The Port of Virginia has unveiled ‘Smart Stack’, its rail strategy designed to make the Port more desirable for shippers. The Port has made significant investments to connect its container terminals to the national networks of Class I railroads. For its rail services, the port authority has invested $25 million in on-dock track and related infrastructure, $18 million in rail cargo-handling equipment and $4 million in supporting information technology. At VIG Terminal, the port has doubled its on-dock rail capacity, with the final piece of that expansion work to be completed at the end of May. The expanded rail yard at VIG includes more than 20,000 linear feet of track, which is served by four new cantilever, rail-mounted gantry cranes.
The Genesis River, a 755-foot LPG tanker, collided with the tug Voyager near Bayport, Texas last Friday, resulting in a spill that has caused part of the Houston Ship Channel to close. The tug was transporting two barges loaded with the gasoline blend stock Reformate. One barge has capsized, and one is reported damaged. Each barge was loaded with an estimated 25,000 barrels of gasoline blend stock, and media report estimate that 9,000 barrels were released from the damaged barge. Oil spill response, air monitoring and salvage attended the scene. As of Wednesday, the Houston Ship Channel reopened to two-way traffic.
A bid to build a controversial pipeline to boost New York’s natural gas supply has been rejected by authorities. The proposed Northeast Supply Enhancement (NESE) project included about 37 km of submarine pipeline off New York City’s coast. The nearly $1 billion plan was denied by the New York Department of Environmental Conservation, which cited concerns over water quality and aquatic life. Its rejection follows similar decisions on natural gas projects made recently by Washington State and Los Angeles.
Six people have died after two float planes carrying cruise passengers collided in flight near Ketchikan, Alaska on Monday May 13th, just after 1:00PM. Victims include one Canadian, one Australian, and four American tourists. 10 people were rescued and brought to safety.
Jennifer Homendy of the US National Transportation Safety Board presented a graphic (above) of preliminary flight tracking data that shows the paths of the two floatplanes before the collided at the point the two lines meet. A preliminary report into the incident was expected in approximately two weeks.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has issued an advisory on the Whale Advisory Vessel Speed Reduction Zone in Southern California - Santa Barbara to reduce the impact of ship strikes on whales. NOAA strongly recommends that vessels 300 gross registered tons or larger transiting the Whale Advisory Zone do so at speeds not in excess of 10 knots. These areas contain populations of endangered blue, humpback, and fin whales that are federally protected under various Acts. The whale advisory zone extends from approximately Dana Point to Pt. Arguello and vessels are requested to transit at 10 knots or less anywhere in this zone. Vessels transiting the voluntary Western Traffic Lanes are also encouraged to transit within the Voluntary Western Zone to reduce the overlap of ships and endangered whales. Please report any collisions with whales or any observed injured or dead whales to NOAA at 877-SOS-WHALE (877-767-9425) or to the U.S. Coast Guard on VHF Channel 16. NOAA is asking for the public’s help in tracking whales. Please report sightings through WhaleAlert.
The Lake Erie Energy Development Company (LEEDCo) has placed 16 high-tech buoys around the lake that are equipped with sensors that transmit a variety of real-time weather and scientific data back to shore, as well as a webcam mounted to its 6-foot-tall mast that relays 30-second snapshots of current lake conditions once hourly. The buoys detect a variety of data, including wind speed, wave height, water and air temperature, oxygen counts within the lake, and walleye migration patterns. Anyone can text certain buoys or view them online to get an up-to-date weather report.
The Port of Seattle has shortlisted three teams for the development and operation of a new cruise facility at the north end of Terminal 46. The shortlist includes: Cruise Industry Leaders Group, a partnership between Royal Caribbean Cruise, MSC Cruises, Carnival Corporation and SSA Marine, a subsidiary of Carrix; Global Ports Holding and Civil & Building North America; and, the third one Ports America, teaming with Jacobs Engineering Group. The three teams responded to the port’s RFQ in March and will now be invited to respond to a request for proposals, expected to be released in June. The Port is targeting delivery of the new cruise terminal for the 2022 cruise season with early estimates pointing to costs of around USD 200 million.
An unusually high number of grey whales are washing up dead on West Coast shorelines on their annual migration north. In one of the longest migrations of any mammal, grey whales migrate from their wintering areas near Mexico to their summer feeding grounds in the North Pacific every year. The whales are currently heading towards Canada, where they will pass by Vancouver Island on their way to Alaskan waters. Through studying the deceased whales, it appears that that food shortage is an underlying cause of the deaths. The research hasn't concluded whether the recent deaths are due to a decline in food sources or an overpopulation of grey whales or some combination of both.
Sempra Energy’s Port Arthur LNG export facility has been approved for construction by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). When complete, the project is slated to include two liquefaction trains, up to three LNG storage tanks and associated facilities that will enable the export of approximately 11 million tonnes per annum of LNG. The FERC order also approved the construction of the Texas and Louisiana connector pipeline projects that will provide natural gas transportation for the new liquefaction facilities.
