Friday, 21 March 2014 08:52

Trucking disruption continues

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Following rejection of last week’s 14 point action-plan by the UTA and Unifor driver groups, the Federal and Provincial Governments along with Port Metro Vancouver appealed for a full return to work on Thursday under threat of drivers losing Truck Licensing System (TLS) permits should they fail to do so. It was simultaneously announced that the Province will introduce “Back to Work” legislation on the Unifor drivers in the legislature on March 24. PMV also sent out a number of advisory notices to TLS permit holders advising of non-renewal of licenses and permits expiring in March, April or May 2014. The initial reaction was an approximate 40% of normal daily truck activity on Thursday which was 66 more than on Wednesday. The drivers’ primary demands are standardized rates of pay across the trucking sector, an end to undercutting and an end to long wait times for around 8% of truck traffic at the port. Please see last night global news clip: http://globalnews.ca/video/1221136/port-strike-latest

On a more positive note, Prince Rupert’s Maher Container Terminal is back to normal operations after several weeks of struggling with reduced rail service. However, rail service continues to be a serious issue elsewhere in the province with all bulk commodities impacted and the backlog of vessels at anchor still a major issue. By order in council, the railways are required to move one million tons a week of grain by early April or face fines of $100,000 per day.

The second tentative agreement reached between CN and the Teamsters Canada Rail Conference (TCRC), representing 3,300 conductors, baggae persons, car retarder operators, yard operations employees, switch tenders, traffic coordinators and assistant traffic coordinators, was not ratified by the union membership.  This was the second time that a tentative agreement has been rejected by the union membership. 

With 64.2% of the union opposed to the deal, CN is now proposing binding arbitration to settle the outstanding issues.  CN News Release

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All 23 crew members were airlifted to safety from a Handymax bulk carrier John 1 after the ship ran aground last weekend off the south coast of Newfoundland. The Joint Rescue Coordination Center Halifax dispatched a Cormorant helicopter from 103 Squadron in Gander to the scene approximately 1.6 km from Rose Blanche at about 1:30 pm on Saturday afternoon.The vessel was on passage from Montreal to Spain when she lost power on Friday morning. The CCGS Earl Grey attempted several times to connect a tow line to the vessel to prevent it from running aground.

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Overnight Sunday/Monday, shifting winds freed the vessel from her grounded position and she was taken to a safe anchorage where a salvage team boarded to help decide on next steps.

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The recently incorporated tanker company, Transport Maritime St-Laurent Inc. is to buy two Ice Class 1A Panamax tankers, Stena Poseidon and Stena Palva.  The largest shareholder in this new company is Valero, which owns a 230,000-barrel-per-day refinery  in Quebec City.  Last year the refinery received a one-year, renewable permit from the U.S. Commerce Department to export Texas crude to its refinery on the St. Lawrence River. In addition, pipeline operator Enbridge received approval from the National Energy Board on March 6, 2014 to reverse the flow of their 639-kilometer pipeline between North Westover, Ontario to Montreal.  The speculation is that the two vessels will be used to ship oil from Montreal to the Quebec City refinery.

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The search for missing Malaysian Air Flight 370 continues with the search now centered on an area SW of Australia following satellite detection of possible wreckage. The U.S. Navy has sent its most advanced surveillance plane, a P8-A Poseidon, to join planes from Australia and New Zealand in scanning the area. Seafarers transiting the Indian Ocean and South China Sea have also been urged by the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) to listen to maritime satellite safety messages as part of a huge international effort to locate any sign of the missing airliner. Yesterday, the Hoegh St. Petersburg (above right), a car carrier on passage from Europe to Australia via the Cape of Good Hope was called on to scan an area where satellite images suggest there may be wreckage. 

Friday, 21 March 2014 08:41

P3 Alliance gains US regulatory approval

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The U.S. Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) has approved the so called P3 Alliance between the world’s largest container lines, Maersk Line, Mediterranean Shipping Co and CMA CGM but with stricter monitoring than is usual for a standard alliance. The FMC’s five commissioners voted four to one in favor of approval with former chairman Richard Lidinsky voting against.

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US Navy Seals boarded the tanker Morning Glory off the coast of Cyprus last weekend. Flying the North Korean flag, the vessel loaded oil off the eastern Libyan port of Sidra in defiance of a naval blockade since the region is under the control of a militia seeking autonomy for the east of the country. The guided missile destroyer USS Roosevelt provided helicopter support and served as a command and control platform  for the mission, which will see the vessel returned to Libya under the escort of USS Stout. Perhaps somewhat embarrassed by the incident, North Korea chose to de-register the vessel when the attempt to load illegal cargo was first publicized. For good measure, the Libyan Prime Minister also lost his job. Oil is normally supplied to North Korea by China so there are many question marks as to who was behind this vessel. 

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The Panama Canal Authority (ACP) and the GUPC consortium led by Spain’s Sacyr Group announced late last week that they have reached agreement on a formula which is designed to enable new lock construction completion by December 2015. Project insurer Zurich has also signed off on the deal under which the Authority and the consortium will each contribute $100 million to get the work back on track while ACP will extend a moratorium on the refund of advance payments until 2018, freeing up money to complete the work. In addition, a $400 million surety bond from Zurich will be used as backing to secure additional funding and claims relating to unexpected costs will be resolved in international arbitration courts. Twelve lock gates, under construction in Italy, will now be delivered to Panama by the end of the year.

Friday, 21 March 2014 08:33

MOL gets aggressive on LNG tonnage

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Mitsui OSK has announced that it plans to spend nearly $8.5bn on 60 LNG carriers over the next six years in order to capitalize on the forecast increase in supply from new projects in North America, East Africa and Australia into Asia. With the U.S. decision to grant approval to a number of LNG projects to export to countries without free trade agreements with the US, Tokyo Gas, Osaka Gas, Chubu Electric and Kansai Electric Power have contracted with project developers for  long-term requirements. The planned investment includes 20 ships already on MOL’s  order book, which will be delivered in 2014-2016. Of these, 10 vessels have been fixed via MOL’s joint ventures with Chinese state-owned firms.

Closer to home, it was disclosed this week that Sinopec is seeking to make a 15% investment in Prince Rupert’s Pacific Northwest LNG which is led by Malaysia’s Petronaas Group.

Friday, 21 March 2014 08:31

The world's largest propellor

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The world’s largest-diameter propeller was loaded by floating crane onto the container vessel Hyundai Together at the Port of Hamburg last weekend. The five-bladed propeller measuring 10.3 m in diameter and weighing in at 113 tons was manufactured by Mecklenburger Metallguss GmbH in Waren, Germany and is destined for a so far undisclosed 18,000 TEU vessel under construction in South Korea.

Friday, 21 March 2014 08:25

The world has gone bananas

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Two of the world’s leading banana companies are to merge their operations. Chiquita Brands International and Fyffes announced the $1.1bn merger this week to create the world’s largest banana company ChiquitaFyffes with sales of 160m boxes of bananas per year. By comparson, Del Monte sells around 117 million boxes and Dole 110m boxes. Fyffes/Geest Line operates eight conventional reefer ships and Chiquita’s Great White Fleet operates ten conventional ships in addition to five cellular container vessels.

Canada Border Services Agency has issued Memorandum D12-4-1 which oultines pre-arrival reporting requirements for cargo and conveyance data in the rail mode.  

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