Monday, July 15, 2013
Oakland port commissioners approve SSA lawsuit settlement
After two weeks of delays, Oakland port commissioners unanimously approved a lawsuit settlement with terminal operator SSA last week that clears a major hurdle for the port's first mega terminal and paves the way for a waterfront baseball stadium in Oakland.
The agreement ends maritime operations at the port's 50-acre Howard Terminal, which given its proximity to Jack London Square is seen as Oakland's best location for a new major league ballpark. There are significant environmental and infrastructure issues, and A's co-owner Lew Wolff has said repeatedly that a privately financed stadium wouldn't work at the site.
SSA Terminals filed a lawsuit against the port claiming that it had violated federal shipping law by giving its main competitor, Ports America, a preferential deal that gave it an unfair competitive edge.
The settlement allows SSA to end its lease at Howard Terminal four years before it was set to expire, take over leases at two other terminals and extend two of its terminal leases to 2022. SSA would control three connected terminals, which could be combined into a much larger terminal capable of handling the next generation of post-Panamax cargo vessels.
Jay Bowden, who heads Ports America's Oakland terminal operation, declined comment on the settlement Thursday but in a June letter to the port he indicated that the company might sue the port, seeking concessions comparable to those given to SSA.
For more of the Mercury News story: mercurynews.com
Alaska AG looks at proposed shipping company merger
The Alaska Attorney General's office is reviewing the proposed merger of Northland Services and Lynden Inc., the parent company of Alaska Marine Services. Lynden wants to buy Northland, a tug and barge carrier that provides service between Alaska, Seattle and Hawaii.
Senior Assistant Attorney General Ed Sniffen said that the companies operate throughout Alaska, but it's the part of the proposed deal affecting Southeast Alaska that raises concerns about a monopoly, since the companies are the only ones providing these kinds of services in many Southeast communities. The review could take up to a year and half, he said.
Samson Tug and Barge in Sitka has proposed offering services in more Southeast communities, including Juneau, according to KINY, although competing with a large, longstanding firm like Lynden is difficult, Sniffen said.
Sniffen spoke at a Juneau Chamber of Commerce event last week, along with Samson president Cory Baggen and Alaska Marine Line President Kevin Anderson.
Anderson said if the sale is completed, Northland Services would be an independent operating company under the Lynden umbrella, with Northland's current management team remaining in place.
For more of the SF Gate story: sfgate.com
Port of L.A. June cargo volume falls 7.2 percent
The Port of Los Angeles reported 7.2 percent fall in June cargo volume year over year on vessel service leaving the port.
Imports dropped by 7.2 percent at 328,324 TEUs, 25,606 TEUs shy of the June 2012 figure. Exports fell even more with 15 percent fewer TEUs compared to 2012, dropping to 148,203 TEUs.
Total loaded imports and exports fell 9.8 percent, which becomes 7.2 percent once empty containers are factored in.
CMA CGM upgrades Panama Direct service
CMA CGM announced it will upgrade its "Round the World" Panama Direct service to a weekly frequency starting September 18.
Longshore protest at Columbia Grain takes bizarre turn
The union-management conflict at Columbia Grain took a bizarre turn when a security guard monitoring a longshore picket line outside Columbia Grain on June 30 spotted a man in a black cape, hood and grim-reaper mask carrying a raccoon.
A guard videotaped the man pushing the raccoon's snout into the chain-link fence so the limp animal remained upright. Longshore Local 8 member Joshua Slighter, who was arrested on accusations of animal neglect and disorderly conduct, told police the raccoon was roadkill, dead before he brought it to the picket line.
On the waterfront, dockworkers taunted the replacement workers and the guards. "You're a slave, a sucking slave," yelled a picketer at a crew of guards Monday outside Columbia Grain. "You're always going to be a slave. You're a pig, a slave pig."
The Portland metro area has been with labor unrest stemming from the months-long lockout at grain export terminals in Portland and Vancouver, Wash., as dockworkers picket the terminals at the Port of Portland's container yard and Daimler Trucks North America workers strike for higher pay.
Longshore workers have set up camp outside Columbia Grain, which locked them out May 4, and United Grain Corp., where they were shut out Feb. 27.
Grain terminal managers and union members remain at a stalemate after failing to renew a contract last year. Owners want an agreement with savings equivalent to those at rival terminals in Kalama and Longview, Wash. Longshore officials want a contract similar to a deal signed in February with Temco.
