Cargo Business Newswire Archives
Summary for November 16 - November 20, 2009:
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Monday, November 16, 2009

Top Story

Buffett on BNSF deal: “Rails are in tune with the future”

Warren Buffett likes the long-term investment of a railroad – the Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF), to be exact.

Taking questions alongside fellow multi-billionaire, Bill Gates, at Columbia Business School in New York City last Thursday in a CNBC telecast, Buffett said: “I’m willing to bet a lot of money - $34 billion to be specific – on the fact that 10 years from now, 20 years from now, 50 years from now, there will be more and more goods being moved by rail and it will be better for the country and it will better for the shareholders of Burlington Northern.”

Buffett joked that when he was six years old, he wanted a railroad set, and his Dad wouldn’t buy him one. Now stands to own, pending regulatory and shareholder approval, the second largest railroad in the U.S.

“The railroads are tied to the future prosperity of this country,” Buffett said.

“I can’t think of a more sound premise that there will be more people in this country 10, 20, 30 years from now – and they’ll be moving more and more goods back and forth to each other,” he said.

Buffett went on to cite the environmentally friendly aspects to rail:

“The Burlington Northern last year moved on average a ton of freight 470 miles on one gallon of diesel – that is far, far more efficient than what takes place over the highways.”

“You have a situation where overall they use a third less fuel, they put far fewer pollutants into the atmosphere than trucks will – one train will supplant 280 trucks or so on the road,” he said.

Buffett reiterated his bullish stance on the longer-term future of his rail investment.

“So, the rails are in tune with the future, and I like the West. I like the 30,000-some miles of roadway that Burlington has.”

UPS projects slight up-tick in Holiday season shipping over 2008

United Parcel Service Inc. projected moving 400 million packages in the peak holiday shipping season, “up slightly” from a year earlier when it scrapped a forecast because of the recession.

Dec. 21 will be the busiest day, with volume of 22 million shipments, Atlanta-based UPS said today. That would match the previous record forecast, set in 2007. UPS doesn’t report results after releasing its estimates.


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Total Terminals International wins Maersk business through Oakland

Total Terminals International announced it was the winning bidder among a group of seven terminal operators, to handle two weekly services through the Port of Oakland from Danish shipping giant Maersk.

The TP5 and TP7 services will call at Berths 55-56 in January 2010, adding 60,000 lifts per year in volume for TTI Oakland, the company said.

Both of the Maersk Line services call at the Port of Oakland after Los Angeles.

The American Flag TP5 service continues on to Dutch Harbor, Alaska, then to Korea and Japan. The TP7 service departs Oakland for Kaohsiung, China and Korea.

Total Terminals International said it handles container traffic through its U.S. West Coast leased and managed terminals in Long Beach, Oakland and Seattle, which total 586 acres.

Tideworks tapped by BNSF for Seattle rail yard technologies

Seattle-based Tideworks Technology, Inc. announced it was selected by the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway (BNSF) to design, build and implement an automated gate system at the Seattle International Gateway (SIG), and to replace the current gate kiosk technology at the South Seattle Intermodal Hub (SSIH).

Tideworks said BNSF would implement components of GateVision at both the SIG and SSIH locations. GateVision kiosks will be deployed at both in-gates and out-gates “to accelerate gate activity and increase user productivity,” Tideworks said.

Tideworks said it would also provide BNSF with customized software to manage driver interaction at the SIG rail yard, and in addition, SIG would employ inbound and outbound optical character recognition (OCR) portals to automate the capture of equipment identification numbers, as well as License Plate Recognition (LPR) to compliment OCR portal reads.

Tideworks is partnering with Hi-Tech Solutions in the OCR technology market, the company said.

The project implementation for SSIH is scheduled for fourth quarter of 2009 and that the “go-live” date for SIG is slated for first quarter of 2010, Tideworks said.

Crowley’s grounded barge to be towed off Virginia Beach

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. -- Salvage crews will attempt at high tide to tow a 570-foot barge that went aground in the surf off of Virginia Beach.

Three powerful tugs are scheduled to attempt the massive tow job around 7 p.m. Monday, when high tide will arrive at Sandbridge, a section of the resort city. The tug drifted into Virginia waters on Friday amid a powerful storm.

