Monday, June 24, 2013
Port of Long Beach approves record $788M in capital spending
The Port of Long Beach Board Harbor Commissioners approved a $1.02 billion budget that includes record $788 million in capital spending for fiscal year 2014. According to the port, the spending plan will help boost its competitiveness by rebuilding and replacing outdated facilities and infrastructure.
Major infrastructure projects, such as the Middle Harbor terminal and Gerald Desmond Bridge replacement pushed the overall budget up by 6.6 percent compared to the current fiscal year. The budget also includes operating revenue of $375 million, the highest ever.
"Our carefully planned 10-year capital improvement program represents a significant investment in this Port, and this annual budget is just one part of that," said Al Moro, the Port's acting executive director. "We're working to maintain this Port's ability to sustain economic activity and jobs in Long Beach and the region."
The budget will be presented in July to the Long Beach City Council for approval. The approved budget adds 52 new full-time positions, to include 33 in the Engineering Bureau to oversee the ongoing capital improvements and 12 in the Security Division to enhance operational integration with the Long Beach Police Department.
The budget also earmarks $73 million for environmental programs to improve air and water quality, as well as to protect wildlife habitat.
Mexico to invest $4.34B in port projects
Mexico's transport and communications ministry is planning $4.34 billion in infrastructure projects for the port sector, according to a release from the Secretaria de Comunicaciones y Transportes.
Projects include building two new ports, six port expansions, 12 specialized terminals, a cruise ship terminal and infrastructure for short-sea shipping, said SCT ports director Guillermo Ruiz de Teresa.
Some $747 million will be invested in projects pledged by President Enrique Peña Nieto during his election campaign, while the remainder will be invested in "strategic projects for the sector," said Ruiz de Teresa.
Key projects are expected to include the expansion of the Veracruz and Guaymas ports and construction of a cruise ship terminal in Puerto Vallarta.
For more of the BN Americas story: bnamericas.com
Supply chain security has its down side, ag shippers say
By Richard Knee
Government-certified supply chain security has a "be careful what you wish for" aspect: cost.
That concern surfaced late during the annual two-day gathering of an agricultural product shippers' organization in San Francisco late last week.
Participation in the U.S. government's supply chain security program, called the Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism or CTPAT, offers advantages including extended deadlines for shipment document filing and speed of cargo movement through origin and destination gateways.
But as some shippers at last week's conference pointed out, the cost of getting a supply chain secure enough for CTPAT certification can be prohibitive, even to the point of knocking some companies out of markets either for competitive reasons or where the importing country insists that all products come from exporters participating in the program.
The issue arose during a session on regulatory compliance issues for exporters as the conference, sponsored by the Washington-based Agriculture Transportation Coalition, was close to ending. AgTC advocates on transportation, logistics and supply chain issues affecting exporters and importers of farm, ranch and forest products.
After participants had heard updates from Census Bureau and Customs and Border Protection Bureau officials, AgTC executive director Peter A. Friedmann said some big companies can spend as much as $2 million to become CTPAT-compliant, and they cannot necessarily pass that cost onto customers and remain competitive, because agricultural products can be sourced just about anywhere in the world.
Dan Baldwin, executive director of cargo and conveyance security for Customs, replied that CTPAT participation was still voluntary and he was puzzled by exporters' "reticence."
"All of us are very low-margin businesses," Perry M. Bourne of Tyson Fresh Meats, Inc., answered. "It's all about this extra cost."
Major U.S. trading partners such as China and Russia "are not exactly our best friends. They might insist that we be CTPAT-compliant and that's where we could lose," said Bourne, who is director of international transportation and rail operations and of supply chain management for the company, a Tyson Foods.
Wallenius Wilhelmsen Logistics appoints new CEO
Christopher J. Connor, former deputy CEO and chief commercial officer, is the new president and CEO of Wallenius Wilhelmsen Logistics. Connor succeeds Arild B. Iversen, who now serves as consultant to the parent companies and WWL.
"Throughout this time, Chris Connor has been a central member of the WWL executive team as well as deputy CEO, making the factory-to-dealer strategy a reality. He knows the company and our customers well and has broad international experience in his field."
