Crowley Marine

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Oakland Port Plans Anti-Congestion Measures

By Mark Edward Nero

The Port of Oakland has announced three measures that it is implementing to help speed up the flow of cargo traffic. The measures were announced last week by port Executive Director Chris Lytle at the Agriculture Transportation Coalition annual conference in San Francisco.

One measure, a plan to co-mingle truck chassis in a common pool, could be operational by mid-September as part of an effort to assure a continuous supply of the truck trailers. If in place by then, it would come just in time for the annual cargo spike that precedes holiday retail sales.

Additionally, the port is sending a plan to the Federal Maritime Commission this week to begin weekly Saturday operations in Oakland. FMC review is expected to take 45 days, and the port says it expects to begin operations shortly after the Commission completes its work.

If implemented, Saturday operations would spread cargo movement over six days and could ease weekday peak-period demand.

Also, the port says, it is receiving commercial bids this week to open an off-dock container facility in California’s Central Valley.

The yard would be located near most of the state’s largest growers and would enable agricultural exporters to pick up empty containers and chassis without driving all the way to Oakland. The round-trip drive for truckers can be up to 200 miles and take more than three hours. The port says the depot’s expected to open by mid-September.

Also, the port plans to open a new agricultural storage and transloading depot in Oakland within 18 months, Lytle said, which would enable exporters to send bulk grain shipments via rail to the port where they can be transferred to containers for overseas delivery.

POLA, YTI Plan Terminal Improvements

By Mark Edward Nero

The Port of Los Angeles said June 29 that it will begin construction this summer on a two-year project to improve the marine container terminal operated by Yusen Terminals Inc.

The Los Angeles Board of Harbor Commissioners has awarded Manson Construction Co. a $44.6 million contract to upgrade berths and backlands at Berths 212-224.

Yusen operates the 185-acre container terminal under a long-term lease with the port that extends through 2026.

The project consists of upgrading wharf, and backland infrastructure within the terminal’s existing footprint to enhance Yusen’s ability to service the biggest ships in the trans-Pacific trade lanes.

The improvements are expected to allow Yusen to simultaneously work three container ships carrying up to 13,000, 11,000 and 6,500 TEUs, respectively, and ensure cargo flows during peak periods when ships call at all three berths.

To date, the largest ship that has called at Yusen is an 8,500-TEU vessel. The terminal typically receives 6,500-TEU ships and works two vessels concurrently.

Based on all design, project management and construction costs, the port’s total investment is estimated at more than $67 million, with the amount including cost for an on-dock rail project which is planned to be done under a separate contract in 2016.

Additionally, Yusen estimates it could invest more than $60 million in support of the project.

The project is part of the port’s larger capital program aimed at enhancing berth, gate and rail efficiencies at all LA marine terminals. The port says it plans to invest more than $800 million in its facilities over the next five years.

LNG Terminal Coming to Panama Canal

By Mark Edward Nero

The US Trade and Development Agency on June 26 awarded a grant to the Panama Canal Authority to support the planning of a liquefied natural gas import terminal at the Panama Canal.

If the ongoing expansion project is completed next year as planned, the Canal is expected to handle significant LNG tanker traffic. In order to capitalize on this growth, the Canal Authority is developing LNG-related infrastructure projects, including an import terminal.

The USTDA-funded feasibility study will help the ACP set strategic priorities and plan projects related to LNG infrastructure and natural gas utilization at the Panama Canal. The LNG terminal is anticipated to support the implementation of maritime- and energy-related projects that would accommodate increased shipping traffic through the expanded Canal.

“As we near the completion of the Panama Canal Expansion, we are eager to explore new segments such as LNG, which are now possible given our enhanced capacity to accommodate longer and wider ships,” Canal Authority CEO Jorge Quijano said. “This grant by the USTDA will build on plans and projects related to LNG that are already ongoing and will present us with the ability to evaluate additional market opportunities and client services for the benefit of the US-Panama energy trade.”

The Canal’s re-inauguration is currently scheduled for April 2016.

Oakland Port Adopts $470 Million FY 2016 Budget

By Mark Edward Nero

Oakland’s Board of Port Commissioners has approved a $470 million fiscal year 2016 budget for the Port of Oakland that goes into effect July 1. The 2016 budget is 6.7 percent lower than the budget adopted for FY 2015.

The new budget includes $167 million for capital improvements, with about $32 million of the capital spending earmarked for continuing development of port property at the former Oakland Army Base, where the port is building a transport and logistics center on land adjacent to its marine terminals designed to significantly increase Oakland containerized cargo volume.

Also budgeted is $73 million for runway safety improvements at Oakland International Airport.

