Speculations are that a US-China trade deal might lead to surge in metallurgical coal exports from the US to China. A trade deal could eliminate the 25% tariff on coal and bring US exports up to 2 million mt-3 million mt per year versus the current 1.1 million mt per year. Earlier this month President Donald Trump signed an Executive Order seeking to address permitting and policy obstacles preventing the export of coal and other energy resources through West Coast ports. New port facilities and improvements have been halted or delayed by state, local and tribal governments in California, Washington and Oregon. The Trump Administration is concerned that the scope of certification has moved beyond water quality to a broader political agenda. The Executive Order requests a report on the economic impacts of blocking exports of domestic coal, oil and gas through the West Coast and focuses specifically on measures to streamline the certification process under the Clean Water Act. Utah and other western coal producing states will be contributing to the report to the President documenting the harms caused by inadequate coal export infrastructure and capacity.
The Los Angeles harbor commission’s is giving APM Terminals and longshore locals 30 days to come to an agreement on APM’s plan to introduce autonomous (driverless) straddle carriers on a 100-acre portion of its 440-acre Pier 400 terminal in Los Angeles. The PMA also cites automation as a potential source of increased productivity that terminals could deploy to lower operating costs so West Coast ports will be more competitive with US East and Gulf coast ports, and Canadian ports, in attracting and keeping discretionary cargo. The PMA Monday released a consultants’ study performed on its behalf citing cost differentials of 90-165 percent at other ports. The report stated that the West Coast share of discretionary Asian imports dropped from 56 percent in 2003 to 46 percent in 2008 due to higher operating costs, and, in competition with Vancouver and Prince Rupert, Canada, higher intermodal rail costs to Chicago compared with the intermodal rail pricing by US railroads.
The United States has placed more sanctions on shipping companies transporting oil from Venezuela, with four shipping firms and nine vessels being blacklisted amid US Treasury Department claims that some of them were transporting oil to Cuba. The US Treasury identified the firms as Liberia-based Jennifer Navigation Ltd, Lima Shipping Corp and Large Range Ltd, and Italy-based PB Tankers SPA. One tanker belonging to each of the Liberian firms and six owned by the Italian firm were blacklisted. Venezuela has long sent subsidized crude to Cuba. The United States describes the arrangement as an “oil-for-repression” scheme in which Havana helps socialist Maduro weather an economic crisis and the power struggle with the opposition in exchange for fuel. A US Treasury statement said Venezuela’s oil sector continued “to provide a lifeline to the illegitimate regime” of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro. Cuba has said it will never abandon its ally even as U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration threatened more sanctions
The British Columbia government is moving forward with several key actions that will benefit container truck drivers and the sector. Adopting 10 of 12 recommendations from the BC container trucking commissioner’s rate and renumeration report will ensure balance, stability and competitiveness of the trucking sector. Container truck drivers will receive an adjusted rate structure, which includes a 2% trip and hourly rate increase to help offset higher operational costs, effective June 1, 2019. The rate structure will help ensure fair compensation for drivers and increases will vary depending on the trip and the hours worked. Also the fuel surcharge formula will be amended to account for the average monthly cost of diesel prices in Vancouver, and a remuneration review will be held every two years.
Following an investigation authorized by the Minister of Transport, the Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA) has found that Canadian National Railway Company (CN) breached its level of service obligations. In September, CN announced its intention to impose embargoes on wood pulp shipments, several months before rail congestion and other challenges emerged in the Vancouver area, and imposed those embargoes in December 2018, rather than making every reasonable effort to deal with those challenges before unilaterally restricting the transportation of the shippers' traffic. The CTA ordered CN to develop and submit a plan to respond to future traffic surges in the Vancouver area and to avoid, or minimize, the use of embargoes. The determination also sets out criteria for the lawful use of embargoes, including that they be imposed only on an exceptional basis, be targeted to address specific challenges, and be lifted as soon as possible. The CTA found that Canadian Pacific Railway Company (CP) and BNSF Railway Company (BNSF), the two other railway companies investigated, had not breached their service obligations.
The Federal government has extended its deadline to decide the future of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion to June 18. The decision to push the deadline back has reportedly been brought on by Indigenous groups telling the government that they need addition time for consultations.
