Thursday, 20 November 2014 23:36

Beer drinkers for seafarers

338 Seafarers

We have our own Cycling for Seafarers but UK brewer Fuller, Smith & Turner PLC (Fullers) has gone one better by raising funds for Seafarers UK through the sale of beer. This year’s donation of £38,676, raised through sales of its thirst quenching Seafarers Ale, was presented recently at the opening of The Admiralty, Fuller’s new pub on London’s Trafalgar Square, where Seafarers UK’s Director General, Mr. Barry Bryant, met with guest of honor, The Admiral Lord West of Spithead, himself a long term supporter of the charity.

Closer to home, thanks go to Brian O’Connell (ISL Ship and Port Agency / Customs Brokers) for his donation of two Grey Cup tickets for auction (raised $600) at last week’s Plimsoll Club banquet and to the Institute of Chartered Shipbrokers ($1,000) for both of their donations to Vancouver's Mission to Seafarers.

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The signing of a Free Trade Agreement between China and Australia after 10 years of negotiations promises to be good news for global shipping if not necessarily for Canada. In addition to an immediate scrapping of the 3% tax on coking coal imports, and a phasing out of the 6% tax on thermal coal imports over the next two years, the agreement is expected to boost Australian agriculture and allow for more Chinese investment in Australia. China is already Australia’s top trading partner, with two-way trade of around A$150 billion ($130 billion) in 2013 and once the agreement is fully implemented 99.9% of Australia’s current resource, energy and manufacturing exports will enjoy duty free entry into China.

337 TC

Transport Canada has issued a call for nominations for the Pacific Regional Advisory Council (PRAC) on oil spill preparedness and response.  Existing membership on PRAC will expire at the end of December 2014. Transport Canada is seeking expressions of interest to fill these positions and to establish an eligibility list for future vacancies.  View TC's PRAC Call for New Members.

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Following 18 months of environmental studies and public consultation, TransCanada has now formally filed with the National Energy Board a project application for the US$12 billion Energy East Pipeline. The project involves 3,000 kms of existing LNG pipeline to be reversed to carry bitumen and the construction of 1,600 kms of new pipeline to carry product as far east as St. John NB where TransCanada and Irving Oil have formed a joint venture to build, own and operate a new deep water marine export terminal. Pipeline capacity will be 1.1 million barrels/day. Despite being already largely built, the project is starting to generate opposition, especially from within Ontario and Quebec.

Friday, 14 November 2014 10:15

Quicksilver seeks LNG partner

337 Quicksilver

Proponents for the Campbell River LNG project, Texas based Quicksilver Resources has deferred further spending on its shale-gas assets amid negotiations for an LNG project partner. Current planning calls for the proposed LNG export terminal to be operated by a downstream partnership between Quicksilver and a third-party company as yet unnamed. The feed-gas for Discovery LNG would come from the Horn River Basin in northeast BC, one of Canada's prolific shale-gas areas and already earmarked to supply resources for several other LNG export plants. The company has filed an application with the NEB to export up to 20 million tons/year with a start up date of 2021.

Friday, 14 November 2014 10:14

Horizon Lines bites the dust

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The U.S. containership operator Horizon Lines has been purchased by competitors Matson and Pasha. Matson has secured Horizon’s Alaska operations for $456.1m deal while Pasha has acquired Horizon’s Hawaii business for $141.5m. All three companies operate in U.S. Jones Act protected trades. The demise of Horizon is not a major surprise given the company’s aged fleet, high operating costs and heavy debt burden. Horizon also announced that it will shut down its Puerto Rico domestic liner service. 

Friday, 14 November 2014 10:12

USWC port disruption becoming worse

337 ILWU

After being an oasis of calm last week, Oakland became embroiled in the deteriorating west coast labor situation this week when the ILWU shut down the SSA Marine terminal – the port’s major container handling facility after SSA sent one ILWU unfilled gang home. Longshoremen in the other gangs then walked off claiming that SSA had not followed correct procedures for labor ordering

Meanwhile, U.S. senators from the western states along with Port Directors from Seattle, Tacoma, Portland and Oakland have written to both the PMA and saying the inability of both sides to reach a contract is causing economic hardship to retailers and to port-dependent workers at transportation companies across the country. In addition, a coalition of about 100 groups representing cargo interests, intermediaries and other organizations that do business at west coast ports has been pleading with the PMA and ILWU since spring to reach a speedy conclusion to the contract negotiations.