Jennifer Sargent, spokeswoman for the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, released a statement that characterized the incident involving the raccoon as "upsetting" and reported that Local 8 leaders are investigating the incident.
"The individual's actions in the video that Marubeni-Columbia Grain provided to the media are inappropriate on many levels," the statement said, "and far out of line with the values of the hardworking men and women who are fighting to maintain good working standards in our union's 80-year collective bargaining agreement with the employer."
For more of The Oregonian story: oregonlive.com
Tuesday, July 16, 2013
Anti-piracy measures reportedly working, at least for now
By Richard Knee
XPO Logistics to buy 3PD for $365M
Freight management company XPO Logistics will purchase retail shipping logistics provider 3PD for $365 million.
The deal will "immediately and significantly" add to profits, XPO said. XPO's revenue for the most recent fiscal year was $319 million.
XPO will pay $357 million in cash and $8 million in XPO restricted stock. It will borrow $195 million from Credit Suisse Group and use its own cash reserves to pay the balance.
Shares of XPO Logistics increase almost 12 percent in afternoon trading Monday.
For more of the Business Week story: businessweek.com
PortMiami kicks off Panama Canal 2015 campaign
PortMiami kicked off its "Countdown to the Panama Canal 2015" campaign Monday with flag exchange between U.S. and Panamanian officials, welcoming the coming Post-Panamax era as one of the most important milestones in shipping over the last century, according to a port statement.
Johnson said that as the first port of call on the Asia-to-US route via the Canal, PortMiami will be the only Atlantic Seaboard port south of Virginia with a channel deep enough to accommodate the new generation of larger container cargo vessels that dominate the Asia-U.S. market.
NY-area manufacturing expands at fastest rate in five months
In July, manufacturing in the New York area unexpectedly expanded at the fastest pace in five months, with factory activity stabilizing despite a slowdown in growth.
The general economic index of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York rose to 9.5, the highest since February, compared to a 7.8 reading in June. Readings above zero indicate growth in New York, northern New Jersey and southern Connecticut. The median projection in a Bloomberg survey of 50 economists projected a reading of 5.
Stronger housing and auto sales prompted the improvement in manufacturing, which accounts for about 12 percent of the economy. Stronger household balance sheets and inventory building by companies may help factories offset weaker global markets such as China and Europe.
"What you have is an uncertainty on general economics being largely balanced off by strength in two very, very critical sectors: housing and vehicles," Joel Naroff, president of Naroff Economic Advisors.
Factory executives in the New York Fed region were more optimistic about the future in July, causing the scale measuring the outlook six months to increase to 32, the highest since March, from 25.
The New York manufacturing indicators bode well for the figures on U.S. manufacturing, scheduled to be released by the Institute for Supply Management on August 1.
For more of the Bloomberg story: businessweek.com
Panama holds North Korean cargo ship with "military cargo"
President Ricardo Martinelli of Panama said his country has seized a North Korean-flagged ship carrying "undeclared military cargo."
Martinelli said the vessel, held in the Panama Canal as it sailed from Cuba, contained suspected "sophisticated missile equipment."
The 35-strong crew had resisted the search and the captain had tried to kill himself, the president said.
The Chong Chon Gang was stopped near Manzanillo on the Atlantic side of the canal.
The authorities were checking the ship for drugs when they found the suspected weapons in containers of brown sugar, according to Martinelli.
For more of the BBC Asia News story: bbc.co.uk
Wednesday, July 17, 2013
North Korean freighter held at Panama reveals missile repair trade with Cuba
Panama officials received an advance tip that the old North Korean freighter that tried to traverse the canal carried either drugs or weapons hidden under thousands of stacks of Cuban brown sugar.
The conflict ended with a five-day standoff between Panamanian marines and 35 North Korean crewmembers of the Chong Chon Gang, armed with sticks. The sailors were ultimately subdued and arrested. Their captain, who said he was suffering a heart attack, tried to kill himself.
The weaponry found were parts for what seemed to be an old Soviet-era missile radar system headed to North Korea, which usually exports missiles, rather than bringing it in. U.S. and Panamanian officials are still trying to figure out why the crew fought so prevent the marines from boarding as it tried to cross the Panama Canal.
''We're talking old,'' one official said. ''When this stuff was new, Castro was plotting revolutions.''
