Cargo Business Newswire ArchivesSummary for June 15 through June 19, 2015:
Monday, June 15, 2015
Virginia port volume up on diversion from West Coast
The Virginia Port Authority set a volume record in May, handling 230,511 TEUs for a 13 percent year-over-year increase.
"We are on pace to show significant growth - set records - for both the calendar and fiscal year," said John Reinhart, executive director and CEO of the authority, in a statement. "So our effort is to continue to reinvest in facilities, equipment and people to be able to deliver consistency to all port users and improve service for motor carriers."
Hampton Roads isn't the only East Coast port with rising TEU volume, partly due to the diversion of cargo from West Coast ports because of labor issues, according to industry experts.
The ports of New York/New Jersey; Savannah, Ga.; Charleston, S.C.; Baltimore and Wilmington, N.C., also saw cargo increases in the nine months from July 2014 through March 2015, according to a presentation at last month's port authority board meeting.
Port records show that May was the seventh record-breaking month for TEU volume since July 2013.
Truck-container volume in May grew by 21.5 percent, year over year, while rail containers edged up 2.5 percent. Barge-container volume fell by 4.5 percent.
"We continue to be tested with these mounting monthly volumes; our busy peak season is not far off, and we anticipate that we will see cargo volume that exceeds May's result," Reinhart said.
Gulftainer opens first U.S. terminal at Port Canaveral
Emirati container terminal operator Gulftainer opened its first U.S. terminal Friday at Port Canaveral, Fla., joining a competitive market for container traffic that includes the nearby ports of Miami, Jacksonville and Tampa Bay.
With two gantry cranes and 20 acres of container storage space, Gulftainer forecasts that the terminal could handle up to 200,000 TEUs annually. The Gulftainer terminal, which has leased the land at Port Canaveral for 35 years, will mark the start of the first significant containerized cargo operation at Port Canaveral, which is known primarily as a cruise ship hub.
Peter Richards, Gulftainer’s managing director, said the company hopes to capitalize on Central Florida’s growing role as a logistics hub featuring inland warehouses, rail access to the Northeast and Midwest and land for infrastructure development.
"One of the main attractions looking at Canaveral in the first place was that we could expand as we grew," Richards said.
Richards has been trying to bring Gulftainer, which operates container terminals in Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Russia, North Africa, and Brazil, to the U.S. for about two years. Founded in 1976, Gulftainer is a subsidiary of privately-held conglomerate Crescent Enterprises, based in the United Arab Emirates.
He said the company had been worried about entering the U.S. market since the controversy surrounding a 2005 deal to give management contracts for terminals at six major U.S. ports, including Miami, to Dubai Ports World, a state-owned enterprise that is, like Gulftainer, based in the United Arab Emirates. The deal was ultimately terminated after public outcry and politically charged debate among policy makers in D.C.
Service began with a ceremonial call to the port on Friday by the CMA CGM containership Jamaica. Gulftainer estimates that about 60 percent of the traffic at the port will be imports and about 40 percent exports.
COSCO, China Shipbuilding examined by China regulators
China's premier anti-graft watchdog said Friday it had inspected six major state-owned enterprises in industries ranging from shipping to energy, as part of its anti-corruption dragnet.
China Shipbuilding Industry Corporation, and China Ocean Shipping Company were among the latest firms to be probed by the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI), the agency said late on Friday. Others targeted include Energy giant China Huaneng Group, steel producers Baosteel and Wuhan Iron and Steel, and China State Construction.
The agency said it warned companies against violations including nepotism, wasteful spending and improper bidding on contracts.
As part of President Xi Jinping's two-year crackdown on corruption, the CCDI will inspect "all important backbone state-owned firms and financial institutions" this year.
The watchdog brought down more than 70 senior officials at state firms in 2014 and has carried out inspections in the energy, telecom and financial sectors. A total of 26 firms will be inspected, CCDI said.
