A very well attended half day workshop on LNG safety at the Vancouver Club this week was addressed by presenters Tony Bingham of Teekay, Capt. Roy Haakonson of BC Coast Pilots, Captains Khairul Osman and David Kyle of Pacific NorthWest LNG and Calum McClure of CryoPeak. With an attentive audience ranging from the Mayor of Prince Rupert to a team of UBC engineering students, the whole range of issues related to LNG handling safety, vessel design and construction, preparation for LNG traffic on the coast, the key considerations that are incorporated into plans for Pacific NorthWest LNG and the development of safe practices for LNG bunkering were all subjects covered in some detail. Thanks again to the presenters for a job well done.
In order to overcome disruption to fish habitats and the potential for marine mammal disturbance related to the company’s Prince Rupert project environmental review, Pacific NorthWest LNG has proposed the construction of a 1.6 km long suspension bridge to minimize the project’s environmental impact. The company has budgeted around $11-billion for the Lelu Island export terminal as part of a potential $36-billion overall budget to take the project forward. The two other key modifications to previous plans are moving a proposed housing camp for construction workers off Lelu Island to Port Edward and eliminating the need for extensive dredging along the shallow waters of Agnew Bank. The bridge would connect with a 1.1-kilometre-long trestle/jetty to a deep berth location in Chatham Sound and thereby completely avoid the environmentally sensitive Flora Bank. The 24 metre wide bridge would be paved for vehicle access and would carry pipelines connecting the plant to the vessel loading dock.
The federal government has this week announced a $20 million three-year pledge to fund the University of Victoria’s Smart Ocean Initiative, an oceanographic data collection program designed to support Canada’s development of a World-Class Tanker Safety System. The announcement was made at the Vancouver Aquarium by Transport Minister Lisa Raitt. Oceans Network Canada was launched in 2006 and is primarily funded by the federal government and IBM Canada. The program’s website describes one of the organization’s key long-term goals as being the search for a “deeper understanding of how large-scale climate-related changes are impacting British Columbia’s waters.”
Canadian Federal Transport Minister, Lisa Raitt, and B.C. Transportation and Infrastructure Minister, Todd Stone, this week jointly announced a new model for the port drayage sector. The provincial government proposes to legislate retroactive rate regulation on the sector and appoint a Container Trucking Commissioner, who will assume responsibility for all Truck Licensing System licenses in place following the planned reforms by Port Metro Vancouver to be announced at the end of November 2014. The Commissioner, when appointed, will be supported by an advisory committee. The imposition on industry of retroactivity is proving to be highly controversial.
Mr. Robert Dick will assume the position of Regional Director General, Pacific Region, for Transport Canada effective November 3, 2014. After embarking on his public service career in Manitoba at Western Economic Diversification Canada, Mr. Dick spent nine years at the Privy Council Office, first as director of operations in Economic and Regional Development Policy Secretariat, and then as Director of planning in the Priorities and Planning Secretariat. Before joining TC in June 2013 as Director General, Air Policy, Mr. Dick was director general, National Cyber Security at Public Safety Canada, where he led the development and implementation of Canada’s first Cyber Security Strategy. Mr. Dick is a graduate of the University of Manitoba, where he earned a master’s degree in Political Studies, with a major in International Relations.
The Port of Portland has approved plans for Canpotex, through its Portland Bulk Terminals subsidiary, to invest up to $140 million in new equipment and infrastructure to improve handling efficiency of the company’s specialty white potash products. The combination of a new shiploader, an upgraded conveyer system, improved control system technology and a new storage building is expected to enable shorter turnaround times for both the Canpotex dedicated fleet of rail cars and improved vessel loading productivity. Canpotex is a joint venture of three Saskatchewan potash producers: Agrium, Mosaic and PotashCorp.As most are aware, the company is also a shareholder in Neptune Terminals here in Vancouver and has just signed a lease agreement with the Prince Rupert Port Authority for the site of its new export facility in Prince Rupert.
As negotiations for a collective agreement on the U.S. west coast drag on, in time honoured fashion extraordinary safety related delays are piling pressure on the employers. ILWU mechanics in both Los Angeles and Long Beach are making the already acute congestion problems worse by pulling trucks over and requiring inspections that go far beyond any normal safety procedures. Compounded by chassis shortages, it has also been reported that the terminals are struggling to fill a number of daily work orders each day with experienced longshoremen resulting in the filling of gangs with many casuals which is only exacerbating the levels of congestion. Last week the National Retail Federation, in a letter to both the ILWU and Pacific Maritime Association, urged a quick resolution to contract negotiations that began on May 12.
Long Beach is hoping that the addition of more chassis to the local truck fleet will help ease the congestion issues after two local truck chassis owners announced plans to add over 3,000 chassis to their local fleet over the next few weeks. Long Beach has formed a dedicated Congestion Relief Team to help combat the congestion.
Frustration at delays at Los Angeles & Long Beach also surfaced at the TPM Asia Conference in Shenzhen on Thursday. Shippers voiced their anger at the weeks it can now take for containers to make their way through the two ports’ terminals compared to the largely fluid operations on the U.S. east coast.
