The 66th session of the IMO’S Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) has this week given further consideration to deciding whether the global 0.50% sulphur limit can go ahead in 2020, or be deferred until 2025. The committee received four submissions with only one submission, that from the Clean Shipping Coalition (CSC), arguing against an early review of low sulphur fuel availability, a condition for implementation of the new global limits. Support for an early review came from the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS), and a joint submission from the UK and the Netherlands. However, the proposal finding most support was in a joint submission from the United States, BIMCO, INTERTANKO and CLIA. It seems likely that the outcome of all this will be agreement at MEPC 67 in October this year to authorize an early study in order to give the industry time to respond if the signals are that there will be problems. The study would also be broadened to include the status of development and availability of abatement technology and alternative fuels.
Also at the MEPC this week it was decided that the 2016 deadline for new ships to comply with nitrogen oxide (NOx) Tier III standard applicable in NOx emission control areas (NECAs) will likely be kept for existing NECAs, but theIMO will seek a different solution for new NECAs
Also of note, Hong Kong's demand that local bunker suppliers sell MGO with a sulphur content of no more than 0.05% has also passed into law. Companies selling non-compliant marine light diesel (MLD) may be liable to a fine of up to HK$50,000 (US $6,440) and imprisonment for up to three months.
United European Car Carriers (UECC) has contracted with Kawasaki Heavy Industries to build two dual-fuel LNG 3,800 unit capacity Pure Car and Truck Carriers (PCTCs) at the builder’s joint venture NACKS shipyard in Nantong, PRC. The vessels will be built to Finnish/Swedish ice class 1A Super standards thereby allowing for dedicated year round trading in the Baltic Sea. They will be the first PCTCs to be fitted with an LNG-fuel propulsion system. Established in 1990, UECC, jointly owned by NYK and Wallenius Lines is a leading short-sea ro-ro operator and logistics provider in Europe.
Three tankers have come under attack in the past week, two in the Red Sea and one in the Strait of Hormuz. In each case, the attackers were in a speedboat and were carrying machine guns and came very close to the vessel before being warned off by crew response. NATO is investigating.
Canpotex Limited has agreed to an annual contract with its government and private sector partners in India to supply approximately 1 million tonnes of potash at a price of US$322 per tonne. The agreement demonstrates Canpotex's commitment to India as the leading postah supplier in this market.
Her Majesty’s Canadian Ship (HMCS) Regina disrupted a narcotics shipment during a patrol in her designated area of operations in the Indian Ocean on March 31, as part of Operation ARTEMIS. The crew boarded a dhow off the east coast of Africa and intercepted the narcotics which had an estimated street value of $26M. This was the first drug seizure for HMCS Regina under Operation ARTEMIS, which is a multinational effort with 29 other countries to deter terrorism and piracy in the region.
A report on pdf Liquefied Natural Gas: A Marine Fuel for Canada's West Coast (1.23 MB) highlights the benefits of using liquefied natural gas (LNG) as an affordable, lower emission fuel for Canada's marine sector. According to the report, all of the technologies needed to use LNG as a marine fuel are proven and commercially available. In the near-term, coastal vessel operators serve to benefit with the potential reduction in fuels costs by more than 50%, estimating a payback on initial investment of less than six years.
Jointly funded by Transport Canada and a broad group of industry and other participants, the report recommends changes to Canada's marine regulatory framework to allow for the review and approval of new LNG projects. These changes would support new projects moving forward including the use of three LNG ferries that BC Ferries plans to have in operation in 2017.
The Tokyo MOU secretariat has released the results of the Concentrated Inspection Campaign (CIC) on ship propulsion and auxillary machinery carried out jointly with the Paris MOU between September 1 to November 30, 2013. A total of 8,257 inspections were conducted and 72 of these resulted in detentions.
The most significant deficiencies found were related to emergency source of power and lighting, main and auxillary boilers and boiler feed systems, protective arrangements for machinery and cleanliness of the engine room.
An agreement was reached on Wednesday this week to bring to an end the one month highly damaging disruption to drayage service at PMV’s container terminals. Following an extended day of negotiations directly involving BC Government cabinet members and trucking leaders, Premier Christy Clark announced late on Wednesday that a settlement has been reached even while the Legislature was in a third day consecutive day of debating back-to-work legislation. That legislation has now been withdrawn.
The provincial and federal governments, along with PMV, set out a 14-point action-plan to end the strike in mid-March, but the proposal was rejected by the drivers. A provincially appointed mediator will now meet with the drivers and stakeholders to work through the practical implementation of the revised action-plan which seeks to address the key issues of contention in terms of pay, service and the regulatory framework.
Following a deluge of service complaints, the Federal government this week introduced Bill C-30, the “Fair Rail for Grain Farmers Act” which is intended to ensure that both CN and CP move grain from the Praries to the country’s ports a whole lot faster or face fines. The legislation extends power to the Canadian Transportation Authority (CTA) to extend inter-switching distances and would additionally require regulators to tighten up service level agreements between carriers and shippers along with the power to address non-performance. Both CN and CP have roundly criticized the legislation which in summary they believe will have many unintended consequences and hit their bottom line.
