As negotiations for a collective agreement on the U.S. west coast drag on, in time honoured fashion extraordinary safety related delays are piling pressure on the employers. ILWU mechanics in both Los Angeles and Long Beach are making the already acute congestion problems worse by pulling trucks over and requiring inspections that go far beyond any normal safety procedures. Compounded by chassis shortages, it has also been reported that the terminals are struggling to fill a number of daily work orders each day with experienced longshoremen resulting in the filling of gangs with many casuals which is only exacerbating the levels of congestion. Last week the National Retail Federation, in a letter to both the ILWU and Pacific Maritime Association, urged a quick resolution to contract negotiations that began on May 12.
Long Beach is hoping that the addition of more chassis to the local truck fleet will help ease the congestion issues after two local truck chassis owners announced plans to add over 3,000 chassis to their local fleet over the next few weeks. Long Beach has formed a dedicated Congestion Relief Team to help combat the congestion.
Frustration at delays at Los Angeles & Long Beach also surfaced at the TPM Asia Conference in Shenzhen on Thursday. Shippers voiced their anger at the weeks it can now take for containers to make their way through the two ports’ terminals compared to the largely fluid operations on the U.S. east coast.
Apparantly weary of all the talking, the U.S. Surface Transportation Board has now ordered all Class I railroads to issue detailed weekly performance metrics for each major freight type, including intermodal. The STB has notified it’s intention to "promote industry-wide transparency, accountability and improved service" in order to gain a better real-time understanding of service issues. The first weekly report is due to be submitted by Oct. 22. BNSF, CSX Transportation, Canadian National Railway, Kansas City Southern Railway, Norfolk Southern Railway, CP and Union Pacific Railroad will all have to report metrics.
The booming trade in U.S. wastepaper exports to China is facing restrictions from Beijing’s Ministry of Environmental Protection. Automatic import licensing will no longer apply to several forms of wastepaper and while detailed information has yet to be made available it would appear that new regulations proposed by Chinese government will tighten up on old newspaper (ONP) exports, which account for 21% of total exports as mainland processors push for cleaner fibre.
The UK Ministry of Defence has deployed the Royal Fleet Auxiliary vessel RFA Argus to West Africa where she will serve as an offshore base for Ebola treatment in Sierra Leone. The ship is designated a Primary Casualty Receiving Ship (PCRS) equipped with state-of-the-art medical facilities. She has been loaded with hospital beds, troops, army medical staff and 3 Merlin helicopters to facilitate the rapid movement of personnel and equipment where they are most needed.
No doubt under some pressure from the IMO Secretary General Mr. Koji Sekimizu, the government of Japan last week ratified the Ballast Water Management Convention (BWMC). Japan’s alternate permanent representative of to IMO Yasu Onishi deposited Japan's instrument of accession to Mr. Sekimizu (above left). No sooner had the dust settled than Turkey announced that it too has signed up becoming the 43rd signatory to this still somewhat controversial legislation. With Turkey signing on the dotted line the total number of states by percentage of the world fleet ratifying the convention now represents 32.54% of world tonnage with just 2.46% left to go before 35% of global tonnage falls under the agreement and triggers the convention’s entry into force one year later.
Following the week long meetings at MEPC 67, the IMO has agreed to review and strengthen the type approval process and guidelines and not penalise the first-movers who have already installed ballast water treatment systems on their vessels provided that they have been maintained properly.
Mr. Sekimizu announced three weeks ago he is not seeking re-election at the end of his four-year term, which ends in December 2015 on account of his wife’s health issues. The hot money is on candidates from the U.S. Cyprus, Panama, Denmark and Mexico to advance candidates.
The Chinese mega-metropolis of Shenzen, just over the border from Hong Kong Hong is to play its part in the development of new clean air standards. The government plans to allocate RMB200m ($32.6m) a year on cash rebates to encourage shipping lines to switch to low sulphur fuel while at berth thereby emulating Hong Kong's earlier subsidy scheme. Beginning in November and for the next three years, it is estimated that the Shenzhen government will subsidise 75% to 100% of the extra costs incurred by shipping lines in the voluntary scheme. In addition, Shenzhen is pursuing an emissions control area for the Pearl River Delta by 2018. In total 23 shipping lines have signed a joint green shipping Shenzhen declaration, pledging to contribute to cleaning up the air in the city.
In an effort to promote LNG as a marine fuel in Asia, Singapore is to cooperate with the Society for Gas as a Marine Fuel (SGMF). SGMF has been established under the umbrella of the Society of International Gas Tanker and Terminal Operators (SIGTTO) to promote safety and industry best practice in the use of gas as a marine fuel. The society's membership list contains equipment manufacturers, port authorities, fuel suppliers and oil majors through to classification societies, ship owners and naval architects.
