Wednesday, 13 August 2014 15:21

Railways facing pressure from all sides

324 CN

Plans to stop CN Rail from operating a line connecting to the Port of Prince Rupert by the Gitxsan First Nation have been averted after the Supreme Court of British Columbia ordered the group not to interfere with CN’s operation that cuts through the group’s 33,000-square-kilometers of territories.  The eviction notice followed the the Supreme Court of Canada's decision on June 26 that upheld the land title rights of the Gitxsan First Nation and confirmed the group's right to block development, including mining and oil pipelines. A huge sigh of relief as US-bound imports continue to choke up the terminals and increase the pressure on rails that are forced to meet an increase in volumes in almost all sectors.

US Congressional pressure is also mounting on BNSF Railway and CP Railway to get rid of a backlog of US grain shipments before the harvest arrives this fall.  US North Dakota senators have indicated that the number of open requests for CP railcars improved only 5 percent between June and August, and the average wait time increased by 27 percent to more than 80 days.  On August 1st, the Canadian Minister of Agriculture extended its requirement for CN and CP to each move 500,000 tonnes of grain per week.

324 USGrain

A tentative agreement has been reached between the Pacific Northwest Grain Handlers Association and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, following a bitter two-year labour dispute over workplace rules and hiring policies.  

The details of the tentative agreement will not be released until the ILWU locals working at United Grain terminal in Vancouver, WA, the Columbia Grain facility in Portland the the Louis-Dreyfus terminals in Portland and Seattle have ratified the agreement.  The results will be announced on August 25th and until then the ILWU has committed to reduced picket lines at United Grain and Columbia Grain terminals where longshore workers have been locked out since May 2013.  Washington State grain inspectors have resumed inspections in Vancouver, WA.

Settlement of this dispute is hoped to have a positive impact on the PMA negotiations in the coastwide agreement with the ILWU. Some are speculating that US West Coast may begin to see production decline following the Labour Day weekend.

Monday, 11 August 2014 11:28

BC Exporter Awards

324 exporter

Each year, the BC Export Awards recognize the innovative approaches and unique contributions of BC registered export companies across sectors and in all regions of the province as well as the individuals who contribute to their success. Nominations are now open for the annual awards program and will be accepted in the following nine sector award categories plus two individual awards: The Leadership Award and the International Business Studies Award.

Nomination Deadline: August 29, 2014 

For more information on award categories and criteria, click here.

322 PAPA

The Port Alberni Port Authority's Nominating Committee is now accepting nominations for a director in the user category.  Nominations will be accepted until 4:00 pm on September 11, 2014.  For more information visit the Port Authority web site at

Friday, 08 August 2014 12:03

Temporary measures implemented for Ebola

323 publichealth

The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) has requested that CBSA coordinate the request to the shipping community to help in preventing the spread of the Ebola virus disease into Canada.  

The CBSA has implemented temporary measure requiring marine carriers arriving in Canada, that have in the past 30 days called into ports on the west coast of Africa, or who have crew or passengers aboard who have been in the affected areas within the past 30 days, to have available and provide a faxed copy of the Maritime Declaration of Health Certificate to the CBSA. 

In accordance with section 38 of the Quarantine Act, marine vessels are required to provide officers with any information or records in their possession that are reasonably required in relation to the duties performed under that Act.  The Canada Border Services Agency is responsible for enforcing the Quarantine Act.

PHAC has requested that CBSA require affected vessels fax or email the certificate to the National Targeting Centre (NTC) 24 hours prior to arrival in Canadian waters. 

NTC Fax:  613-960-1556
NTC Email:  CBSA-ASFC-PANS/This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Friday, 08 August 2014 10:51

Joint CFIA-USDA Asian Gypsy Moth advisory

323 agm1  323 agm2

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) and the US Department of Agriculture have released a joint advisory to remind operators that vessels arriving to Canada and US directly from any of the high risk areas for Asian Gypsy Moth - Far East Russia, Japan, Korea and China - must be inspected and certified prior departure.  Also confirmed in the advisory is the USDA's intention to begin issuing penalties for vessels arriving with a valid inspection certificate and failing to submit ports of call data for the last two years.  

So far this season, 15 vessels have been found with Asian Gypsy Moth with most of the detections discovered over the last few weeks in BC.  CFIA has advised that the recent detections are expected with new the AGM population cycle starting in July.  All vessels are required to self-inspect while en route from these area of interest to avoid any potential disruption upon arrival and inspection by CFIA.  The AGM detections this season have been found on certified vessels.  Download the 2014 In-season CFIA - USDA Advisory.

