Starting early Monday morning, unionized container truck drivers will be walking the picket line at Port Metro Vancouver.

Drivers represented by Unifor-Vancouver Container Truckers’ Association (VCTA) and members of the United Truckers Association (UTA) have been protesting long wait times at the terminals since February 26.  Last, the federal transportation minister, Lisa Raitt, appointed Vincent Ready to serve as a mediator in the ongoing labour dispute between drivers and employers at the port.  

Members of both organizations voted on Saturday to reject a deal created with the goal of establishing a temporary labour peace. UTA reported 100% of its members voted against the deal, while VCTA said 98% of its members were against it.

Port Metro Vancouver released a news release today advising that additional security measures will be in place at the terminals.  

Click here for a backgrounder on container trucking in Port Metro Vancouver.

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Northern Gateway has announced that that the Hon. Jim Prentice (picture above),a renowned advocate for economic partnerships with First Nationshas been appointed to lead new efforts to consult with and establish partnerships with First Nations and Aboriginal communities along the path of the proposed pipeline from the oil sands to the coast. The intention is to try and build on the agreements already in place with 26 existing Aboriginal equity partners. Mr. Prentice is a former federal Minister of Indian Affairs & Northern Development, and has spent 30 years working closely with First Nations. As a lawyer he also negotiated land claim settlements and later served as the Co-Chair of Canada’s Specific Claims Commission. As a Minister he negotiated the Residential Schools Settlement Agreement, oversaw the Maa-nulth and Tsawwassen First Nation Settlements in BC and the conclusion of the Gwaii Hanaas Marine Conservation Area Agreement with the Haida. 

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Pacific NorthWest LNG which is lead by Malaysia's Petronas Group has kick started its environmental review process by submitting its Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) to both the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency and the British Columbia Environmental Assessment Office (BC EAO). The project involves building a liquefaction plant on Lelu Island with a total project cost of $35 billion. The project’s developers have committed to a 30 metres tree and vegetation buffer around most of the Lelu Island to provide a natural sound and light barrier. Partnering in the project with 10% is Japex which has agreed to buy a proportion of the facility's production for a minimum of 20 years for delivery to Japan.

Cascadia

The Government of Canada announced today that an Order in Council has been implemented to require the both CN and CP to increase the volume of grain carried each week over the next four weeks.  By week four, the combined target is to move 1,000,000 metric tonnes per week, which more than doubles the volume currently moved.  

Both railways will be required to report a summary of weekly shipments to the Minister of Transport under the Order in Council under the Canada Transportation Act.  The Order includes penalties for non-compliance of up to $100,000 per day. 

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Mexico is reported to have seized close to 120,000 tons of various minerals in storage around Lazaro Cardenas in Mexico – a port well known to be under the influence of notorious drug gangs. Illegal shipments of iron-ore from Lazaro to China has been rumored for a while. In an attempt to straighten things out, the government ordered the Mexican Navy to take control of the port last November.In April 2013 a high-ranking executive of steel maker ArcelorMittal's Mexican operations was murdered by the drug cartel Knights Templar, that pretty much runs  Michoacan state, apparantly in retribution for his trying to clamp down on their activities. No arrests have been made.

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Construction work is getting back into the swing this week after the Panama Canal Authority (ACP) and the consortium GUPC entered a new agreement that will involve each injecting $100m into the project . Both sides have apparently agreed to continue disputing the $1.6bn in extra costs through international arbitration.The work was originally due to finish this year on budget but cost over-runs are certain to push the final tab from  $5.2bn to nearly $7bn. ACP is requiring that all work be completed by December 2015.

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It has been revealed this week that what was feared to be a piracy attack on the Japanese owned VLCC Tateyama took place in the Strait of Hormuz last month. A well coordinated response was set into motion which involved naval ships and aircraft from several countries including in a very short space of time the Australian frigate HMAS Darwin and a Pakistan Navy maritime patrol aircraft. Ultimately the suspected attackers were released since there was no evidence of an intended attack despite their high speed manoeuvres around the Tateyama. The vessel was not carrying armed guards.