With over 32 years of experience in the logistics industry, Connor has held a range of positions, including president of WWL Americas and CEO of WWL Vehicle Services Americas, based in Woodcliff Lake, USA and COO Ocean Services and Global Head of Commercial, based in Oslo, Norway. Connor also served in commercial and executive positions in Asia and Europe.
Shipping company TMT files for bankruptcy
Taiwan Marine Transportation, a large global shipping company, announced that it has filed for bankruptcy protection with the federal court in Houston in an effort to stop its creditors from taking its vessels registered overseas into custody.
Twenty-three entities collectively known as TMT, whose 17 vessels transport cargo from oil to vehicles, filed for Chapter 11 protection from creditors on Thursday with the U.S. bankruptcy court in Houston, court filings show. The company said it was unable to restructure its debt in current unfavorable industry conditions.
TMT said it had $1.52 billion of assets and $1.46 billion of liabilities, and wants court approval to hire the restructuring specialist AlixPartners as its financial adviser.
Lisa Donahue, co-head of AlixPartners' restructuring practice, in a court filing said that in the face of "extremely low charter rates" after the financial crisis, TMT began to face difficulty servicing its debt, and "was unable to take possession of several of its newbuild orders."
For more of the Reuters story: reuters.com
Tuesday, June 25, 2013
Report: World trade volume up 1.4 percent in April
World trade volume increased in April after two straight months of decline, reflecting modest growth in the global economy.
In its monthly report, the Netherlands Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis, also known as the CPB, said trade volumes rose by 1.4 percent in April, having declined by 0.1 percent in March.
Exports from the U.S. rose by 2.0 percent, while imports to the world's largest economy grew by 3.5 percent. Among developing economies as a whole, exports rose by 1.7 percent, and imports by 2.1 percent.
The pattern of trade growth suggests Europe remained the weakest part of the global economy, preventing a more rapid pickup in activity. Exports from the 17 countries that use the euro decreased 1.0 percent, while imports fell 0.3 percent.
CPB's figures provide the earliest available measure of global trade, and are closely monitored by policy makers, including a number of central banks.
The April trade figures are consistent with other economic indicators, which have recently indicated a revival in the U.S. and Japan.
For more of the Wall Street Journal article: online.wsj.com
Jacksonville Port Authority elects new board chairman
AT&T senior executive Joe York will be the next chairman of the Jacksonville Port Authority Board of Directors, succeeding James Citrano on July 1.
York is Vice President of Legislative and Regulatory Affairs for AT&T Telecommunications, where he has led the development of AT&T's public policy strategies since 2005. Prior to that he served as regional director of corporate and external affairs at BellSouth Telecommunications. A former legislative assistant in the Florida House of Representatives, he joined JAXPORT's Board of Directors in 2010.
Along with York, the board elected a slate of officers last week for 2013-2014.
Also elected to the board were John Anderson as vice-chairman, John Falconetti as treasurer, and Dr. John Newman as secretary. Board member Robert Spohrer was selected to serve as the port's liaison to the North Florida Transportation Planning Organization. James Citrano will continue as a board member following his one-year tenure as chair.
Maersk and Ningbo Port set up $673M joint venture
A.P. Moller-Maersk and China's Ningo Port Co. are setting out to expand Ningbo, the sixth largest port in the world, with a total investment of $673 million, according to a filing to the Shanghai Stock Exchange in June.
Ningbo Port Group and APM Terminals will set up a joint venture to invest and operate berths 3, 4 and 5, creating a one-kilometer quay in Ningbo's Meishan Container Terminal, according to the statement.
For more of the China Daily story: europe.chinadaily.com.cn
Port of Vancouver, Wash., seeks approval for coal transfer terminal
The Port of Vancouver, Washington, is hoping to create a crude coal transfer terminal to increase its bottom line and create jobs. But the coal terminal, which involves heavy rail expansion, would need approval from Washington's eco-friendly governor instead of the port's Board of Commissioners.
Tesoro Corp. and Savage Companies have offered a plan designed to initially handle 120,000 barrels of oil per day, with the potential to expand to 280,000 barrels. Under a regulatory framework, the companies must secure final approval from Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee.
