The Port of Vancouver, Canadian National Railway, and the Canadian federal government signed an agreement on Thursday, to build a second track to move more cargo and increase trade through Vancouver’s harbour. The project involves double-tracking a 4 km section of rail that links expanding import and export terminals on the south shore of the Burrard Inlet to the national rail network. A timeline has not yet been published.
As of January 1, 2019, the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority has expanded the eligibility criteria for its EcoAction Program to include more underwater noise-reducing options and emissions reduction options. Those ships that qualify will receive discounted harbour dues of up to 47 per cent. The EcoAction Program now accepts quiet ship notations from five different ship classification societies and five propeller technologies, all of which can help reduce underwater noise emissions.
Cargo coming through the Vancouver Ports has increased over the last month, pushing facilities to 85 percent utilization (compared the maximum industry standard of 80 percent). This has caused a doubling of container dwell times at rail facilities, underscoring the need for additional infrastructure to handle future growth. Last week, container dwell times at Deltaport were in excess of seven days, while Centerm’s dwell times averaged three to five days, and Vanterm’s dwell times averaged five to seven days. Main causes of the excessive dwell times include rail service issues, increasing container volumes, and the unprecedented container discharges from mega-ships.
Following the issuance of a joint notice of dispute on January 25th, the Minister of Labour has now appointed Ms. Kathy M. Peters, Regional Director – Pacific Region, Federal Mediation and Conciliation Services (FMCS) as Conciliation Officer to assist the BCMEA and the ILWU Canada in concluding a renewal collective agreement within 60 days (April 13th) unless an extension is mutually agreed upon. On the 21st day following termination of the conciliation, either party can issue 72 hours strike or lockout notice.
Yesterday, Minister Wilkinson, the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, launched the Canada Nature Fund for Aquatic Species at Risk, a $55 million investment over five years to support the recovery of aquatic species at risk. In partnership with Indigenous communities, organizations, provinces and territories, industry and academia this fund focuses on seven priority freshwater places and two priority marine threats, including physical and acoustic disturbance such as ship strikes and marine noise. Interested parties are encouraged to review the eligibility criteria and submit an expression of interest by March 22, 2019. Successful applicants at this stage will be invited to submit a project proposal for further consideration.
Earlier this week Transport Minister, the Honourable Marc Garneau announced that the federal government is providing over $190,000 to remove wrecks and/or gain legal possession of abandoned boats across Canada. In BC these include the removal of 13 and another three funded to obtain legal possession in Victoria, Steveston, Alert Bay, Port Edward, Pender and Bowen Island.
Transport Canada is proposing to amend the Navigation Safety Regulations to expand the Automatic Identification System (AIS) carriage requirements to a wider category of passenger vessels. Amendments published in the Canada Gazette Part I, Vol 153 No 6 on February 9th will strengthen the surveillance and enforcement of current and future requirements respecting the disturbance of the whales by small vessels. Affected stakeholders include owners of commercial vessels registered in Canada as passenger vessels or ferries, if their vessels are certified to carry more than 12 passengers or if their vessels are eight metres or more in length and are certified to carry passengers. Having access to AIS data will help to inform future protection measures of this endangered species and the protection of other species.
The Canadian Border Services Agency National Targeting Centre has updated its Pre-Arrival Notice requirements. Details of the requirements can be found here: https://www.cbsa-asfc.gc.ca/publications/forms-formulaires/bsf732-eng.html.
APM Terminals is planning to use unmanned straddle carriers at Los Angeles, a pilot project on a 100-acre parcel at its Pier 400 terminal. The unmanned straddle carriers will bring lower upfront costs because they don’t require extensive modifications to existing terminals. This is a sign that US West Coast terminals are embracing automation in order to handle the calls from mega ships. If the auto-strad model proves to work efficiently in this pilot project, it could be scaled for the demands of other terminals on the West Coast. On the East and Gulf coasts, opposition from labour organizations has reduced the amount of automation, with the International Longshoremen’s Association not allowing the use of automated horizontal transportation such as auto-strads or automated guided vehicles. However, the semi-automated terminals in New York-New Jersey and Virginia have incorporated efficient automated stacking cranes in the yards.
Congestion at the Los Angeles-Long Beach port complex is now affecting the entire supply chain, with issues unlikely to be relieved before March. The port handles close to 40 percent of US imports and movement has been backed up since August, due to a busy peak season for holiday merchandise, followed by an increase in imports as retailers and manufacturers attempted to get ahead of threatened 25 percent tariffs on more than $200 billion of imports from China. Many of those goods are still at the port, taking up valuable real estate. Currently, it is taking 15 days on average for containers to move from the ports to inland destinations. The backlog of containers at the marine terminals because imports can't be drayed to distribution warehouses in a timely manner is now being compounded by service issues at the western railroads, BNSF and Union Pacific. The railroads are not departing trains on schedule, especially to secondary locations outside of the major hubs such as Chicago and Dallas Fort-Worth, so intermodal containers that should be moved from the marine terminals within 24 hours are sitting there for days.
