Cargo Business Newswire Archives
Summary for August 25 through August 29, 2014:

Monday, August 25, 2014

Panama Canal Authority updates Maersk execs on expansion

The Panama Canal is launching a pre-operating plan for its new third set of locks, which are expected to be operational by the start of 2016, and recently briefed officials from Maersk Line on the upgrades, according to an announcement by Panama Canal Administrator Jorge Luis Quijano.

Quijano presented the plan during a meeting with a delegation from Maersk Line, including company President Soren Skou, the Panama Canal Authority (ACP) said in a statement.

"Maersk Line remains today one of the principal clients of the Panama Canal," Quijano said.

Maersk executives were updated on the progress of the Expansion Program, the statement said, noting that the plan is underway to ensure that the new locks will be open for transit by the beginning of 2016.

The meeting with the world’s biggest shipping line was held to discuss future trends in the shipping industry and the latest progress on the expansion work, according to the ACP, which has been managing the canal since the U.S. military ceded control of the waterway in 1999.

The expansion project began in 2007 and calls for the building of a third set of locks, one each on the Atlantic and Pacific coasts, that will create a third lane of traffic big enough to accommodate the larger cargo ships.

Expansion work was supposed to be finished this year, to dovetail with the 100th anniversary of the waterway, but is currently 76 percent complete, the ACP said.

Shipper cry foul as rail rates soar

Following 10 years of freight rate hikes that resulted in record rail profits and stock returns, shippers such as Diversified gas company and Dow Chemical are asking the U.S. government to give them some relief.

"We kept cautioning the railroad and cautioning the railroad, but they didn’t listen," said Sandra J. Dearden, president of Highroad Consulting, which represents Diversified. "They priced everybody out of the business."

The companies want the government to change the rules so that they can compel railroads to hand off cargo to a rival in mid-journey, which would make it easier to challenge higher rates with the U.S. Surface Transportation Board.

Carriers say shippers are paying less for better service since the 1980 Staggers Act deregulated the industry. Railroad lobbyists say that easing the 1980 law that ended price controls would threaten the industry’s renaissance.

Ed Hamberger, chief executive officer of the Association of American Railroads in Washington, says shippers want to restore regulated prices and return the industry to a cash-starved era with tracks in such disrepair that even immobile rail cars would tip over and trains would be forced to run at 10 miles per hour or less on a quarter of U.S. tracks.

Rates may keep rising. Rail carloads climbed 7 percent last quarter, triggered by surging crude-by-rail cargoes and a bumper North American grain harvest. Truckers are hiking fees, too, with long-haul rates forecast to increase 5.1 percent in the second half, according to data from transportation consultant FTR Associates.

For more of the Bloomberg story:

Port Metro Vancouver okays coal port

Port Metro Vancouver, Canada’s largest, approved a plan to build a $13.7 million terminal to ship coal from Wyoming to Asian markets.

Coal from the Powder River Basin in Wyoming would be shipped by rail to the new terminal and then loaded directly onto barges for shipment to Texada Island, British Columbia, before being loaded on ocean-going vessels to markets in Asia, the port said.

B.C.’s Fraser Surrey Docks, which has faced opposition from environmental activists and locals about issues ranging from climate change to coal dust, plans to build the facility next to its existing container terminal.

"Through our comprehensive project review process, stakeholder consultation, as well as third-party validated environmental and health studies, it was determined there are no unacceptable risks and the project could be permitted," Peter Xotta, Port Metro Vancouver’s vice president of planning and operations, said Thursday in an e-mailed statement.

For more of the Bloomberg story:

Anchorage needs $270M to finish port project

Anchorage is pushing the reset button on its Port of Anchorage project. Construction was stopped in 2010 on the first attempt to revamp the port after damage was found to sheet pile intended to be the dock face.

Work at the port has been almost stagnant since those major construction problems were discovered four years ago. More than $300 million of public money has been spent on the project since its launch in 2003, with only barge dock completed.