Cuba has claimed the weapons, announcing it sent them for an upgrade to maintain its defense capability.
The incident highlights the desperation of North Korea to keep trade flowing as its ships are tracked worldwide and its trade partners, Syria and Iran, are also facing rigorous global sanctions.
For more of the Sydney Herald story: smh.com.au
HSBC launches $1B loan program for small and medium size U.S. exporters
HSBC Bank announced Monday a $1 billion, 18-month dedicated loan program for small and medium size U.S. businesses looking to export or expand globally, to help companies find international growth opportunities and to further accelerate global business growth by U.S. enterprises.
"HSBC is launching this program to provide financing to businesses with international aspirations or expansion plans," said Steve Bottomley, HSBC Group general manager and regional head of commercial banking in North America. This loan program will foster some exciting new activity for US businesses in the global marketplace, as well as continue to support a US export-led recovery by connecting businesses to international opportunities."
The latest HSBC Global Connections Trade Report shows that U.S. exports will increasingly benefit from fast growing consumer markets in developing economies, as growth prospects for industrialized nations remain sluggish. For example, over the medium term, the value of U.S. exports to Asia (excluding Japan) is forecast to rise at an average annual rate of 9 percent throughout the period 2021-2030, the report said.
For more of the Wall Street Journal story: online.wsj.com
SC Port Authority volumes rise; inland port plans delayed
On Tuesday, the South Carolina Ports Authority board was told container volume though the S.C. ports rose by about 9 percent during the fiscal year that ended last month.
At the same meeting they learned the opening of South Carolina's inland port in Greer has been delayed due to relentless rains that have slowed construction.
SCPA president and CEO Jim Newsome said Greer port will likely open sometime in October rather than its scheduled opening around Labor Day, since weeks of work have been lost due to the weather. The agency broke ground earlier this year.
The inland port will provide a direct rail link to Charleston port facilities. It's also expected to reduce the number of tractor-trailer trucks hauling cargo on Interstate 26 between the Upstate and the coast.
For more of the Business Week story: businessweek.com
Port of Long Beach sees slight cargo jump in June
Cargo volume at the Port of Long Beach was up slightly in June, increasing 1.8 percent to 565,476 TEUs, with imports up 3.5 percent to 290,448 TEUs and exports up by 0.1 percent to 133,800 TEUs last month year over year.
The Long Beach numbers seem to be leveling off after double digit jumps over the past several months, resulting in a 14.2 surge in cargo volume for the first half of the year. The jump in business is attributed to mega container ships calling at the port and shipping lines moving their business to Long Beach, including MSC, OOCL and CMA CGM.
Port officials said the numbers are an indication of the slow national economic recovery, a port official said Monday.
"It's going to be up to the economy to pick up," said port spokesman Art Wong.
Virginia Port Authority forms partnership with Oman port
The Virginia Port Authority signed a memorandum of understanding with the Port of Salalah last week aimed at generating new business with the seaport via the Suez Canal.
The Oman port, which sits on the Southeast coast of the Saudi Arabian Peninsula, is one of the busiest transshipment ports in the world. Located right on the major East – West shipping lanes, it offers access to the Middles East, the Indian sub-continent, East Africa, and the Indian Ocean. The port moved 3.6 million TEUs in 2012, according to its annual report.
"This signifies the beginning of a working relationship, and hopefully one that is long-term, where both parties benefit," said Russell J. Held, the VPA's deputy executive director of development. "Our goal with this MOU is to share operational best practices, jointly market our good service connectivity, take advantage of the U.S-Oman free trade agreement and drive investment and business growth on both ends of the supply chain."
Of the total cargo volume handled at the VPS terminals last year, 21 percent moved through the Suez Canal.
For more of the Virginia-Pilot story: hamptonroads.com
Pirates hijack tanker and 24 crew in Gulf of Guinea
Pirates have hijacked an oil products tanker with 24 crewmembers off the Gabon coast in West Africa's Gulf of Guinea, according to the vessel operator.
Turkish operator Geden Lines said they think the pirates boarded the Malta-flagged Cotton tanker, which carried fuel oil, on Monday near Port Gentil, Gabon.
"The company is in contact with the families of the 24 Indian crew members on board and the appropriate authorities have been contacted," Geden Lines said in a statement.
For more of the Chicago Tribune story: chicagotribune.com
Thursday, July 18, 2013
Report: 2012 marine freight forwarding growth rose 11.5 percent
Sea freight forwarding grew by 11.5 percent in 2012, according to the new Transport Intelligence report, "Global Freight Forwarding 2013."