Spokesman Mark Miller of Crowley Maritime Corp. of Jacksonville, Fla., said the barge was en route from Puerto Rico to a southern New Jersey port when the barge broke from its tow line.

While many cargo containers are empty, Miller said medical equipment, tankers of rum and other cargo remain secure onboard.
The Coast Guard said the barge has not leaked.

-Miami Herald/AP

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Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Top Story

Chinese consumers drive Port L.A.’s October exports

Exports were up at the Port of Los Angeles in October for the first time this year, as Chinese consumers led a drive to buy U.S. products and factories stocked up on raw materials.

The improvement over October 2008 is the first sign from the troubled Southern California port complex that global economic conditions may be starting to recover. At the Port of Long Beach, exports were down, but not nearly as much as they have been for most of the year. Imports were down at both ports, though the decline was not as steep as in prior months.

These glimmers of hope at the nation's business trade hub for container cargo were echoed up and down the West Coast, where the decline in shipping has slowed considerably.

-L.A. Times

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Protestors decry Port of Long Beach’s trucking deal

A coalition of environmental and labor groups, truck drivers and community activists rallied outside Long Beach port headquarters Monday evening to denounce a recently signed deal between port executives and the trucking industry that protestors insist violates state law and undermines the port's authority to enforce a plan to rid the harbor of polluting big rigs.

The deal, signed Oct. 19, came as a surprise to many of the port's former allies in the fight to clean the air caused by the estimated 16,000 trucks serving the harbor daily. In it, the port agreed to discard taxicab-style concession agreements with trucking companies doing business on Long Beach port property in exchange for the city's dismissal from a federal lawsuit by the American Trucking Association, which had sued Long Beach and Los Angeles, alleging the agreements violated federal law.

-Contra Costa Times

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China poised to surpass U.S. as top vehicle market

China has surpassed the U.S. as the world’s largest car market, and consumers there are expected to buy as many as 50 million new cars and trucks a year by 2020, the chief executive of a Chinese industrial real-estate developer told a group of automotive suppliers today.

Peter Mok, CEO of Plainvim International Ltd., delivered his bullish outlook to the U.S.-China Auto Summit today at the Ritz Carlton in Dearborn.

Before the recession, U.S. auto sales had averaged about 16 million vehicles a year. But U.S. light vehicle sales are expected to reach 10.5 million this year and increase to about 11.8 million to 12 million next year.

-Detroit Free Press

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Russia to launch new oil export route to Asia

Russia will sell its first tanker of Siberian oil from a new Pacific port in December as Moscow seeks to conquer Asian markets and warn Europe that competition for energy resources is rising.

Traders told Reuters on Tuesday Russian leaders will attend the tanker-loading ceremony at the port of Kozmino, which will mark the launch of the Pacific branch of Russia's first pipeline to Asia.

The tanker will belong to state-run oil firm Rosneft, which called a tender to sell 100,000 metric tons of ESPO crude, called after the acronym of Russia's first pipeline to China and the Pacific, from the new Pacific port of Kozmino.


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FedEx Freight to conduct zero-emission truck trials

FedEx Freight, a subsidiary of the global delivery giant, has announced they are to conduct trials with a zero emission plug-in electric/hydrogen fuel cell hybrid tractor. In an agreement with Vision Industries Corp of Florida, FedEx are to have one of their standard trucks converted to a Tyrano hybrid.

The reconfigured vehicle will then be tested for one year in certain operations to evaluate the operational suitability of the Vision Tyrano technology.

-Handy Shipping Guide

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North Korean tanker and crew hijacked off Somalia

A chemical tanker with a crew of 28 North Koreans has been hijacked by pirates in waters off Somalia, the EU's naval force (Navfor) says.

The MV Theresa VIII, a Singaporean-operated tanker, was taken on Monday in the south Somali Basin, 180 nautical miles north-west of the Seychelles.

It had been heading for Mombasa, Kenya, but was diverted north, Navfor said.

Meanwhile, pirates holding a Spanish trawler say they are freeing it for a ransom of at least $3.5m (£2.1m).

