Monday, November 11, 2013
Port of Oakland seeks injunction against independent truckers
The Port of Oakland filed for an injunction against independent truckers who have forced the port to close twice since August due to protests over emissions regulations, low pay and long wait times.
The port wants to ban the truckers from stopping the flow of cargo traffic, barring them from demonstrating in the roads and driveways outside the port's terminals, according to port spokeswoman Marilyn Sandifur.
"The protesters have a right to exercise their First Amendment rights," she said. "They will continue to be allowed to conduct demonstrations as long as it doesn't illegally block access to port facilities."
On October 17 the port took out a temporary restraining order against the truckers in Alameda County Superior Court. The current move would replace that restraining order with a more permanent injunction. The truckers and the port will meet in court for a hearing on November 19.
Attorney Dan Siegel, who represents two truckers the port says are protest organizers, said the injunction would merely prohibit actions that are already illegal and constitutes as "abuse of power."
As independent contractors, the truckers are not recognized as workers under the National Labor Relations Act, and are not union members. Siegel said they have few options other than direct action when they want to improve their working conditions.
"We must get these labor issues behind us," wrote Perry Bourne, director of international transportation and rail operations at Tyson Fresh Meats in an email to the Port of Oakland's deputy director. "If we can't consistently service our market, our customers have other country origins like Australia that would love to regain our market share."
For more of the Oakland North story: oaklandnorth.net
Port Everglades is one step closer to deeper navigation channels
Port Everglades officials may soon implement a long-awaited harbor-dredging project to accommodate post-Panamax vessels, now that the U.S. House of Representatives has passed the Water Resources Reform and Development Act, according to a Broward County statement.
The next step is the appointment of a congressional committee to resolve the differences between the House and Senate versions of the water resources legislation, the statement said. The legislation includes the "manager's amendment," which would allow the port to move forward with deepening its navigation channels prior to congressional approval. Hopes are high that the Senate will support WRRDA language similar to that in the House bill.
"House approval of the Manager's Amendment was essential to allow Port Everglades to move forward with deepening and widening our harbor, which is critical to sustaining local jobs that are increasingly dependent upon the larger cargo ships that our customers are already starting to deploy to compete in today's global marketplace," said Steven Cernak, Port Everglades chief executive and director, during a press conference.
Cernak gave credit to the Broward County commissioners and the Broward County congressional delegation, especially Congresswomen Lois Frankel and Debbie Wasserman Schultz, for working together to find a bipartisan solution.
"Port Everglades is one of the economic giants of Florida," said Congresswoman Frankel. "And, with the passage of the bi-partisan WRRDA bill in the United States House of Representatives, our port can position itself to create thousands of more jobs right here in our backyard."
According to the Army Corps of Engineers draft report, the project will deepen Port Everglades' channel from 42 feet to 48 feet (when completed, the project will include an additional two feet of allowable overdepth for a total of 50 feet). It will widen the channel entrance so that cargo ships can safely pass cruise ships docked along the Intracoastal Waterway inside the port.
The total cost for deepening and widening Port Everglades' navigational channels is estimated at $313 million, to be paid for through a mix of federal funds, port user fees and possibly state funds. No local tax dollars will be used for this project.
"We have immediate business needs now," Cernak said. "Post-Panamax ships are already coming to Port Everglades thanks to our strong global trade connections, but some of these vessels have to be lightly loaded due to our existing channel depth limitations so we need deeper water to allow them and the port to operate more efficiently. We have been working with the Army Corps of Engineers for 17 years and cannot afford any further delay."
Potential $4B LNG project secured for two Louisiana ports
The Terrebonne Economic Development Authority in Louisiana has secured a potential $4 billion LNG project with China for Terrebonne and Lafourche parishes.
Outgoing TEDA chief Steve Vassallo has forged alliances with two Chinese investors, via his sister-city initiative between Terrebonne Parish and Weihai City, China. The investors have pledged $250 million each for a liquid natural gas project and related spin-offs at the Port of Terrebonne and Port Fourchon.