The Honourable Marc Garneau, Minister of Transport, announced $877,838 for the Maritime Aboriginal Peoples Council to participate in a pilot project to develop, test, and evaluate a new maritime awareness information system. This national system is a key component of the Oceans Protection Plan’s Enhanced Maritime Situational Awareness (EMSA) Initiative. The web-based system will display a range of valuable near real-time maritime information, including data on vessel traffic, weather, and marine protected areas. As one of 10 Indigenous organizations across Canada participating in the pilot project under the Oceans Protection Plan, the Maritime Aboriginal Peoples Council will test, provide feedback, and apply their local, traditional knowledge to improve and develop the system.
Transport Canada has charged New Brunswick Southern Railway with 24 counts of violating the Transportation of Dangerous Goods Act, including 12 counts for failing to create proper shipping documents for the purpose of transporting petroleum crude oil; and, 12 counts for having unqualified personnel offering dangerous goods (crude oil) for transport. These charges follow an investigation into the accident in Lac-Mégantic. New Brunswick Southern Railway has agreed to pay $10,000.00 in fines with $40,000 to be invested in improving the safety of the transportation of dangerous goods in Canada.
Transport Canada has initiated its second call for proposals under the Clean Transportation System – Research and Development program. Over the next three years, the government is investing $1.5 million to developing innovative clean technologies to improve the environmental performance of Canada’s transportation system specifically in the marine, rail and aviation sectors. Recipients have until May 8, 2019 to submit their application. Funding is aimed at advancing knowledge and technology innovation that contribute to reducing emissions from the transportation sector.
Premier John Horgan has appointed Sheila Malcolmson, MLA for Nanaimo, as minister’s special advisor to George Heyman, Minister of Environment and Climate Change, on marine debris protection. Her responsibility will be to develop recommendations for a provincial action plan, in collaboration with the federal government, to eliminate the environmental threats caused by derelict vessels. This could include boat licensing, a recycling program boats and marine infrastructure, identifying best practices, and an action plan to curb the disposal of plastics in the marine environment.
The Honourable Marc Garneau, Minister of Transport, has appointed Murray Hupman as President and Chief Executive Officer of Marine Atlantic Inc. for a term of five years. Murray Hupman holds a Bachelor’s degree in Engineering and a Master’s Certificate in Project Management. He has occupied various positions at Marine Atlantic Inc. in past years and has been the Vice-President of Operations since 2011. He has gained board experience with the Chamber of Commerce of the Cape Breton Regional Municipality, the Port aux Basques Chamber of Commerce and the Canadian Ferry Operators Association.
APM Terminals Gothenburg has launched The Gothenburg Gateway, a new concept in Swedish logistics. The system combines fast, efficient freight trains, an efficient container port that loads between trains and ships, and more ocean-going vessels calling the port. It is designed to ensure that a container placed on a freight train anywhere in Sweden will be loaded onto a large ocean-going vessel within 48 hours. The approach is expected to reduce the transit time to Shanghai by at least a week.
The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) has stated that masters and owners of vessels that exceed the 0.5% sulphur cap after January 1, 2020 could face up to two years in prison. Failing to use an approved abatement technology such as a scrubber, alternative fuel or compliant fuel will result in non-compliance. The authority will inspect both Singapore-registered ships as well as foreign-flagged vessels visiting the port and employ fuel-testing service providers for detailed laboratory analysis of fuel samples. It will also deploy electronic systems for ships to declare their method of compliance before arrival. Along with other nations, Singapore already banned open-loop scrubbers from discharging washwater, the waste liquid containing impurities after airborne sulphur emissions have been removed.
The Danish Maritime Authority is another country taking enforcement to another level. Using a drone provided by the European Maritime Safety Agency, ship emissions will be randomly tested for sulphur content. The readings from the drone will be immediately transmitted to Danish authorities who will follow up with ship if the readings indicate a level of non-compliance. The project will contribute to a more efficient enforcement of the sulphur rules, ensuring fair competition for shipping companies and less pollution from ships. The drone will operate in an area north of The Great Belt, where many large tankers pass when going to and from the Baltic Sea.
Mercedes-Benz Canada has welcomed its first official delivery of vehicles through the newly opened Vehicle Processing Centre (VPC) in Nanaimo. It is the first and only Western Canadian entry point for European automobiles. This new all water approach for importers establishes new cost-effective and environmentally responsible supply chain options for the West Coast of Canada. The processing centre was developed in partnership with Transport Canada, Western Stevedoring, the Auto Division of SSA Marine, and BCVPC.
The Laurentian Pilotage Authority (LPA) has joined Green Marine, notably, as the first marine pilotage authority in Canada to join the environmental certification program as a participant. The LPA was already a Green Marine partner but wanted to become a participant so that the Authority’s vessels could be certified.