Australian mining companies are not being dissuaded by low prices, the global surplus of coal, nor the just imposed Chinese import tariffs of 3% for anthracite and coking coals, and 6% tariff on non-coking coal. The country exported a record 158.5 million tonnes in the January-September period from Queensland alone as exporters continue to add capacity in both coking and thermal coal despite around 30% of the country’s coal Australia’s sector estimated to be running at a loss. More than half the world’s steel-making coal, worth $40 billion a year, comes from Australia.
Following a review of Northern Vancouver Island Operations, Canada Border Services Agency has advised that the Campbell River office will be closed and that these services and resources will be relocated to the Comox Valley Airport effective November 1, 2014.
Helijet has announced that they expect to begin a scheduled helicopter service between its downtown Vancouver Heliport and Nanaimo’s Cruise Ship Centre facility sometime this winter. In recognition of a growing demand for fast, convenient air service between the two centres, especially for business travellers and commuters, Helijet plans to offer up to seven return flights daily Monday through Friday during the busy fall and winter seasons, when its air services are typically in high demand. With a commute of just 18 minutes each way, the 12-passenger, twin engine helicopters will be a great addition to our members doing business on Vancouver Island.
A few weeks ago Seaspan donated over 150 pounds of meat and fruit to the furry residents on Grouse Mountain. The two grizzly bears, Grinder and Coola, and Alpha, the grey wolf, benefited from two freezers that coincidentally malfunctioned in the same week. Seaspan's Director of Safety and Environment, Shawn Chylinski, came up with idea to donate the food to the Grouse Mountain Refuge for Endangered Wildlife. To ensure that the food met the dietary needs of the animals, Greg Larson and Dave Rudder packaged up the acceptable food for delivery. I'm sure they're beary happy!
Seaspan's Vancouver Shipyards has completed volunteer repair work on the Steam Tow Boat Master (SS Master) as part of its $50,000 donation to the SS Master Society. The SS Master is a historic tug built in 1922 and the last remaining example of a wooden-hulled, steam-powered towboat on the West Coast The restoration efforts included under-water maintenance work carried out at Seaspan's new state-of-the-art facility. For more details on the tug, visit: www.ssmaster.org.
Both hard and digital copies of the latest British Columbia Ports Handbook are now available. The pdf version can be downloaded from our website at www.cosbc.ca and hard copies can be picked up at our office. Advertising opportunities are still available for the digital version which will be updated regularly.
This week’s 39th annual Interferry Conference held at the Westin Bayshore was successful in attracting over 300 delegates from across the globe. Presentations and panels included discussion of the regulatory burden, the lack of appreciation for short sea shipping at the IMO, retail and customer service strategies, the human side of safety and the move towards LNG as a primary fuel in the ferry industry. Next year’s conference is to be held in the bicycle capital of the world – Copenhagen.
The BC legislature is in session until November 27 for the primary reason of passing legislation on taxation and environmental policies for the emerging LNG industry. The tax plan announced earlier this year calls for a two tier tax system that would apply a manufacturing tax on LNG production, the first level being at 1.5% as soon as production starts and the second level at 7% once investment costs from construction of the terminal have been recovered. Petronas, the lead partner in Pacific Northwest LNG has been pressing for both the federal and provincial governments to commit to lower taxes by the end of October to meet its mid-December target for an investment decision.
The head of the recently formed 15 member LNG Alliance, Mr. David Keane, a former executive for BG Group, also commented this week that "the industry, if they're going to invest billions of dollars, needs clarity and certainty around the fiscal structure." The Alliance members include Kitimat LNG, LNG Canada, Pacific Northwest LNG, Prince Rupert LNG, Woodfibre LNG and Triton LNG.
Steelhead LNG Corp owned by the Huu-ay-aht First Nations has recruited Mr. Victor Ojeda who had previously been leading the development of Shell’s LNG Canada project in Kiitmat. The project has applied for a 30-year LNG export license to develop a plant near Bamfield near Port Alberni. Mr. Ojeda has more than 20 years of experience in developing multi-billion dollar energy projects across Africa, the Americas and Oceania.
Port Metro Vancouver’s unique Container Vessel On Time Performance Incentive Program has been awarded the CIFFA “Forwarders Celebrating Associates” award for Excellence in Innovation. The program recognizes container vessel operators that arrive within +8 hours of their berth window which in 2013 resulted in a 10% increase in vessel on time performance. The program paid out $2.8 million in wharfage reductions to ten qualifying carriers in 2013.