The initial $500 million investment could lead to a project worth at least $4 billion, according to Vassallo, who said he expects much of the remainder to be funded by American joint venture partners.
"We have been priming the pump with the Chinese for the previous 18 months," Vassallo said. "In July of this year, I led a delegation to Beijing to meet with prospective investors for this project, and in August I led a subsequent delegation to Houston for a follow-up meeting with associates of the Beijing prospects. With this week's pledges, we now have a live project, and I am truly thrilled. Louisiana Economic Development (LED) is fully on board, of course, as this constitutes one of the largest potential foreign investments in the history of our state."
COSCO executive targeted by China's anti-graft inquiries
COSCO Holdings, China's largest bulk shipping company, announced that one of its top executives as been targeted by government as it aims to cleanse the country's industries of graft and extortion.
COSCO Vice President Xu Minjie resigned one day after the company announcement that he was "under investigation by the relevant authorities," which is language used in China to connote corruption investigations.
The company's statement to the Shanghai stock exchange on Friday said that there were no problems between Xu and the board but offered no details. The company did respond to Reuters' calls seeking comment.
A former COSCO Group chairman, Wei Jiafu, has reportedly also been prevented from leaving China, according to the Beijing Times, which cited anonymous company sources.
COSCO Group denied reports of Wei having been banned from leaving, pledging to comply with the country's anti-graft procedures. It declined further comment.
For more of the Reuters story: reuters.com
Six missing after cargo vessel cut loose in typhoon
Six people are missing after their cargo ship got lost in the South China Sea in Typhoon Haiyan, according to maritime officials.
On Sunday afternoon, the mooring rope of the ship was severed during the typhoon. The ship was anchored in Sanya Port, the Sanya Maritime Bureau reports.
Rescue teams are conducting a search for the missing vehicle, which is difficult in rough seas.
For more of the CRI English story: english.cri.cn
Tuesday, November 12, 2013
LB Business Journal: Mayor Bob Foster prepares to remove Long Beach Harbor Commissioner Thomas Fields
Mayor Bob Foster has scheduled an agenda item for the November 19 Long Beach City Council meeting to remove Thomas Fields from the Long Beach Board of Harbor Commissioners, according to a statement from the Long Beach Business Journal.
Fields, currently the president of the five-member commission, was appointed by Foster and is three years into his six-year term.
In a note to councilmembers released yesterday, Foster reportedly cited Section 510 of the Long Beach City Charter, which states: "Removal of Commission Members. The Mayor may remove any member of a Charter-mandated commission at any time, with the concurrence of two-thirds (2/3) of the members of the City Council."
In September 2012, the Long Beach Business Journal reported on accusations leveled at Fields by fellow commissioner Doug Drummond during a closed session of the board.
Fields left the meeting and issued a letter to Foster "requesting the offices of the City Attorney and City Prosecutor investigate certain serious allegations made by Harbor Commissioner Doug Drummond at the August 20th Harbor Commission meeting. During the discussion of the new Administration Building for the Port of Long Beach, Commissioner Drummond accused Commissioner Nick Sramek and myself of improper, unethical and illegal acts," the article said.
Foster and then-city attorney Robert Shannon criticized Fields for violating the Brown Act by disclosing closed session discussions. Fields said the letter didn't mention any details involving a "possible transaction," and that he was addressing slanderous accusations leveled at him that were "beyond closed session accountability," according to the September 11, 2012 issue of the Long Beach Business Journal.
More recently, Councilmember Gary DeLong and others have criticized Fields for what they claim are high travel expenses charged to the port. City Auditor Laura Doud has been preparing a report on port travel expenses, which is to be released this month. In response, Fields suggested that Doud expand her audit "to cover all city officials' travel paid for by the port during the past seven years."
