As the difficulties in achieving ratification of the Ballast Water Management Convention refuse to go away, a proposal by Norway to last week’s 66th session of the IMO’s “Marine Environment Protection Committee” (MEPC) has been accepted. In brief, a new study will be conducted into how well typeapproved BWMS currently installed on vessels are actually able to meet the performance standard described in regulation D-2 of the Convention which regulates concentrations of living organisms in ballast water discharges. Many owners and national administrations believe the existing (G8) type approval process is not robust enough but whether this fairly open ended study will alleviate concerns remains unclear.The attached press release issued on April 8 is co-sponsored by ICS, BIMCO, Intercargo, Intertanko, WSC, CLIA and IPTA is designed to summarize industry’s frustration with the current state of affairs on this issue.
The IMO continues to make the International Code of safety for ships operating in polar waters (Polar Code) a priority issue with a target adoption date of May 2015. MEPC 66, last week acknowledged last week that there was still a lot of work to be done but if the 2015 adoption can be achieved, implementation will be in the fall of 2015 or early in 2017.
The IMO Code on Noise Levels Onboard Ships Is to become mandatory for new vessels starting July 1, 2014. The code details requirements for new ships to be constructed to limit noise levels and to reduce seafarers’ exposure to noise under an amendment to SOLAS.
The Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) has also moved forward with approved guidelines for reducing underwater noise from commercial shipping protect marine life.
With some $200 billion of LNG projects under construction, Australia is suffering major budget over-runs due to labor costs. Examples quoted this week are welders making A$400,000 per year, cooks A$350,000 per year and laundry hands A$325,000. The Maritime Union of Australia is blaming the failure of LNG companies to better prepare for labor demand with training programs “to ensure that skilled workers were available at the right times”.
Also this week, BG GROUP announced that it will shift the company’s global marketing centre from London to Singapore and the country continues to develop itself into an Asian LNG trading hub. With Asia now the world’s largest market for LNG, this is clearly where the action is for the major players.
The Australian government has initiated consultations that could see the country’s coastal cabotage rules scrapped . A document entitled “Approaches to Regulating Coastal Shipping in Australia” states that “cabotage regulations are damaging the Australian economy due to increased shipping costs and by restricting access to timely and flexible services through either high freight rates or the loss of freight to the road and rail sectors.” Australia is heavily dependent on shipping, with 99% of international trade volumes moved by ship, Australian ports already handle 10% of the world’s trade by sea and volumes expected to double by 2030.
In a bizarre incident last week, police in Salvador, Brazil, claim to have rescued 11 crew members working in "slave-like conditions" on the Itlalian cruise ship MSC Magnifica. Vessel owners MSC Crociere have rejected the allegations pointing out that the company is “in full compliance with national and international labour regulations and has not received any evidence or legal notification from the Brazilian labour ministry”.
Tall Ships 2014 is once again expected to attract close to 100 Tall Ships from around the world. Races will start with a grand port event in Harlingen, The Netherlands from where they will race to Fredrikstad, Norway. From Fredrikstad vessels and crew will take a leisurely “Cruise-in-Company” to Bergen where an estimated 500,000 visitors are expected to visit the vessels over four days. The final leg is a race from Bergen to Esbjerg, Denmark, for a major maritime celebration.
Viterra announced this week plans to implement $100 million worth of operational improvements and upgrades at Pacific Terminal to increase total throughput on its existing site in Vancouver Harbour. Included in the project are a new ship loader to allow for the loading of post-Panamx vessels, bulk weighers, upgrades to shipping conveyors and rotary cleaners, and improved electrical and dust control systems. Completion is expected by 2016, resulting in an increase in annual capacity up to 6 million metric tonnes. These plans are in addtion to Viterra new grain elevator to built in Kindersley, Saskatchewan to provide additional 34,000 metric tonnes of storage capacity and a 108 railcar spot.
Citizenship and Immigration Canada has announced key changes that will be introduced to the immigration process in January 2015 to provide greater flexibility and responsiveness to deal with regional labour shortages for which there are no available Canadian workers. The process will expedite qualified applications for permanent residency and be tied to an improved provincial and federal on-line job bank.
Just a week after Ottawa confirmed the issuing of four licences to LNG export projects with a combined export capacity of 74 million tons per year, BC Premier Christy Clark lead a mission to Ottawa this week “to build national consensus on LNG export policy”. The mission team comprised of Premier Clark, Shirley Bond, Minister of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training and Minister Responsible for Labour; Rich Coleman, Minister of Natural Gas Development and Minister Responsible for Housing; Mary Polak, Minister of Environment; and John Rustad, Minister of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation along with representatives from LNG proponents and First Nations leaders. One of the primary objectives was to discuss potential solutions to the shortage of skilled labour to build LNG plants and infrastructure. The Premier's LNG Working Group final report is now available.
This has been a tough first full week back at work for the container drayage industry after operating at a very low level for almost a month. As terminals seek to clear the backlog of imports, reservations for exports have been very difficult to secure and off-dock stuffing / de-stuffing facilities remain very congested. Also this week, the industry has been working to translate the details of the 15 point return to work plan worked out between the Province and drivers last week into agreements that all sides can accept.