Anchorage Mayor Dan Sullivan told a meeting of stakeholders that he is confident in their ability to jumpstart the stalled construction project.

"We’re certainly at a very important stage in moving the project forward," Sullivan said. "It’s been, as we all know, a challenging last four to five years watching a project that’s spent a significant amount of money not be viable and having to reverse course — not only undoing construction, as we know will have to happen in the future, but going a new direction in design and construction."

Sullivan said finishing the original sheet pile design that had included relocating the port’s TOTE and Horizon Lines to a new north dock, would have cost an additional $600 million or more. The scaled-back, pile-supported concepts drafted by project manager CH2M Hill, which the city now supports, would likely cost less than $400 million, he said.

The city currently has $130 million set aside for the project.

Finding funds for the project will be the biggest challenge it faces, said Sullivan. He added getting the Port of Anchorage construction project "back on track" before he leaves office (to run for lieutenant governor) has been his top priority and will continue to be.

For more of the Alaska Journal of Commerce story:

Giant rubber duck calls at Port of L.A. (video)

A giant rubber duck, created by Dutch artist Florentijn Hofman, called at the Port of Los Angeles early Wednesday morning to participate in the five-day Festival of Tall Ships.

"This is 61 feet, 11 tons, about 85 feet wide and about 110 feet long," said Craig Samborski, spokesperson for the Festival of Tall Ships. "I was shocked when I saw the size of it right in front of me."

For more of the ABC7 story:


Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Port of Portland nixes deal with ILWU, putting reefer jobs back in play

Nine months ago the Port of Portland awarded two hotly contested reefer jobs at Terminal 6 to members of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, and now the port has taken them back.

On Friday Port of Portland Executive Director Bill Wyatt sent a letter to Mike Stanton, president of Local 8 of the ILWU, saying the port was terminating the contract with the dockworkers due to low productivity.

"The extremely low productivity at T6 remains unacceptable and negatively impacts all of the people whose livelihood is connected with working at or providing services to T6 and those who depend on the facility to efficiently ship products worldwide," the letter said, including a bar chart tracking declines in the number of crane moves-per-hour since the jobs were given to the ILWU workers in December 2013.

"Productivity at the ICTSI facility is directly related to ICTSI's irresponsible and incompetent management. Nothing more," wrote ILWU spokesperson Jennifer Sargent in a Friday statement, referring to the terminal operated by International Container Services Oregon Inc., a subsidiary of a Philippine conglomerate. "A big part of the problem is the port's blind support of ICTSI."

The port's decision to nix the contract may reignite the fight over the jurisdiction of two jobs that involve plugging in and unplugging reefers at the port. It may continue the two-year battle over whether the reefer work should go to the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (which handled the jobs for decades) or to longshore union workers—a conflict that caused slowdowns at Terminal 6 to the extent that Hanjin Shipping was considering ending its weekly service at Portland.

In December the port awarded the jobs to the ILWU workers after the electrical workers gave their consent.

A spokesperson for Gov. John Kitzhaber said he supports the port's decision to terminate its contract with the longshore union for the reefer jobs.

The ILWU said it would announce results this week of a vote by union members to accept or reject a tentative contract agreement with three grain-handling companies. If accepted, that would end a protracted dispute that has caused congestion and delays for grain shipments out of the Port of Vancouver's United Grain terminal.

Meanwhile, talks continue between the ILWU and the Pacific Maritime Association to replace a contract for workers at 29 West Coast ports that expired this summer.

For more of The Oregonian story:

Drewry: M&A activity heats up in U.S. container terminal sector

Merger and acquisitions in the U.S. container terminal sector is at its peak since the mid-2000s, reports the latest issue of Container Insight from Drewry Maritime Research, although the reasons for pursuing these deals have changed.

The U.S. container terminal sector has seen numerous high profile deals so far this year, and Drewry cites several examples. Brookfield Asset Management bought APM Terminals' Port Elizabeth at the Port of New York/New Jersey, and also stakes in MOL's TraPac terminals in Los Angeles and Oakland. K Line sold a stake in its Long Beach ITS Terminal to Ports America. And Goldman Sachs sold a 49 percent stake in SSA Marine to a Mexican entrepreneur.