-BBC News

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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Top Story

CMA-CGM projects breakeven by year’s end

The French shipping giant CMA-CGM announced its operating profit is projected to breakeven by December 2009, placing its financial picture ahead of what the company said were “cautious forecasts” in September 2009.

The shipping line credited its group-wide savings plan along with increased shipping volumes and rates.

The company outlined measures that it said helped close the gap, including: closure of “secondary lines” of business in order to concentrate “main lines” that would allow the group to leverage strategic vessels; an increase in strategic shipping partnerships; redelivery of chartered ships; reduced logistics expenses and port expenditures; and optimizing capacity.

The group said it would also further extend what it termed “super eco speed” to all of its ocean-going ships, reducing fuel consumption by the end of the year, tsaving what it said would be “tens of millions of dollars.”

The shipping line attributed a rebound in cargo rates for Asia – Europe, Asia – Mediterranean, and Asia – South America.

The Asia-Northern Europe business has returned to profitably, the company said, which accounts for nearly a quarter of its total shipping volume.

The group’s other lines of business are expected overall to reach the breakeven point by the end of 2009, the company said.

Houston to increase shipping fees

Port of Houston Commissioners voted Tuesday to increase fees for moving general and containerized cargo, over the objections of shipping representatives who said the economic downturn would make it difficult for them to absorb the added expense.

Executive Director Alec Dreyer said a consultant’s study showed that the Houston port remains a relative bargain compared to ports in New York, Virginia and southern California.

The change amounts to an average increase of 3 percent for container carriers and 2 percent for other cargo like equipment, pipes and steel. The actual price depends on the commodity and type of service needed.

For example, the cost of moving a short ton of steel will rise 4 cents to $2.02. The hourly rate for using a crane to load or unload containers rises $12 to $597.

The new rates take effect Jan. 1.

-Houston Chronicle

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China wants expanded access to N. Korea ports

China wants expanded access to North Korean ports to help an economic revitalisation scheme for a landlocked and struggling northeastern province, and may pay to improve its poor communist neighbour's infrastructure.

Han Changfu, the governor of Jilin province, said on Wednesday that China is in talks with North Korea about using the North's ports to ship goods for the new Changchun-Jilin-Tumen pilot economic development zone.

China already uses some North Korean ports to handle trade for its northeastern provinces. Trade between Jilin and North Korea reached $247 million last year, Han said.


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Maersk Alabama repels second pirate attack

Somali pirates attacked the Maersk Alabama for the second time in seven months on Wednesday, but guards on board the U.S.-flagged cargo ship repelled the takeover attempt, the EU's naval force said.

Pirates hijacked the Maersk Alabama last April and took ship captain Richard Phillips hostage, holding him at gunpoint in a lifeboat for five days. Navy SEAL sharpshooters freed Phillips while killing three pirates in a daring nighttime attack.

Somali pirates attacked the ship with automatic weapons early Wednesday about 350 nautical miles east of the Somali coast, but guards on board the craft fired back and thwarted the attempted hijacking.

Cmdr. John Harbour, a spokesman for the EU Naval Force, called it "pure chance" that the Maersk Alabama had been targeted a second time.

-Birmingham News/AP

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Crowley barge successfully salvaged

Titan Salvage crews successfully pulled The Crowley barge La Princesa off Sandbridge Beach on the Virginia coast this morning by its Titan Salvage subsidiary, the Jacksonville-based maritime company reported.

The salvage crews utilized “two tugs pulling together on the bow and stern of the barge at high tide to free it,” the company said in a statement.

The barge broke free from the tug Sentry last Thursday night and grounded on the beach near Little Island Pier the following morning.

Coast Guard inspectors and a member of the American Bureau of Shipping will survey the vessel to ensure that it is seaworthy, Crowley said. Once the survey team is satisfied, the company said the tug Sentry will tow the barge to its next port of call in Pennsauken, N.J.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Top Story

Sec. LaHood cautions professional mariners on piracy

In the wake of the recent attacks on the U.S.-flagged vessels M/V Harriett and Maersk Alabama off the coast of Somalia, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood released a statement alerting professional mariners over the importance of what he termed “taking necessary precautions and implementing best practices.”