CEVA launches weekly LCL service from Antwerp to New York
Logistics firm CEVA announced the launch of a new guaranteed weekly LCL service from Antwerp, Belgium, to New York, USA.
The new service, with a transit time of 11 days, provides faster cargo availability at destination and more control over the cargo, the statement said. Further direct weekly services will be added from Antwerp throughout 2015, establishing the location as a key hub within CEVA’s LCL and ocean freight network.
"The opening of our LCL gateway in Antwerp provides CEVA with a greater opportunity to provide our customers with a wide range of destinations and LCL services," said Ferwin Wieringa, CEVA’s vice president of freight and transport management, Benelux. "Strategically located in Europe and well connected with our Ground and Air Freight networks, it’s ideally placed as an operational hub."
CEVA says it ensures end-to-end tracking to provide customers with visibility of where their cargo is at any point during the shipment. In addition, there is also the option for customers to benefit from expedited delivery through CEVA’s ground trucking network.
Egyptian navy rescues sinking cargo ship
The Egyptian navy rescued a sinking cargo ship off the coast of Alexandria, according to the Al-Ahram Arabic news site.
The Alex, which was sailing under the flag of Bolivia and coming from Lebanon, sprang a leak four miles from Alexandria’s Mediterranean shores on its way to the main harbor.
The ship was empty at the time of the incident, Al-Ahram reported, and was brought back to an Alexandria for repairs.
Maersk Line has set the model that the rest of the shipping industry has tried to follow — targeting economies of scale, lowering unit costs and network optimization. This has allowed the company to lower its break-even line more than other lines, according to Drewry Maritime Research. But with rates now at historical lows and bunker costs rising, the maritime analysts assert that even a company of Maersk’s stature will feel the pinch.
When talking about carriers with 3 to 5 percent capacity, that more or less covers any top 20 carrier other than the big three of Maersk, MSC and CMA CGM.
With an aggregate fleet of just less than 17 million TEUs, the top 20 carriers now control 87 percent of the world’s available container capacity. Since the summer of 2005 – when the figure was 79 percent – the top 20 carriers have added a startling 10.2 million TEUs of ship capacity.
Closer inspection of the carriers’ rankings shows that there is a league-within-a-league with the biggest carriers providing most of the overall growth. Between 2005 and 2015 the compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of the top 3 carriers was 12.5 percent, significantly faster than the CAGR for the top 20 lines and the total fleet at 9.6 percent and 8.7 percent, respectively.
The top 3 carriers now have about a 38 percent share, which extends to 48 percent when including the other top 5 carriers Hapag-Lloyd and Evergreen.
Medium carriers are following the lead of the big carriers and ordering their own ULCVs. In doing so they make themselves a tougher catch for the big lines as the new assets will inflate their purchase prices and at the same time make it harder to keep any merged entity beneath acceptable competition thresholds.
The purchase of ULCVs by mid-size carriers is therefore in some ways a defensive move to fight off attack, but the sting in the tail is that it guarantees years of overcapacity that will depress freight rates and profitability for all.
The make-up of the top 20 carriers has barely changed in the last 10 years. The exits of P&O Nedlloyd and CP Ships at the end of 2005 gave entry to PIL and Wan Hai – carriers with limited geographical scope. Wan Hai was unseated by UASC in 2009 only to return this year after the exit of CSAV.
The re-entry of Wan Hai demonstrates the lowering entrance fee required to become a member of the top 20. The Taiwanese carrier has a fleet of 230,000 TEUs and a market share of 1.2 percent. In 2012 it would have needed a fleet of 270,000 TEUs and a 1.6 percent share to be ranked twentieth.
In conclusion, Drewry says that although it does not predict any imminent large-scale carrier M&A, eventually the top 20 will shift to take in more of the small, regional carriers in the lower reaches of the table. In doing so it will necessitate a change in container shipping speak since "top 20" will no longer mean large and mid-sized deep-sea carriers.