On 11 April the US Navy dropped a charge of negligent homicide and other offences against Commander Bryce Benson, captain of the USS Fitzgerald on 17 June 2017 when it collided with the commercial vessel, ACX Crystal, in the waters off Japan’s coast about 80 n miles southwest of Tokyo. Seven US Navy sailors were killed that night. Charges were also dropped against Lieutenant Natalie Combs, the officer in charge of the Command Information Centre and responsible for advising the bridge on collision avoidance. Both Cmdr. Benson and Lt. Combs received letters of censure, with the common feature that their ineffective leadership and poor judgement or communication were causal factors in the collision. Letters of censure acknowledge acts of wrongdoing but have no legal ramifications.
Speculations are that a US-China trade deal might lead to surge in metallurgical coal exports from the US to China. A trade deal could eliminate the 25% tariff on coal and bring US exports up to 2 million mt-3 million mt per year versus the current 1.1 million mt per year. Earlier this month President Donald Trump signed an Executive Order seeking to address permitting and policy obstacles preventing the export of coal and other energy resources through West Coast ports. New port facilities and improvements have been halted or delayed by state, local and tribal governments in California, Washington and Oregon. The Trump Administration is concerned that the scope of certification has moved beyond water quality to a broader political agenda. The Executive Order requests a report on the economic impacts of blocking exports of domestic coal, oil and gas through the West Coast and focuses specifically on measures to streamline the certification process under the Clean Water Act. Utah and other western coal producing states will be contributing to the report to the President documenting the harms caused by inadequate coal export infrastructure and capacity.
The Los Angeles harbor commission’s is giving APM Terminals and longshore locals 30 days to come to an agreement on APM’s plan to introduce autonomous (driverless) straddle carriers on a 100-acre portion of its 440-acre Pier 400 terminal in Los Angeles. The PMA also cites automation as a potential source of increased productivity that terminals could deploy to lower operating costs so West Coast ports will be more competitive with US East and Gulf coast ports, and Canadian ports, in attracting and keeping discretionary cargo. The PMA Monday released a consultants’ study performed on its behalf citing cost differentials of 90-165 percent at other ports. The report stated that the West Coast share of discretionary Asian imports dropped from 56 percent in 2003 to 46 percent in 2008 due to higher operating costs, and, in competition with Vancouver and Prince Rupert, Canada, higher intermodal rail costs to Chicago compared with the intermodal rail pricing by US railroads.
The United States has placed more sanctions on shipping companies transporting oil from Venezuela, with four shipping firms and nine vessels being blacklisted amid US Treasury Department claims that some of them were transporting oil to Cuba. The US Treasury identified the firms as Liberia-based Jennifer Navigation Ltd, Lima Shipping Corp and Large Range Ltd, and Italy-based PB Tankers SPA. One tanker belonging to each of the Liberian firms and six owned by the Italian firm were blacklisted. Venezuela has long sent subsidized crude to Cuba. The United States describes the arrangement as an “oil-for-repression” scheme in which Havana helps socialist Maduro weather an economic crisis and the power struggle with the opposition in exchange for fuel. A US Treasury statement said Venezuela’s oil sector continued “to provide a lifeline to the illegitimate regime” of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro. Cuba has said it will never abandon its ally even as U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration threatened more sanctions
President Trump has signed two executive orders that seek to speed up construction of pipelines and other projects, with the goal of enhancing the production and transport of oil and natural gas between states and across international borders. One order directs the Environmental Protection Agency to review and tighten rules to make it more difficult for states to stand in the way of pipelines being built by invoking provisions of the Clean Water Act. The other order would transfer authority for approving the construction of international pipelines from the secretary of state to the president, eliminating a lengthy State Department review process. The goal is to speed up projects like the Keystone XL oil pipeline from Canada to refineries on the Gulf of Mexico.
The Coast Guard published the Seafarers’ Access to Maritime Facilities Final Rule in the Federal Register April 1, 2019, requiring owners and operators of Maritime Transportation Security Act-regulated facilities to provide seafarers holding valid US visas and other covered individuals with the ability to transit through the facility in a timely manner and at no cost to the individuals. Under this rule, each owner or operator of a maritime facility regulated by the Coast Guard is required to implement a system providing seafarers, pilots, and representatives of seamen’s welfare and labor organizations access between vessels moored at the facility and the facility gate, in a timely manner and at no cost to the seafarer or other individuals. The final rule provides regulatory flexibility to owners and operators to determine the method of shore access that best suits the size and function of their facility. These methods may include, but are not limited to, providing regularly scheduled or on-call shuttle service, taxi service, arrangements with seafarers’ welfare organizations, or monitoring of pedestrian routes.
U.S. Senator Dan Sullivan has introduced a new bill that would modify and permanently reauthorize the federal Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund. The Spill Response and Prevention Surety Act will maintain the existing nine-cent-per-barrel tax while establishing a USD 7 billion tax collection ceiling and USD 5 billion collection floor. The single incident payout claim would be doubled to USD 2 billion, and the natural resource damage claim would also be doubled to USD 1 billion.
M12, Microsoft venture arm, has announced a $11 million Series A funding round for Nautilus Labs, a New York startup that uses artificial intelligence (AI) for fuel efficiency on ships. The goal is to use collected data on weather patterns and vessel speed to influence decision making on fuel use. Nautilus plans to use AI to deliver real-time analytics and alerts to ship crews that could help save more than 10 percent on emissions in a single voyage. California’s NVIDIA Corp. is working with another AI startup in San Francisco. Japan’s Hitachi Ltd. is pursuing similar technology in Europe.