“These ships’ successful defense against pirates should serve as a reminder to the maritime industry of the best practices that can keep crews safe on the seas,” he said.

“Mariners should heed the lessons learned from past attacks and review defensive measures so that they are prepared when traveling through high-threat areas. The U.S. government will continue to work with ship operators to protect U.S. citizens in regions where piracy still poses a serious threat,” the Secretary said.
Last week, the M/V Harriett thwarted a pirate attack by outrunning a pirate ship, and just yesterday, guards aboard the Maersk Alabama repelled a pirate attack using small arms fire. No casualties were reported in the incident, which took place 350 nautical miles east of the Somali coast.

This was the second attack by pirates against the Maersk Alabama this year. In April, pirates hijacked the ship and took Captain Richard Phillips hostage, holding him at gunpoint in a lifeboat for five days until he was freed by Navy SEALs.

A maritime advisory was issued in September by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Maritime Administration that warned vessels to avoid routes where attacks have taken place while also recommending that mariners demonstrate a willingness to defend themselves.

Washington Marine Group cuts 20 percent of shoreside staff

Vancouver, B.C.-based Washington Marine Group (WMG), a provider of marine transportation services in the Pacific Northwest, announced it has cut back its shoreside staff by 20 percent.

“With many of our customers hit hard by the economic downturn, the company had no alternative but to adjust its own operations to align with these conditions,” the company said in a statement.

The statement went on to say the latest announcement on staff cutbacks “is unfortunately consistent with the company’s reduction in shipyard workers andmariners undertaken earlier this year.”

Truck drivers learn Port of Oakland’s $22 mil clean diesel fund is tapped

Truck drivers who own their own trucks and work at the Port of Oakland learned Monday, Nov. 16, the port is out of money and truckers are nearly out of time to comply with impending emissions regulations at the port.

More than 100 truckers reportedly attended a meeting Monday at the Port of Oakland to learn that a $22 million fund to pay for new trucks and diesel particulate filters had been emptied after nearly 1,000 grants to truck owners, leaving about 1,000 more eligible truck owners without help.

On Jan. 1, 2010, 1993 model year engine diesel trucks and older – as well as 1994 to 2003 model year engine trucks that aren’t retrofitted with diesel particulate filters – are banned from entering the port.

-Land Line

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Astoria, Ore. LNG project gets two important thumbs up

The liquefied natural gas company Oregon LNG has gotten two important thumbs up on its controversial lease with the Port of Astoria, boosting prospects for its plans to build a terminal on 92 acres near Youngs Bay.

On Tuesday, a federal magistrate ruled that Astoria's Port should extend both its sublease with Oregon LNG and its lease with the Department of State Lands for three decades, despite the Port's concerns that it might lose money if the LNG terminal doesn't pan out.

On Wednesday, Gov. Ted Kulongoski's office said it wouldn't investigate the Port's lease with the state as anti-LNG activists had requested, even though the $38,400 annual lease price was based on an appraisal that assumed the land would be used for a golf course instead of a $1 billion LNG plant.

-The Oregonian

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Chicago Police find container-load of cannibis

When they smelled marijuana, Chicago Police intercepted a suspicious freight load arriving from Texas on Tuesday and ended up with about $2.6 million worth of cannabis.

Police successfully intercepted the shipment and found the container emitted an "overpowering" smell of marijuana, the release said. The large container could only be moved with the use of a fork lift and inside, police found nine cardboard boxes, each containing huge quantities of cannabis.

In total, 164,606 grams of high-grade Sinsemilla marijuana were recovered from inside the container, with an estimated street value of more than $2.6 million, the release said.

-FOX Chicago/Sun-Times Media

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Massive century-old ship’s anchor salvaged off Santa Monica Pier

Santa Monica, Calif - A 100-plus-year-old anchor was pulled up from the ocean off Santa Monica Pier, a relic from the days when the area was a major shipping port.

Lifeguards found the anchor two miles up the coast from the pier about three weeks ago. The discovery occurred around the former site of the Long Wharf, a shipping center that served Southern California on Santa Monica Bay from 1892 to 1919.

