Monday, August 28, 2014
West Coast ports labor update
As was reported previously, the International Longshoremen and Warehouse Union and the Pacific Maritime Association took a break from talks last Monday and Tuesday while the ILWU attended a two-day division caucus in San Francisco, according to 3PL OHL.
Puget Sound council studies impact of proposed rail terminal
The Puget Sound Regional Council released a study that evaluates the effects of train traffic if the proposed Gateway Pacific Terminal near Bellingham were built.
DP World reports 9 percent cargo growth in first half
DP World Limited handled 29.4 million TEUs during the first six months of the year, reflecting container volume growth of 9.3 percent year-over-year, according to a company statement.
John Degnan officially appointed as chair of the PANYNJ
John Degnan reportedly took over the role of chairman of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey on Wednesday, replacing David Samson.
Matson to pay $10M settlement in fraud case
Matson Navigation Company has agreed to pay a $10 million settlement in a fraud case that accuses the shipping company of overcharging for the shipment of household goods between the U.S. mainland and Guam, according to Pacific Business News.
Tuesday, July 29, 2014
Grain loading halted at Mitsui's United Grain terminal in Vancouver, Wash
Grain loading has halted at Mitsui's United Grain terminal at the Port of Vancouver, Washington, where dockworkers are picketing after being locked out since February 2013 by the terminal's owners. Shipments stopped after Washington Gov. Jay Inslee ordered state highway patrol officers to stop providing security for government grain inspectors who examine outgoing grain shipments, and who refuse to cross picket lines without the escort.
Inspectors were evidently exposed to harsh language and name-calling when they passed through the United terminal gate at the port.
United Grain spokesman Pat McCormick said the company's operations at the Port of Vancouver have "effectively been shut down." United Grain and port officials have asked the governor to continue providing security, offering to compensate the state. The company says it expected to ship 17 million bushels of grain from the terminal in August, and is now talking to customers about making alternate arrangements.
The governor hoped the additional security would help the grain companies and the union negotiate more effectively. But after eight months it had become clear that providing the security detail "clearly wasn't productive," said Jaime Smith, a spokesperson for the governor's office.
"The governor's decision to stop providing taxpayer-subsidized public security services to the foreign-owned grain companies was a positive step," said International Longshore and Warehouse Union spokesperson Jennifer Sargent. She said union negotiators are continuing to meet with United Grain, Columbia Grain and Louis Dreyfus Commodities over the terms of a new contract.
McCormick said United was able to ship about 2 million bushels of grain since the state security detail ended July 6. But with a bumper crop harvest imminent, the company is worried that its customers may turn elsewhere for their grain shipments, McCormick said.
"The ILWU continues to negotiate with Mitsui-United Grain and Marubeni-Columbia Grain in order to reach a positive resolution," Sargent wrote.
For more of The Oregonian story: oregonlive.com
Bonanza of North Dakota crude rail shipments crowding out grain
A boom in oil trains hauling North Dakota Bakken crude is interfering with grain shipments to Pacific Northwest ports, triggering worries of chronic transport problems in which oil-carrying railcars crowd out other products and interrupt the flow U.S. exports.
Grain farmers from the Upper Midwest, who usually use rail for their cargo, are turning to truckers to get their wheat to a barge and transport it down the Columbia River.
Farmers are concerned that costs and delays will increase as more and more oil is shipped via train, clogging the regions rail lines.
Dale Frazier, owner of Seattle Bulk Rail Station at the Port of Seattle, a company that offloads grain from trains into containers, says that in February, March and April his "business suffered tremendously" because of late trains.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture says that last winter, train trips from the Midwest's grain belt to the Pacific Northwest took 22 days, nearly twice as long as typical.
Railroad giant BNSF says the backlog of grain cars will be greatly reduced by mid-September. The railroad is rushing to buy hundreds of new railcars and train thousands of new staff.
But with a big new harvest on its way, critics say that the delays seen in the past few months are only the beginning.
For more of the Seattle Times story: seattletimes.com
Hamburg Süd and Chile's CCNI sign preliminary merger deal
German shipping line Hamburg Süd and Chile's Compañía Chilena de Navegación Interoceánica have inked a preliminary agreement in which Hamburg Süd will buy the CCNI's container line business, once due diligence and regulatory approvals are complete, according to a statement from Hamburg Süd.
The acquisition is expected be complete by December 31, 2014.
Hamburg Süd said it will integrate the CCNI container carrier services to strengthen its own network to and from South America, and that the two workforces will be merged to create a "stronger organization that will provide a first class service to the customers of both companies," the statement said.