The budget also anticipates a 4.9 percent operating revenue increase to $330.7 million, while operating expense is expected to rise 3.7 percent to $193 million.

The Port of Oakland, which oversees the Oakland seaport, Oakland International Airport and 20 miles of waterfront, is the third-largest seaport in California, behind the Port of Los Angeles and Port of Long Beach. Those ports recently approved FY 2016 budgets of $1 billion and $829 million, respectively.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Sierra Club Sues to Stop Stockton Rail Expansion

By Mark Edward Nero

Environmental organization the Sierra Club is suing to stop the Port of Stockton from moving forward with a $7.4 million rail expansion project that would double the port’s freight capacity. Weeks after the port’s May 4 approval of a contract, the Sierra Club has filed a lawsuit against the deal in San Joaquin County Superior Court in Central California. Earthjustice, a nonprofit law group in San Francisco, is representing the Sierra Club in the legal action.

The contract was awarded to engineering and construction company Industrial Railways to build 22,000 feet of new track - enough to allow the port to double its capacity from six bulk unit trains per week to 12.

The port says the increased capacity is needed because the port’s rail operations are so busy that they’re operating at 120 percent of capacity. The port says it saw about 97,000 rail cars in 2014, an average of more than 265 a day.

The lawsuit states that rail shipments of coal and emissions of coal dust from the open-topped freight cars could cause “impaired lung function, cardiovascular disease and developmental disorders.” The suit requests that a full state environmental review be conducted.

The port, however, has maintained that a full review isn’t required because the project consists primarily of replacing existing rail and California’s environmental rules provide exemptions for repair or maintenance of existing facilities.

The Sierra Club maintains that exemptions don’t apply in this case, since the project would add new rail lines and associated infrastructure, thereby expanding the port’s rail capacity and increasing the scale of the port’s operations.

Vancouver Shipyards Hosts Ceremonial Steel Cutting

By Mark Edward Nero

Vancouver Shipyards, a Seaspan company, has begun construction on the first ship being built under Canada's National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy (NSPS), a Canadian Coast Guard offshore fisheries science vessel (OFSV).

On hand June 24 for the ceremonial steel cutting were Diane Finley, Canada’s Minister of Public Works and Government Services and Parliament members Andrew Saxton and John Weston.

It was also announced that the first ship is being named CCGS Sir John Franklin in honor of the Arctic explorer whose expeditions nearly 200 years ago laid the foundations of Canada’s claims of Arctic sovereignty.

The steel-cutting event follows the recent award of an incentive-based build contract to Vancouver Shipyards for the construction of three OFSVs, which are to be delivered together under a ceiling price of $514 million before the end of 2017. Following the completion of the OFSVs, Seaspan is expected to then build one Offshore Oceanographic Science Vessel (OOSV), two Joint Support Ships (JSS), one Polar Icebreaker (PIB) as well as up to five Medium Endurance Multi-Tasked Vessels (MEMTV) and up to five Offshore Patrol Vessels (OPV), with more opportunities to follow in the future.

“Seaspan is changing the course of shipbuilding history on the west coast of Canada, and today's ceremony marks the most significant milestone yet for the National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy,” Seaspan Shipyards President Brian Carter said. “Today is day one of many years to come of planned ship production at Vancouver Shipyards for the Canadian Coast Guard and the Royal Canadian Navy.”

Oakland Port Emissions Down Significantly

By Mark Edward Nero

Port of Oakland efforts to cut diesel emissions are producing dramatic results, according to research results revealed June 24.

A University of California expert recently presented research showing a 76 percent drop in black carbon emission from harbor trucks, and a day later, Chinese officials from Tianjin, the world’s fourth-largest port, visited Oakland to find out how it’s done.

UC Civil and Environmental Engineering Prof. Robert Harley said state and port programs have modernized Oakland’s harbor truck fleet. The result: not only are black carbon emissions plummeting, but nitrogen oxides, which create ozone, are down 53 percent. Prof. Harley’s Oakland research, conducted between 2009 and 2013, was shared at a state Environmental Protection Agency webcast in Sacramento.

According to the port, its truck programs eliminated 14 tons of diesel particulate emissions between 2005 and 2012. During the same period, it eliminated another 151 tons of particulate matter from vessels. Further reductions have been achieved since then, the port said.

The port is on target to reach an 85 percent overall reduction in diesel emissions by 2020.

Port officials demonstrated Oakland’s vessel clean-up initiative to a five-member Tianjin delegation. The port’s shoreside power program connects vessels at berth to the landside power grid. By relying on shoreside electricity, vessels can switch off diesel generators formerly used to power their systems in port.

Tianjin, situated on North China’s Bohai Bay, is a commercial gateway to Beijing. It handles the equivalent of 13 million TEUs annually.