303 RailAct

Following a deluge of service complaints, the Federal government this week introduced Bill C-30, the “Fair Rail for Grain Farmers Act” which is intended to ensure that both CN and CP move grain from the Praries to the country’s ports a whole lot faster or face fines. The legislation extends power to the  Canadian Transportation Authority (CTA) to extend inter-switching distances and would additionally require regulators to tighten up service level agreements between carriers and shippers along with the power to address non-performance. Both CN and CP have roundly criticized the legislation which in summary they believe will have many unintended consequences and hit their bottom line.

303 Raitt

Canadian Federal Transport Minister Lisa Raitt has criticized the latest round of proposed U.S. legislation that would tax cargo entering the U.S. from Canadian ports. “We will vigorously defend our trade interests and the rights attained through our international trade agreements,” Minister Raitt told attendees of the Association of American Port Authorities’ spring conference in Washignton, D.C.  Washington State politicians have introduced bills in their respective chambers that would replace the Harbor Maintenance Tax (HMT) with a fee on all containers that originate internationally. Supporters argue the legislation would stop shippers from circumventing the 0.125% levy on the value of cargo imported through U.S. ports by diverting shipments through Canadian and Mexican ports. The Minister reminded her audience that Canadian destined cargo coming through U.S. ports is on average three times that of the traffic of U.S.-bound cargo through Canadian ports. 

Friday, 28 March 2014 09:54

Union questions cable ferry

303 CableFerry

BC Ferries may face a legal challenge over plans to order and operate a new cable ferry to operate between Vancouver Island and Denman Island. The company’s union has said its lawyers will request the BC court of appeal to hear arguments against the funding for the new vessel for which Seaspan Marine has won the $15m construction contract. BC Ferries says that cable vessels offer fuel and crew savings of up to $2m per year. The union argues that switching to a cable ship will cost as many as 15 local jobs, and that the length of the crossing and unpredictability of water conditions raises concerns about safety and reliability of the vessel.

303 MalaysianAir

The UK’s Inmarsat System used a wave phenomenon discovered in the nineteenth century to analyse the seven pings its satellite picked up from Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 to determine its final destination. The pings, automatically transmitted every hour from the plane after the rest of its communications systems had been turned off, thereby proving conclusively that it continued flying for several hours after diverting from its intended flight path from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. From the time the signals took to reach the satellite and the angle of elevation, Inmarsat was able to calculate two arcs, one north and one south that the plane could have taken. Inmarsat’s scientists then analysed the faint pings using a technique based on the Doppler effect, which describes how a wave changes frequency relative to the movement of an observer, in this case the satellite. The UK Air Accidents Investigation Branch provided confirmation of the method of analysis which on Tuesday this week resulted in the Malaysian Prime Minister announcing that the Boeing 777, which disappeared more than two weeks ago, crashed thousands of miles away in the southern Indian Ocean with the loss of all onboard.

303 pilot 303 navy 303 area

Aircraft and ships from six countries including the car carrier Hoegh St Petersburg (above centre) are involved in the effort to locate and retrieve numerous satellite detected indications of wreckage. Following their Friday search pattern, five planes have spotted "objects" in a new area of the Indian Ocean, 700 nautical miles north of the previous search area and much closer to land. A Royal New Zealand Air Force Orion first spotted "a number of objects white or light in colour and a fishing buoy". An Australian plane then went to locate the items and spotted "two blue/grey rectangular objects", and three other planes reported similar sightings.

The Chinese patrol ship Haixun 01 is in the search area and will be dispatched to locate and possibly retrieve any objects of interest on Saturday according to the Australian Maritime Authorities. Of the 239 people lost on the flight, 154 were Chinese. China has therefore pulled out all the stops in pursuing the search for wreckage in terms of sharing satellite images, search planes and at least 13 ships are in or headed for the new search area. The Australian Prime Minister has also vowed “to continue the search for as long as it takes”. Both the Australian and Malaysian governments have also said the focus on the new search area was based on further analysis of radar data that showed the plane had been travelling faster, thus burning more fuel.