Following the transaction CCNI will continue its non-liner shipping activities including its car carrier and ship-owning business, according to Hamburg Süd.
Georgia Ports Authority sets new volume records for FY2014
In fiscal year 2014 that ended in June, the Georgia Ports Authority handled 3 million TEUs, over 700,000 auto and machinery units, and more than 29 million tons of cargo, according tot a GPA statement.
The Port of Savannah handled a record 3.14 million TEUs in FY14, GPA said, up 6.3 percent year-over-year and the highest container volume ever moved by the port. This pushed up over all volume creating another record, with the GPA moving 29.4 million tons of freight, up 8 percent compared to FY2013.
"Our ports support a broad range of industries, ranging from forestry and food production to auto manufacturing and retail," said GPA Executive Director Curtis Foltz. "The additional cargo attracted to Georgia in FY14 speaks to the powerful and growing impact Georgia's ports have on the state and region."
In terms of roll-on/roll-off cargo, the statement reports that the Port of Brunswick dedicated auto and machinery terminal moved 674,327 units in FY14. It said Savannah's Ocean Terminal added another 26,375 for a record total of 700,702 units, meaning that GPA Ro/Ro cargo improved by 10 percent on the year.
Breakbulk cargo saw an increase of 5.2 percent in FY14 for a total of 2.63 million tons, the statement said, while bulk cargo grew by 8.4 percent to reach 2.73 million tons of agricultural and other bulk goods moved across GPA wharves.
In largest ever salvage op, TITAN Salvage tows Costa Concordia to Genoa
Crowley Maritime subsidiary TITAN Salvage towed the broken Costa Concordia cruise liner to the northern Italian city of Genoa to be broken up for scrap on Sunday, 2.5 years after it ran aground and sank, killing 32 people.
After journeying from the Tuscan island of Giglio, where it sank on Jan. 13, 2012, the 114,500-ton ship was secured, concluding one of the most complex maritime salvages ever attempted.
Towing the disabled ship from the Tuscan Archipelago to the Mediterranean seaport of Genoa required a convoy of more than a dozen support vessels, including two tugboats with a combined 24,000 horsepower and 275 tons of bollard pull at the bow for the hull, and two additional auxiliary tugs positioned aft.
"Our team's goal was to accomplish the project with safety, ingenuity and detail," said Chris Peterson, TITAN Salvage vice president. "We truly believe that we have done just that. Over the past two years, every aspect of this project was handled with the utmost professionalism and an inordinate amount of calculation and planning."
A Genoa consortium will soon begin taking apart the 114,000-ton vessel, stripping the ship for scrap metal and recyclable materials.
For more of the Reuters story: reuters.com
Wednesday, July 30, 2014
Union Pacific profits up 17 percent in second quarter
Rail giant Union Pacific Corporation reported a record second quarter profit that increased 17 percent year-over-year, indicating higher freight revenues along with volume growth and core pricing increases.
The Omaha, Nebraska-based operator of the largest railroad in North America posted net income of $1.29 billion or $1.43 per share for the second quarter, higher than $1.11 billion or $1.18 per share in the second quarter of 2013.
The lift in shipping volumes could indicate that U.S. economic recovery is gaining momentum after a rough winter.
"Union Pacific achieved record quarterly financial results, leveraging the strengths of our diverse franchise to handle strong demand in the face of challenging operating conditions," President and CEO Jack Koraleski said in a statement.
OOCL container Q2 volumes up 11 percent
Orient Overseas Container Lines announced its second quarter results last week, with total volumes up 11.2 percent year-over-year to 1.45 million TEUs.
The Hong Kong shipping line said its total revenues increased 6.8 percent to $1.5 billion in the second quarter, with the highest revenue surge in the Asia-Europe trades, up 24.4 percent.
Total volumes were up 10.1 percent for the first six months of 2014, the statement said, with a 4.3 percent increase in total revenue compared to the first half of 2013.
Overall, total volume and revenue were up across the Trans-Pacific, Asia-Europe and Intra-Asia-Australasia trade routes, OOCL reported, but down on the Trans-Atlantic trades, which dropped 1.2 percent in terms of volume year-over-year.
Miami's billion-dollar port tunnel to open in August
After two months of delay, PortMiami's Port Miami's billion-dollar tunnel is finally ready to handle traffic, officials said last week, estimating that the new passageway will funnel a projected 16,000 port-bound vehicles a day off Miami's downtown streets.
