Seaspan's Vancouver Shipyards has completed volunteer repair work on the Steam Tow Boat Master (SS Master) as part of its $50,000 donation to the SS Master Society. The SS Master is a historic tug built in 1922 and the last remaining example of a wooden-hulled, steam-powered towboat on the West Coast The restoration efforts included under-water maintenance work carried out at Seaspan's new state-of-the-art facility. For more details on the tug, visit: www.ssmaster.org.
Both hard and digital copies of the latest British Columbia Ports Handbook are now available. The pdf version can be downloaded from our website at www.cosbc.ca and hard copies can be picked up at our office. Advertising opportunities are still available for the digital version which will be updated regularly.
This week’s 39th annual Interferry Conference held at the Westin Bayshore was successful in attracting over 300 delegates from across the globe. Presentations and panels included discussion of the regulatory burden, the lack of appreciation for short sea shipping at the IMO, retail and customer service strategies, the human side of safety and the move towards LNG as a primary fuel in the ferry industry. Next year’s conference is to be held in the bicycle capital of the world – Copenhagen.
The BC legislature is in session until November 27 for the primary reason of passing legislation on taxation and environmental policies for the emerging LNG industry. The tax plan announced earlier this year calls for a two tier tax system that would apply a manufacturing tax on LNG production, the first level being at 1.5% as soon as production starts and the second level at 7% once investment costs from construction of the terminal have been recovered. Petronas, the lead partner in Pacific Northwest LNG has been pressing for both the federal and provincial governments to commit to lower taxes by the end of October to meet its mid-December target for an investment decision.
The head of the recently formed 15 member LNG Alliance, Mr. David Keane, a former executive for BG Group, also commented this week that "the industry, if they're going to invest billions of dollars, needs clarity and certainty around the fiscal structure." The Alliance members include Kitimat LNG, LNG Canada, Pacific Northwest LNG, Prince Rupert LNG, Woodfibre LNG and Triton LNG.
Steelhead LNG Corp owned by the Huu-ay-aht First Nations has recruited Mr. Victor Ojeda who had previously been leading the development of Shell’s LNG Canada project in Kiitmat. The project has applied for a 30-year LNG export license to develop a plant near Bamfield near Port Alberni. Mr. Ojeda has more than 20 years of experience in developing multi-billion dollar energy projects across Africa, the Americas and Oceania.
Port Metro Vancouver’s unique Container Vessel On Time Performance Incentive Program has been awarded the CIFFA “Forwarders Celebrating Associates” award for Excellence in Innovation. The program recognizes container vessel operators that arrive within +8 hours of their berth window which in 2013 resulted in a 10% increase in vessel on time performance. The program paid out $2.8 million in wharfage reductions to ten qualifying carriers in 2013.
In a surprise move, the Seattle and Tacoma port commissions have this week announced plans to unify management of the two ports under a single “Seaport Alliance” in an effort to compete more effectively with their neighbours. The Alliance will manage marine cargo terminal investments and operations, planning and marketing, while the individual port commissions will retain their existing governance structures and ownership of assets. Following due diligence period, the two commissions intend to submit a more detailed agreement to the FMC by the end of March 2015. During the due diligence period, John Wolfe, Port of Tacoma CEO, and Kurt Beckett, Port of Seattle Deputy CEO, will continue to lead their respective ports with Mr. Wolfe expected to emerge as the unified CEO.
The Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) held hearings last week in Baltimore with a view to gaining a better understanding of the reasons for the acute container handling congestion impacting some U.S. ports. The FMC heard a number of explanations including the domino effect of shippers unwilling to pay higher rates, ocean carriers seeking to reduce costs by building larger and more fuel-efficient ships, in turn demanding lower handling rates from terminals. The terminals themselves are then struggling to finance the capital needed for investments needed to efficiently handle the bigger ships while everyone is piling pressure on the truckers. Also highlighted was the problem of holds placed on containers for inspections by U.S. Customs and Border Protection at a time when budget restrictions have stretched CBP’s staff too thin to keep up with increased volume. Trucking companies also warned that truck drivers are leaving the business because of increasing difficulty earning a living. Does any of this sound familiar?
