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Summary for June 4 - June 8, 2007:

Monday, June 4, 2007

Dallas Logistics Hub and INVITE sign MOU

The Texas-based Dallas Logistics Hub and the Mexico-based INVITE Jun 1 signed a historic Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to create an efficient new trade corridor between Mexico and the United States.

This new international partnership will focus on improving the security, speed, and efficiency of moving goods between these two major logistics centers.

INVITE is an entity of the state of Nuevo Leon, Mexico, which is developing an inland port and manufacturing facility.

The Allen Group is developing the 6,000-acre Dallas Logistics Hub in Southern Dallas County, TX.

The MOU establishes a collaboration of the parties on several issues, including the designation of a customs pre-clearance zone for the development of integrated logistics systems connecting the Interpuerto in Monterrey–Saltillo, Mexico, and the Dallas Logistics Hub.

According to the parties, inefficient logistics systems in the movement of goods between Mexico and the US are a major impediment to their ability to compete with products imported from other parts of the world.

The MOU will facilitate the development of a new, proprietary transportation system to help address these inefficiencies.

COSCO to build new shipyard

COSCO May 31 announced it has signed an agreement with Dalian City in Beijing to jointly construct the Dalian Shipbuilding Project.

The signing of this agreement marks that eight years after the establishment of Nantong COSCO Kawasaki Shipyard, another advanced shipyard is to be set up in North China, said COSCO.

The Mayor of Dalian, Xia Deren, and COSCO Group President and CEO Capt. Wei Jiafu were the signees on the agreement on behalf of each respective party.

The new project will be located in the Shipbuilding Park of Lvshun Economic Development Zone in Dalian. Total expenditures will reach RMB 3.8bn in the first phase, with an annual designed building capacity of some 2mn deadweight tonnage.

After the second phase, the annual building capacity will reach 2.5 to 3mn deadweight tonnage. At that time, COSCO Shipbuilding in Nantong and Dalian will achieve an annual building capacity of 5mn deadweight tonnage, said COSCO.

China Ocean Shipping (Group) Company (COSCO) specializes in shipping and modern logistics, providing freight forwarding, shipbuilding, ship repairing, terminal operation, trade, financing, real estate, and IT services.

Maersk Contractors sold drilling rigs

Maersk Contractors Jun 4 announced it has sold the jack-up drilling rigs Maersk Exerter, Maersk Enhancer, and Maersk Endeavour, all built in 1982, to Northern Offshore Ltd., Bermuda.

Maersk Contractors will continue to operate the rigs on behalf of the new owners until the existing contracts with Maersk Olie og Gas expire in 2008 and 2009, said Maersk.

The crews will remain on board the rigs until Maersk Contractors’ involvement comes to an end, after which they will be transferred to other units in the rig fleet.

Maersk Contractors presently has eight highly advanced drilling rigs under construction for delivery between 2007 and 2010. Several of these are expected to be employed in the North Sea, said the company.

Maersk Contractors is a part of the AP Moller–Maersk Group. The company supplies drilling rigs and floating production units.

The fleet consists of 18 drilling rigs and three FPSO (Floating Production Storage and Offloading) units. In addition, Maersk Contractors presently has five high-efficiency jack-up rigs, three deepwater semi-submersibles, and one FPSO under construction.


Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Savannah announces new all-water services

Doug J. Marchand, executive director, Georgia Ports Authority (GPA), Jun 4 announced an agreement with New World Alliance for two new all-water services to the Port of Savannah, one via the Suez Canal and one via the Panama Canal.

Both services will make inaugural calls on Savannah this summer, said the port.

The weekly SZX, originating in Singapore, will call on Colombo, Savannah, Jebel Ali, Port Kelang, and Singapore.

The new Panama Canal NWA service, the weekly East Coast Savannah Express (ESX), will offer a transit time of just 22 days from Hong Kong to Savannah, making this service the fastest available to the US East Coast, said the port.

The ESX will originate in Ningbo, with calls at Shanghai, Chiwan, Hong Kong, Panama, Savannah, New York, Norfolk, Panama, and Ningbo.

“These new services are a direct result of GPA’s successful efforts to stay ahead of the growth curve and invest in terminal improvements and expansion,” said Marchand.

Vessels on the new routes will be operated by APL, Hyundai Merchant Marine, Mitsui OSK Lines, and non-NWA partner line CMA CGM.

State funds Port of Vancouver USA project

The Port of Vancouver USA Jun 1 announced that $2.5mn for the West Vancouver Freight Access Project has been included in the state budget signed recently by Washington Gov. Christine Gregoire.

The port is seeking $10 million for construction of the project.

Complete of the Freight Access Project will “ease congestion caused by the access and egress of unit trains at the Port of Vancouver,” said the port.

Port of Vancouver Executive Director Larry Paulson commented, “This is critical and timely acknowledgement of the project’s importance to the state system and will bring continued momentum to this project.”

The port said that each time a port train crosses the main line, it not only congests train traffic north and south of Vancouver — a key transfer point in the national railroad scheme — it also stops traffic on the BNSF east-west main line.