AAR files appeal new oil-by-rail rule
On Friday (6-13), the Association of American Railroads filed an agency appeal with the U.S. Department of Transportation regarding its new crude-by-rail rules.
The rail association said the DOT should remove a requirement for an expensive new braking system that rail executives assert is unproven. The appeal also asks for enhanced thermal protection for tank cars, as well as to fully eliminate the usage of older tank cars considered unsafe for carrying flammable liquids.
"It is the AAR’s position the rule, while a good start, does not sufficiently advance safety and fails to fully address ongoing concerns of the freight rail industry and the general public," the group said in a statement.
Worry over transporting crude oil and other flammable liquids has increased after a string of at least nine fiery oil-train derailments in the U.S. and Canada since 2013, including one in Quebec that killed 47 people.
The agency has received six administrative appeals of the rules so far, including the AAR’s, according to a spokeswoman for the DOT Pipelines and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration. The agency must next respond to the appellants within 90 days of the rule’s publication date, unless it files for an extension.
Mitsubishi announces $300M shipping container fund
Mitsubishi Corporation has announced the creation of the MC Seamax Shipping Opportunities Fund focused on investments in container shipping.
The fund has closed with total capital commitments of $300 million from institutional investors in North America, Europe and Japan, including MC's commitment of $50 million, according to the company statement.
Mitsubishi says the fund has been created to generate a stable income through buying and leasing container vessels to major shipping lines. It currently has a portfolio of six container ships with a total capacity of over 45,000 TEUs on time charters to the world's leading liner companies.
MC-Seamax Management Limited, a joint venture between MC Asset Management Holdings and Seamax Partners, will manage the private equity fund.
China launches freight train service to Moscow
China has launched a rail freight service connecting the western Xinjiang region with Moscow. It is expected to deliver $8.1 billion worth of cargo annually, according to Vice Governor of Xinjiang Liu Jianxin.
The rail authorities in China’s Xinjiang Autonomous Region announced the additional westward train service, according to the Xinhua news agency.
The first train to travel the new route left the region’s capital Urumqi last week and will reach Moscow in about 10 days. Loaded with 1,300 tons of PVC, it will travel nearly 2,500 miles and return with wood pulp from Russia.
More than three freight trains will run per week between Xinjiang, destinations in Russia, also central and western Asia by the second half of this year, the agency said.
Federal grand jury indicts DSD Shipping for dumping wastewater
A federal grand jury in Louisiana has indicted Norwegian oil transport company DSD Shipping and four of its crewmembers, charging them with illegally discharging contaminated wastewater near Lake Charles.
The Advocate reports the indictments were handed down Friday (6-13) against DSD and ship engineers from Romania and China.
The Justice Department said the defendants discharged oily water at sea and then tried to cover it up by replacing the piping. They are charged with three counts of obstruction of justice and violating the Act To Prevent Pollution from Ships.
If convicted, DSD Shipping faces a fine up to $500,000, and each of the four engineers face up to 20 years in prison.
Egypt's new $4 billion Suez Canal route will officially open on August 6, according to a senior canal official.
The chairman of the Suez Canal Authority, Mohab Mamish, said that all dredging works at the new Suez Canal project would be completed in mid-July.
"Only 54 days are left for the opening ceremony of this mega economic project," Mamish said during a press briefing at the SCA headquarter in Egypt's Ismailia city. "Nearly 85 percent of the dredging work has been achieved."
Mamish reports that approximately 4,800 pieces of equipment were used and over 250 million cubic meters of dry sand were lifted since the project began last August.
In August 2014, Egypt launched a project to dig a new 44-mile canal alongside the original 100 mile-long canal, enabling two-way traffic along a section of the waterway to decrease wait times. The Suez Canal is one of the most important waterways in the world, since it allows ships to travel between Europe and South Asia without navigating around Africa.