A battle royale is taking shape ahead of next week’s 67th meeting of the IMO’s Marine Environmental Committee (MEPC) in London The International Chamber of Shipping estimates that ship owners are being pressed to invest around $US100 billion in new ballast water treatment systems once the Ballast Water Management Convention enters into force, probably sometime in 2016, but with no assurance that the new type approved systems will be viewed as fully compliant by all national governments. Also in question is the criteria to be used for sampling ballast water during Port State Control inspections, and the need for “grandfathering” of type-approved equipment already or about to be fitted.
Canada has submitted an attempted compromise proposal including the concept of “minor exceedance” of the Convention’s discharge standards but this is not considered likely to go very far. The ICS submission to MEPC 67 can be found here.
The Captain of the South Korean ferry Sewol that capsized and sank in April with the loss of 304 lives had his day in court this week. Captain Lee Joon-seok, 68, said he was in a very confused state of mind during the incident and apologized for his failure to rescue his passengers in the country’s worst maritime disaster for many decades. Captain Lee was among 15 crew members accused of abandoning the heavily listing ferry after telling the passengers to stay put in their cabins. Four, including the captain face homicide charges while a separate trial is under way for officials of the company that operated the vessel. The billionaire businessman owner of the company, went missing shortly after the disaster and was later found dead.
A Vietnamese oil tanker MT Sunrise was hijacked by around a dozen pirates less than one hour after leaving Singapore late last week destined for Vietnam. She was carrying 5,226 metric tons of oil products, about 30% of which she was relieved. This latest incident has added to S.E. Asia’s already alarming 2014 hijacking statistics.
Piracy in home waters aside, Singapore is set on further building on that country’s hugely successful construction of a maritime cluster by turning its attention to development of marine insurance and ship finance capacity. The notion of a Singapore war risk mutual is taking hold and plans are underway to establish the country as the premier ship finance centre in Asia. Kudos to Singapore for leading the way.
After a time out of four months, the next phase of the search for the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 has begun in the southern Indian Ocean. A ship equipped with specialized sonar technology, the GO Phoenix, has arrived in a remote stretch of ocean where the plane is believed to have ended its flight. Using satellite data, experts have concluded that the airliner ended its journey in the Indian Ocean, north-west of Perth. Contracted by Malaysia, the GO Phoenix, began its work this week 1,100 miles off western Australia where it will tow underwater sensors over the sea floor scanning for traces of jet fuel and using sonar and video to try to locate the plane. The GO Phoenix will be joined later this month by two additional specialized ships. The head of Australia's transport safety agency, which is leading the underwater search, said he was "cautiously optimistic that the next phase, jointly funded by Malaysia and Australia, would eventually locate the plane”.
Now that the numbers are in, congratulations to all who participated in the September 2014 Cycling for Seafarers which raised approximately $49,000 and/or the fundraiser banquet at RVYC which raised a further $20,000. In addition, at the latter event, Methanex/Waterfront Shipping handed Senior Port Chaplain Nick Parker a cheque for $5,000 on behalf of the company and a tremendously supportive staff. The generosity and support of everyone concerned will go a long way to keeping the Mission on track for another successful year in meeting the needs of the thousands of seafarers who visit the port of Vancouver every year. Photos from the banquet taken by photographer, Dave Roels, are available at BC Shipping News.
TSI Terminal Systems Inc has now formally re-branded to GCT Canada Limited Partnership. This change provides the Canadian operation with a consistent identity to that of the company’s operations in the United States. GCT Canada operates both the Deltaport and Vanterm container terminals. In the US the company operates the Bayonne, New Jersey and Staten Island, New York terminals. The company is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Ontario Teachers pension Plan.
Another US lumber company is now in Canadian hands following the purchase of Southern Lumber Co. Inc. by Canfor for a reported for $48.7 million. Canfor announced the acquisition on September 30 and all is expected to be concluded by the end of Q1 2015. Southern Lumber is based in Hermanville, Mississippi and processes high quality southern yellow pine. This acquisition follows the trend set by West Fraser and Interfor in recent years following several years of acrimonious softwood lumber disputes which restricted Canadian access to U.S. markets during periods of weak market demand. Founded in 1983, Southern Lumber Company is a family run business and is considered to be one of the most efficient lumber operations in the U.S. Southeast and had long been one of the few independent lumber manufacturers in the state.
The joint shipping pool operation announced by Saga Forest Carriers Intl AS (Saga) and Westfal-Larsen Shipping AS (Westfal-Larsen) on July 4th, 2014, started its operation October 1st, 2014. The pool will operate 50 open hatch gantry vessles and two conventional vessels with two newbuilds scheduled for delivery in 2017.