Long Beach Business Journal said it plans to cover the November 19 Long Beach City Council Meeting in its 11-19-2013 issue.
NRF: Peak season import volume up 4.3 percent, holiday sales up 3.9 percent
Import volume surged by 6.5 percent in October year-over-year at top U.S. retail container ports, and similar increases are expected to continue for the rest of the year, according to the monthly Global Port Tracker report released Tuesday by the National Retail Federation and Hackett Associates.
The country's cargo volume was unaffected by the government shutdown, the report said. U.S. Customs and Border Protection inspectors remained on the job during the 16-day shutdown, ensuring that cargo flow through the nation's ports was uninterrupted.
"Retailers place their orders for merchandise months ahead of time, so cargo arriving at the ports in October and for most of the rest of the year was ordered long before anybody ever heard of a shutdown," said Jonathan Gold, NRF vice president for supply chain and customs policy. "The question at this point isn't how much merchandise arrived but how much consumers bought, and how they are going to react as economic talks continue in Washington."
NRF forecasts that this year's holiday sales will grow 3.9 year-over-year to a total of $602.1 billion.
Peak shipping season — August, September and October — accounts for 26.8 percent of all U.S. retail imports for the entire year. The NRF said 4.35 million TEUs were handled over the three-month period, a 4.3 percent increase compared to 2012.
U.S. ports followed by Global Port Tracker handled 1.43 million TEUs in September, up 2 percent from September 2012. October is forecasted to be up 6.5 percent at 1.43 million TEUs, November up 3.3 percent at 1.33 million TEUs, and December up 1.8 percent at 1.31 million TEUs.
The NRF predicts that January 2014 cargo volume at the retail ports will be up 3 percent year-over-year at 1.35 million TEUs, February will be down 7.5 percent at 1.18 million TEUs, and March will be up 17 percent at 1.33 million TEUs.
The total forecast for 2013 is 16.2 million TEUs, up 2.3 percent from 2012's 15.8 million TEU.
"The GDP forecast for the remainder of this year is not expected to be seriously impacted by the government shutdown and growth going forward should be back to its expansionary path," Hackett said. "The first half of 2014 will bring solid growth back."
Global Port Tracker covers the ports of Los Angeles/Long Beach, Oakland, Seattle, Tacoma, New York/New Jersey, Hampton Roads, Charleston, Savannah, Port Everglades, Miami, and Houston.
PepsiCo plans $5.5B investment in India
PepsiCo announced it would invest $5.5 billion in India by 2020, concentrating on growth in emerging markets.
The manufacturer of Mountain Dew, Gatorade and Frito-Lay chips intends to more than double production in India within about 7 years, projecting it will create more than 100,000 new jobs in the country. The money will be spent on new products, agriculture programs, selling infrastructure and manufacturing capabilities, according to a company statement.
Indra Nooyi, PepsiCo chairman and CEO, said that India has huge potential and the company has only scratched the surface of the long-term growth opportunities there.
The move follows Coca-Cola Co.'s statement last year that it would invest $3 billion in India over an eight-year period to increase its market stake there.
For more of the Manufacturing.net story: manufacturing.net
Cuba's $900M Port of Mariel expected to open in early 2014
Cuba's Port of Mariel is being transformed into a huge, high tech, $900 million port and special commercial zone, expected to open in early 2014.
Communist officials forecast that Mariel will become a draw for foreign investment and might position the country to take advantage of a trade boom if the U.S. ever lifts its 51-year embargo and allows container ships south. Others say the port's effect on Cuba may be more modest, echoing the country's long-stagnant economy.
"The Port of Mariel could ... contribute to a revival of Cuban foreign trade, more so if there are improvements in relations with the United States," said Arturo Lopez-Levy, an economist and lecturer at the University of Denver.
The country started the Mariel port project after it was determined that Havana was too shallow to accommodate post-Panamax vessels and could not be deepened because of a car tunnel that crosses the mouth of the bay.