Drewry says the financial players are the same type of buyers that were most active in U.S. terminals investments in the mid-2000s. The current buying spree, however, is spurred by lower acquisition prices, the EBITDA per box, and the fact that the U.S. is a low risk, stable place to invest, researchers say. In addition, automation is gaining momentum at U.S. terminals, which results in lower labor costs and higher capital investments.

The analysts note that the recent increase in U.S. M&A activity has also been triggered by continuing financial pressure on carriers and the fact that investors that put money into terminals in the mid-2000s are at the stage where they're ready to pull out as funds reach maturity.

Drewry predicts U.S. terminals will remain a hot M&A target and that more deals will likely be seen in coming months.

Port of Rotterdam struggles with severe cargo bottleneck

Europe's busiest container port, the Port of Rotterdam, is struggling to move cargo as an unexpected surge in volume has created a serious bottleneck, just when work to upgrade the facility has reduced capacity.

Many shippers are rushing to divert goods to alternate routes to avoid some of the longest delays in years at the port, after being forced to pay hefty charges due to the delays.

The revamp of one of the port's four terminals and many off-schedule ship arrivals are intensifying the cargo snarl.

"It's pretty severe with deep-sea vessels arriving out of schedule and the terminal upgrades happening at the same time," said Lodewijk Wisse, a maritime policy adviser at the Dutch Shippers' Council (EVO), a trade group of cargo owners. "We have [containers] that can't be loaded up to smaller ships for transshipment to other European ports."

Wisse cited delays of up to seven days. Shippers are paying congestion charges of up to $75 per-container to compensate operators of support vessels such as feeder ships and barges.

Shipping executives and exporters are saying the Rotterdam disruption is the worst they have seen at a major port in years.

For more of the Wall Street Journal story:

Thousands of truckers strike at Ningbo port, disrupting cargo flow

Thousands of truck drivers went on strike, protesting wages and haulage rates in the eastern Chinese port of Ningbo last week, disrupting operations at the world's sixth-busiest port, according to a logistics firm.

Local media said the strike started in the Beilun area of the port with a few hundred drivers and escalated Thursday to a few thousand, who conflicted with police. China Labour Bulletin, a Hong Kong workers rights group, said as many as 10,000 truckers were involved in the demonstration.

In a statement on its official blog, Ningbo Port said the strike started due to trucking rates, but declined to elaborate. Officials said they were putting measures in place to ensure that port operations were not disrupted and losses were kept to a minimum.

Bonnie Xu, station leader for Ningbo at logistics firm BDP International, said the strike was preventing the company from delivering containerized exports to the port and import containers from being sent out to clients.

Calls to the Beilun district police, government and Ningbo Port were not answered.

The port handled 16.77 million TEUs in 2013, an increase of 7 percent from the previous year.

For more of the South China Morning Post story:

Debilitated tanker towed to Port of San Francisco for repair

The 485-foot chemical tanker Pine Galaxy that had an engine room fire in mid-August, resulting in the death of a crewmember and the loss of electrical power and propulsion, is being towed to the Port of San Francisco for repairs, the U.S. Coast Guard said Saturday.

The fire left the Bahamian-registered ship about 700 miles west of Cape Blanco, Oregon, the Coast Guard official said. Products being transported by the mixed product tanker include neutral oil, tetramer, propylene tetramer and vegetable oil, according to Coast Guard officials.

A safety and assessment team comprised of the Coast Guard and several federal, state and local agencies, will work with the owners of the disabled tanker to ensure the safety of the ship's crew while making plans for repairs.

For more of the KTVU News story:


Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Breaking Story

Progress reported by ILWU and PMA with tentative health benefit agreement

Tangible signs of progress appear to be materializing after the almost two months since the deadline expired on a new six-year master contract between the International Longshore and Warehouse Union and the Pacific Maritime Association.  