"It'll be open in early August, no later than two weeks from today," said Chris Hodgkins, vice president of MAT Concessionaire, the consortium of companies that built and will operate the tunnel.
Various glitches, including faulty exhaust fans and a leaking drainage pipe, prevented it from opening as planned in May.
The contractor Bouygues has been paying a fine of $115,000 to MAT Concessionaire every day the tunnel remains closed. At the same time, the Florida Department of Transportation has delayed beginning its $33 million annual payment to the concessionaire until the tunnel opens.
But after a whirl of activity, officials say the tunnel is nearing completion. Last Wednesday, workers finished the major operation necessary to fix the drainage leak — a 2,000-foot trench, ripped through 15 inches of cement, four inches of asphalt and 15 feet of compacted concrete, where a new polyethylene pipe was laid.
Additionally, about 30 of the 44 jet fans that were removed from the tunnel have been replaced, and installation of the rest is under way.
Amidst it all, the ongoing testing and tweaking of emergency systems continued.
"We have to be ready for every possible scenario," Hodgkins said.
For more of the Miami Herald story: miamiherald.com
Bay Area activists want to block Zim ships from docking at Port of Oakland
Bay Area anti-war activists are planning to block two Zim Integrated Shipping container vessels partially owned by the Israel Corporation from docking and unloading at the Port of Oakland on Saturday to protest recent bombing in the Gaza Strip, according to event organizers.
Protesters are singling out Zim ships because 32 percent of the company is owned by Israel Corporation, which was founded in 1968 by the Israeli government is Israel's largest holding company.
The "Block the Boat for Gaza" group plans to convene at SSA Berth 57 at the Port of Oakland at 5:00 a.m. Saturday.
The protest group addressed plans to garner port worker support.
"Please be assured that, given the short time-frame, we are working diligently to gain the support and solidarity of the workers at the Port of Oakland, both ILWU and otherwise. The ILWU does not have an executive board meeting this week, and even if they did, due to legal restrictions, they can't technically endorse this action.
"Thus, the main thing organizers and supporters have been doing, and are continuing to do, is talk with multiple rank and file members of the ILWU about the plan for the day. "
For more of the Mercury News story: mercurynews.com
CN train derails after collision with logging truck
A CN Rail train on its way to Prince Rupert derailed in the earlier hours of Friday morning near the Hampton sawmill outside of Burns Lake, British Columbia, after hitting a logging truck.
The collision occurred just off of North Road near the sawmill, when the eastbound train hit the truck at around 7:00 a.m. PT. The driver of a logging truck and a CN Rail worker were taken to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries.
Two locomotives and 22 containers loaded with household goods were involved in the derailment.
The cause of the accident is being investigated.
For more of the CBC story: cbc.ca
Thursday, July 31, 2014
U.S. Senate amends highway bill, sends back to the House
The Senate voted Tuesday to keep funneling federal highway funds to the states through mid-December, after rejecting the House's bill due to its funding sources.
Whether the House accepts the Senate's changes or refuses them and sends a revised bill back to the Senate, legislators expect a Highway Trust Fund bill to be approved by Congress this week before they adjourn for summer.
"Yes, there will be a highway bill," said Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell. "It either will be finished today in the Senate with the Senate adopting the House bill, or, I believe the speaker has made it clear that if it goes back to the House, it will come back over here the way the House passed it the first time."
"But in any event, we will have a highway measure pass here before the end of the week." McConnell said.
The House passed a $10.8 billion bill last week that would have kept the highway fund going through May, but the Senate objected to its funding sources. The Senate bill, divested of the controversial funding sources, provides the fund with an additional $8.1 billion — enough to keep money for federal roads and bridges going through December 19.
Most of the money in the House bill came from letting companies defer required contributions to their pension plans to help fund highways. Senate lawmakers were concerned this "pension smoothing" would ultimately cost the government more money and make the pension funds fiscally unstable.
By Friday the trust fund won't have enough money to cover pledged monies to states, according to the DOT. The highway fund is in trouble because the federal 18.4-cent-a-gallon gas tax and the 24.4-cent-a-gallon diesel tax — its chief source of revenue — haven't been increased in more than 20 years, while the cost of maintaining the country's aging infrastructure has increased.
House Speaker John Boehner said the House would not accept Senate changes to the financing provisions. "I just want to make clear, if the Senate sends a highway bill over here with those provisions, we're going to strip it out and put the House-passed provisions back in and send it back to the Senate," he said.
Failure of the Congress to act would cut off funding for transportation projects around the country and affect 700,000 construction jobs.
