Belgium’s major European hub ports were this week hit by a nationwide general strike against the new governing coalition’s austerity measures. In Antwerp alone, 29 ships were delayed entering port and and 21 ships delayed in departing. Government plans include raising of the retirement age from 65 to 67, and major cut backs to public services in an effort to tame the country's budget deficit. Unusually, there was also trouble in neighbouring Rotterdam this week when dock workers held a rally in the centre of the city today to voice their concerns over the potential loss of jobs from the opening of APM Terminals Maasvlakte 2 and Rotterdam World Gateway's new automated terminals at Europe’s busiest container port. Unions claim that upwards of 1,000 job losses will result.
Marine terminal operators in Spain received a Christmas present this week when the European Court of Justice ruled that the country’s regulation requiring dockworkers to join a local labour pool and banning employers from recruiting anyone from outside the closed shop is in breach of EU law. The case had been brought by the European Commission following a complaint about the lack of competitiveness and lack of choice available to port employers. In the formal judgment, the court ruled that the Kingdom of Spain “has failed to fulfil its obligations under Article 49 of the Treaty on the Foundation of the European Union” by imposing restrictions on who can be employed.
The South Korean LPG carrier DL Calla suffered an explosion off Malaysia's Terengganu coast last week resulting in two crew members being killed and two others injured. The Panamax sized vessel was in transit from South Korea to Thailand at the time and reportedly suffered a cargo leak causing the explosion and minor fire that was rapidly extinguished. The Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) sent a rescue team to the location of the accident. The vessel suffered minimal damage from the explosion and continued on its passage to Thailand. The vessel is operated by Petredec Limited a global company with a long history of buying, selling, transporting, storage and distribution of LPG.
A collision occurred this week on the Parana River, Argentina, between the chemical tanker Ghetty Bottiglieri and the bulk carrier Octbreeze Island. The Octbreeze Island (above right) came off worst suffering a 5 to 6 metre opening in its hull resulting in bunker tanks being punctured and flooding of cargo compartments. An oil slick was partially contained by booms placed by authorities. The Ghetty Bottiglieri (above left) sustained damage to its bulbous bow. Authorities have launched an investigation but local reports state the vessels were in a severe storm at the time of the collision.
The sale of Pan Ocean to the only bidder, a consortium led by South Korean poultry processor Harim Group, has been agreed. The group is reportedly planning to enter the grain logistics business using Pan Ocean’s 96 vessel bulk operation. Pan Ocean entered receivership in June 2013 and was put up for sale in March this year after being spun off by its parent STX Group. Harim Group’s shares came under heavy pressure following the announcement.
As it customarily does at this time of the year, Lloyds List has published its top 100 most influential people in shipping – some of it being a bit tongue in cheek. The top 10 are as follows:
Rolls-Royce has released an overview of a future bridge operation experience concept developed in cooperation with VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, which provides insight of new technologies which the company believes could become reality by 2025. The concept assumes considerable future cost savings to ship owners by reducing the number of crew on board future vessels by use of smart technologies. Rolls-Royce believes “unmanned ships will be one of the most fundamental changes that we will experience in shipping in our lifetimes.” The following video reveals all: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_nApv-C7qSg.
In a news release issued by Unifor, it stated that CN and Unifor have been unable to reach a new tentative collective agreement, after months of negotiations and long hours this week at the bargaining table. Unifor had four CN bargaining tables meeting concurrently since Monday morning, in Montreal. Unifor opened negotitiations with CN on September 19, in advance of the expiry of the current agreement on December 31, 2014. There was some progress made over the week, but there have been several stumbling blocks on non-economic issues that prevent the talks from moving forward. The two sides will schedule future meetings in January to continue the negotiations.
Unifor has five collective agreements with CN Rail, which cover mechanics, clerical workers, excavator operators, and truck drivers. Unifor Local 100 represents skilled trades in mechanical shops and Unifor Council 4000 represents intermodal, clerical, mechanics and owner operators. Unifor represents 12,500 rail workers across Canada, and more than 305,000 members across the country in every economic sector.
In accordance with the Chamber of Shipping of British Columbia’s By-laws Parts 5 and 6 the Nominations Committee is now accepting nominations for the election of directors for 2015 from both the Principal and Associate member categories. Candidates should be active members of the society in good standing and must be nominated by two voting members.
