Ever desperate to milk the cow that feeds it, and most of the population for that matter, the Suez Canal Authority has announced new tolls for tankers with increases of up to 2.6% effective May 1. Last year, fees for tankers rose between 2.5% and 5%. On a more positive note and following completion of a dredging program the Canal has decided to allow containerships of up to 13,000 TEU to join the second southbound convoy of the day, a move which could reduce eastbound transit times by half a day. Qualifying vessels will have a maximum LOA of up to 370m, beam 50m and a draft of 14.6 meters, larger vessels have to pay a surcharge. The similarity with maximum dimensions for container ships transiting the Panama Canal once the lock expansion program is complete are unmistakable.
A newly formed IMO subcommittee focusing on the human element at sea has been in session this week. On the agenda was the Polar Code, reviewing maritime distress systems and developing what will eventually become the gas-as-fuel code for vessels running off low-flashpoint fuels such as natural gas and methanol. The Human Element, Training and Watchkeeping subcommittee was formed in 2013 in response to significant disagreements on such issues as standards of vessels and qualifications of crew operating vessels in polar regions including the ability to understand the risks of operating in or near ice if they have no prior experience. IMO Secretary General Mr. Koji Sekimizu wants the mandatory polar code to be completed this year and to come into force in 2016.
Chicago is reportedly considering drastic measures to prevent the Asian Carp infiltrating the Great Lakes. One option under consideration is to completely block the city's canal system at an estimated cost of $18 billion to stop Asian carp entering Lake Michigan. The species was originally introduced to southern US states more than three decades ago to control algal build-up in sewage treatment plants but they escaped into the Mississippi River and populations rapidly expanded before making their way north. At more than one metre in length, they have largely displaced indigenous fish species along the way.
The Marine Exchange of Puget Sound is hosting Shipping 101 – “Global Commerce, International Transportation and Trade” in Seattle on March 3 thru 7, 2014.
This course was hosted about a year by the Marine Exchange in Seattle for the first time in this region. The course information is all posted on the Marine Exchange website – www.marexps.com, more specifically at http://www.marexps.com/about/shipping_101.
Rail delays look set to drag into March before there is any realistic prospects of port fluidity recovery. The situation with CN at our container terminals continues to be particularly difficult with vessel delays, a log-jam of containers and extended dwell times, The weather problems across North America were compounded in January ahead of the Chinese New Year holidays when year on year export growth rose to 10.6% in January compared to 4.3% in December. Official figures indicate that exports to North America rose to 10.7% in January, up from 3.0% in December.
In the bulk trades, the number of ships at anchor off the Port of Vancouver at any time is running at between 40-50 and around half that number off Prince Rupert. This is resulting in significant pressure on pilotage and berth scheduling due to the remoteness of many anchorages being forced into use. Here too, we are unlikely to see much improvement for several weeks, particularly for vessels chartered in to load grain where waiting time in excess of one month has become the new unwelcome norm.
A reminder that this year's regulated period for Asian Gypsy Moth on the west coast of Canada will commence on March 1st and end on September 15, 2014 as per the Canadian Food Inspection Agency's D-95-03 Plant Protection Policy for marine vessels arriving from areas regulated for Asian Gypsy Moth. Vessels are reminded of the requirement to report 96 hours in advance reporting requirements and below is a new notice from CFIA regarding launch requirements during grain and AGM inspections. See the following links below:
The Provincial budget speech this week provided an insight to the provincial LNG tax strategy in the form of a two-tiered tax regime. The province proposes a 1.5% tax to be applied when a production facility is up and running and a second tier of tax which could reach as much as 7.0% once a facility has recouped its capital costs. Legislation to introduce the tax is expected in the fall with regulations and legislation to follow in 2015. Related LNG initiatives included in the budget included $29 million over three years to be spread through the ministries of aboriginal relations, environment, forests and natural gas development to help develop the industry. There is also $9 million over the next three years to support environmental assessment of the impact of LNG developments — facilities, pipelines and mining. Victoria has set an objective of having three LNG terminals in operation by 2020, the first by 2017.
The Honourable Lisa Raitt, Minister of Transport, has announced new funding to increase the number of flights to monitor and detect pollution from ships in Canada’s waters.
The National Aerial Surveillance Program (NASP) is one of the main pillars of the Government of Canada’s Pollution Prevention Program and is the government’s primary tool for detecting ship-source pollution.
The Government of Canada is now approximately doubling funding for the program, to $47.6M over the next five years. This funding allows for significantly more flight hours to detect pollution.
