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Summary for August 20 - August 24, 2007:

Monday, August 20, 2007

APL begins Suez Express Service

Container shipping company APL Aug 17 inaugurated its Suez Express Service with the arrival in New York City of the 903-ft President Adams.

APL said “the weekly service will provide the industry’s fastest transit times from Asia to the US East Coast through the Suez Canal.”

APL Senior Vice President Bob Sappio commented, “It will provide shippers dependable Asian access to the US East Coast at a time when other transport alternatives are becoming increasingly congested.”

Sappio, who manages the trans-Pacific trade for APL, added, “Shippers are finding it harder and harder to eliminate variability from their supply chains. The Suez Express will replace variability with dependability.”

The President Adams is one of eight ships in the Suez Express. Each can carry between 4,000 and 4,500 TEUs, the company said.

The Suez Express Service port rotation includes Singapore, Colombo, New York, Charleston, Savannah, Norfolk, Jebel Ali, Port Kelang, and Singapore. Transit times include Singapore to New York in 21 days and Singapore to Charleston and Savannah in 24 and 25 days, respectively, according to the company.

ACP awards contract to CH2M Hill

The Panama Canal Authority (ACP) Aug 17 announced it has awarded the program manager contract for its expansion program to the global firm CH2M Hill.

“The leading full-service global firm and number one program management firm in the United States will assist the ACP in the management of numerous contracts, including those for design and construction of the two post-Panamax lock structures under its Expansion Program,” ACP said.

The procurement process began Jun 1, when the ACP released its request for proposals.

The ACP was “seeking a top-tier firm with a strong reputation in program management and with experience working on a variety of major international construction projects,” according to the announcement.

The ACP Board of Directors approved the use of an integrated program management model, wherein the Panama Canal Authority will designate tasks between its own staff and CH2M Hill, APC said.

The firm will begin work as early as next week, APC said. The bulk of the program manager duties will focus on the new locks contracts while also interfacing with other contracts, according to the announcement.

Teamsters slam Mexican trucks pilot program

The Teamsters Union Aug 17 issued a press release stating its strong opposition to the Bush administration’s plans to “press forward with its unsafe cross-border trucking program despite repeated and overwhelming opposition from Congress and the American driving public.”

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) Aug 17 announced in the Federal Register that it plans to proceed with the Cross-Border Truck Program pilot project, which would allow Mexican trucks to travel freely along US highways.

FMCSA said in its notice it would go ahead with the program once the inspector general completes a report required by the war supplemental appropriations act passed earlier this year.

Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa said the Teamsters are assessing possible legal action to prevent the initiation of the pilot program.

The Teamsters oppose the pilot program, according to their Web site, for multiple reasons, including that “there is no certified laboratory in Mexico that can test drug and alcohol samples,” “Mexico does not enforce hours-of-service regulation,” and “state databases in the United States do not adequately track Mexican drivers’ history.”


Tuesday, August 21, 2007

$2bn LNG refinery planned in Indonesia

Indonesian oil and gas companies Pertamina and PT Medco Energi Internasional and Mitsubishi Corp. of Japan will begin the construction of a liquefied natural gas (LNG) refinery in the eastern Sulawesi island next year, the companies announced Aug 20.

The project is estimated to cost $2.01bn, according to the announcement.

The Donggi-Senoro refinery will have the capacity to refine 2mn tonnes of LNG a year and is expected to start commercial operations in 2010, the Energy and Mineral Resource Ministry said in a statement.

The project will use gas reserves from the Senoro field, operated by Medco’s unit, PT Medco E&P, and from other fields in the Matindok Block, run by PT Pertamina E&P, according to the companies.

LNG from the refinery will be shipped to Mitsubishi Corp in Japan. Mitsubishi holds a 60% stake in the project while Medco and Pertamina each have a 20% interest, according to the announcement.

The refinery project was among the $4bn worth of energy projects that were inaugurated Aug 20 by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and visiting Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

Hamburg Süd upgrades ANZL service

Hamburg Süd, a key carrier on the North-South trade routes, Aug 19 announced it will be offering an upgraded service between Asia and Australia/New Zealand (ANZL) beginning mid-September.

Tasman Orient Line and Hapag-Lloyd will be partners on a slot-charter basis, according to the announcement.

Five new 1,800-TEU chartered vessels will be phased into the fixed-day weekly service with an enhanced port rotation, replacing five smaller ships, said the company.

These new vessels will also allow Hamburg Süd the flexibility to call at additional ports throughout the year in order to cover specific seasonal customer requirements.

Featuring 400 reefer slots apiece and a service speed of 21 knots, the newbuildings will provide the most comprehensive express service in the trade between Asia and Australia/New Zealand, according to the announcement.

The new joint service features the following port rotation: Yokohama – Kobe – Shanghai – Hong Kong – Brisbane – Tauranga – Lyttleton – New Plymouth – Yokohama.

Stockton Port access road opens

The Port of Stockton Aug 17 dedicated the opening of the Port of Stockton Expressway, a heavy-duty, two-lane road connecting to the rapidly developing port’s West Complex (formerly Rough & Ready Island Naval Base).