As if things were not already complicated enough, the Mayor of Los Angeles has been meeting with the Teamsters Union to try and avoid picketing of container terminals in LA & Long Beach which would be sure to shut down those ports – at least temporarily. There were 12 large container ships fishing off the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach earlier this week despite some modest improvement in productivity at the terminals before the Teamsters action.

Friday, 14 November 2014 10:10

Quantum takes New York by storm

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Arguably the most talked about new cruise ship of 2014, Royal Caribbean's Quantum of the Seas, arrived in New York this week, the ship’s home port for the winter before repositioning to home port in Shanghai next summer. With a GRT of 168,666 tons and capacity for 5,000 passengers, Quantum is the third largest cruise ship ever built and has incorporated many technologically groundbreaking design features. The unique deck-top ride into the sky, North Star, was fully extended more than 300 feet above the water after Quantum cleared the Verranzano-Narrows Bridge and approached the Statue of Liberty. She was to be officially christened today (November 14) while docked at Cape Liberty with actress Kristin Chenoweth serving as godmother. She then begins regular sailings from Cape Liberty to the Bahamas and the Caribbean on November 18. A sister ship, Anthem of the Seas, will debut in April 2015 and sail Mediterranean itineraries from the port of Southampton UK.

Friday, 14 November 2014 10:07

Sewol officers sentenced

337 Sewol1 337 Sewol2

A South Korean court has found the 68 year old Captain (above left) of the South Korean ferry Sewol, which capsized and sank in April, guilty of gross negligence and sentenced him to 36 years in prison. The ferry’s Chief Engineer was found guilty of murder and jailed for 30 years while 13 other crew members were given jail sentences of up to 20 years on charges including abandonment and violating maritime law. The Sewol was carrying 476 people when it went down with the loss of 304 lives, most of them high school students. Prosecutors had called for the death penalty for the Captain but judges acquitted him on that charge. Following the disaster, the South Korean coast guard is due to be disbanded and replaced with a new agency after accusations that it did not act swiftly or aggressively enough to save lives. Eight of the crew members have filed an appeal against their conviction while the International Transport Workers’ Federation has condemned the sentences as “excessive and unjust”.

Friday, 14 November 2014 10:06

OW Bunker declares bankruptcy

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We reported last week that the Danish marine fuel supplier OW Bunker A/S (Denmark's third largest company by revenue) had filed for restructuring but less than 48 hours later, it was realized that there would be no choice but to file for full bankruptcy following an alleged $125 million bunker fraud scandal involving its Singapore-based subsidiary Dynamic Oil Trading (DOT). This unexpected turn of events comes only eight months after the company’s initial public offering on the Copenhagen Stock Exchange that valued the company at almost $1 billion. With Brent crude oil futures down 30% in value since June to levels last seen in 2010 there is speculation that the company may have been long on their hedges with inevitable results.  OW Bunker had been supplying 100-200,000 tons of bunker fuel per month, worth up to US$118 million in current market terms.

Friday, 14 November 2014 10:03

U.S. Navy personnel attacked in Istanbul

337 USNavy

Turkish nationalist protesters this week abused and assaulted three U.S. seamen in Istanbul including trying to put hoods over their heads and chanting "Yankees go home". Fortunately, the seamen were able to break free and sprint back to their ship, the guided missile destroyer USS Ross. Police arrested 12 members of the nationalist Turkish Youth Union but later released them. The Turkish foreign ministry condemned the attack, calling it "in no way tolerable". The U.S. navy cancelled all shore leave in Turkey until further notice.

Friday, 14 November 2014 10:01

Now for something completely different

337 QM2-1 337 QM2-2

A new musical, “The Last Ship”, featuring music and lyrics from Sting, has opened on Broadway. To celebrate the event, Sting partnered with Cunard Lines on board Queen Mary 2 in New York to perform a few of the numbers from the musical which is based on his own childhood growing up near the Swan Hunter Shipyard in Wallsend, Newcastle UK. The Last Ship is intended as a portrait of a tight knit working class community, bound together by passion, faith and tradition that did everything it could  to preserve the only life they’ve ever known, ultimately to no avail. As can be seen by the picture above right, ships were built literally at the end of the street – quite amazing by today’s standards of social license and security. The original Broadway cast album for Sting’s “The Last Ship” will be released on December 16. See the short video clip:

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