APM Terminals is planning to use unmanned straddle carriers at Los Angeles, a pilot project on a 100-acre parcel at its Pier 400 terminal. The unmanned straddle carriers will bring lower upfront costs because they don’t require extensive modifications to existing terminals. This is a sign that US West Coast terminals are embracing automation in order to handle the calls from mega ships. If the auto-strad model proves to work efficiently in this pilot project, it could be scaled for the demands of other terminals on the West Coast. On the East and Gulf coasts, opposition from labour organizations has reduced the amount of automation, with the International Longshoremen’s Association not allowing the use of automated horizontal transportation such as auto-strads or automated guided vehicles. However, the semi-automated terminals in New York-New Jersey and Virginia have incorporated efficient automated stacking cranes in the yards.
Congestion at the Los Angeles-Long Beach port complex is now affecting the entire supply chain, with issues unlikely to be relieved before March. The port handles close to 40 percent of US imports and movement has been backed up since August, due to a busy peak season for holiday merchandise, followed by an increase in imports as retailers and manufacturers attempted to get ahead of threatened 25 percent tariffs on more than $200 billion of imports from China. Many of those goods are still at the port, taking up valuable real estate. Currently, it is taking 15 days on average for containers to move from the ports to inland destinations. The backlog of containers at the marine terminals because imports can't be drayed to distribution warehouses in a timely manner is now being compounded by service issues at the western railroads, BNSF and Union Pacific. The railroads are not departing trains on schedule, especially to secondary locations outside of the major hubs such as Chicago and Dallas Fort-Worth, so intermodal containers that should be moved from the marine terminals within 24 hours are sitting there for days.
Last week, ICS members met to review the progress in persuading the IMO to take measures to address expected implementation problems for the 2020 global sulphur cap. This includes outstanding safety and fuel compatibility issues associated with the use of new 0.5% sulphur blends and continuing uncertainty over the availability of compliant fuels in every port worldwide. The ICS Board endorsed the finalization of proposals to IMO on short term measures including, tightening the Energy Efficiency Design Index for new ships (requiring ships built in 2025 to be 30% more efficient than those delivered before 2013). Over the next decade massive investment in research and development of zero CO2 emitting propulsion systems and other technologies which don’t yet exist in a form that can be readily applied to international shipping will be required. This will need to be a key component of the IMO strategy when detailed ideas for long term measures are taken forward during 2020. The ICS Guidance on Compliance with the 2020 Global Sulphur Cap can be downloaded here: http://www.ics-shipping.org/docs/default-source/resources/ics-guidance-on-implementation-of-2020-global-sulphur-cap---january-2019.pdf?sfvrsn=20
Hapag-Lloyd has created a new steel floor container, which it claims can carry heavier cargoes than existing wood-floored boxes. The containers are designed for all types of cargo and is able to handle moving heavy goods, like machinery. Hapag-Lloyd statistics show a wooden floor TEU can load 4.6 tonnes per metre, while a steel floor box can load 7.6 tonnes per metre. The container also has a much higher number of lashing rings, making it easier and more efficient to secure. The tare weight of steel floor containers is also about 150 kg lighter than those with traditional floors. This, in turn, means that customers can load a higher load weight.
In advance of World Whale Day tomorrow, Saturday, February 16, the Whales in our Waters tutorial for mariners was launched today. Just as World Whale Day seeks to raise awareness on the continuing need to protect whales, this tutorial was developed for mariners to build awareness of local whale species and best practices to implement when navigating ships in their presence. It was developed by the ECHO Program and BC Ferries, in partnership with Ocean Wise. The media release is available on both the Port of Vancouver and BC Ferries websites and the tutorial itself can be accessed here.
We are sad to advise that Caroline Simister passed away on Wednesday, February 6th after a courageous battle with cancer. She was the Chamber of Shipping Office Manager from October 2000 to October 2012 when she left suddenly after being given a terminal prognosis. Her strength and determination certainly helped exceed all expectations. For those of you who remember Caroline, she was instrumental in organizing our events and supporting the Vancouver Grain Exchange secretariat over the years and earned a great deal of respect from many in the industry for her hard work, sense humour, and candid approach to everything. Our condolences go out to her family. We have been advised that a celebration of life will be held in a few months time.
Three Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd. employees are dead after a freight train lost control and plunged about 200 feet off a bridge into the Kicking Horse River between Lake Louise, AB, and Field, BC, early Monday morning. Before the crash, the crew notified the dispatching centre that the train was out of control. The train had three locomotives and 112 cars. Investigators with TSB are investigating the cause of the derailment.