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As tensions between Russia and Ukraine continue to simmer, Russia has scuttled a Kara-class cruiser Ochakov (above left in happier times) in the narrow channel at the entrance to the port of Novoozerne in order to blockade the Ukrainian Navy ships in port. The Russian ships towed the Ochakov into position and sank her in 9-11 meters of water (above center). Overall, Ukraines’s commercial ports are managing to function normally.

In a related move, the House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee has introduced bipartisan legislation to help speed up the export of US LNG to Ukraine and other East European nations, as the LNG industry becomes caught up in the international crisis over Crimea and global uncertainty related to Russian supply.  The legislation is grandly titled The Domestic Prosperity and Global Freedom Act

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It has been revealed that the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has now issued subpoenas to four companies requesting additional information as part of its investigation to determine ECA compliance. It appears that the subpoenas on an analysis of vessels that have "consistently filed fuel oil non-availability reports” (FONAR). The US Coast Guard routinely forwards all incidents of non-compliance with Annex VI to EPA for adjudication since it is the EPA that holds the big stick of enforcement.

Congressional leaders this week heard from Mr. Rod Jones, President and CEO of the CSL Group, and Mr. Bill Terry, President of Eagle Rock Aggregates who both testified in person and via written statement to describe “the well-intentioned new shipping fuel requirement from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), set to take effect in 2015, whose flawed design may actually spur increased onshore air pollution and higher shipping costs, as well as increased shipping prices for companies reliant on the short sea shipping industry”. Both also suggested that the EPA failed to consider the short sea shipping industry, whose vessels travel almost entirely within the ECA, when crafting the policy. The new fuel’s price tag, they said, is so expensive that it is likely to displace cargo shipments onto substantially less environmentally-sound shipping modes, particularly trucks and trains. For the public, that means more onshore air emissions and crowded roadways. CSL estimates that they are likely instead to see a 35% increase in fuel costs which is many times higher than the numbers provided to Congress by EPA.


Friday, 07 March 2014 00:00

Great Lakes almost 90% frozen

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The NOAA Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratoryis reporting that the Great Lakes are almost completely frozen over. In early March, ice coverage was estimated at around 90%, by far the greatest percentage seen in 30 years and potentially set to break records for all time. The previous record was set in 1979 when nearly 95% of the Great Lakes were frozen.The above map shows the situation where shades of blue indicate ice concentration, with the darkest shade of blue indicating areas where 0-10 percent of the water’s surface is frozen and white indicating areas where the water is entirely frozen over.Lakes Superior, Erie, Huron, and St. Clair were 90-100% ice covered, while Lakes Michigan and Ontario were 82% and 43% ice covered, respectively. 

Friday, 07 March 2014 00:00

HMCS Protecteur makes it to Hawaii

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       HMCS Protecteur                        USS Chosin                             USNS Sioux  

Following the engine room fire on board HMCS Protecteur last week, the ship was left disabled with 20 crew members suffering minor injuries. Over the weekend, the guided missile cruiser USS Chosin tried towing the Protecteur back to Hawaii but after the tow line broke in heavy weather, the U.S. fleet ocean tug USNS Sioux assumed the task. The forty-five year old ship is one of two auxiliary oil replenishment ships in the Canadian navy and was due to be retired in 2015 along with sister ship HMCS Preserver. Construction of replacement ships is expected to begin in late 2016, with a target of having them in operational service by 2019-20.It is unclear if Protecteur can be adequately repaired to return to Esquimalt under her own power.

Friday, 07 March 2014 00:00

CN pledges to build network resiliency

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The other issue which continues to cause severe problems for our ports is that of CN rail service. Speaking this week at the TPM Conference in Long Beach, CN Rail CEO and President Claude Mongeau said the company is looking at ways to build more resiliency into its network as it grapples with a system wide slow down caused by the severest winter in decades across most of the continent. Rail service delays have dealt a severe blow to the reputation of BC’s ports this winter both in the container and bulk sectors thereby exposing the fragility of our supply chains. Canadian Agriculture Minster Gerry Ritz is understood to be considering new regulations aimed at ensuring improved reliability to rail shipments.

 

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