In advance of the expiration of the PMA/ILWU Collective Agreement covering most U.S. West Coast ports, U.S. Customs and Border Protection has issued guidance on procedures the agency will use in the event of cargo disruptions. See the link: Customs and Border Protection (CBP) released guidance.
In anticipation of cascading largest container ships into the west coast, the Los Angeles Board of Harbor Commissioners last week approved raising 14 cranes at APM Terminals Los Angeles. A coastal development permit will allow the terminals to raise 14 existing container cranes and extend their reach booms at berths 401-404 on Terminal Island. APM will fund the $35 million in improvements, which will raise the cranes 32 feet and extend the boom reach by 10 feet. Work is expected to begin this fall and be completed in 2016. Pier 400 can handle approximately 1.6 million TEU and is the largest single proprietary container terminal in the world. With a total acreage of 484 acres, it can accommodate 8,000 wheeled and 17,000 grounded containers.
Following the lead of Transport Canada, the U.S. Surface Transportation Board issued orders at the end of last week to the Canadian Pacific and Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railways that they must produce a plan to resolve the backlog of grain car orders on the U.S. rail network by today. In addition, both railways must provide the Board with weekly status updates beginning June 27. The reports are to include:
The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) stepped up this week to recognize the 2014 Day of the Seafarer. The Authority joined withthe Singapore Maritime Officers' Union (SMOU) and the Singapore Organization of Seamen (SOS)to pay tribute to seafarers around the world by jointly distributing 600 hampers to impacting an estimated 9,000 seafarers. On June 25, a donation of S$100,000 ($80,000) was also made to the Singapore branch of the Mission to Seafarers which will be distributed to the Norwegian Seamen's Mission, the Danish Seamen's Church, and the International Lutheran Seafarers' Mission.
In the trial of 73 year old the head of Chonghaejin Marine (above left), the owners of the ferry Sewol, South Korean government prosecutors allege that the company deliberately overloaded the vessel contributing to her rapidly capsizing. It is further alleged that following her 2012 conversion when additional cabins and an exhibition room were added to the upper structure, she was left inherently unstable and should not have been allowed to operate in such condition. A separate trial of the Captain (above centre) and 14 other crew members is also underway with various charges laid related to their failure to help passengers evacuate the vessel even as Mr. Yoo Byung-eun, who is thought to control the ferry company through various holding firms is still on the run. It was also revealed this week that the shipbuilder and major shareholder in the company that operated the Sewol and which is also owned by Mr. Mr. Yoo Byung-eun has filed for receivership.
Sadly it’s not all good news from Brazil at the end of a second week of scintillating football. A Mexican fan who had been toasting the success of his team at the World Cup jumped from the cruise ship MSC Divina as he seemingly tried to impress a fellow passenger. Mr. Jorge Alberto Lopez Amores, 28, shocked his friends with a cry of “look at me!' before jumping to his death. Neither the vessel itself or the Brazilian navy which joined the search has found any trace of him. At the time of the incident, the ship was carrying 3,500 Mexican fans from Fortaleza to Recife under charter to a Mexican travel agency. See picture above of Mr. Amores (left) having a picture taken with Mexican striker Oribe Peralta Morones.
The European Commission has voted to extend the block exemption that applies to liner consortia with a market share of up to 30% until at least April 2020. The official European Commission press release announcing the extension can be viewed at http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_IP-14-717_en.htm
The Hong Kong Government has announced that it is planning to set up a new statutory body dedicated to the shipping industry following acceptance of a study focused on “Enhancing Hong Kong’s Position as an International Maritime Centre” carried out by BMT Asia Pacific. The report concluded that Hong Kong needs a new statutory body outside of the government that can assume four key roles: policy formulation, research and development; marketing and promotion; manpower and training; and communications. It also suggests transferring revenue from Hong Kong Shipping Register, the fourth-largest in the world, to fund the new body.
Two more countries have notified the IMO of their intent to ratify the Ballast Water Management (BWM) Convention. Italy and Argentina will be hot on the heels of Japan and Turkey both of which plan to complete ratification prior to the 67th meeting of the IMO’s Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC 67) which is scheduled for mid-October. The signatures of all four countries would bring the combined global tonnage to within 0.8% of the convention taking effect one year after reaching the 35% threshold. The International Chamber of Shipping has been leading the charge against ratification pending revision of the type approval process for treatment systems.
