Monday, June 17, 2013
Ag shippers' service and pricing expectations vary
By Richard Knee
While shippers of agricultural products expect high-quality service from ocean carriers, not all of them are willing to pay extra for it, comments from panelists at an industry conference in San Francisco on Thursday revealed.
One of them said obtaining premium service is difficult because her company gets only a moment's notice on a shipment's origin and destination. "We don't know where our cargo is coming from or where it's going, so it's hard to plan" with carriers, Monica Noyes, North America logistics manager for Cargill Cotton, said at the annual gathering of the Agriculture Transportation Coalition, a Washington-based advocacy group for exporters and importers of farm, ranch and forest products.
Cargill Cotton minimizes the risk of space non-availability by continually booking six to eight weeks in advance, she said.
The roughly 300 attendees at the conference included AgTC members that among them ship upward of 900,000 TEUs of cargo annually, Peter A. Friedmann, the organization's executive director, said at the start of the two-day event.
Friedmann later declined to estimate the how much volume AgTC's entire membership generates, saying carriers should not use the volumes of individual members as a criterion for the service quality level. "The guy who ships less than 100 TEUs a year deserves the same service as the guy who ships 10,000," he said.
Panelists' answers varied when Friedmann asked them if they would be willing to pay carriers 5 percent or more extra for guaranteed delivery and for other added services such as dedicated communication lines and scanned bills of lading.
On the guaranteed delivery question, Noyes said she didn't see a big difference between the shipping rate and the value of service.
"We'd be willing to pay a little more," said Greg Jackson, Asia business manager of Border Valley Trading, which exports compressed hay products.
Lynnette Keffer, a licensed customs broker and chief executive officer of J&K Fresh, said she couldn't speak officially for her company's importer clients but she thought they "would be willing to pay a little bit more" for delivery guarantees. J&K, based in Inglewood, Calif., is a logistics provider specializing in perishables.
"The market defines the rate," said Diogo Lobo, head of international logistics for JBS USA, which ships beef, pork, poultry, dairy products, hides and live cattle. "Service is not a differentiation for us any more. All of the carriers provide great service."
APL, OOCL are ag shippers' favorite ocean carriers
By Richard Knee
APL Ltd. has for the second straight year emerged as the favorite shipping line among a group of agricultural sector exporters and importers, with Orient Overseas Container Line finishing a close second in the organization's annual ocean carrier performance survey.
The results of the seventh annual survey were announced Thursday at the annual conference in San Francisco of the Agriculture Transportation Coalition, an industry advocacy group based in Washington.
Survey participants judged 19 vessel operators in 11 performance categories. The first- and second-place picks in each:
APL and OOCL for availability of the correct types of containers when and where needed.
NY manufacturing growth rises slightly in June, orders down
Growth in New York manufacturing improved modestly, according to the June 2013 Empire State Manufacturing Survey. While the general business conditions index rose nine points to 7.8 from minus 1.43 in May, much better than analysts' forecasts of a zero reading, most other indicators in the survey were weak.
New orders and employment fell to their lowest levels in five months, a report from the New York Federal Reserve said Monday. The new orders index fell to the lowest level since January at minus 6.69 from minus 1.17, and inventories dropped to minus 11.29 from minus 7.95. The index for the number of employees slipped to zero from 5.68.
The New York survey of manufacturing plants is regarded as one of the earliest indicators of factory conditions throughout the U.S.
For more of the Reuters story: reuters.com
Shipping magnate Paul Soros dies at 87
Shipping tycoon Paul Soros, when he was a young engineer, saw that large cargo vessels could not approach shallow water piers to load and unload, and came up to the concept of taking the piers to the ships.
As a boy in Hungary, he observed that buoys were being used to floating piers into the Danube, and replicated that system in the U.S.
Soros, brother to George, one of the richest men in the world, died Saturday at his home in Manhattan.
Paul Soros created Soros Associates, which has dominated the port building industry and altered global trade patterns, according to The New York Times. For example, Brazil's national mining company used Soros designs at the port at Tubarao to become the largest iron ore producer in the world. Soros' company either designed or renovated seven of the largest bulk ports worldwide for bauxite, iron ore and coal.
Soros Associates became a leading global provider of port planning, engineering and installations. Soros acknowledged that a variation of his buoy system had been used for oil tankers, but pumping oil from ship to port is a process far different from unloading raw materials like iron ore and coal.