Mariel will be able to receive the bigger, deeper draft container ships and accommodate greater trade. Trade will also be facilitated by the adjacent 180-square-mile industrial park and special development zone, which opened Nov. 1.
For more of the Washington Post story: washingtonpost.com
Pirates seize tanker near Singapore
Ten pirates armed with guns and knives boarded a vessel in the Strait of Malacca, forcing the crew to transfer its gasoil cargo to another ship, according to the International Maritime Bureau's Piracy Reporting Center.
Perhaps it's the work of some kind of gang," said Captain Mathew Mathai, the marine manager at the Nippon Maritime Center, a research group in Singapore.
The attack is similar to those occurring off the coast of Nigeria because the pirates siphoned off the cargo, Mathai said. "You need an empty ship to transfer the cargo to. It may be a syndicate in operation."
For more of the Bloomberg story: bloomberg.com
Wednesday, November 13, 2013
Maersk: Container shipping showing early signs of rebound
A.P. Moller-Maersk raised its 2013 earnings forecast after a strong third quarter, a good sign for the container shipping industry and the global economy. The group raised its forecast for full-year net profit to $3.5 billion, up from $3.3 billion, and reiterated it expected Maersk Line to easily beat last year's figure of $461 million.
Container volumes carried by Maersk Line rose 11 percent in Q3.
"The global market showed encouraging growth of around 5 percent in Q3... showing early indications of demand picking up," Maersk said on Wednesday in its earnings report.
"It seems that there is light at the end of the tunnel," said Sydbank analyst Jacob Pedersen, noting that the report reflected early signs of an improvement in the global economy.
For more of the Reuters story: reuters.com
Hanjin to Port of Portland: Speed up or say goodbye to our business
Hanjin Shipping Co. officials gave Port of Portland's Bill Wyatt an ultimatum: Speed up work on the docks, or say goodbye to our cargo vessels.
"I'm bringing the message back from the carriers that productivity is the only issue that prevents them from continuing service in Portland," said Wyatt, the executive director of the port, in a direct challenge to the International Longshore and Warehouse Union.
Wyatt, who returned this week from meeting with Hanjin in China, said he wants to enter talks with the union to expedite loading and unloading ships at the port's container terminal.
If the issue can't be resolved, he says, Hanjin will proceed with its plan announced in October to stop calling on Portland in January, leaving the area's exporters and importers with no direct global shipping connection. It would especially impact big importers such as Fred Meyer and Columbia Sportswear Co. who would have to pay more to transport truck containers to Washington ports.
In the past the union has denied staging slowdowns and blamed terminal operator ICTSI Oregon for bad management. An ILWU spokeswoman did not immediately respond Tuesday to requests for comment.
Hanjin managers have protested that ICTSI is raising rates to excessive levels. But in China, Hanjin officials blamed the high rates directly on low dockworker productivity, according to Wyatt.
"The revenue that terminal operators earn is by the box and the cost that they incur is by the hour," Wyatt said. "A 29-to-30-boxes-per-hour move count is historical. But when it slips down to 19 to 20 it costs them significantly more money to handle the same amount of cargo."
Wyatt said he's ready to meet with the ILWU, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, ICTSI and others in search of a solution before the end of the year.
For more of the oregonlive.com
Hapag-Lloyd Q3 profits down 64 percent
Hapag-Lloyd AG said third-quarter profit fell almost 64 percent on low peak-season freight rates.
Net income fell to $22.3 million from $61.3 million year-over-year, according to a statement from container line. The average freight rate dropped more than 10 percent to $1,476 per-TEU in Q3.
"The freight rate developments in the third quarter, the peak season for the liner shipping industry, were very disappointing," CEO Michael Behrendt said in the statement. "The irrational behavior in the industry, which once again caused rates to drop drastically in October, is totally incomprehensible."
The collapse of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. in September 2008 and the resultant debt crisis in the euro area reportedly drove the shipping industry into a downturn from which it has yet to recover, weakening demand for seaborne transport and generating vessel overcapacity.