-L.A. Times

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Friday, November 20, 2009

Top Story

New ISO standard for ship recycling

There will be a new standard that provides audit and certification of ship recycling management systems that “will increase the safety of workers and environmental protection by facilitating independent recognition of good practice,” according to the International Organization of Standardization (ISO).

ISO 30003:2009, Ships and marine technology – Ship recycling management systems – Requirements for bodies providing audit and certification of ship recycling management, will document and facilitate the recognition of accredited certification bodies and the acceptance of their certifications on an international basis, the ISO said.

“ISO 30003 responds to the need for disseminating best practice criteria for certification bodies auditing and certifying ship recyclers,” said Capt. Charles Piersall, chair of the ISO technical committee that developed the standard.

The ISO said the document is targeted at third party audit and certification bodies, “but can be of value to others involved in the assessment of management systems for the recycling of ships of all types and sizes, in both international and domestic trade.”

The ISO said the new standard: “Provides harmonized guidance for the accreditation of certification bodies applying for ISO 30000 certification and registration; defines specifications for the audit and certification of a ship recycling management system complying with safety and environmental requirements; and offers customers the necessary information and confidence about the way certification of their waste and other material handling or service companies has been granted.”

The ISO said the new standard would be useful for the shipping and ship recycling industries, shipyards, ship owners, maritime research institutes, universities for maritime technology, government ministries of shipping, navy, environment and labor, port authorities, classification societies and inspection agencies.

China’s imports driving commodity freight rates

Oil prices dropped by more than $2 a barrel yesterday following fresh evidence of US demand weakness while freight rates for transporting commodities to China continued their recent rally.

The Baltic Dry index jumped 5.5 per cent to 3,954 points as the global benchmark for freight costs for dry bulk commodities rose because of strong demand for iron ore and coal from China and growing ship congestion outside key ports. The index has surged 32.4 per cent over the past two weeks.

Freight traders have noted growing interest in hiring vessels for short periods of four to six months rather than for single voyages, suggesting confidence that demand will remain firm.

-Financial Times

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City of Long Beach to get sales tax funds to improve infrastructure

A half-cent sales tax increase approved by Los Angeles County voters last year is expected to generate about $5 million to $6 million annually in Long Beach to fill potholes, repair sidewalks and jump-start a number of languishing road, parking and streetscape improvements in a city struggling with crushing budget problems.

Measure R, which raised the county's sales tax to 9.75 percent - costing taxpayers an average $25 more annually - is expected to generate $40 billion in the next 30 years to fund mass transit, bikeways, new roads, light-rail and subway projects, traffic light synchronization and street resurfacing, among other measures.

-Whittier (CA) Daily News

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JAXPORT faces multimillion dollar dredging shortfall

A dredging project that will benefit cargo ships calling on Jacksonville’s Talleyrand port faces a multimillion funding shortfall because a federal survey incorrectly calculated the amount of material that would have to be dredged. The Army Corps awarded a $46 million contract this year for dredging a 5.3 mile stretch of the St. Johns River leading up to Talleyrand.

But it could cost an estimated $18 million more to do the work, Army Corps project manager Steve Ross said today.

He said the contractor has continued to do the dredging and the Corps is working to get money so the work will finish as scheduled by September 2010. Based on the estimated cost increases, the Army Corps would need $2.5 million from the Jacksonville Port Authority to help cover the overruns, he said.

-Florida Times-Union

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LaHood announces formation of fed advisory committee for aviation

U.S. Transportation Dept. Secretary Ray LaHood and FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt today revealed the formation of a new federal advisory committee that will study every facet of the aviation industry.

LaHood further promised that within one year, that committee will submit a blueprint for change.

The announcement was made during closing remarks to an invitation-only, five-hour meeting of airline, airport, labor and consumer group representatives yesterday, who were called together to discuss the future of U.S. aviation. It appeared to have covered the gamut, and ended with LaHood asking the participants to go home and send him an email with three things: how many people should be on the committee, what the mix of participants should be, and the five issues they think must be addressed for the DOT to create a road map for aviation.

-Aviation Week

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