Led by Wallenius Wilhelmsen Logistics (WWL), a new alliance of ocean carriers is in the making with the intent of pressing for strict enforcement of ECA regulations “Once the sulphur content cap on marine fuel falls to 0.10% from the start of next year, a wide gap will emerge between the cost of ECA compliant low sulphur product and heavy fuel oil” according to a WWL statement .”That rise in fuel costs - 50% per day per vessel for WWL - coupled to a weak enforcement regime would constitute an unacceptable business risk”. Membership of the alliance is open to any shipping company that supports its aim of sticking to the ECA rules and seeking strict enforcement.
After years of legal battles, the Spanish energy conglomerate Repsol SA this week secured the support on the Spanish Supreme Court for plans to explore for oil off the Spanish Canary Islands. The justices rejected seven appeals against Repsol’s exploration permits, Should Repsol discover oil, it is estimated the project will cost 7.5 billion euros ($10.2 billion). Thousands of people marched in different cities and towns on the islands earlier this month to protest against the plans, which have been opposed by political parties, unions, environmental groups and other organizations.
A new whistleblower service has been launched for the container drayage community in the Lower Mainland to provide a way truck drivers to voice concerns about such things as trucking company compliance with Joint Action Plan remuneration rates, truck licensing or driver harassment. The service is a collaborative effort by Port Metro Vancouver and the provincial Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure. Those wishing to file a report can do so online, via a 24/7 telephone service, by fax or by mail. The 1 877 713-5109 toll-free telephone service, called Drayage Confidence Line, is administered by an independent, third-party organization that will forward drivers’ concerns to the appropriate agency for follow-up. Concerns involving driver remuneration will be investigated by the Container Dispute Resolution Program and, where necessary, disciplinary measures will be taken.
The Federal Government this week threw its support behind the recommendation of the Joint Review Panel comprising National Energy Board & Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency that the Northern Gateway project go ahead subject to 209 conditions being met by the proponent. The project comprises a 1,177 km twin pipeline from Bruderheim, Alberta, that will carry 525,000 barrels per day of bitumen from the oil sands to Kitimat, and 193,000 barrels per day of condensate from Kitimat to the oilsands. Export cargoes would be carried by a mixtures of Aframax, Suezmax and VLCC sized tankers. The project continues to face a number of challenges including opposition from ENGOs, several First Nations groups and in meeting the five conditions laid down by the BC Government.
Following the intervention of Dr.Kellie Leitch, Minister of Labour, Seaspan Marine last week avoided disruption to ship docking and coastal towage services when ILWU local 400 agreed to binding arbitration in their contract dispute with the company. With the Canadian Merchant Service Guild (CMSG)having already agreed to binding arbitration, the way was cleared for the selection of an arbitrator acceptable to all sides.
The Minister also this week congratulated SMIT Harbour Towage and the CMSG on reaching a collective agreement for members within the jurisdiction of PMV. The agreement was reached with assistance from the Labour Program's Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, which provides dispute resolution and dispute prevention assistance to unions and employers under the Canada Labour Code. The previous collective agreement, which covers approximately 27 employees working as masters, mates and engineers, expired on March 31, 2011.
Following extensive public feedback, Woodfibre Natural Gas has announced that the proposed $1.7-billion LNG liquefaction plant would be built on the former pulp mill site rather than bringing in a floating structure. The project, which would see up to 2.1 million tons of LNG shipped from the Squamish facility beginning as early as 2017, is undergoing a blended federal-provincial environmental review. If it receives certification, the parent company, Singaporebased Pacific Oil and Gas, is scheduled to decide by the end of the year whether to proceed with the project.
Meanwhile the province has sold a parcel of land in the Douglas Channel to Haisla First Nations for LNG development.
In his first term of office, President Obama launched the U.S. National Ocean Policy which seeks to streamline more than 100 laws that govern the oceans and create a coordinated, science-based approach to managing resources and uses of coasts and oceans. In follow up, the State Department this week hosted the “Our Ocean” conference, an international conference on sustainable fisheries, marine pollution, and ocean acidification where several additional commitments were made including:
For further detailed information see: http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2014/06/17/fact-sheet-leading-home-and-internationally-protect-our-ocean-and-coasts
The Long Beach Board of Harbor Commissioners has given preliminary approval to two new incentives designed to attract additional container volumes to the port, encouraging the use of air pollution reducing shore power and ondock rail. Under the so called “Vessel Dockage Waiver Program” the port has decided to waive dockage charges completely for vessels that slow down near the port and plug into shore power or use another approved pollution-cutting technology at berth. Preliminary approval was also given to a $5 per container unit incentive for each new loaded container handled at the port on condition that each container must travel inland by ondock rail to eliminate truck trips on local roads. The Board of Commissioners is scheduled to consider the incentives for final approval at its meeting June 23.