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Following a Canada Border Service Agency inspection at the Port of Montreal, a container destined for Toronto was founds to contain 72.8 kg of Ketamine and 23.5 kg of Norephedrine concealed in a number of rice sacks.  Three Greater Toronto Area residents were arrested for illegal and charged under the Controlled Drugs and Substance Act and the Criminal Code. 

Ketamine is often mixed with other illicit drugs such as MDMA or methamphetamine and over the several years, increased seizures and trafficking of Ketamine in Canada indicate a renewed organized crime interest in the drug. Norephedrine (also known as PPA) is often used as a precursor chemical to produce amphetamines, 4-methylaminorex and other illicit drugs.

Friday, 08 August 2014 10:18

Container terminals under seige

323 containers

BC’s container terminals are continuing to struggle with a second month of much higher than usual volumes of US destined cargo.  It appears that this diversion of US cargo is likely to continue so long as uncertainty over the PMA/ILWU coastal contract remains after the previous contract expired on June 30.  The major issue believed to be separating the two sides is that of who will pay for Affordable Health Care Act (Obamacare) tax on generous health care plans. Employers pay 100% of the premiums in the ILWU health care plan, and union members pay just a $1 co-pay per prescription for medication. The PMA estimates that the new tax will cost the industry $150 million a year. Employers have indicated that a cost-sharing formula can be worked out but the ILWU is resisting to contribute anything.

The situation has been compounded by more ocean carriers making Vancouver a first port of call, congestion on the BNSF Northern Line out of Washington State to the mid-west and problems within the TTX rail pool whereby Union Pacific and BNSF are denying the supply of additional rail cars to the Canadian railways. US economic growth of 4% in Q2 is in itself generating more consumer demand – hence more cargo compounded by peak season including “back to school” goods. The railways also remain under pressure with the passage of the Fair Rail for Grain Farmers Act which requires each Canadian railroad to deliver a minimum of 500,000 tons of grain per week for export. The US has imposed similar measures.

Today DP World has stopped accepting US-bound containers for direct rail transfer at its Centerm terminal because of the lack of railcars.  TSI has indicated that it will continue receiving US cargo at their two facilities and has no intention to adopt a similar policy. 

323 westshore

Westshore Terminals has managed to adjust its throughput agreements to enable Cloud Peak Energy to increase its exports to South Korea, Japan and Taiwain from 4.5M tonnes up to 6.5M tonnes from 2015 to 2024.  Coal Valley Resources has agreed to transfer its throughput capacity to Cloud Peak and terminate its existing agreement at the end of 2014.  The net effect is expected to result in greater operating efficiencies for Westshore with no changes to total number of trains arriving or departing Westshore, but BNSF will pick up the capacity diverted from CN trains.  Westshore is expected to operate at its rated 33M tonne rated capacity through to 2016.

323 ILWU

A Washington State Senator has sent a letter to the state’s Executive Ethics Board alleging that the State Governor broke the law when he cancelled the state troopers’ escort of grain inspectors into the Port of Vancouver WA. By doing so, the Senator argues that the State is effectively “forcing terminal operator United Grain Corp. to negotiate with the union." The escort of grain inspectors, who are state employees, began in September 2013 when United Grain locked out the ILWU following failure to negotiate a contract and allegations of deliberate damage to machinery. Despite the dispute having no direct relationship to the coastal PMA/ILWU negotiations, there is a concern that it could spill over into the bigger picture.

323 SantaBarbara

A group of six ocean carriers announced this week an agreement to reduce speed along California's Santa Barbara coastline to help reduce air pollution and protect endangered whales. Members of the pilot program are COSCO, Hapag-Lloyd, K Line, Maersk Line, Matson, and the United Arab Shipping Co. All will reduce their speed when transiting through the Channel as part of a trial program and each will receive compensation of $2,500 per slowed-down transit.

Friday, 08 August 2014 10:13

Plans for new Suez Canal

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Not to be out done by expansion of the Panama Canal and the proposed Nicaragua Canal, Egypt this week has announced plans for a new $4.0 billion 72km Suez Canal running alongside the existing French built canal which opened for business in 1869. One objective of the new Canal would be to eliminate single direction convoys which add to overall transit time. The existing canal handles around 8,500 transits in each direction per year and generates around $5bn for the country in revenues. 

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