Overall, freight forwarding grew by 3.1 percent to $125 billion last year, the report said, also noting the growing gap between marine and air freight forwarding markets.
Air freight forwarding in 2012 actually decreased by 4.2 percent, the report said, due to overcapacity and operational and fuel costs. Even thought air freight under performed in 2012, the study said it was positioned to rally.
"Although the air freight market was weaker in 2012, airlines are removing capacity across the world," said lead author Cathy Roberson. "If it wishes to continue its impressive growth, the sea freight sector should not continue to ignore these problems."
Transport Intelligence said marine freight forwarders are growing their less-than-container-load services, especially on Asia Pacific routes, featuring lower shipping rates, more flexibility and better transit times than full-container-load services.
The research company said Asia Pacific comprises the biggest portion of the freight forwarding market, at 32 percent. The report forecast that by 2016, Asia would increase to 37 percent of the market and the overall freight forwarding market would rise by 6.8 percent.
Yusen Logistics starts LCL Hong Kong-Netherlands service
Yusen Logistics, the logistics and freight forwarding arm of NYK Group, announced the launch of a new less-than-container-load service from Hong Kong to Rotterdam, The Netherlands.
The service departs Hong Kong on Sundays and arrives at Rotterdam in 26 days and the company says it bolsters its existing network in Hong Kong, Shanghai and Singapore.
"The addition of our own Yusen Logistics dedicated Hong Kong to Rotterdam service is in response to growing demand from our existing customers," said Leo Schoovers, general manager of freight forwarding in Benelux. "By operating an express service with guaranteed weekly departures we are further strengthening our already comprehensive service offering."
EU-U.S. conclude first round of trade talks
The United States and the European Union concluded its first round of talks for the EU-U.S. Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, the biggest bilateral trade agreement ever undertaken, in Washington, D.C. last week, according to a joint statement.
"We have been striving already for many months to prepare the ground for an ambitious trade and investment deal that will boost the transatlantic economy, delivering jobs and growth for both European and Americans," said EU Chief Negotiator Ignacio Garcia-Bercero. "The main objective has been met: we had a substantive round of talks on the full range of topics that we intend to cover in this agreement. This paves the way to for a good second round of negotiations in Brussels in October."
According to the statement, negotiators agreed the TTIP will cover market access for agricultural and industrial goods, government procurement, investment, energy and raw materials, regulatory issues, sanitary and phytosanitary measures, services, intellectual property rights, sustainable development, small- and medium-sized enterprises, dispute settlement, competition, customs/trade facilitation, and state-owned enterprises.
NOAA and partner to explore U.S. national ocean exploration program
"Ocean Exploration 2020: A National Forum," will convene more than 100 ocean explorers and officials from federal agencies, state governments, NGOs, universities, ocean institutions and leading industries to form a U.S. national ocean exploration program, according to a NOAA statement.
The forum, to be held July 19 to 21 at the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach, will help shape a national program scheduled to be implemented by 2020.
"The expertise and imagination that will come together at the Forum is exciting," said Robert Detrick, Ph.D., assistant administrator for NOAA Research, and a Forum speaker. "Partnerships will be the key to developing and following-through on a national ocean exploration program that truly makes a difference. Partnerships leverage the funding, equipment, and expertise required to significantly advance the nation's ocean-related scientific, economic, environmental and educational goals."
The first two days of the Forum are by invitation and will involve presentations, panel discussions and breakout sessions covering themes such as exploration priorities, technology, platforms, data and information management and sharing, citizen science and exploration, ocean exploration, and public engagement. The third day, July 21, will feature demonstrations and workshops and is open to the public.
Port of Oakland closes after longshore worker death
The Port of Oakland shut down for the day Wednesday after a dockworker was killed when her truck crashed at the port.
Joy Daniels, 47, died Tuesday after she had a seizure while hauling a container, according to Michael Villeggiante, president of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 10. He said the truck hit a stationary object. He said port closure after a longhore worker death is customary, as it allows co-workers to mourn and the union to investigate the circumstances.
"The reason it is done is to step back - we do it to investigate and find out what the accident is so it can't happen again," Villeggiante said. "When we lose somebody, you step back so you don't lose somebody the same way."
For more of the Chronicle story: sfgate.com