The expressway is bracketed by a new signal-light intersection on Highway 4 and a new bridge, designed to accommodate four lanes, all part of the two-year project.

“It’s not only a whole new entry to the port, but as the West Complex matures, it will be the main entrance to the whole port,” Richard Aschieris, port director, commented. “Over time,” he added, “we expect truck traffic to drop on Washington St. possibly as much as 50%.”

The port expects at least two benefits from this project, Aschieris said.

“We can move our cargo more efficiently, and there’s less truck traffic in Boggs Tract,” Aschieris said, referring to the residential neighborhood long subjected to the noise, vibration, and exhaust from heavy truck traffic.

The project involved the collaboration of state, county, city, and port offices, according to the announcement.


Wednesday, August 22, 2007

1,800-tonne cranes arrive at Prince Rupert

The ZPMC vessel Zhen Hua 16, carrying Maher Terminals’ three massive super post-Panamax cranes, Aug 20 sailed into Prince Rupert Harbor, BC, to berth at the Fairview Container Terminal, thus putting into place the final pieces of the $170mn port expansion.

The cranes, each 80 meters high, weighing 1,800 tonnes, and with a lift capacity of 65 tonnes, will be offloaded over a nine-day period, according to a port news release.

The port has installed a new Webcam at the terminal, where “viewers [can zoom in] to watch in real time the offloading of the cranes,” said Barry Bartlett, corporate communications manager. The Webcam is accessible from the homepage.

“We definitely recognize this is a historic day for Prince Rupert,” said Don Krusel, president and CEO of the Prince Rupert Port Authority.

Many port authority employees were on hand to witness the cranes’ arrival, and so were a number of the Maher Terminals staff.

The Port of Prince Rupert’s grand opening is slated for Sep 12 with commencement of operations in October, said the announcement.

FESCO to purchase Vladivostok’s M-Port Ltd.

Far Eastern shipping giant FESCO recently signed a deal to purchase M-Port Ltd., the company which operates Vladivostok’s Marine Commercial Port, a press statement from the company said this week, according to The Vladivostok News Aug 22.

FESCO, or Far Eastern Shipping Company, intends to buy a 100% stake of the port operator, which controls 92.5% of the port’s shares, according to the announcement.

The long-term deal consists of two stages, the first of which is the purchase of a 50% stake in the operator, previously held by Magnitogorsk Metallurgic Plant, for $90mn, according to the announcement.

In the second stage, which is to take place in three years, FESCO will buy the other 50% of M-Port to receive full control over Vladivostok’s Marine Commercial Port. The cost will be determined by the two parties according to FESCO’s financial situation at the time of the purchase, the statement reported.

Once the deal has been fulfilled, FESCO will have port assets in Russia’s three major port regions — the Pacific Ocean, the Baltic Sea, and the Black Sea, the statement said.

Averitt Express opens Texas facility

Averitt Express is strengthening its service offerings with the opening of a new Supply Chain Solutions facility in Pharr/McAllen, Texas, the company announced Aug 17.

“The new Supply Chain Solutions facility, strategically located less than a mile from the Pharr Reynosa International Bridge, positions Averitt to be the prime consolidation gateway for vendors shipping to and from Mexico or anywhere in the world,” said Calvin Rackley, regional vice president for Averitt.

Services offered through the 30,000-sq-ft facility include transloading, container drayage, full-service warehousing and distribution, consolidation, deconsolidation, and inland transportation management, said the announcement.

The new facility is located at 600A East Military Highway in the Capote International Business Park in Pharr. The facility is less than a mile from the Pharr Reynosa International Bridge and only four miles from the US-Mexico border.

“It’s great having one of the leading transportation providers so close to the Pharr Bridge,” said Jesse J. Medina, Pharr International Bridge director.

“The modern and highly advanced facility is equipped with the latest information technology to ensure complete shipment visibility and efficient operations,” said the company.


Thursday, August 23, 2007

Ship owner pleads guilty

IMC Shipping Co. Pte. Ltd. of Singapore, owner of the 738-ft freighter Selendang Ayu, Aug 22 pleaded guilty in an Anchorage federal court to two counts of violating the Refuse Act and one count of violating the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, according to the US Dept. of Justice.

The Selendang Ayu ran aground Dec 8, 2004, and broke in two on the north side of Unalaska Island.

During rescue operations, a Coast Guard helicopter carrying Selendang Ayu crew members crashed. Six of the 10 crewmen were killed. The Coast Guard helicopter crew was rescued US District Court Judge Ralph Beistline accepted the terms of the plea agreement, calling for a $10mn fine to include $4mn in community service, including $3mn to assess risks for shipping hazards where the Selendang Ayu went aground, and $1mn for the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge.

More than 1,600 birds and six sea otters were found dead after the spill. IMC paid more than $100mn in cleanup costs.

US Attorney for Alaska Nelson Cohen praised the company for its cooperation in the investigation that followed.