For more of The New York Times story: nytimes.com
RO-RO ship sinks off Philippines, killing 2
Two passengers died, and 58 were rescued after a roll-on and roll-off vessel sank off Masbate early Friday, according to the Philippine Coast Guard.
M/V Lady of Mt. Carmel of the Cebu-based Medallion Shipping Lines sank past early morning Friday along Burias Pass between Pio Duran, Albay and Aroroy, Masbate, according to Commodore Manuel Natalio Abinunan, commanding officer of Naval Forces of Southern Luzon.
The Pioduran Police said the vessel's engine reportedly stopped about one mile off the Burias Island. Because of big waves, the ropes that tied the buses and the truck loosened, causing the vehicles to go to one side. The weight of three vehicles caused the ship to tilt on its side and sink.
For more of the Sun Star story: sunstar.com.ph
Tuesday, June 18, 2013
Judge throws out NLRB ruling that awarded Port of Portland reefer jobs to electrician union
A U.S. district judge ruled that the National Labor Relations Board had overstepped its authority in August 2012 when by awarding two Port of Portland jobs to members of the electrician's union rather than to longshoremen.
U.S. District Judge Michael Mosman issued an order throwing out the NLRB decision, which found electricians were entitled to plug, unplug and monitor refrigerated containers. A dockworker strike related to the dispute at the Portland's Terminal 6 led to mile-long lines of trucks last summer, ultimately causing cargo ships to bypass Portland.
The judge's order is seen as a win for the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, which had asserted the two jobs in question should be under ILWU jurisdiction, and for the Pacific Maritime Association, which represents employers in West Coast labor negotiations. The PMA had argued against the NLRB ruling in a lawsuit, saying the board had illegally expanded its jurisdiction to public employees not covered in the National Labor Relations Act.
"This is an extraordinary step for the District Court to take, and it highlights the fact that the Board had no right to interject itself in this manner on behalf of ICTSI," said Leal Sundet, an ILWU West Coast committeeman, in a news release.
The ruling is more problematic for the Port of Portland and terminal operator ICTSI Oregon.
"It doesn't change anything on the ground," said Bill Wyatt, Port of Portland executive director, asserting that the port won't relinquish the jobs being performed by members of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. He said issues related to the two jobs are being appealed to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals through cases handled by U.S. District Judge Michael Simon.
For more of The Oregonian story: oregonlive.com
JAXPORT names new CEO
The board of the Jacksonville Port Authority voted to offer the post of JAXPORT chief executive officer to Horizon Lines senior executive Brian W. Taylor. Contract negotiations are underway, according to a JPA statement.
Maersk, CMA CGM and MSC partner on East-West trades
CMA CGM, Maersk Line and MSC Mediterranean Shipping Company are forming the P3 Network, an operational alliance on the East - West trades, to optimize operations and service in the face of overcapacity and declining volume.
The P3 Network will operate at a capacity of 2.6 million TEUs—initially sailing 255 vessels on 29 loops—on three trade lanes: Asia - Europe, Trans-Pacific and Trans-Atlantic.
The P3 Network vessels will be operated independently by a joint vessel-operating center, but the three lines will continue to have wholly independent sales, marketing and customer service functions.
Each of the lines will offer more weekly sailings in their combined Network than they do individually. As an example, the P3 Network plans to offer 8 weekly sailings between Asia and Northern Europe and will offer more direct ports of call.
The lines intend to begin P3 Network operations in the second quarter of 2014, after obtaining the approval of relevant competition and other regulatory authorities. Finalization and signing of the contracts is planned for the 4th quarter of 2013.
Maersk Line will contribute with about 42 percent of the capacity at approximately 1.1 million TEUs; MSC will contribute approximately 34 percent at 0.9 million TEUs; and CMA CGM will contribute 24 percent at 0.6 million TEUs of capacity.
Drewry report: Container industry grows slowly
The global container fleet grew by 5.3 percent in 2012, adding 1.6 million TEUs for a total of 32.9 million TEUs, according to the latest annual Container Census from Drewry Maritime Research. This was smaller but "less erratic" industry growth than experienced in 2011 or 2010.
"Growth in 2012 was dented by the stubborn presence of more than 500,000 TEUs of newbuild equipment awaiting collection from factories," said Andrew Foxcroft, editor of Container Census. "As a result, the average monthly rate of new container pick-up was lower than in 2011, even though the surplus never rose as high as the 900,000 TEUs averaged throughout the middle part of 2011.