Gov. Inslee recently signed a law to reduce emissions triggered by coal and oil, but port officials remain hopeful, drafting terms of a lease agreement they hope they can put before the commissioners in late July.
The port's executive director, Todd Coleman, said this is the first time the port has considered a project that must undergo a public review by the state's Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council and be signed by the governor.
A Tesoro official said the project will create hundreds of construction and permanent jobs for local workers will increase demand for "the North American manufacturing of rail cars."
Environmentalists are worried about oil spills in the Columbia River Gorge, which is the most likely route for oil-hauling trains.
For more of The Columbian story: tdn.com
Hazmat containers catch fire on straddle carrier at Port Elizabeth
Two containers holding hazardous materials were extinguished yesterday after catching fire on a straddle carrier at Port Elizabeth, according to port officials.
After the fire started on the straddle carrier, it spread to two containers on the carrier, said Elizabeth spokesperson Kelly Vence. Both containers held hazardous material, though officials were unsure exactly what was inside, Vence said.
There were a number of explosions, according to Vence, but they were caused by mechanisms inside the straddle carrier, not the containers.
For more of the Star-Ledger story: nj.com
Thursday, June 27, 2013
Moody's downgrades Port of Seattle bonds
The Port of Seattle's fiscal position is poor and likely to get worse, said Moody's Investors Service, as it shifted its official outlook on the port's bonds from stable to negative last week. The Moody report stuck with the existing ratings on the port's $2.7 billion debt.
"We do think that there is some strain emerging," said Moody spokesman David Jacobson, noting the port's bond ratings could be downgraded in the next one to two years if it doesn't increase its cash flow.
Declining shipping revenue and an impasse in negotiations of airline-lease fees are the main reasons for the poor forecast, the report said. The Port of Seattle operates Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.
In April, port staff told commissioners they were nixing some planned expenditures in 2013 because of the ongoing negotiations with the airlines and a lease agreement made with Hanjin for Terminal 46. The report said the Hanjin deal will "result in a reduction of Seaport revenues for 2013 and in future years."
Port spokesman Jason Kelly said the port is working to address its challenges.
For example, in May, Port CEO Tay Yoshitani delegated some of his daily duties to his deputy chief executive officer so he could focus on port promotion and attracting new shipping lines.
Moody's specifically cited the fact that four shipping lines, known as the Grand Alliance, moved to the Port of Tacoma last summer. That left a big hole in the Port's shipping business.
A recent deal with Hanjin opened up other leases at the Seattle port for renegotiation, which is expected to result in "substantially lower revenues," Moody's wrote.
The rating company also criticized the Port's inability to make a deal with airlines. The Port has been negotiating since December 2011 with airlines, trying to agree on rates and fees for services the airport provides, such as security.
Moody's did point out a few strengths: The Port has a long track record of well-managed finances, a proactive Port commission and "a vibrant and resilient area economy."
"The global competition for our port-related jobs in Puget Sound is real," said Commissioner Bill Bryant. "This is validation of that. It's not serious unless we ignore it. It's a wake-up call."
For more of the Seattle Times story: seattletimes.com
U.S. consumer spending rebounds in May
U.S. consumer spending rose in May following the largest fall in more than three years, an indication that the biggest part of the economy will strengthen growth this quarter.
"Consumer spending will continue to be the driver of the recovery," said Tom Simons, an economist at Jefferies LLC in New York, who accurately predicted the gain in purchases. "The second half looks better. The labor market is continuing to improve. The housing rebound will help as well."
Household purchases, 70 percent of the economy, increased 0.3 percent after a 0.3 percent decline in April that was the biggest since September 2009, according to Commerce Department figures. Incomes advanced 0.5 percent, which was more than forecast.
Rising house prices and a better job market, along with faster income gains, might help to increase spending in the last six months of 2013.
For more of the Bloomberg story: bloomberg.com
Port of Houston container volume up 9 percent year-to-date
Tonnage is increasing at the Port of Houston Authority, with container volume through May up by 9 percent, Executive Director Len Waterworth told port commissioners this week.