303 Houston1 303 Houston2

Almost 800 tons of marine fuel found its way into the Houston Ship Channel last weekend after a collision between the bulk carrier Summer Wind and a loaded tank barge under tow. The barge, which was being towed by the tug Miss Susan, has since been lightened and removed from the area. With a backlog of around 100 ships waiting to move, the USCG allowed the waterway to begin reopening on Tuesday and by Thursday two way traffic was restored but in daylight only.

303 Cosco

COSCO has assigned one of the company’s 13,000 TEU capacity vessels to the Transpacific trade. Last week, COSCO Fortune (above) made her maiden call at the Pacific Container Terminal terminal in Long Beach in the company’s South China / US Southwest Coast Express (SEA) Service.

Still on the subject of container lines, South Korea's antitrust regulator announced this week that it intends to join forces with its counterparts in China and other countries to ensure fair treatment for smaller players in the face of the proposed P3 Alliance.

Friday, 28 March 2014 09:37

Virgin Cruises?

303 Virgin

Richard Branson’s Virgin Group has announced that it is to develop an ocean cruise division to be based in Miami. Discussions are well underway with German and Italian shipyards with a view to deliveries in 2017. Based on the Virgin track record of success, there appears to be no hesitation from potential investors. Speaking to media this week, Branson commented “we think we have a concept that is very sexy and is definitely something that I like to go on and something that my children like to go on”. Translation - young and free spending, first time cruisers.

Friday, 28 March 2014 09:36

Fednav uses drones in ice-navigation

303 Umiak

Fednav is reportedly the first shipping company to employ aerial drones for ice reconnaissance on a commercial voyage through the Arctic. The ice-strengthened Umiak I recently used a variety of video-equipped UAVs (Unmanned Air Vehicles) to scout ahead of the vessel in the ice-covered waters off Northeastern Labrador Coast in order to provide detailed real-time visual information about local ice conditions. Fednav worked with its subsidiary Enfotec which specializes in providing advanced ice imagery and analysis to vessels operating in difficult ice conditions. 

303 ICS

Ahead of next week’s meeting of the IMO’s “Marine Environmental Protection Committee”, the International Chamber of Shipping(ICS) has issued a paper in support of the IMO's proposed global GHG emissions reporting system but with stated opposition to the development of a mandatory global energy indexing system. The ICS position is one of “support for the reporting system as long as it would be simple to administer, be primarily based on fuel consumption and will not be used in the development of a full blown Market Based Measure”. The timing of the ICS paper is also designed to head off unilateral measures under consideration by the EU.

The federal government has given final approval to four LNG export licences.  The following facilities have been authorized to export a total of up to 73.38 million tonnes per annum (mtpa) of LNG.  

  • Woodfibre LNG in Squamish, BC (2016)
  • Pacific Northwest LNG on Lelu Island, near Prince Rupert (2018)
  • WCC LNG, undefined site on the BC's north coast (2021-2023)
  • Prince Rupert LNG on Ridley Island in Prince Rupert (2021)

Subsequently, the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency has announced a 30-day public comment period for the Pacific NorthWest LNG project will begin April 2 and end May 1. 

Tuesday, 25 March 2014 11:21

CBSA releases Code of Conduct statistics

Canada Border Services agency has for the first time released its Code of Conduct statistics which summarizes at a high level the number of professional standards investigation and disciplinary measures taken in 2013.

Monday, 24 March 2014 11:05

CBSA update on break-bulk exemption

Canada Border Services Agency has released Customs Notice 14-006 to provide an update on changes to the Advance Commerical Information timeframes for pre-arrival reporting of breakbulk cargo in the marine mode.   Amendments proposed to the Reporting of Imported Goods Regulations published in the Canada Gazette Part I, when enacted, will allow all breakbulk cargo to be reported at least 24 hours before estimated time of arrival in Canada.  The amendments eliminate the annual application process that breakbulk carriers must currently follow.  As the regulations expect to be finalized later in 2014, CBSA has automatically extended all breakbulk authorizations for the 2013-14 year to 2014-15 to facilitate the transition.

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