Foxcroft said fleet growth was 8 percent in 2011, and more than 7 percent in 2010, when container demand went strong to weak in less than a year. In 2010, the uptake of new containers surged after the collapse of 2009, and then weakened again from early in 2011 as peak-season demand failed to materialize at past levels. This fluctuation, he said, had a dramatic impact new dry freight container prices, which soared to a 20-year high during 2010-11 before coming down again late in 2011.
A key problem is that the existing newbuild stockpile has risen again in early 2013, to top one million TEUs by the second quarter. The annualized price level is also forecast to fall further to $2,400 per CEU (Capital Equivalent Unit – a cost measure per TEU, which would be its lowest point since 2008-09.
Long Beach harbor commission votes to stop sponsoring local political groups
The Port of Long Beach harbor leaders voted in a policy this week that would cut off sponsorship dollars to local organizations that have been involved in Long Beach politics in the last two years.
The Long Beach Board of Harbor Commissioners narrowly approved a policy prohibiting sponsorships and donations to groups that have either "opposed or endorsed candidates or measures in any Long Beach election within the last two years, except for sponsorships or fundraisers for 501c(3) charitable purposes." Commissioners Dines, Drummond and Commissioner Nick Sramek supported the new policy, while Wise and Fields opposed it.
Under the policy, the Harbor Department would be unable to sponsor of certain events such as the annual State of the Port Address, which is presented by Long Beach Area Chamber of Commerce, an organization with a political action committee.
Commissioner Rich Dines, who introduced the policy, said he is not generally opposed to funding sponsorships that come forward for charitable causes.
"(I'm) just really trying to separate the harbor department funds from city politics," he said. He added that those funds should go toward investing into building the port for the community's benefit, not politics.
Board President Susan E. Anderson Wise said the policy is too broad, adding that it is inevitable to overlap with groups that get involved in local political activities.
Randy Gordon, president and CEO of the Long Beach Area Chamber of Commerce, urged the board to vote no on the policy. He said that the Port of Long Beach recently provided a $20,000 sponsorship to the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce, which has a political action committee that has spent thousands of dollars involving the latest Los Angeles election.
"What kind of message does it send for this body to give that chamber $20,000 in sponsorships and to pass this policy today and give our chamber zero?" he said. "How does the local business industry feel about that?"
Container ship breaks into two pieces while at sea, crew saved
The MV MOL Comfort, a Bahamas flag ship, broke into two at high sea around 840 nautical miles from Mumbai on Monday.
The Indian Coast Guard and Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre, Mumbai, along with other international agencies, rescued the 26 crewmembers who had jumped out of the ship into lifeboats. The crew was comprised of 12 Russians and 14 Filipinos.
A coast guard official said the container ship, on its way to Jeddah from Singapore, was carrying 4,500 containers. Cargo from the broken ship scattered in the water and oil spilled into the sea.
"The vessel's hull broke into two when the ship was in Yemen waters," said the Coast Guard official. "The crew members abandoned the ship and boarded two life rafts and one lifeboat."
For more of the Times of India story: timesofindia.indiatimes.com
Wednesday, June 19, 2013
House Subcommittee approves $1B for FY2014 Maintenance Dredging
The U.S. House Energy and Water Subcommittee has approved using $1 billion from the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund to dredge U.S. navigation channels and harbors as part of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' fiscal 2014 budget. If the Senate passes the bill, this would be the largest regular annual appropriation for navigation maintenance.
The House Appropriations Committee issued a statement saying that, in prioritizing funding, the subcommittee chose to "invest in critical infrastructure projects to protect lives and property and support economic growth."
"While still less than the need for full use of the Harbor Maintenance Tax (HMT), this funding amount in a tightly constrained budget is a positive step toward ensuring that the HMT is fully utilized to maintain our nation's federal navigation channels at their constructed dimensions," said Kurt Nagle, AAPA president and CEO. "We greatly appreciate the leadership of Chairman Frelinghuysen and the subcommittee for recognizing this important national priority."
The appropriation is $110 million more than the Administration requested in its fiscal 2014 budget earlier this year. The annual revenue collected from the HMT for maintenance dredging is approximately $1.6 billion.
According to an AAPA statement, the association has urged Congress to utilize 100 percent of the Harbor Maintenance Tax for its intended purposes rather than allow the money to build up in the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund, which is forecast to contain more than $9 billion by the end of fiscal 2014.
U.S. coal exports set monthly record in March
Coal exports from the U.S. in March 2013 totaled 13.6 million short tons, nearly 0.9 million short tons more than the previous monthly export high in June 2012, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
EIA is forecasting a third consecutive year of more than 100 million short tons of coal exports in 2013, following annual exports in 2011 of 107.3 million short tons and record annual exports in 2012 of 125.7 million short tons.