The West Vancouver Freight Access Project will allow more 100-car unit trains to enter and exit the port and will allow for the development of the Columbia Gateway property.

CA, BC agree to reduce greenhouse gas

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and British Columbia Premier Gordon Campbell Jun 1 signed a memorandum of understanding to jointly reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020.

The pact, known as the Pacific Coast Collaborative to Protect Our Shared Climate and Oceans, is not legally binding.

But the agreement commits the two jurisdictions to cap and reduce greenhouse gas emissions and work on the development and implementation of clean technologies and to work together to protect the waters off the Pacific coast of North America

A major part of the agreement is the commitment to build a so-called hydrogen highway between British Columbia and Baja, CA, to foster the use of zero-emission vehicles.

The collaboration, which also includes Oregon and Washington, is a previously agreed-to plan to build fueling stations along the highway, so that by 2010 a hydrogen-powered vehicle could travel that route.

The agreement also provides for the sharing of information on coastal resources and health, including monitoring and management of marine protection areas and synchronization of environmental protection at Pacific ports.


Wednesday, June 6, 2007

August retail container traffic to break record

Traffic at the nation’s major retail container ports should reach a record high in August, according to a new report.

The increase should drop off slightly in September before hitting the year’s traditional peak in October, according to the monthly Port Tracker report released Jun 5 by the National Retail Federation (NRF) and Global Insight.

“Cargo volumes are continuing to grow in the buildup toward peak season,” Global Insight Economist Paul Bingham said. “All of the US ports we follow are operating without congestion from the harbor to the gate.”

August is forecast at 1.53mn TEUs of container traffic, breaking last October’s record of 1.51mn, said the report, while September is forecast at 1.49mn.

October, traditionally the busiest month of the year as retailers bring in merchandise for the holiday sales season, is forecast at 1.54mn this year.

US ports covered by Port Tracker include Los Angeles/Long Beach, Oakland, Tacoma, and Seattle on the West Coast; New York/New Jersey, Hampton Roads, Charleston, and Savannah on the East Coast, and Houston on the Gulf Coast.

Shanghai-Savannah cargo to be RFID’d

Shanghai International Port Group (SIPG), the Georgia Ports Authority (GPA), and Savi Networks Jun 5 announced their plans to launch an RFID-based network to track cargo.

The system will automatically track the location and security of containerized cargo transported between the Port of Shanghai in China and the Port of Savannah in Georgia.

SIPG and Savi Networks have jointly developed a localized China Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) solution, which includes electronic seal and GPS integrated handheld for this project.

Called the “Shanghai-Savannah Express Trade Lane Project,” the network builds on a project previously conducted by SIPG from Shanghai to Yantai, said the news release.

After the successful completion of the project, SIPG and Savi Networks will extend its RFID-based solution and SaviTrak(TM) information service to terminal facilities operated by SIPG at the Port of Shanghai, key gateway for products manufactured in China and shipped to the US, said the announcement.

SaviTrak already exists at the Port of Savannah under a previously announced agreement between the Georgia Ports Authority and Savi Networks.

Panama Canal Authority seeks top firm

The search is on as the Panama Canal Authority (ACP) Jun 1 released its Program Manager tender (request for proposal) for Canal expansion.

The ACP is seeking “a top-tier firm with a solid reputation in program management and with experience working on various construction projects around the globe,” said the ACP.

The chosen firm will “assist the ACP in the management of approximately 10 major contracts, interfacing with both design and construction teams.”

Expansion will build a new lane of traffic along the Panama Canal through the construction of a new set of locks, which will double its tonnage capacity and allow the passage of longer, wider, and deeper draft vessels.

The ACP Board of Directors approved the use of an integrated program management model, wherein the Authority will designate tasks between its own staff and the selected firm.

Information about this tender is now available through the ACP’s online bidding system or via the ACP’s Web site.

Interested parties have 48 days from the tender release date for bid submissions.


Thursday, June 7, 2007

Shipping exec says congestion a peril

APL CEO Ron Widdows, speaking May 31 before the European Conference of Ministers of Transport (ECMT) in Sofia, Bulgaria, warned the conference that urgent action is required globally to accelerate the pace of infrastructure development.

“If our transport infrastructure can’t keep pace with the rate of growth, then big question marks hang over the continuation of the kind of economic prosperity that’s been delivered this decade,” Widdows told the continent’s leading transportation officials.

Massive investments are needed to modernize and expand the transport system, Widdows said.

“Otherwise, congestion will slow future economic growth rates, add enormous costs to global supply chains, and could lead companies to reconsider their sourcing strategies,” he said.

The 54-year old ECMT convened its meeting to consider a single issue for the first time: “Congestion: A Global Challenge.”

In addition to EU and other European country ministers, ministers from Canada, Mexico, Japan, and other non-European countries, as well as the US Dept. of Transportation and the United Nations, were represented at the conference.

Widdows became the first private-sector speaker to ever take part in the conference, according to APL.

Home, home on the gantry crane

In a wooden box high atop a 175-foot gantry crane at the Port of Olympia, WA, marine terminal, a pair of peregrine falcons and their offspring are making their home.

