Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Port of Portland CEO Wyatt Retiring

By Mark Edward Nero

On Jan. 11, Port of Portland Executive Director Bill Wyatt formally announced that after more than a decade and a half leading the port, he’s retiring on June 30.

“It has been an enormous privilege to have served the port for the past 16 years,” Wyatt said in a statement. “I believe the port has never been in a stronger position to address opportunities and challenges than it is today,” he said. “I will leave in June knowing the future is bright for this organization.”

Wyatt was selected to lead the port in 2001 and he began work just weeks after the September 11 attacks. Prior to his appointment, Wyatt served as Chief of Staff to former Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber for seven years, preceded by six years as President of the Oregon Business Council, and five years as Executive Director of the Association for Portland Progress, which at the time was Portland’s downtown development association.

A native Oregonian, Wyatt served as a state representative from the Astoria area from 1974–1977. The port has already launched a search for a new executive director and has hired Orange County, Calif.-based executive search firm McDermott and Bull to conduct the process.

As part of that process, the port commission is expected to adopt a job profile and search criteria and then finalize the search process during its Feb. 8 regular public meeting.

In the spring, candidates are to be interviewed by an advisory group, and a Port Commission executive session would be held to interview finalists.

The commission could then approve and hire a candidate during a public meeting by the time of Wyatt’s departure in June.

Annual POLB Cargo Dips Nearly 6 Percent

By Mark Edward Nero

The Port of Long Beach says that its terminals moved nearly 6.8 million containers in 2016, making it the port’s fifth best year ever. However, the overall cargo numbers declined 5.8 percent last year compared to 2015, the data show.

The port attributes the decline to “industry headwinds” and challenges that included a major customer declaring bankruptcy.

Long Beach says it was negatively impacted by new ocean carrier alliances and the August, 2016 bankruptcy of Hanjin Shipping, a South Korean company and former majority stakeholder at the port’s 381-acre Pier T container terminal — Long Beach’s largest.

A total of 6,775,171 TEUs moved through the port’s docks in 2016. Imports totaled 3,442,575 TEUs, down five percent, but exports were up 0.3 percent to 1,529,497 units. Empty containers were down 11.7 percent to 1,803,098 TEUs.

By comparison, cargo volumes at the adjacent Port of Los Angeles reached 8.85 million TEUs in 2016, making it the busiest cargo year ever for a port in North America, according to POLA data.

In December, Long Beach cargo was eight percent lower compared to the same month in 2015. Imports decreased 8.2 percent to 271,599 twenty-foot equivalent units, or TEUs, last month, while exports fell 2.5 percent to 122,933 TEUs, and empties fell 11.4 percent to 154,397 TEUs.

Although the loss of Hanjin had an immediate negative effect, by year’s end the port’s harbor commission had approved an agreement for a subsidiary of Mediterranean Shipping Co., one of the world’s largest container ship operators, to take sole control of the long-term lease at Pier T, helping set things back on track.

“As the new year starts, we’re grateful to be able to put the Hanjin bankruptcy behind us,” POLB Interim Chief Executive Duane Kenagy said. “At the same time, MSC’s quick interest in Pier T once it became available shows the facility’s value to the industry.”

Kenagy became interim CEO in September, following the sudden departure of then-CEO Jon Slangerup who left to become chairman and chief executive officer of a Canada-based aviation technology company.

“Last year was turbulent, with numerous ocean carrier mergers and other changes,” Harbor Commission President Lori Ann Guzm├ín said in a statement. “Now we have one of the largest ocean carriers in the world as a major partner and we’re well positioned to rebound in 2017. While the industry strives for equilibrium, Long Beach will continue be a reliable port of entry and continue to provide the fastest, most efficient services for trade from the Far East.”

Long Beach’s latest monthly cargo numbers and more detailed information are available at http://www.polb.com/economics/stats/latest_teus.asp and www.polb.com/stats

Oakland Port Head: Growth is the Theme in 2017

By Mark Edward Nero

Analysts are projecting three-to-four percent cargo volume growth for West Coast ports in 2017, but the Port of Oakland plans to outperform that prediction, the port’s executive director said during his annual State of the Port speech on Jan. 12.

Executive Director Chris Lytle spoke to an invited audience of about 250 people during his annual address in Jack London Square. The audience included Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf.

It was a year ago that the Port of Oakland faced the bankruptcy of its second-largest marine terminal tenant, Ports America. Now, Lytle said, Oakland faces a new year fortified by record earnings and cargo volume over the last 12 months.

“I have to tell you, this feels a whole lot better,” Lytle said. “We’re on a bit of a roll.”

He then rattled off record-breaking performances at the port during the past year, including loaded containerized cargo volume at the port, as well as an all-time high of $338 million in operating revenue for fiscal year 2016.

Lytle also said the port reported a 98 percent drop in truck diesel emissions, improving air quality in nearby neighborhoods.

The port’s progress is gratifying, given where it began 2016, Lytle said. A year ago, Ports America, Oakland’s second-largest terminal operator, declared bankruptcy and departed. The port responded by consolidating container business into four remaining terminals. The move resulted in Oakland retaining all of the bankrupt terminal’s cargo, and actually growing loaded container volume 7.6 percent. “We’re healthy, and we want to keep it that way,” Lytle said.

There’s still work to do if Oakland wants to grow its influence as a global trade gateway, he said. Operating performance improved in 2016, he said, but has to get better. He also said Oakland needs to increase its containerized import volume to match strong export growth.

“Our marine terminals are investing, modernizing, improving,” he said. “We’ve done a very good job in preparing for the future.”