Canadian Federal Transport Minister Lisa Raitt has criticized the latest round of proposed U.S. legislation that would tax cargo entering the U.S. from Canadian ports. “We will vigorously defend our trade interests and the rights attained through our international trade agreements,” Minister Raitt told attendees of the Association of American Port Authorities’ spring conference in Washignton, D.C. Washington State politicians have introduced bills in their respective chambers that would replace the Harbor Maintenance Tax (HMT) with a fee on all containers that originate internationally. Supporters argue the legislation would stop shippers from circumventing the 0.125% levy on the value of cargo imported through U.S. ports by diverting shipments through Canadian and Mexican ports. The Minister reminded her audience that Canadian destined cargo coming through U.S. ports is on average three times that of the traffic of U.S.-bound cargo through Canadian ports.
BC Ferries may face a legal challenge over plans to order and operate a new cable ferry to operate between Vancouver Island and Denman Island. The company’s union has said its lawyers will request the BC court of appeal to hear arguments against the funding for the new vessel for which Seaspan Marine has won the $15m construction contract. BC Ferries says that cable vessels offer fuel and crew savings of up to $2m per year. The union argues that switching to a cable ship will cost as many as 15 local jobs, and that the length of the crossing and unpredictability of water conditions raises concerns about safety and reliability of the vessel.
The UK’s Inmarsat System used a wave phenomenon discovered in the nineteenth century to analyse the seven pings its satellite picked up from Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 to determine its final destination. The pings, automatically transmitted every hour from the plane after the rest of its communications systems had been turned off, thereby proving conclusively that it continued flying for several hours after diverting from its intended flight path from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. From the time the signals took to reach the satellite and the angle of elevation, Inmarsat was able to calculate two arcs, one north and one south that the plane could have taken. Inmarsat’s scientists then analysed the faint pings using a technique based on the Doppler effect, which describes how a wave changes frequency relative to the movement of an observer, in this case the satellite. The UK Air Accidents Investigation Branch provided confirmation of the method of analysis which on Tuesday this week resulted in the Malaysian Prime Minister announcing that the Boeing 777, which disappeared more than two weeks ago, crashed thousands of miles away in the southern Indian Ocean with the loss of all onboard.
Aircraft and ships from six countries including the car carrier Hoegh St Petersburg (above centre) are involved in the effort to locate and retrieve numerous satellite detected indications of wreckage. Following their Friday search pattern, five planes have spotted "objects" in a new area of the Indian Ocean, 700 nautical miles north of the previous search area and much closer to land. A Royal New Zealand Air Force Orion first spotted "a number of objects white or light in colour and a fishing buoy". An Australian plane then went to locate the items and spotted "two blue/grey rectangular objects", and three other planes reported similar sightings.
The Chinese patrol ship Haixun 01 is in the search area and will be dispatched to locate and possibly retrieve any objects of interest on Saturday according to the Australian Maritime Authorities. Of the 239 people lost on the flight, 154 were Chinese. China has therefore pulled out all the stops in pursuing the search for wreckage in terms of sharing satellite images, search planes and at least 13 ships are in or headed for the new search area. The Australian Prime Minister has also vowed “to continue the search for as long as it takes”. Both the Australian and Malaysian governments have also said the focus on the new search area was based on further analysis of radar data that showed the plane had been travelling faster, thus burning more fuel.
Almost 800 tons of marine fuel found its way into the Houston Ship Channel last weekend after a collision between the bulk carrier Summer Wind and a loaded tank barge under tow. The barge, which was being towed by the tug Miss Susan, has since been lightened and removed from the area. With a backlog of around 100 ships waiting to move, the USCG allowed the waterway to begin reopening on Tuesday and by Thursday two way traffic was restored but in daylight only.
COSCO has assigned one of the company’s 13,000 TEU capacity vessels to the Transpacific trade. Last week, COSCO Fortune (above) made her maiden call at the Pacific Container Terminal terminal in Long Beach in the company’s South China / US Southwest Coast Express (SEA) Service.
Still on the subject of container lines, South Korea's antitrust regulator announced this week that it intends to join forces with its counterparts in China and other countries to ensure fair treatment for smaller players in the face of the proposed P3 Alliance.
Richard Branson’s Virgin Group has announced that it is to develop an ocean cruise division to be based in Miami. Discussions are well underway with German and Italian shipyards with a view to deliveries in 2017. Based on the Virgin track record of success, there appears to be no hesitation from potential investors. Speaking to media this week, Branson commented “we think we have a concept that is very sexy and is definitely something that I like to go on and something that my children like to go on”. Translation - young and free spending, first time cruisers.
Fednav is reportedly the first shipping company to employ aerial drones for ice reconnaissance on a commercial voyage through the Arctic. The ice-strengthened Umiak I recently used a variety of video-equipped UAVs (Unmanned Air Vehicles) to scout ahead of the vessel in the ice-covered waters off Northeastern Labrador Coast in order to provide detailed real-time visual information about local ice conditions. Fednav worked with its subsidiary Enfotec which specializes in providing advanced ice imagery and analysis to vessels operating in difficult ice conditions.