Revenue at Hapag-Lloyd fell to $2.2 billion from $2.4 billion, while container volume increased 8.6 percent to 1.4 million TEUs. The company repeated its forecast for positive full-year operating earnings and has announced further price increases for several shipping routes in November and December.
For more of the Bloomberg story: businessweek.com
JaxPort job stats questioned by dredging opponents
In recent years, JaxPort publications have maintained that there are 65,000 jobs "related to port activity in Northeast Florida," a statistic that has been wielded prominently by Mayor Alvin Brown, Jax Chamber officials and other civic leaders when making the case for deepening Jacksonville's ship channel.
Critics of the $722 million dredging projects say the figure is deliberately inflated by thousands of jobs to support for the costly undertaking.
"People should be informed about what the numbers actually represent," said University of North Florida sociology professor David Jaffee, who runs The Ports Project, a research study examining the impacts of the port economy.
"I just think the 65,000 number has become this kind of urban myth," Jaffee said. "Everyone uses that figure. It's a totally misleading figure."
The 65,000-job number comes from a 2009 study by Martin Associates, a Pennsylvania economic consulting firm that does such studies for ports nationwide. As it does for other ports, Martin Associates' study of Jacksonville broke down jobs into four categories. The only category in question is what they termed "related user jobs."
Related user jobs accounts for the biggest share of the jobs — 42,647 — and is the most controversial category. The category refers to employment off port property at places that handle goods that flow through the port, going down the retail chain as far as checkout counters at the stores where the products are sold.
Jaffe said the jobs shouldn't be listed as port generated, since if the port shut down tomorrow, the related jobs would still exist because the cargo that supports them would just go through another port.
Martin Associates President James Martin said JaxPort's use of the 65,000 figure is appropriate.
For more of The Florida Times-Union story: members.jacksonville.com
100 Bangladesh garment factories close over violent wage clash
Bangladeshi police fired a water cannon and rubber bullets on Monday to break up a protest by garment workers seeking a higher minimum wage, forcing the closure of more than 100 factories.
Bangladesh's official wage board proposed a 77 percent rise in the minimum wage for garment workers last week but factory owners said they could not afford the increase.
Police also fired tear gas at stone-throwing demonstrators in the Ashulia industrial belt, on the outskirts of Dhaka, which accounts for nearly 20 percent of total garment exports.
Low wages and trade deals with Western countries have made Bangladesh the world's second-largest apparel manufacturer after China, with 60 percent of its garments exported to Europe and 23 percent to the United States.
For more of the Reuters story: chicagotribune.com
Thursday, November 14, 2013
Korean container lines are cash strapped following expansion
South Korea's three biggest shipping companies — Hanjin, Hyundai Merchant Marine and STX Pan Ocean — are facing a cash crunch as $2.8 billion worth of bonds are due for repayment in the next two years, amid growing losses from an industry-wide slump in global freight rates.
For the third straight year, all three container lines forecast annual losses, further depleting the combined $1.4 billion in cash and near cash items they had at the end of June. The companies need to repay $1.3 billion in bonds next year and $1.5 billion in 2015.
A debt-fueled expansion after the 2008 Lehman Brothers Holdings bankruptcy reportedly pushed the shipping companies into losses so deep they may need financial assistance to repay loans taken to buy new vessels, according Kim Ik Sang, a credit analyst at HI Investment & Securities Co.
With tepid Chinese economic growth and weakened demand in Europe and the U.S., the companies are unlikely to shift their ability to repay loans, said Um Kyung A, an analyst at Shinyoung Securities Co.
"It's pretty much out of their control," said Seoul-based Um. "Cash is depleting quite fast while the shipping industry isn't showing any signs of a recovery. I don't think we can completely forgo the possibility of things turning worse next year."