The cargo ship Marathassa, which spilled 2,700 litres of fuel oil into English Bay in 2015, has been dismissed on all charges. In April 2015, a ring of oil was seen around the hull while it was anchored in the Vancouver bay. Most of the fuel was recovered or dissipated within 48 hours of the spill, however, there was an environmental impact on the shores of English Bay and four migratory birds were smeared with patches of oil. The Marathassa was accused of: discharging a pollutant into the waters; discharging a substance that was harmful to migratory birds; and, failing to implement its shipboard pollution emergency plan by failing to take samples of oil in the water and by failing to assist with the oil containment. The judge concluded that the ship did discharge the pollutant but the incident was caused by two unforeseeable shipbuilder defects in the high-level alarms and a valve on the newly built vessel. Both had been tested on a weekly basis with no concerns arising from the tests. The Marathassa had also implemented its emergency plan by taking samples of oil in the water and helping with containment.
A political dispute between China and Canada over the arrest of a Huawei executive is slowing canola shipments through Chinese ports. Shipments are taking longer to clear Chinese customs and obtain GMO permits needed to import genetically modified crops, including canola. China buys some $2.5 billion of Canadian canola per year, and the delays have caused some importers to hesitate to buy from their biggest supplier. Canola futures prices have stayed firm since the arrest, but brokers say worries about China have caused prices for canola to miss out on a boost in sales of other oils.
BC Ferries is ramping up its service on its northern routes for the Mid Coast Connector, Inside Passage and Haida Gwaii routes for the next three weeks, in preparation for the All Native Basketball Tournament. The tournament is entering its 60th year is a big draw for Indigenous communities across British Columbia. As many team and fans will use the ferry system to travel to and from Prince Rupert ferries are expected to be filled to capacity. The schedule will return to normal on Thursday, February 21.
The International Sailors' Society Canada is seeking your input on why visiting seamen are often unable to go to shore. They have put together a survey in order to assess whether the rumours they hear are in fact a reality. With your input, they will be able to establish facts and work with the various parties to ensure that all seaman have access to shore leave and obtain some relief from the stresses of life at sea. The link to the survey is: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/697JHSH.
The Honourable Marc Garneau, Minister of Transport, has announced that the Government of Canada's intends to amalgamate the Oshawa and Hamilton port authorities to form a new entity. Aligning with the Transportation 2030 vision, the amalgamation seeks to improve port efficiencies and planning in the region. The Oshawa and Hamilton port authorities carry similar commodities including steel, project cargo and bulk cargo such as fertilizers, asphalt and grain. Cargo handled at both ports produces over $6 billion in economic activity and 4500 direct and indirect jobs. An official certificate of intent will be published in the Canada Gazette, Part I on February 9, 2019. Interested parties will have until March 11, 2019 to submit comments.
The Senate Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans held its first day of study of Bill C-55, an act to amend the Oceans Act and the Canada Petroleum Resources Act, on Tuesday. The provisions in the bill are meant to create a network of marine protected areas (MPAs) in Canada, and improve the process of designating them, helping to speed a process which can currently take up to 10 years. The bill focuses on conservation and sustainability, however, industry has concerns about insufficient consultation and uninformed decision making that will have a wide-reaching affect on the marine industry.
ExxonMobil and Qatar Petroleum have announced that they will proceed with development of the $10 billion Golden Pass LNG export project located in Sabine Pass, Texas. Qatar Petroleum will invest more than $8 billion and ExxonMobil more than $2 billion in the project. The decision to self-financing the project reflects Qatar Petroleum and ExxonMobil’s confidence in LNG demand growth over the longer term. The Department of Energy has authorized 23.05 billion cubic feet per day (235 billion cubic meters per year or 177 MTPA (million tons per annum) of LNG) of natural gas primarily spread across 10 large-scale export projects in Louisiana, Texas, Maryland, Georgia, and the Gulf of Mexico. Once completed, Golden Pass will be the seventh large scale LNG export project in the United States and be capable of exporting more than 2 billion cubic feet per day of U.S. LNG to any county.
The FMC has been reinvigorated by the addition of two commissioners and new laws enacted late last year. In December, President Trump signed into law the Federal Maritime Commission Authorization Act of 2017, representing the first meaningful revision to US maritime competition legislation in 20 years. These amendments were made in response to pressure from terminal and tug operators that lobbied Congress over their concerns about the bargaining power of the global alliances. While the changes are regarded as evolutionary rather than revolutionary, sending a strong message to ocean carrier vessel-sharing agreements that they must not abuse their dominant position during collective bargaining negotiations.
Republican U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, has called on the Trump administration to lift tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from Canada and Mexico before Congress begins considering legislation to implement the new U.S.-Mexico-Canada (USMCA) trade deal. He believes that before Congress considers legislation to implement USMCA, the administration should lift tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from our top two trading partners and secure the elimination of retaliatory tariffs that stand to wipe out gains our farmers have made over the past 2½ decades," Grassley said.
Hapag-Lloyd will retrofit its 15,000 TEU ship Sajir to operate on LNG. When complete, the engine system will be able to function using either LNG or low-sulphur fuel oil. The plan is to operate the vessel using LNG, but to also be able to use low-sulphur fuel oil as a backup. This will be the world’s first retrofit to a containership of this size to LNG propulsion.