The ILWU and PMA announced via statement late yesterday that they "have reached a tentative agreement on terms for health benefits, subject to agreement on the other issues in the negotiations."  

"Maintenance of health benefits (MOB) is an important part of the contract being negotiated between employers represented by the PMA and workers represented by the ILWU," the joint statement said.  

No other details were released, as has been the practice thus far between the two parties.  

The announcement came on the heels of a letter sent to the ILWU and PMA by Sandy Kennedy, president of the of Retailer Industry Leaders Association, that warned of the potential repercussions such as the working waterfront shutdown of 2002 on the U.S. West Coast.  

The current longshore contract negotiations have not reportedly encouraged any overt labor issues , although Kennedy said her group's retail industry members would "continue to exercise contingency plans throughout their massive supply chain operations despite the fact the West Coast negotiations have not reached an impasse."  

There have been reported freight bottleneck issues occurring through Western Canada's main port in Vancouver, BC related to shipper contingency re-routing.  

The DP World Centerm Terminal at Port Metro Vancouver had announced last week it would cease accepting U.S.-bound containers intended for rail transfer due to a shortage of railcars.

The terminal was operating over capacity due to a surge of diverted U.S. cargo over the past few months caused by uncertainty over the ongoing U.S. West Coast labor negotiations. The influx has stressed all terminals at Port Metro Vancouver, according to a statement released by the terminal operator.

According to DP World, of the more than 78,000 feet of rail cargo at the terminal last week, 50,000 feet was U.S.-destined cargo.  

TSI Terminal Systems, the largest operator of container terminals at Port Metro Vancouver, announced it would continue to accept U.S.-bound rail cargo at the B.C. port.

DP World reported it would continue to handle U.S. bound cargo moving by truck to regional markets or nearby container yards.

In early July, Canadian National Railway began issuing equipment allocations to ocean carrier customers through Metro Vancouver and the Port of Prince Rupert.

Top Story

ILWU reaches agreement with PNW grain terminal owners, lock-out ends

International Longshore and Warehouse Union dockworkers at Pacific Northwest grain terminals have voted to ratify a new contract with Louis Dreyfus Commodities, United Grain Corporation and Columbia Grain, according to an ILWU statement.

ILWU said the vote included members of ILWU Local 8 in Portland, Ore., Local 4 in Vancouver, Local 21 in Longview, Local 19 in Seattle, and Local 23 in Tacoma, Wash., who collectively voted 88.4 percent in favor of the tentative collective bargaining agreement that will be in effect until May 31, 2018.
Negotiations for the new agreement started in August of 2012, involved 70 separate sessions, and included lockouts at Portland's Columbia Grain and Vancouver's United Grain facilities. Terms of the agreement include work rule changes and wage increases over the life of the agreement, according to the union statement.
ILWU said its members will resume their jobs at the locked-out facilities on Wednesday. All picketing has stopped, and the parties have agreed to drop all pending NLRB and other legal actions associated with the dispute, according to the statement.
Bargaining was difficult, the union said, but in the end, both sides compromised significantly from their original positions, resulting in a workable agreement that "preserves the work of the ILWU-represented workforce and fosters stability for the export grain industry."

OOCL launches joint service on NE Asia, Australia and New Zealand trades

Orient Overseas Container Line has announced a joint service offering with CMA CGM, China Shipping Container Lines and Pacific International Lines on the North East Asia, Australia and New Zealand trades, to be launched from Shanghai in early November.

OOCLS reports new service will be operated with seven 4,250-TEU vessels — three ships from CMA CGM, two from OOCL and one vessel each from CSCL and PIL. The new joint offering will replace the current ANZEX/NZN service operated by CMA CGM and OOCL.

The weekly service will turn around in 49 days, the statement said, offering wide-ranging port coverage in Asia and New Zealand and including a stop in Australia. The full port rotation and phase in plan will be confirmed by end of the month.