Hanjin Shipping's CEO Kim Young Min resigned Nov. 11 to take responsibility for the company's losses and a delay in receiving financing from creditors. Hanjin has been selling assets and has sufficient cash for payments, said Kim Young Tae, a spokesman at the shipping company.
For more of the Bloomberg story: bloomberg.com
Norfolk Southern launches container rail service between Charleston and Greer
Railway operator Norfolk Southern launched a daily rail service this week for transporting containers between Charleston and the S.C. State Ports Authority's new rail yard upstate, officials said today.
The train service allows companies to transport shipping containers to and from SPA's so-called inland port, a 100-acre facility that opened weeks ago in Greer near the Greenville-Spartanburg International Airport. SPA and Norfolk Southern funded the $50 million inland port project.
Train service to and from the facility runs once each day, Monday through Friday, according to Norfolk Southern's website.
The company's cargo service departs from Norfolk Southern's rail yard in North Charleston in the early evening, traveling more than 200 miles to Greer within seven and a half hours, according to Robin Chapman, Norfolk Southern spokesman. Chapman said the new service will use existing staff and rail lines.
For more of the Post and Courier story: postandcourier.com
Port Metro Vancouver builds cargo inspection facility
Canada's largest container terminal will be part of a $106 million expansion to include new facilities for the inspection of cargo arriving at two Vancouver-area ports.
In addition to the Roberts Bank coal terminal on First Nations land in Delta, B.C., Port Metro Vancouver will also build a new inspection facility at its Burrard Inlet terminal in Vancouver. Announced Wednesday, the project will include nearly $50 million from the federal government.
The inspection facilities are designed to enhance security and help increase exports to markets by expediting processing times, said International Trade Minister Ed Fast.
Fast said the joint Canada-U.S. cargo security strategy will foster the movement of shipments between Canada and the U.S., the country's biggest trading partner.
"We want to make sure that our trade with our partner remains robust," Fast said after the announcement at the Delta port. "We want to remove barriers at the border and move our security to the perimeter of our two countries and this is another step in that direction.
"The United States does have a very serious concern about the security and entry into their country of containers and products that could represent a security risk and we share those concerns."
About $172 billion worth of cargo arrived at the terminals last year, mostly from Asia, and further shipments came through the Port of Prince Rupert in northern B.C., he added.
The new cargo-inspection facilities will include high tech gear to analyze containers and the Deltaport facility is expected to provide jobs for Tsawwassen First Nations members, according to Port Metro Vancouver president Robin Silvester.
For more of the Times Colonist story: timescolonist.com
Shipping line considers Alaska port for Arctic transshipment site
Tschudi Shipping Company, a privately-held Norwegian shipping company that does business in the northern waters off Norway and Russia, is looking at a to-be-determined Western Alaska port as a potential transshipment site for Arctic trade., according to Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell.
The port would serve as point where cargo would be transferred or a stop could be made on a longer journey, to support Tschudi's existing business to and from its facilities at Kirkenes, Norway on the Northern Sea Route, Treadwell said.
Felix Tschudi, the company's chief executive, is interested in expanding shipments, as well as in Alaska's potential supporting role in a type of commerce expected to grow as Arctic sea ice recedes, Treadwell said.
Tschudi is co-founder of the Centre for High North Logistics, a foundation that facilitates research and information exchanges concerning Arctic shipping issues.
For more of the Alaska Dispatch story: alaskadispatch.com
CN train derails in North Ontario
Transportation Safety Board of Canada investigators were deployed to the scene of a train derailment on Monday near Fort Frances, in northern Ontario .
The TSB said about 40 CN freight cars loaded with grain came off the tracks.
It's the second CN freight to derail in the past two days. On Saturday six cars of a train carrying lumber left the tracks in Saskatchewan.
In Alberta there have been four train derailments in the past two months, including one in October that sparked a dangerous petroleum fire that forced the evacuation of the village of Gainford.
For more of the Maclean's story: macleans.ca