For more of the Roll Call story: blogs.rollcall.com
Hanjin Shipping Q2 losses up 148 percent
Hanjin Shipping announced its losses grew to $195 million in the second quarter, 148.5 percent higher year-over-year, due to lower demand and exchange rates.
Sales were also down 14.1 percent from $2.43 billion in Q2 2013 to $2.08 billion, but operating profit rebounded to $28 million from a loss of $95.6 million year-over-year.
The carrier said the weak quarterly net numbers resulted from foreign currency translation losses and less revenue from sales of its old ships to foreign buyers.
"The former are 'paper losses' and do not affect the overall cash flow of the company," Hanjin said in a press release.
The company said sales earnings fell due to a drop in freight orders, but improvements in container shipment operations contributed to gains in operating profit for the three-month period.
"If examined separately, the operating profit for the container business stood at $36.5 million, and was further helped by the scaling back of non-performing routes and company-wide efforts to cut costs and conserve fuel," it said.
For the first half of this year, Hanjin's bottom line was negative $413 million, a 268.6 percent increase year-over-year from a loss of $112 million.
For more of the Yonhap story: english.yonhapnews.co.kr
UAE firm Gulftainer to operate U.S. cargo port
Arab-owned company Gulftainer has made a deal to manage Florida's Port Canaveral, triggering congressional national security concerns.
Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-California), chairman of the House maritime transportation subcommittee, called for the White House to conduct a full national security review of the decision last month by Gulftainer to sign a 35-year contract with the Florida port.
"It is critical that — before this agreement proceeds — CFIUS (Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States) determines whether a terminal operation agreement with Gulftainer presents any risk or impact to U.S. national security," Mr. Hunter wrote in a letter to Treasury Secretary Jack Lew.
John Walsh, Port Canaveral's CEO, told the Orlando Business Journal recently that Gulftainer is a major part of the port's goal to turn its $5 million annual cargo business into a $100 million business. Gulftainer has promised the Port of Canaveral a $100 million investment in its infrastructure, equipment and people, including helping the port purchase existing Florida East Coast Rail tracks to transport cargo.
Gulftainer, the largest terminal operator in the Middle East in terms of terminals operated, is a privately owned firm based in the United Arab Emirates, a confederation of governments friendly to the U.S. but which has also been a source of terrorist funding. The 9/11 Commission reported that a substantial amount of the money used to fund the 2001 attacks on New York and Washington flowed through UAE's open financial sector.
The Arab company will be operating a U.S. terminal at one of the busiest cruise ports in the world, and not far from the area the Navy uses to support its fleet of nuclear ballistic missile submarines.
The company had no immediate response Tuesday to Hunter's letter, and Walsh was out of town and not available for comment.
For more of the Washington Times story: washingtontimes.com
Report: Shipping crude by rail creates logistics problems beyond derailments
According to a new report by the Congressional Research Service, shipping domestic crude oil by water presents several safety and fiscal challenges that are often ignored in debates over oil pipelines and tank car derailments.
The report indicates that pipelines can no longer accommodate the rise in domestic oil production — with new sources of crude oil from North Dakota, Texas and parts of western Canada — placing greater demands on railroads, barges and tankers.
The report found that the U.S. Coast Guard has yet to implement effective safety inspections for barges, as it has for tanker ships in years past in response to oil spills like the Exxon Valdez.
The Jones Act also poses a roadblock for U.S. refineries, as it requires domestic marine transport be conducted by U.S.-built and -crewed vessels, the report said. Due to the relatively short supply of U.S. tankers, more refineries may also resort to the use of tank cars, according to transportation policy specialist John Frittelli, who wrote the report.
"Existing railroad tank cars are inadequately designed to prevent release of product during derailment," Frittelli writes, "and the transportation of crude oil in unit trains, a new development, has meant that a single incident can involve a large quantity of flammable and explosive material."
The report was published two days before the DOT announced new measures intended to prevent oil spills and explosions caused by trains transporting crude oil, including lowering speed limits, upgrading brakes and phasing out older tank cars.
For more of the Times-Picayune story: nola.com
Maher Terminal temporarily closed Tuesday due to gas leak
The Maher Container Terminal Building at Port Elizabeth has reopened after it was evacuated Tuesday due to a gas leak.
The leak, triggered when a water main burst at around 3 p.m. Tuesday, was capped and the terminal reopened for business at 6 a.m. Wednesday.
The terminals closed their gates and kept vehicles out until the gas main was shut off. No injuries were reported.
For more of the WABC-TV New York story: 7online.com