The Journal of Commerce ran an informative article this week on the wider problems of contrainer drayage across North America with Los Angeles / Long Beach being highlighted on the west coast, New York / New Jersey and the Port of Virginia on the East Coast. JOC points out that severe as they were, disruptions from this winter’s intense cold and storms weren’t the sole source of the drayage crisis. Instead, they amplified existing challenges of congested terminals, chassis supply, driver recruitment and retention, hours of service restrictions, equipment costs and stagnant rates. Transportation consultant Tioga Group has estimated that drayage delays add $348 million a year in unnecessary costs to the supply chain including 15 million hours of lost work time.
The ongoing battle between container terminal (T6) operator ICTSI, the ILWU and the Port of Portland shows no sign of easing off even after the decision of the port to subsidize operations to keep container operations alive. Dismal productivity has been institutionalized and law suits are flying around everyone’s ears. ICTSI submitted an anti-trust claim against the ILWU and the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) alleging that the relationship constitutes a monopoly. That claim has been dismissed by a District Court judge.
The judge has also dismissed the port’s claim that the ILWU and PMA had intentionally interfered with the port’s contractual relationships even as the port and ICTSI continue to jointly seek damages for the ILWU boycott and slowdowns at T6 since 2012. Not content with all that, the judge also ruled this week that there is no evidence, as claimed by the ILWU, that the port authority used taxpayer’s money to fund incentive programs.
UBC SailBot, the University of British Columbia student team designing, building, and racing fully robotic sailboats, is seeking to increase its corporate sponsorship. The team has had unique success in the robotic sailing world in achieving a perfect score to win the International Robotic Sailing Regatta competition in June 2013. Their 2 meters Thunderbird 2013 (above left) sailboat is considered one of the most advanced robotic sailboats in the world. Now their sights are set on a larger prize; to create the first robotic sailboat to cross the Atlantic Ocean. In 2015 they are aiming to sail an unmanned 5.5 meter robotic yacht from Canada’s East Coast to the coast of Ireland and are inviting those who wish to become involved to consider sponsorship on http://ubcsailbot.org/sponsor-us/. See also a time lapse recording of their time spent on building the new boat last weekend https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qre8exrdI_k
The Chamber is pleased to have a strong association through sponsorship of the team but the need to raise $50,000 for their 2015 endeavor needs a few others to pitch in. Jane McIvor has written a full article on UBC Sailbot for the next edition of BC Shipping News.
The Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway System opened for the Seaway’s 56th navigation season on March28 with the passage of the new build laker Algoma Equinox through the Welland Canal.The season is off to its latest start in five years as harsh winter weather created some of the worst ice conditions in decades and has further highlighted the shortage of ice-breaking capacity operated by the U.S. and Canada. Last week, Minister of Fisheries Gail Shea commented that "this year's frigid temperatures have led to ice conditions that have not been seen in the Great Lakes or Eastern Canada in decades, which are having a direct adverse impact on Canadian products reaching domestic and international markets”. The picture above left shows the Canadian ice-breaker Pierre Radisson operating in the St. Lawrence River last week.
Unusually, the Marine Atlantic ferry Blue Puttees (above right) with 350 passengers onboard was stranded in ice off the coast of Cape Breton between Nova Scotia and Newfoundland for a while yesterday but was eventually freed up with the help of the ice strengthened ferry Atlantic Vision.
Chile has declared two northern regions hit by a magnitude 8.2 earthquake to be disaster areas with at least 6 people dead and many thousands evacuated from their homes. The quake epicenter was at sea, 86 kms northwest of the port city of Iquique. Waves of up to 6ft hit some coastal areas which also suffered power cuts, fires and landslides. The quake was also felt in Peru and in Bolivia's capital of La Paz 470km from Iquique. An initial tsunami warning was issued for the coastlines of Chile, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia and Panama. In 2010, central and southern areas of Chile were hit by a magnitude 8.8 followed by a tsunami that devastated large areas with more than 700 people killed.
The International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruled this week that whaling as conducted by Japan in the Antarctic is not consistent with the requirements of scientific whaling under the “International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling”. The court has agreed with the case presented by Australia in 2010 and Japan must now at least temporarily halt its program. In response, Japan said it would abide by the decision but added that it "regrets and is deeply disappointed by the decision". Japan signed on to a moratorium on whaling in 1986, but continued whaling in the north and south Pacific under provisions that allowed for scientific research however whale meat is very popular with Japanese consumers. Once common, whaling is now conducted by only of only a handful of countries, including Japan Iceland and Norway.
The 66th session of the IMO’S Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) has this week given further consideration to deciding whether the global 0.50% sulphur limit can go ahead in 2020, or be deferred until 2025. The committee received four submissions with only one submission, that from the Clean Shipping Coalition (CSC), arguing against an early review of low sulphur fuel availability, a condition for implementation of the new global limits. Support for an early review came from the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS), and a joint submission from the UK and the Netherlands. However, the proposal finding most support was in a joint submission from the United States, BIMCO, INTERTANKO and CLIA. It seems likely that the outcome of all this will be agreement at MEPC 67 in October this year to authorize an early study in order to give the industry time to respond if the signals are that there will be problems. The study would also be broadened to include the status of development and availability of abatement technology and alternative fuels.
Also at the MEPC this week it was decided that the 2016 deadline for new ships to comply with nitrogen oxide (NOx) Tier III standard applicable in NOx emission control areas (NECAs) will likely be kept for existing NECAs, but theIMO will seek a different solution for new NECAs
Also of note, Hong Kong's demand that local bunker suppliers sell MGO with a sulphur content of no more than 0.05% has also passed into law. Companies selling non-compliant marine light diesel (MLD) may be liable to a fine of up to HK$50,000 (US $6,440) and imprisonment for up to three months.