A surge in Asian demand contributed to the record level of March coal exports. Of the record export tonnage, 6.3 million short tons were steam coal and 7.4 million short tons were metallurgical coal.
Five customs districts accounted for 90 percent of the coal exported from the U.S. during March: Norfolk, Virginia; New Orleans, Louisiana; Baltimore, Maryland; Mobile, Alabama; and Houston-Galveston, Texas. All located on the Atlantic Ocean or Gulf of Mexico, and have access to high tech coal-loading infrastructure.
The top five destinations of exported coal during March were China, the Netherlands (a large transshipment point), the United Kingdom, South Korea, and Brazil.
Port of L.A. plans $500M marine research center
On Monday Los Angeles port officials unveiled final plans for a $500 million marine research center on a 100-year-old pier along San Pedro's waterfront.
"It's going to transform the Port of Los Angeles from a place that moves cargo to a place that not only moves cargo but also moves ideas," said Geraldine Knatz, the port executive director who initiated plans for the center.
The AltaSea marine research center will take 15-20 years to complete, renovating a string of old port warehouses at the outer harbor into a "world-class urban marine research and innovation center," according to port officials.
Funding includes a $25 million gift from the Annenberg Foundation to begin the development, which will be constructed in two phases. A capital fundraising campaign will be launched to raise the remainder of the $500 million.
Ultimately, AltaSea will utilize 28 acres of warehouse and wharf space to create a campus with circulating seawater labs; offices, classrooms, lecture halls and support facilities; an interpretive center; and the opportunity to develop "the world's largest seawater wave tank" for studying tsunamis and rogue waves.
For more of the Daily Breeze story: dailybreeze.com
Hampton Roads container volume up 7 percent in May
Hampton Roads' container traffic in May was higher than any month so far this year, according to the Virginia Port Authority.
The port handled the equivalent of 191,368 TEUs in May, the authority said, up 7.2 percent from 178,584 year-over-year. April's total was the fourth highest for any month in the port's history, the statement said.
The VPA said an ongoing surge in containers moved by rail helped drive the cargo increase.
For more of the Virginia-Pilot story: hamptonroads.com
Port of Olympia to consider $3M settlement from International Paper
This month, the Port of Olympia commissioners will consider a $3M settlement from corporate giant International Paper for environmental clean up.
The settlement springs from a one-year effort to get International Paper to contribute to the cost of environmental clean up needed for the 15-acre East Bay redevelopment site International Paper the company was identified as the successor company to many that used to operate on East Bay, including the Olympia Veneer Co., St. Paul and Tacoma Lumber Co., and the St. Regis Paper Co., which sold the properties to the port in 1972.
For more of the The Olympian story: theolympian.com
Thursday, June 20, 2013
Drewry likes Orient Overseas as top container shipping investment
Drewry Maritime Equity Research's analysis of the financial health of the shipping industry is grim, with the global container market under severe strain and shareholder value eroded. The firm evaluated three of China's top container carriers in terms of their investment viability.
Drewry said their current top stock, with a positive valuation and outlook, was Orient Overseas. The research company took a cautious stance on both Neptune Orient Lines and China Shipping Container Lines.
Drewry likes Orient Overseas as a company that remains among the few profitable carriers in the industry. Driven by a strong management focus on achieving higher yields and cost optimization, OOIL has delivered sustained profitability and has been consistent in generating higher ROE than its sector peers, according to Drewry, citing a 20 percent upside on the shipping line's fair value at HKD 58.
For NOL, current valuations are deemed fair and turnaround is unlikely before 2014, Drewry advises. Drewry expects NOL to remain at a loss in FY13 and its weakened balance sheet and high net gearing are key concerns. However, Drewry says APL Terminals is a hidden gem in the company's asset portfolio and an opportune divestment of terminal assets while retaining control will potentially add tremendous value for shareholders. Drewry says fair value for APL Terminals is at $720 million with a high case valuation reaching as much as $1 billion. Drewry pegs fair value for NOL at SGD 1.22 with a 14 percent upside.
China Shipping Container Lines shares are trading near the bottom of their recent trading range but Drewry views CSCL as a risky investment, expecting it to remain unprofitable in FY13 despite building in a slight recovery in freight rates. Drewry believes that CSCL's high exposure to spot markets in key long haul trades is its main weakness and will underperform most of its peers and thus warrants a cautious view. Drewry's fair value for CSCL is HKD 2.24 at a 23 percent upside.
