East and Mediterranean Sea. The newer ships are a decade younger than the vessels they replace, offering better fuel efficiency and less harmful emissions, Maersk said.
The vessels will join Maersk Line's weekly Middle East Container Line service (MECL1) throughout May and June. This route serves commercial customers and the U.S. military, and it transports U.S.-grown food aid. MECL1 will be the industry's only direct U.S. flag service to and from the U.S. East Coast and Pakistan, and the service includes a new stop in Algeciras, Spain.
"These eight newer vessels, along with the global transportation network that connects them, demonstrate our commitment to our customers," said John Reinhart, MLL's president and CEO. "We are proud to serve the U.S. military and to deliver U.S. food aid worldwide."
The eight incoming vessels are named in honor of American cities boosted the U.S. economy through manufacturing, finance, transportation, and exports. This ship names are: Atlanta, Chicago, Columbus, Denver, Detroit, Hartford, Memphis, and Pittsburgh. Maersk Chicago was the first of the eight vessels to come under the U.S. flag on May 1, 2013.
For more of the story: timesdispatch.com
New container service connects Jaxport to Middle East
Jaxport received its first vessel call this week from Bahri General Cargo, formerly the National Shipping Company of Saudi Arabia.
The Bahri Abha called at the Blount Island Marine Terminal and loaded vehicles and other goods bound for the Middle East.
In March, Bahri and the Jacksonville Port Authority announced a regular service between Jacksonville, the Middle East, Africa and Indian sub-continent regions. Adding Jaxport to the rotation allows access to a larger market and helps the carrier improve vessel utilization, according to Bahri executives.
"The addition of Bahri to our growing list of customers is another indication of Jaxport's reputation globally and the major efficiencies and economies we offer the industry" said the port's interim CEO, Roy Schleicher.
Bahri General Cargo's current itinerary is Baltimore (import), Houston, Jacksonville, Savannah, Charleston, Wilmington (NC), Baltimore (export), New York, Halifax, Jeddah (eastbound), Jebel Ali, Dammam, Mesaieed, Mumbai, Mundra, Jeddah (westbound) and Livorno.
Obama administration honors Port of Pittsburgh official
On Wednesday the White House honored the leader of the Port of Pittsburgh Commission, James R. McCarville, as one of its national "Transportation Champions of Change" for advancing technology on his region's waterways.
"Clearly, the reason I was honored was the work of the Port of Pittsburgh Commission and its Wireless Waterway Committee, which was ... thousands of hours of volunteer service that they put into it," said McCarville, a Ross resident, who was recognized during a ceremony at the White House.
McCarville explained that his commission partnered with Carnegie Mellon University students 10 years ago to develop a computerized virtual locking system called SmartLock, which helps vessels entering a lock chamber in low-visibility conditions.
Additionally, about three years ago, he said, the commission and CMU started building a network system, the Wireless Waterway Project, which improves safety, security and scheduling for towboats, terminals, trains and trucks.
For more of the TribLive News: triblive.com
Factory fire kills 8, another industrial tragedy in Bangladesh
Eight people died as fire swept through a garment factory before midnight Wednesday in the capital city of Dhaka in Bangladesh. The factory's managing director and a top police official are among the dead.
Preliminary reports indicate that the fire in the 11-story building might have been caused by a short circuit on the second floor that spread to the third and fourth floors, where the factory was located.
Mahbubur Rahman, managing director of the Tung Hai Sweater factory, was reportedly meeting with friends including a senior police official around 11 p.m. when the fire started, trapping them.
"The casualty was less as the factory was closed when the fire broke out," an unnamed company supervisor told local reporters.
The industrial accident is close on the heels of the April collapse Dhaka's Rana Plaza, where at least 900 people died, mostly garment workers from the five factories housed in the huge building.
For more of the L.A. Times story: latimes.com