Waterworth also reported that May operating revenue was at an all-time high of $20 million, up 4 percent or $800,000. This marked the first time in Port Authority history that operating revenue has exceeded $20 million. Year-to-date operating revenue of $96 million reflects a $4 million or 5 percent increase, driven by strong container growth.
The executive director said that total tonnage at port facilities in May was 3 million tons, up 10 percent over year-over-year, led by container growth at Barbours Cut. Year-to-date total tonnage of 15 million tons is up 3 percent. Container tonnage is up 10 percent in May and up 9 percent year to date, at 8 million tons.
Year to date, steel is at 2 million tons, but down 21 percent in May due to declines in the drilling industry. Bulk cargo (including grains and coal) is up by 37 percent at 1 million tons due to improved grain exports since 2012. Year to date, bulk cargo is up 14 percent at 4 million tons.
Year to date, the Port Authority has realized $21 million in net income, up $5 million or 34 percent.
Waterworth also gave a brief update on the permitting process for Bayport and Barbours Cut channel dredging, saying after talking to U.S. Army Corps of Engineers leadership he was confident that the construction award would occur in early 2014.
For more of this story: portofhouston.com
Crowley Maritime solutions group to expand in Asia
Crowley Maritime's solutions group is expanding in the Asia Pacific market by opening a new project management office in Singapore and building two new heavy-lift deck cargo barges for use in the region. The company has an option for the construction of two additional barges.
Crowley says the expansion with help their oil and gas mining clients who are initiating more large-scale onshore and offshore projects that require project management and logistics solutions.
"This move not only allows us to broaden our geographical reach, but will also allow for more efficient turnkey solutions within the areas in which our customers are focused," said Craig Tornga, Crowley's vice president of solutions. "It is also important for us to be able to support the operation and market growth with dedicated equipment, which is why we are investing in the construction of two new barges for the region."
The group's two new 400-foot-long and 120-foot-wide heavy-lift deck barges, to be named HDB 01 and HDB 02, will be based in Batam, Indonesia, to support customers with marine projects.
The barges will have 25-foot side shells, which provide both the capacity and deck strength up to 4,200 pounds per-square-foot needed to accommodate larger drilling and production units used for deepwater offshore energy exploration and development.
HDB series barges are designed with more robust ballast systems, Crowley says, to deal with high tidal ranges found in the region's load and discharge ports, and with the internal strength to withstand setting on the bottom of the seabed while loaded at shallow ports.
"As the industry looks to build and transport larger construction modules and topsides, the new Crowley HDB series barges will be better suited to handle the complex deck loads without the need for additional grillage in most cases," said Tornga.
The barges will be ABS-classed, with an approximate dead weight capacity of 20,000 metric tons. Both were designed by Crowley's subsidiary Jensen Maritime, and are currently under construction in China for delivery in early 2014.
China shipping industry faces restructuring
A guideline on promoting the development of China's state-run shipping industry by the National Development and Reform Commission and the Ministry of Transport will be submitted to the State Council for approval later this year, sources said.
The industry has posted big losses for two years running, reports China Daily.
"The draft co-headed by the NDRC and the MOT looks to provide long-term solutions, including restructuring shipping capacity, setting up a special capital fund for phasing out old ships, cutting tax for shipping companies and their employees, etcetera," said Song Dexing, director of water transport department under the Ministry of Transport to China Business News this week.
For example, the MOT will create a team to study and analyze taxation of shipping companies and their employees before urging related departments to rollout tax cuts for them, added Song.
For more of the China Daily story: usa.chinadaily.com.cn
Wine lost from foundered, split-in-two MOL Comfort
Two containers of Saint Clair Family Estate wine are lost somewhere off the coast of India after the ship they were on, the MOL Comfort, foundered and broke in two this month.
Saint Clair managing director Neal Ibbotson said the Marlborough wine company was waiting for confirmation about what had happened to the ship and its wine.
"At the moment, it is a little bit unknown in that we understand part of the ship is still floating and has containers on it," said Ibbotson. "We understand the other part of the ship is supposedly lost, but we don't know where. We're waiting for confirmation."
The wine was sold FOB, or "free on board," which means it was the responsibility of the buyer once it was loaded onto the ship, he said.
For more of the Marlborough Express story: stuff.co.nz