The adult birds are one of three known pairs in Thurston County. Three chicks — two males and one female — hatched in early May and appear to be thriving, said the port Jun 5.

The world’s swiftest birds, flying at speeds of 30-60 mph, peregrine falcons were on the edge of extinction in the 1970s from exposure to pesticides but have recovered enough that they have since been removed from the endangered species list.

In 2004, the port and the state Department of Fish and Wildlife installed plywood nesting boxes on the two port cranes, and falcons have nested on the southernmost crane every year since then.

One chick hatched in 2004. In 2005, eggs were laid, but there were no chicks. Last year’s nesting resulted in three chicks.

But experts caution that there is a high mortality rate for young falcons during their first year, said the port.

Vancouver USA gets $5.41mn enviro grant

The Port of Vancouver USA has been recognized for its work in groundwater cleanup efforts in the form of a $5.41mn grant, the port announced Jun 6.

The funding, which will be received by the port over the next two years, was awarded by the Washington state Dept. of Ecology, Local Toxics Control Account, and will help meet obligations under an agreed order with the Dept. of Ecology.

“We’re thrilled to have received this grant,” said Patty Boyden, the port’s director of environmental services. “The money will go a long way in helping us continue to clean up groundwater.”

The Port of Vancouver is currently cleaning up a plume of trichloroethylene (TCE) and other solvents in an aquifer in the general area of the port, according to the port. The ongoing cleanup is showing positive results, the port said.

The grant will be used to install a groundwater cleanup system and to continue monitoring at the site. The grant will help offset an estimated $36 million cleanup effort, said the port.


Friday, June 8, 2007

Carnival now at San Diego year-round

Carnival Cruise Lines (NYSE:CCL) and the Port of San Diego Jun 7 launched the port’s first year-round cruise program with a special VIP event held aboard the 2,052-passenger Elation on a four-day cruise to Cabo San Lucas.

Carnival’s Elation began operating San Diego’s first and only year-round cruise program this week, said the port.

The new cruise program encompasses four-day cruises departing Thursdays, to Cabo San Lucas, and five-day cruises to Cabo San Lucas and Ensenada, departing on Mondays and Saturdays on a rotating schedule.

“The West Coast represents a growing market for Carnival, and the Elation’s one-of-a-kind schedule offers an exciting new alternative to this region,” said Bob Dickinson, Carnival president and CEO.

The Elation will sail on 78 voyages annually from San Diego. It joins the 2,124-passenger Carnival Spirit, which has operated seasonal, eight-day Mexican Riviera voyages from San Diego since 2004.

With Elation and Carnival Spirit, Carnival is expected to carry more than 230,000 passengers annually from San Diego — the most of any cruise operator.

Menlo Worldwide to acquire 3PL

Menlo Worldwide LLC, the global logistics subsidiary of Con-way Inc. (NYSE:CNW), announced Jun 7 it has signed an agreement with Cougar Logistics Corp. Ltd. to purchase Cougar Holdings Pte Ltd. and its primary subsidiary, Cougar Express Logistics.

The transaction is valued at US$33.9mn, which includes a $28.2mn cash payment to Cougar and the assumption of $5.7mn in debt. The deal will close in 90 days pending regulatory clearance and shareholder approval.

San Mateo, CA-based Menlo Worldwide intends to finance the transaction with current cash on hand.

“This acquisition is an excellent fit for Menlo, expanding our footprint in this important region with a successful logistics company that’s complementary in every respect,” said Robert L. Bianco Jr., president, Menlo Worldwide.

Cougar Logistics Corp. Ltd. (SGX:MAINBOARD) owns logistics operations in Singapore and Southeast Asia.

Cougar Express is a leading Southeast Asia freight forwarding, warehousing, logistics, and distribution management company with personnel, facilities, and operations in Singapore, Malaysia, and Thailand.

In its most recent fiscal year, Cougar Express recorded US$23mn in revenues, said the company.

Ontario Teachers’ plan closes NY deal

The Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan (Teachers’) Jun 7 announced the completion of its purchase, for US$2.4bn, of the New York Container Terminal on Staten Island, NY.

The New York facility is the last of four marine container terminals to be purchased by Teachers’ from Hong Kong’s Orient Overseas (International) Ltd.

Earlier this year, Teachers’ completed its acquisition of Global Terminal and Container Systems Inc. in Bayonne, NJ, and of TSI Terminal Systems Inc.’s facilities in Delta and Vancouver, BC.

The purchase of the four terminals represents Teachers’ largest infrastructure investment, raising the fund’s investment in infrastructure and timberlands to Cdn$8bn, said Teachers’.

“We’re pleased to conclude this transaction. We are a long-term investor, and we’re committed to our plan to support the long-term development of the Staten Island facility,” said Jim Leech, senior vice president, Teachers’ Private Capital.

With Cdn$106bn in net assets, the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan is the largest single-profession pension plan in Canada. An independent organization, it invests the pension fund’s assets and administers the pensions of 271,000 active and retired teachers in Ontario.