Nautilus and Metro Ports subsidiary move headquarters to Long Beach

After 91 years in one location, Nautilus International Holding Corp. — including subsidiaries Metro Ports, Metro Cruise Services, Metro Shore Services and Metro Risk Management — says it will move from its Wilmington headquarters into a new 40,000 square-foot building on 2.57 acres in Douglas Park in Long Beach, Calif.

The holding company oversees various subsidiary businesses in the stevedoring, terminal operations, agency, logistics and risk management sectors.

"Having recently finalized negotiations for a 20-year operating agreement with the Port of Long Beach, moving to the City of Long Beach is a concrete demonstration of our nine-decade relationship with both the city and port," said Nautilus COO Michael Giove. "We will be in closer proximity to our valued Long Beach operations and within 1.5 miles of the current port offices as well."

The corporation reports that approximately 80 personnel, with the capacity to exceed 120, will be stationed in the new head office. Groundbreaking for the new building, which sits on the northeast corner of Worsham Avenue and Cover Street, is planned for some time in late September or early October, with an expected December 2015 completion date, the statement said.

The new building will satisfy the California Green Building Standards Code and will be LEED Certified, with 168 parking spaces, which will include eight electric vehicles charging stations. The parking area will encompass a carport structure, utilizing solar panels as the cover, which, in turn, will be utilized to power the building.

The developer is locally-based Urbana Development.

Logistics survey indicates positive present for sea freight, less optimistic future

Certain global logistics trends emerged in the latest Stifel Logistics Confidence Index survey, which marked a dip of 0.4 points for an overall reading of 55.7, according to Transport Intelligence.

While the "present situation" category remained positive, gaining 1.2 points from July to 53.5, TI said the "expected situation" for the next six months dropped 2.0 points to 57.9.

This decline was mainly due to responses about airfreight expectations, which declined 3.3 points to 54.7. The sea freight expectation component declined 0.7 points to 61.0. Even though uncertainty in the global market is influencing the freight forwarding market, this month's unique question may suggest another possible trend may be influencing this market.

The overall Sea Freight index increased 0.7 points to 58.5, due to a strong rise in confidence regarding the "present situation," said TI, which gained 2.2 points for the month. Three lanes noted increases while the U.S.-to-Europe lane remained unchanged from July.

Sea Freight's "expected situation" declined 0.7 points to 61.0, and Stifel says the outlook still remains good despite mixed results from trade lanes. The Asia-to-Europe "expected situation" declined the most for the month, down 3.0 points to 63.6, while U.S.-to-Europe realized the biggest gain at 1.5 points to 59.2.

Those surveyed were asked if they have converted any airfreight to sea freight and/or ocean freight to airfreight in the past 12 months. The results, according to TI, indicated that 48 percent had indeed converted some airfreight to ocean freight while 38.7 percent indicated some shift from sea freight to airfreight.

Truck drivers charged in connection with container fatality

After appearing in a British court, two truck drivers from Ireland were remanded into custody over the death of a man found in a shipping container at Tilbury Docks.

Timothy Murphy and Stephen McLaughlin were charged with conspiring with each other and "with other persons unknown" to "clandestinely convey 35 Afghan nationals by sea in to an English port, which facilitated the commission of a breach of immigration law."

For more of the UTV story:


Thursday, August 28, 2014

Port of Seattle appoints business executive Ted Fick as new CEO

Following a national search, the Port of Seattle Commission has selected Ted J. Fick, a manufacturing and transportation executive with decades of experience, to be the next CEO of the Port of Seattle.

"Ted has the right combination of skills and dynamic leadership to help the Port of Seattle thrive in the globally competitive environment ports face today. He brings the fresh perspective and breadth of experience we need to help our region generate new jobs and economic growth," said Commission Co-President Courtney Gregoire.

Commissioners must vote to formally confirm Fick, who will take over as head of the port once current CEO Tay Yoshitani retires next month. The vote is scheduled for their next meeting on September 11, when Fick will be introduced to the community.

"I am honored to join the Port of Seattle, an organization I've depended on, worked with and admired throughout my career," said Fick. "I am grateful for the opportunity to lead the highly-skilled team of people that keep the port humming every day, and I can't wait to join them as we work together to generate 100,000 more jobs for the Puget Sound region."