Apparantly weary of all the talking, the U.S. Surface Transportation Board has now ordered all Class I railroads to issue detailed weekly performance metrics for each major freight type, including intermodal. The STB has notified it’s intention to "promote industry-wide transparency, accountability and improved service" in order to gain a better real-time understanding of service issues. The first weekly report is due to be submitted by Oct. 22. BNSF, CSX Transportation, Canadian National Railway, Kansas City Southern Railway, Norfolk Southern Railway, CP and Union Pacific Railroad will all have to report metrics.
The booming trade in U.S. wastepaper exports to China is facing restrictions from Beijing’s Ministry of Environmental Protection. Automatic import licensing will no longer apply to several forms of wastepaper and while detailed information has yet to be made available it would appear that new regulations proposed by Chinese government will tighten up on old newspaper (ONP) exports, which account for 21% of total exports as mainland processors push for cleaner fibre.
The UK Ministry of Defence has deployed the Royal Fleet Auxiliary vessel RFA Argus to West Africa where she will serve as an offshore base for Ebola treatment in Sierra Leone. The ship is designated a Primary Casualty Receiving Ship (PCRS) equipped with state-of-the-art medical facilities. She has been loaded with hospital beds, troops, army medical staff and 3 Merlin helicopters to facilitate the rapid movement of personnel and equipment where they are most needed.
No doubt under some pressure from the IMO Secretary General Mr. Koji Sekimizu, the government of Japan last week ratified the Ballast Water Management Convention (BWMC). Japan’s alternate permanent representative of to IMO Yasu Onishi deposited Japan's instrument of accession to Mr. Sekimizu (above left). No sooner had the dust settled than Turkey announced that it too has signed up becoming the 43rd signatory to this still somewhat controversial legislation. With Turkey signing on the dotted line the total number of states by percentage of the world fleet ratifying the convention now represents 32.54% of world tonnage with just 2.46% left to go before 35% of global tonnage falls under the agreement and triggers the convention’s entry into force one year later.
Following the week long meetings at MEPC 67, the IMO has agreed to review and strengthen the type approval process and guidelines and not penalise the first-movers who have already installed ballast water treatment systems on their vessels provided that they have been maintained properly.
Mr. Sekimizu announced three weeks ago he is not seeking re-election at the end of his four-year term, which ends in December 2015 on account of his wife’s health issues. The hot money is on candidates from the U.S. Cyprus, Panama, Denmark and Mexico to advance candidates.
The Chinese mega-metropolis of Shenzen, just over the border from Hong Kong Hong is to play its part in the development of new clean air standards. The government plans to allocate RMB200m ($32.6m) a year on cash rebates to encourage shipping lines to switch to low sulphur fuel while at berth thereby emulating Hong Kong's earlier subsidy scheme. Beginning in November and for the next three years, it is estimated that the Shenzhen government will subsidise 75% to 100% of the extra costs incurred by shipping lines in the voluntary scheme. In addition, Shenzhen is pursuing an emissions control area for the Pearl River Delta by 2018. In total 23 shipping lines have signed a joint green shipping Shenzhen declaration, pledging to contribute to cleaning up the air in the city.
In an effort to promote LNG as a marine fuel in Asia, Singapore is to cooperate with the Society for Gas as a Marine Fuel (SGMF). SGMF has been established under the umbrella of the Society of International Gas Tanker and Terminal Operators (SIGTTO) to promote safety and industry best practice in the use of gas as a marine fuel. The society's membership list contains equipment manufacturers, port authorities, fuel suppliers and oil majors through to classification societies, ship owners and naval architects.
Australian mining companies are not being dissuaded by low prices, the global surplus of coal, nor the just imposed Chinese import tariffs of 3% for anthracite and coking coals, and 6% tariff on non-coking coal. The country exported a record 158.5 million tonnes in the January-September period from Queensland alone as exporters continue to add capacity in both coking and thermal coal despite around 30% of the country’s coal Australia’s sector estimated to be running at a loss. More than half the world’s steel-making coal, worth $40 billion a year, comes from Australia.
Following a review of Northern Vancouver Island Operations, Canada Border Services Agency has advised that the Campbell River office will be closed and that these services and resources will be relocated to the Comox Valley Airport effective November 1, 2014.
Helijet has announced that they expect to begin a scheduled helicopter service between its downtown Vancouver Heliport and Nanaimo’s Cruise Ship Centre facility sometime this winter. In recognition of a growing demand for fast, convenient air service between the two centres, especially for business travellers and commuters, Helijet plans to offer up to seven return flights daily Monday through Friday during the busy fall and winter seasons, when its air services are typically in high demand. With a commute of just 18 minutes each way, the 12-passenger, twin engine helicopters will be a great addition to our members doing business on Vancouver Island.
A few weeks ago Seaspan donated over 150 pounds of meat and fruit to the furry residents on Grouse Mountain. The two grizzly bears, Grinder and Coola, and Alpha, the grey wolf, benefited from two freezers that coincidentally malfunctioned in the same week. Seaspan's Director of Safety and Environment, Shawn Chylinski, came up with idea to donate the food to the Grouse Mountain Refuge for Endangered Wildlife. To ensure that the food met the dietary needs of the animals, Greg Larson and Dave Rudder packaged up the acceptable food for delivery. I'm sure they're beary happy!