Horizon Lines acquires Aero Logistics

Horizon Lines Inc. Aug 22 announced that it has acquired Aero Logistics, a full-service, 3PL provider headquartered in South San Francisco, CA. The terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.

Aero Logistics designs and manages custom freight-shipping and special handling programs for customers in service-sensitive industries, including high-tech, healthcare, energy, mining, retail, and apparel, according to the announcement.

Aero Logistics also operates a fleet of GPS-equipped trailers under the direction of their Aero Transportation division.

“Aero creates innovative solutions for its customers and offers a consistency of service that builds long-lasting client relationships,” said Brian Taylor, senior VP of sales and marketing for Horizon Lines and recently named to head Horizon Logistics as its president, effective Sep 1.

“Aero’s solid reputation for integrity, innovation, and the highest levels of customer service make the company a great fit for Horizon Logistics,” added Taylor.

Charlotte, NC-based Horizon Lines announced last week the formation of Horizon Logistics, established to manage the company’s growing integrated logistics services business.

Horizon Lines LLC will continue to operate the ocean container shipping services.

Con-way Freight consolidates operations

Con-way Freight Inc., a less-than-truckload (LTL) freight transportation company and subsidiary of Con-way Inc., Aug 22 announced that it will combine its three regional operating companies into one centralized operation headquartered in Ann Arbor, MI.

“This move marks a continuation of Con-way Freight’s vision to deliver a single enterprise brand that creates maximum efficiency and offers customers a comprehensive service portfolio,” said the announcement.

The company had operated under three units — Con-way Freight-Central, Con-way Freight-Southern, and Con-way Freight-Western — since its inception 24 years ago.

“This transformation will improve Con-way Freight’s performance,” said John G. Labrie, president, Con-way Freight.

“We are a great company that will become an extraordinary company by aligning and unifying management and processes around customers’ needs while improving our cost structure in an increasingly competitive LTL market,” Labrie added.

The parent company recently announced a new executive management team, including David L. Miller, CEO; Michael D. Yuenger, VP, finance; J. Edwin Conaway, executive VP, sales; Sean M. Devine, VP, engineering; Manoj Chopra, VP, pricing; and Scott J. Engers, VP, employee relations.


Friday, August 24, 2007

NASSCO, Navy in $2.5bn deal

General Dynamics NASSCO, a wholly owned subsidiary of General Dynamics, Aug 24 announced it has reached an agreement with the US Navy for options to build up to five additional T-AKE dry cargo ammunition ships.

Contracts for the ships, valued at approximately $2.5bn if all options are exercised, are expected to be awarded over the next four years, according to the announcement.

Including the nine ships previously under contract, this agreement means the San Diego shipyard would build a total of 14 T-AKE ships for the Navy, according to NASSCO.

Since Oct 2001, NASSCO has received contracts to build nine T-AKE ships and has delivered the first three ships of the class, according to the announcement.

The fourth T-AKE ship is scheduled to be delivered in November. Under the new agreement, NASSCO would deliver the fourteenth ship in the fourth quarter of 2014, said the announcement.

T-AKE ships are replacing single-mission ships that are reaching the end of their service lives, said the announcement.

Port of Oakland LNG power test complete

The successful completion of a test on “LNG mobile shoreside power” was announced Aug 23 by the Port of Oakland, Wittmar Engineering and Construction Inc., APL, the Bay Area Air Quality Management District, and Pacific Gas & Electric.

This new LNG (liquefied natural gas) mobile shoreside power technology is “an innovative and environmentally friendly way to generate electricity for ships at dock and significantly reduce air pollution,” said the port.

The Oakland Board of Port Commissioners Jul 17 approved a $275,000 investment to test new technology (Wittmar DFMV Cold Ironing) that would provide an affordable and effective mobile alternative to the electrical grid-based cold-ironing method, said the port.

The success of this power test also allows the port to present its findings to the California Air Resources Board (CARB) for consideration as an approved technology in their proposed ruling on cold ironing for the major California ports, according to the announcement.

CARB is expected to make its policy decisions later this year (2007). Emissions reduction statistics from the test are available upon request, said the port.

OSHA, ASA renew alliance

The US Dept. of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Aug 24 announced that it has renewed its alliance with the American Shipbuilding Association (ASA).

The alliance aims to “continue providing ASA members and other stakeholders in the shipbuilding industry with important information about reducing and preventing exposure to shipyard safety and health hazards,” according to the announcement.

“This cooperative alliance clearly illustrates our commitment to reducing shipyard safety and health hazards, while promoting best practices and technical knowledge for the shipbuilding industry,” said Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA Edwin G. Foulke Jr.

“This alliance agreement with OSHA demonstrates the importance that the American Shipbuilding Association places on the safety and well-being of our workforce,” said Cynthia L. Brown, president, American Shipbuilding Association.

ASA representatives are serving on the editorial boards of the Maritime Industry and Ship Building and Ship Repair Safety and Health Topics pages and the Shipyard Employment eTool, which is a product of this alliance.

Under the OSHA Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing a safe and healthful workplace for their employees.