Fick, a Tacoma native, has spent more than 25 years leading major manufacturing and transportation organizations including oversight of international operations. He began his career at his family's Tacoma-based company, Fick Foundry, and then spent many years at PNW manufacturer PACCAR, holding leadership positions at both PACCAR and their Kenworth division.

Since 2000, Fick has held multiple senior leadership positions in transportation and manufacturing, most recently as CEO of Polar Corporation, a $475-million trailer and component parts manufacturer in Minnesota. In that position, he oversaw three operating divisions, multiple manufacturing plants, and a workforce of more than 2,000 represented and non-represented employees.

Fick will assume his new role as CEO of the Port of Seattle on September 29, 2014.

9th Circuit Appeals Court: FedEx Ground drivers are employees, not contractors

On Wednesday the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that FedEx Ground drivers in California and Oregon are employees not independent contractors and will be allowed to pursue claims of unpaid wages and benefits under state and federal labor laws.

FedEx said on Wednesday that it would challenge the ruling.

The 3-judge appeals court panel reversed a lower court's ruling, allowing FedEx Ground drivers to move forward with their lawsuits. It also paves the way for those who have filed similar claims against FedEx in approximately 40 states.

"We fundamentally disagree with these rulings, which run counter to more than 100 state and federal findings ... upholding our contractor relationships with thousands of independent businesses," said Cary Blancett, FedEx Ground senior vice president and general counsel in a statement.

The appeals court noted in its decision that although the FedEx operating agreement states that its drivers are independent contractors, the drivers wear FedEx uniforms, drive company-approved vehicles and are told by FedEx what packages to deliver and where and when to deliver them.

For more of the Reuters story:

ILWU and PMA reach tentative agreement on health care benefits

Progress was made Tuesday on contract negotiations for nearly 20,000 West Coast dockworkers, according to the International Longshore and Warehouse Union and the Pacific Maritime Association, who jointly announced a tentative agreement on the thorny issue health care costs.

Maintenance of health benefits is a crucial part of the talks between employers represented by the PMA and workers represented by the ILWU. The parties said they have agreed not to discuss the terms of this provisional deal, which is subject to agreement on the other issues as negotiations continue.

Dockworkers are currently working without a contract, since the previous agreement expired July 1, 2014. The current contract talks, which began on May 12, will continue, the statement said.

DP World takes over Trilogiport development at Belgium's Liege port

DP World has acquired all of Euroports' shares in a planned Liege Port container terminal in Belgium, also known as Trilogiport, and has said it will be responsible for the terminal's development.

Trilogiport, which is yet to be built, is a project that is part of the Marshall Plan of the Walloon Government, and a key part of the plan to develop Liege as a logistics hub.

"DP World supports our strategy to connect Antwerp and Rotterdam to Germany, the Netherlands and France via Liege," said Louis Bertrand, director-general of the Liege Port Authority.

The project is scheduled for completion in 2015. Liege Port itself will invest in the construction of the platform and a bridge linking the site directly to the motorway.

WDP and D.L. Trilogiport Deutschland, leading companies in logistics real estate, will develop a logistics park adjacent to the terminal.

For more of Emirates 24/7:

Cargo from shipwreck off Malta dates back to 700 B.C.

The cargo of an ancient ship recovered near a Maltese island could contain some of the most ancient Phoenician artifacts ever discovered, according to a university researcher.

Divers retrieved 20 grinding stones and 50 amphorae (ancient jars with two handles and a narrow neck) from the ship that date back to around 700 B.C., according to University of Malta researcher Timothy Gambin.

Experts say the ship was probably sailing between Sicily and Malta when it sank. The Phoenicians were traders who sailed the Mediterranean from 1550 B.C. until 300 B.C.

Experts in the field expect to find parts of the ship and other artifacts underneath the seabed as they continue their search one mile off Gozo Island.

For more of the Telegraph story:

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