Port Metro Vancouver has announced that it will be expanding the current Moratorium on the Truck Licensing System (TLS).
As part of Port Metro Vancouver’s (PMV) Smart Fleet Trucking Strategy, the port is undertaking a review of the current Truck Licensing Program. As part of the review, PMV this week imposed a moratorium to include new Local FSO Licence applications, Joint Temporary Permits, and the addition of trucks to fleets that would have the effect of increasing the overall, current Local TLS Approved Truck Fleet
New FSO Licence and truck applications that are received by TLS after 1:00 p.m. Pacific Standard Time on Monday, February 17, 2014 will not be reviewed.
For more information, visit: Port Metro Vancouver's website.
On February 15, 2014, proposed eManifest regulatory amendments were published in Part I of the Canada Gazette. These proposed amendments will support:
This pre-publication provides a 30-day period for internal and external stakeholders to comment or pose questions on the proposed regulatory amendments.
When fully implemented, eManifest will require carriers, freight forwarders and importers in all modes of transportation (air, marine, highway and rail) to electronically transmit advance commercial information to the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) within prescribed mode-specific time frames.
Heritage Week begins Monday, Feb. 17 and continues through to Sunday, Feb. 23.
This year’s theme, Heritage Afloat, makes this a great time to explore local maritime heritage and learn more about the role B.C.’s waterways and maritime vessels played in building B.C.
The week is focused on waterways and maritime tradition, transportation, navigation, fisheries, recreation and sport, and settlement. Many communities in B.C. benefited economically from one or more of these activities in the past, and some still do today.
B.C.’s maritime history is vast. By participating in one or more of the events around the province, British Columbians can gain a better understanding and appreciation of the province’s heritage from a marine standpoint. Some provincially designated heritage properties include the sternwheeler SS Naramata in Penticton and a number of shipwrecks including the Ericsson– at the entrance of Barkley sound, the Iroquois – off Roberts Point in Sidney and the Zephyr – off the northeast shore of Mayne Island.
Many heritage organizations are hosting events during Heritage Week. To find an event in your community, visit: http://www.heritagebc.ca/events/heritage-week/community-events
Rio Tinto Alcan announced this week that the company has reached an option agreement with LNG Canada to acquire or lease the former Eurocan wharf and associated hinterland in Kitimat.LNG Canada is a joint venture comprising Royal Dutch Shell, Mitsubishi Corp, Korea Gas Corp and PetroChina Co Ltd. The agreement provides LNG Canada with a staged series of options payable against project milestones with a final investment decision expected in 2015.
(Robert Allan Ltd./Canadian Coast Guard)
Fisheries and Oceans Canada issued a news release this weekstating that the Government has issued a Request for Information (RFI) seeking industry feedback on the next generation of 18-21 Coast Guard lifeboats. The intention is to engage with Canadian shipyards in Canada that would be potential suppliers prior to a formal procurement process. Yards, other than the two selected under the NSPS to build the large vessels will be able to compete in the new procurement processes on a project-by-project basis. The new self-righting lifeboats will be capable of operations up to 100 nautical miles from shore and construction could begin as early by the end of this year.
The Port of Portland, Oregon, has agreed to an incentive scheme in a last ditch effort to keep Hanjin at the port. The port will pay $20 per container plus a further $25 per container above an agreed threshold up to an annual limit of $4m. Hanjin is the largest customer at the port’s T6 container terminal with around 80% of the 14,000 TEU per month throughput.
The Panama Canal Authority (ACP) is demanding that the Spanish-Italian-Belgian-Panamanian consortium Grupo Unidos por el Canal (GUPC) which suspended construction two weeks ago in a contract dispute over $1.6 billion of cost over-runs resume work on the third set of locks. In response, the consortium has issued a statement claiming that “GUPC has been making proposals and responding to proposals on an almost continual daily basis. GUPC has continued to make efforts on the a proposal sent to ACP to reach agreement and allow completion of the expansion project in the shortest time possible.” For its part, ACP has frequently referenced a Plan B but in reality the appointment of a replacement consortium at short notice would be a tall order. There are actually three levels of independent arbitration set out in the original $3.1bn contract signed in 2009 between ACP and GUPC but the current dispute has yet to pass the second stage. In a press conference on Thursday morning ACP claimed that it has reached a partial agreement with GUPC to end the dispute (whatever that means) even as it continues to seek alternatives to complete construction.