House votes down presidential "fast-track" authority on trade deals
On Friday (6-12), the House of Representatives voted down a "fast-track" measure that would have given President Obama authority to negotiate global trade deals that Congress would then approve or reject without being allowed to add amendments.
Lawmakers are expected to try to reverse the legislation in the House this week, as many believe such authority is central to improving U.S. trade ties with Asia.
Proponents were relieved when the House narrowly approved a separate measure to give Obama "fast-track" authority to negotiate the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal. But that legislation is stuck in the House because of the defeat Obama and House Speaker John Boehner suffered on the first vote.
Both measures are included in one bill and both must be approved before the legislation can clear the House.
A House Republican aide told reporters Republican leaders hope to stage a vote again Tuesday (6-16) to pass the worker aid portion of the bill. That would allow the entire bill to be signed into law by Obama, but its chances were unclear.
Brookings: Feds should step in to solve port congestion issues
The Brookings Institution said the federal government should step in to help big U.S. ports implement a coordinated policy to address port congestion, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Brookings says that 85 percent of U.S. imports and exports move through only 25 port complexes, resulting in traffic and other delays that make transporting goods more costly.
The researchers say legislators regard ports as local infrastructure rather than national assets — and allocate resources accordingly. This ignores the fact that congestion at ports can affect farmers and other shippers 1,000 miles away, according to Adie Tomer, an associate fellow with Brookings and co-author of the study.
"The federal government really needs to have a national freight policy that helps everyone gets their goods to market, domestic or international," Tomer said.
The Brookings report calls for targeted investments by the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund to the ports most in need of infrastructure improvements. Customs, border protection and transportation links between ports and major metro areas are among the categories that need smarter spending, Brookings says. The analysts advise using targeted funding rather than continuing the current trend of spreading resources evenly across ports and other infrastructure.
Port of L.A. signs agreement with Guangzhou and Auckland ports
The Port of Los Angeles has signed a memorandum of understanding with the ports of Auckland, New Zealand, and Guangzhou, China. The MOU establishes the Tripartite Ports Alliance, which ushers in a new level of cooperation between the three ports that started working together in November of 2014.
"We commend Mayor Garcetti’s leadership and foresight in helping to form this alliance during his trade mission to Asia last year," said Ambassador Vilma Martinez, Los Angeles Harbor Commission president. "The Port of Los Angeles looks forward to collaborating with the ports of Auckland and Guangzhou on a series of initiatives, including promoting commercial and business opportunities as well as sharing innovative best practices."
Los Angeles, Guangzhou and Auckland are sister cities and strategic trading partners that share similar economic goals. The newly formed alliance includes boosting cooperation to foster trade, innovation and investment opportunities between the public and private sectors of the three regions, according to a POLA statement.
The port said the objectives of the tripartite agreement include sharing best practices and expertise; improving communication and collaboration on investments, technologies and environmental policies; and collaborating to improve capabilities of each port in order to boost their respective regional economies.
Man sustains injuries after pinned between container and train
A contract worker suffered severe injuries in an accident at the Norfolk Southern Bison Intermodal Terminal in Sloan, N.Y. on Friday morning (6-12).
Police say a call came in just before 5 a.m. regarding a man who was pinned between a box and train. The worker reportedly got pinned when a yard tractor moved the box from the train and made a sharp turn.
The 29-year-old man reportedly suffered severe injuries to his leg. First responders brought him to the Erie County Medical Center.
Norfolk Southern says the cause of the incident is under investigation.
BNSF Railway Company announced new service schedules for its domestic intermodal customers to and from Chicago and St. Paul, Minn. to the Pacific Northwest. The new schedules will take effect Sept. 14.
After making record capital expenditures along the Northern Corridor route, BNSF said it could offer improved domestic intermodal service schedules. The railroad says its new schedules feature expedited service seven days a week for Westbound traffic and six days a week for Eastbound traffic — one day more than is currently offered in the marketplace for this region. BNSF will also be the only rail operator to offer expedited service to and from Seattle.