Also please save the date for our Annual General Meeting scheduled for Thursday, February 26, 2015 at 10:30 am at the Vancouver Convention Centre - West Building Room 121/122. Details on our guest speaker will be announced shortly.
The Steveston Lifeboat operated by local marine artist, John Horton struck a training wall on the south arm of the Fraser River last night and started to take on water with 14 people on board. Within 10 minutes of the mayday call, the rigid hull inflatable rescue vessel, B.R. Hastings, operated by Station 10 of the Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue carried out a harrowing rescue with high winds reaching as high as 60 km/h. Thanks to the crew members of the RCMSAR and the Canadian Coast Guard, all passengers were safely evacuated.
The Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, the Honourable Gerry Ritz, introduced Bill C-48, an Act to amend the Canada Grain Act, this week to enhance producer protection through a new Producer Compensation Fund and improve grain quality assurance. Included in the Bill is the introduction of a new class of license for container loading facilities.
In the House of Commons last week, Member of Parliament Pat Martin NDP asked Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz “has the minister lost his freaking mind?” This set the stage for renewed focus on plans for the Canadian Wheat Board (CWB) following removal of its monopoly three years ago. The organization’s board and management were told to compete in the free market, and make ready for privatization by 2017 but there are now rumours that the government has other plans including possible disposal to an American competitor for free despite having announced in the past few months a number of projects and acquisitions. A bid by Farmers of North America, a Saskatchewan-based co-operative which reportedly valued CWB at $250-$300 million, was rejected in October with no clear explanation as to why.
Teekay LNG Partners has signed charter contracts with Royal Dutch Shell for five newbuild 173,400 CBM capacity LNG gas carriers being built by Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering in South Korea. It is understood that beginning in late 2017. The vessels will operate as part of Shell's global LNG fleet under time-charters ranging in duration from six to eight years, plus extension options. Uniquely the vessels will have M-type, Electronically Controlled, Gas Injection (MEGI) engines making them considerably more fuel-efficient and have lower emission levels than engines commonly fitted to LNG carriers today.
Senator John McCain exercised his lungs with his annual rant at the Jones Act last week saying "the 94-year-old maritime law is an anachronism that hurts U.S. farmers and manufacturers at the expense of foreign rivals with laws that had some rationale in the 1920s, but today only serve to raise shipping costs”. He went on to quote the U.S. International Trade Commission which has calculated that abolishing the Jones Act would cut U.S. shipping costs by 22% while pumping $656 million into the U.S. economy, a figure which Senator McCain views as very conservative. He also opposes U.S. cargo preference requirements on the gounds of "how do you justify having 30% of the value of whatever we’re trying to deliver eaten up because of some arcane, ancient law that restricts how we deliver that humanitarian aid to wherever it’s needed?” Well said Senator.
The Federal Maritime Commission has undertaken to launch a website to serve as a clearinghouse for port congestion surcharges being levied by container ocean carriers on account of the continuing challenges faced with the west coast labor slowdowns. While 15 carriers originally agreed to delay imposing U.S. West Coast congestion surcharges until next year, most have been forced to reinstate them – something that has not pleased the FMC which traditionally offers a sympathetic ear to shippers and consignees.
The California State Lands Commissions (CSLC) has released a new proposed version of their draft regulations for bio-fouling management aboard vessels calling in California ports and is soliciting "informal” comments on the proposal. The current proposed text includes recognition of some previously raised industry concerns whereby excessive bio-fouling will result in a warning instead of immediate issuance of a violation if the vessel will be in California waters for 48 hours or less but the vessel must correct the volation prior to its next call in a California port. However, the treatment of bio-fouling in specific niche areas e.g. bow and stern thrusters, sea chests, stabilizers has not been addressed. The deadline for comment is December 31 2014 and the draft regulations can be found here.
A judge at the European Union of Human Rights has ordered France to pay compensation to a group of nine Somali pirates on account of a 48 hour delay in presenting them before a judge after their arrival in the country. France was judged to have violated the European Convention of Human Rights. The pirates were accused and convicted of hijacking the French-flagged three-masted cruise ship Le Ponant (above) and a yacht in separate incidents off the coast of Somalia in 2008.
It was also made known this week that Denmark has compensated nine Somali pirates following an attack on the Torm Kansas because they were also detained too long before being brought before a judge. Each received 19,600 Danish crowns ($3,247) for the 13 days they were detained. Who said that crime doesn’t pay?