Last week, ICS members met to review the progress in persuading the IMO to take measures to address expected implementation problems for the 2020 global sulphur cap. This includes outstanding safety and fuel compatibility issues associated with the use of new 0.5% sulphur blends and continuing uncertainty over the availability of compliant fuels in every port worldwide. The ICS Board endorsed the finalization of proposals to IMO on short term measures including, tightening the Energy Efficiency Design Index for new ships (requiring ships built in 2025 to be 30% more efficient than those delivered before 2013). Over the next decade massive investment in research and development of zero CO2 emitting propulsion systems and other technologies which don’t yet exist in a form that can be readily applied to international shipping will be required. This will need to be a key component of the IMO strategy when detailed ideas for long term measures are taken forward during 2020. The ICS Guidance on Compliance with the 2020 Global Sulphur Cap can be downloaded here: http://www.ics-shipping.org/docs/default-source/resources/ics-guidance-on-implementation-of-2020-global-sulphur-cap---january-2019.pdf?sfvrsn=20
Hapag-Lloyd has created a new steel floor container, which it claims can carry heavier cargoes than existing wood-floored boxes. The containers are designed for all types of cargo and is able to handle moving heavy goods, like machinery. Hapag-Lloyd statistics show a wooden floor TEU can load 4.6 tonnes per metre, while a steel floor box can load 7.6 tonnes per metre. The container also has a much higher number of lashing rings, making it easier and more efficient to secure. The tare weight of steel floor containers is also about 150 kg lighter than those with traditional floors. This, in turn, means that customers can load a higher load weight.
In advance of World Whale Day tomorrow, Saturday, February 16, the Whales in our Waters tutorial for mariners was launched today. Just as World Whale Day seeks to raise awareness on the continuing need to protect whales, this tutorial was developed for mariners to build awareness of local whale species and best practices to implement when navigating ships in their presence. It was developed by the ECHO Program and BC Ferries, in partnership with Ocean Wise. The media release is available on both the Port of Vancouver and BC Ferries websites and the tutorial itself can be accessed here.
We are sad to advise that Caroline Simister passed away on Wednesday, February 6th after a courageous battle with cancer. She was the Chamber of Shipping Office Manager from October 2000 to October 2012 when she left suddenly after being given a terminal prognosis. Her strength and determination certainly helped exceed all expectations. For those of you who remember Caroline, she was instrumental in organizing our events and supporting the Vancouver Grain Exchange secretariat over the years and earned a great deal of respect from many in the industry for her hard work, sense humour, and candid approach to everything. Our condolences go out to her family. We have been advised that a celebration of life will be held in a few months time.
Three Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd. employees are dead after a freight train lost control and plunged about 200 feet off a bridge into the Kicking Horse River between Lake Louise, AB, and Field, BC, early Monday morning. Before the crash, the crew notified the dispatching centre that the train was out of control. The train had three locomotives and 112 cars. Investigators with TSB are investigating the cause of the derailment.
The cargo ship Marathassa, which spilled 2,700 litres of fuel oil into English Bay in 2015, has been dismissed on all charges. In April 2015, a ring of oil was seen around the hull while it was anchored in the Vancouver bay. Most of the fuel was recovered or dissipated within 48 hours of the spill, however, there was an environmental impact on the shores of English Bay and four migratory birds were smeared with patches of oil. The Marathassa was accused of: discharging a pollutant into the waters; discharging a substance that was harmful to migratory birds; and, failing to implement its shipboard pollution emergency plan by failing to take samples of oil in the water and by failing to assist with the oil containment. The judge concluded that the ship did discharge the pollutant but the incident was caused by two unforeseeable shipbuilder defects in the high-level alarms and a valve on the newly built vessel. Both had been tested on a weekly basis with no concerns arising from the tests. The Marathassa had also implemented its emergency plan by taking samples of oil in the water and helping with containment.
A political dispute between China and Canada over the arrest of a Huawei executive is slowing canola shipments through Chinese ports. Shipments are taking longer to clear Chinese customs and obtain GMO permits needed to import genetically modified crops, including canola. China buys some $2.5 billion of Canadian canola per year, and the delays have caused some importers to hesitate to buy from their biggest supplier. Canola futures prices have stayed firm since the arrest, but brokers say worries about China have caused prices for canola to miss out on a boost in sales of other oils.