"Even as the market awaits the fate of 1st July Asia-Europe GRIs, the sheer collapse in Asia-Europe freight rates in the past two months shows how fickle the industry's demand supply balance remains," said Rahul Kapoor, senior analyst at Drewry Maritime Equity Research stated. "Short term, industry profitability has become highly volatile, driven not only by underlying supply demand dynamics but increasingly by carriers' actions with respect to short-term capacity management.
Report: U.S. supply chain and logistics industries' growth slows
Total U.S. business logistics costs rose in 2012 to $1.33 trillion, a 3.4 percent increase from the previous year, remaining at 8.5 percent of the U.S. gross domestic product according to the an annual logistics report from The Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals, presented by Penske Logistics.
"In spite of the 'new normal' business environment, we remain optimistic and see upside growth potential from this economic uncertainty especially for our core dedicated transportation, distribution center management and transportation management solutions," said Penske Logistics President Marc Althen. "We see more shippers continuing to outsource various elements of their supply chains to logistics providers to further reduce warehousing, trucking and shipping costs while improving service levels."
China manufacturing hits nine-month low
China's manufacturing is contracting at a faster rate this month, adding to pressure in the nation's economy and fiscal system as a cash crunch drives benchmark money market rates to records.
The preliminary reading of 48.3 for a Purchasing Managers' Index released this week by HSBC Holdings and Markit Economics compares with the 49.1 median estimate in a Bloomberg News survey of 15 economists. May's final reading of 49.2 was the first reading below 50 since October 2012, indicating contraction.
"If market rates remain at such high levels, the only scenario for the Chinese economy is a hard landing," said Xu Gao, chief economist with Everbright Securities Co. in Beijing. "That possibility is growing now -- it seems the leadership is deliberately taking a wait-and-see stance to see how low China growth can be."
The manufacturing downturn will further test how far Premier Li Keqiang is willing to go in giving up short-term expansion for the sake of more sustainable, long-term growth, Bloomberg reports.
Industrial production rose a less-than-forecast 9.2 percent from a year earlier and factory-gate prices fell for a 15th month in May, while export gains were at a 10-month low and imports dropped.
New-home prices rose at the quickest pace in more than two years in major cities last month, constraining the ability of policy makers to ease credit in response to weakening economic growth.
"Beijing prefers to use reforms rather than stimulus to sustain growth," Qu Hongbin, HSBC's Hong Kong-based chief China economist, said in a statement. "While reforms can boost long-term growth prospects, they will have a limited impact in the short term. As such we expect slightly weaker growth" this quarter, he said.
For more of the Bloomberg story: bloomberg.com
Port of L.A. approves $400M in capital improvements for FY2013-14
The Port of Lost Angeles Harbor Commissioners approved their 2013-14 budget last week, including approximately $400 million in capital spending projects, or 37 percent of their total budget, according to a port statement.
"Developing and maintaining a world-class infrastructure is, and continues to be, the overarching strategic priority for the Port of Los Angeles," said Harbor Commission President Cindy Miscikowski. "Capital improvements and improved efficiency are essential if we're to maximize cargo flow as well as maintain our position as the nation's number one container port."
Over $380 million will be used for container terminal and transportation enhancements. The Tra-Pac Terminal will receive more than $99 million for land improvements to facilitate future terminal automation and also for an on-dock rail facility, which will result in all Port of L.A. container terminals being equipped with on-dock rail. China Shipping Terminal will get construction improvements, including 375 feet of wharf and backland improvements, to the tune of $41.5 million.
Approximately $96 million has been set aside to install plug-in shore power stations at key container terminals including APMT, APL, Evergreen, Yang Ming and China Shipping. Almost $78 million will be spent on construction at the Berth 200 rail yard, and $33.2 million has been set aside for the South Wilmington Grade Separation project.
"Adoption of this budget allows the Port of Los Angeles to remain competitive, financially strong and self-sustaining, especially as we face increasing and intense competition from ports around the globe," said Port Executive Director Geraldine Knatz, Ph.D.
Belgium arrests two for hacking container terminal websites to facilitate drug imports
Belgium arrested two people suspected of hacking two "large" container terminal operators' websites to enable narcotics imports through the port of Antwerp, according to Dutch authorities.
Computers operated by shipping companies and agents were also manipulated by installing malicious software hidden in an e-mail attachment.
For more of the Business Week story: businessweek.com