"From 2013 through the end of this year BNSF will have invested nearly $3.5 billion in our Northern Region to maintain and improve our rail network to better serve our customers’ transportation needs," said Katie Farmer, BNSF consumer products group vice president. "BNSF is now running quicker and more consistently. The added capacity and maintenance work we regularly conduct is progressing as planned and will generate significant benefits to our customers for years to come."
JAXPORT unloads first LNG containers for TOTE
This week, workers at JAXPORT's Blount Island Marine Terminal unloaded the first shipment of new 53-foot Wide-Top Pick (WTP) cargo containers for use on TOTE’s new Marlin Class ships, the world’s first LNG-powered container ships. TOTE is the parent company of Jacksonville-based Sea Star Line, a JAXPORT tenant for more than 20 years.
The containers arrived at Blount Island from Qingdao, China on the Saga Navigator. The investment in this new equipment highlights TOTE’s commitment to the Puerto Rican trades.
TOTE’s first LNG ship, the Isla Bella, was launched from General Dynamics NASSCO's shipyard in San Diego in April and will call at the Jacksonville port in the fall. The second ship is currently under construction in San Diego and will arrive at the port in early 2016.
Both ships will be home ported at JAXPORT and will serve the Puerto Rico trade lane.
Port of Los Angeles volumes up slightly in May
May 2015 containerized cargo volumes at the Port of Los Angeles were up .8 percent compared year-over-year at 694,791 TEUs, according to a port statement.
Imports decreased .8 percent to 348,427 TEUs in May 2015. Exports declined 3.5 percent, from 158,473 TEUs in May 2014 to 152,917 TEUs in May 2015. Combined, total loaded imports and exports decreased 1.7 percent, from 509,876 TEUs in May 2014 to 501,344 TEUs in May 2015.
For the first five months of 2015, overall volumes came in at 3,181,718 TEUs, down 4 percent year-over-year.
May cargo volume figures have not yet been released for the Port of Long Beach.
MOL launches "MOL Auto Carrier Express" brand
MOL President Koichi Muto recently announced the establishment of "MOL Auto Carrier Express" as a global brand in the car carrier service, one of its major business fields. MOL will start to use MOL ACE beginning July 1, 2015.
MOL says its car carrier service network includes offices in about 140 nations around the world, and the MOL Group operates about 120 car carriers to meet its customers' global transport needs. These vessels transport other large cargoes such as machinery and trailers used in construction as well as automobiles, buses and trucks.
MOL also provides a broad range of related services such as overland transport of completed vehicles, coastal transport, and terminal operations in 6 nations, mainly in rapidly growing Asian markets.
In April of this year, the shipping line announced the next-generation of car carriers, the FLEXIE series, which adopt a new deck design. The "MOL ACE" brand recalls MOL's long history of vessels with "Ace" in the name, reflecting ecofriendly design and higher levels of safety and technology, according to the company statement.
Maine Marine Academy students rescue novelist at sea
A South Carolina novelist lost his storm-battered sailboat during a failed Atlantic crossing and was rescued by students aboard a maritime college training ship.
Michael Hurley's 30-foot ketch, The Prodigal, was abandoned and left drifting 500 miles south of Newfoundland —2,000 miles short of his goal of Ireland — when he was rescued last week by students and staff from the Maine Maritime Academy.
The academy's training vessel has responded to maritime emergencies in the past, but this marked the first rescue by students on a training cruise, according to Nathan Gandy, commandant in charge of midshipmen. The vessel returned to Portland, Maine on Saturday.
Hurley said his boat had been battered by back-to-back storms and was taking on water about 1,200 miles into his trip to Ireland.
Hurley, who lives outside Charleston, S.C., named his boat for his first novel, The Prodigal. The vessel was presumed to have sunk.