Lytle said continued growth would be the port’s theme in 2017.

A groundbreaking is likely in February on a 300,000-square-foot Cool Port, a cold storage and transfer facility that could process up to 30,000 containers of beef and pork annually.

POLB to Hold Public Meeting on Rail Study

By Mark Edward Nero

The Port of Long Beach says it’s holding a public hearing this week to gather input on a draft environmental study for a proposal that would increase the use of on-dock trains, moving cargo more efficiently while making operations more sustainable.

The hearing on the draft Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for the Pier B On-Dock Rail Support Facility is set for 6 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 18 at the port’s interim administrative offices, 4801 Airport Plaza Dr., Long Beach.

The EIR, which was released in December, analyzes the impacts of the proposed development, and the mitigation measures that would be used to address those impacts.

Thirty minutes before the hearing, at 5:30 p.m., the port hosts a public open house providing educational displays and information regarding its overall rail strategy.

The proposed Pier B On-Dock Rail Support Facility could, according to the port, shift more cargo to on-dock rail, where containers are placed directly on trains at marine terminals, significantly reducing trips by trucks throughout the region.

No trucks would visit the facility; instead, smaller train segments would be brought to the facility and joined together into a full-sized train.

The rail yard would be operated by Pacific Harbor Line, which provides short haul rail transportation switching services, railroad track maintenance and train dispatching services under contract to the port.

A project fact sheet, the draft EIR and a video about the proposed facility are all available at www.polb.com/PierB

The port is receiving comment on the study through Feb. 13. Comments can be made in person at the public hearing or sent in writing to Heather Tomley, Director of Environmental Planning, 4801 Airport Plaza Dr., Long Beach, CA 90815 or heather.tomley@polb.com.

Friday, January 13, 2017

LA-LB Ports Hosting Joint Clean Air Plan Workshop

By Mark Edward Nero

The ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach say they’ll hold a joint community workshop on Jan. 24 to gather input on strategies released late last year to update their Clean Air Action Plan, or CAAP.

The community workshop is planned for 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 24, at Banning’s Landing Community Center, 100 E. Water St. in Wilmington. The workshop’s open to the public.

The Clean Air Action Plan, adopted in 2006, has dramatically reduced pollution from maritime-related sources that operate in and around the ports. Programs implemented under the CAAP have reduced diesel particulate matter up to 84 percent, cut nitrogen oxides in half, eliminated 97 percent of sulfur oxides and lowered greenhouse gases an average of 12 percent, according to data from the ports.

During the same time period that emissions were falling, container volume increased by seven percent, port data shows.

In November 2016, Harbor Commissioners from both ports met to unveil the draft CAAP 2017 Discussion Document, which details proposed new strategies to further clean the air and reduce greenhouse gases. Strategies include aggressively deploying zero and near-zero emission trucks and cargo-handling equipment and expanding programs that reduce ship emissions.

The draft CAAP 2017 Discussion Document is available at www.polb.com, www.portoflosangeles.org and www.cleanairactionplan.org. The public review period for the document extends through Feb. 17. Written comments may be submitted to caap@cleanairactionplan.org. Those interested in the process can register on the CAAP website to receive the latest information and meeting notices.

POLA Sets Annual Cargo Volume Record

By Mark Edward Nero

Cargo volumes at the Port of Los Angeles reached 8.85 million TEUs in 2016, making it the busiest cargo year ever for a port in North America, according to POLA data.

The previous record was set in 2006, when the Port of LA handled 8.46 million TEUs.

“We’re breaking records because we understand the importance of innovating and collaborating to move our economy forward,” LA Mayor Eric Garcetti said. “We have seen incredible progress over the last two years.”

The port finished last year strong, with December 2016 recorded volumes of 796,536 TEUs, a 27 percent increase compared to the same month the previous December. The port says it was the busiest December and fourth quarter in its 110-year history. Overall in 2016, cargo increased 8.5 percent compared to 2015.

“To handle this much volume with minimal issues is an extraordinary accomplishment and demonstrates our capability-building efforts here in the San Pedro Bay complex,” Port of LA Executive Director Gene Seroka said.

December imports jumped 22.6 percent to 394,217 TEUs, and exports rose 25.6 percent to 164,900 TEUs, according to data. Along with a 23.5 percent rise in empty containers, the port’s overall December container volumes were 796,536 TEUs.

Current and past data container counts for the Port of Los Angeles may be found at http://www.portoflosangeles.org/maritime/stats.asp

BC Ferries Receives 1st LNG-Fueled Vessel

By Mark Edward Nero

Salish Orca, the first of three new vessels built for BC Ferries, has arrived in British Columbia. The vessel reached BC waters the morning of Jan. 11 after a 50-day 10,440 nautical-mile journey from Gdansk, Poland.

“This is a very exciting day for all of us at BC Ferries as we proudly welcome this beautiful ship, Salish Orca, home to British Columbia and into our fleet,” Mike Corrigan, BC Ferries’ President and CEO, said.

The vessel is expected to be officially handed over to BC Ferries after it clears Canadian Customs and final inspections are complete.

Over the next couple of months, BC Ferries says crews will be trained and familiarized in the operation of the new state-of-the-art ship.

After public open houses in Powell River and Comox, Salish Orca is expected to start service on that route this coming spring. The Salish Class vessels are BC Ferries’ first natural gas-fueled ferries. Using natural gas as the primary fuel source is expected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 15 to 25 percent, reduce sulphur oxides (SOx) by over 85 percent, reduce nitrogen oxides (NOx) by over 50 percent, and nearly eliminate particulate matter, according to the company.

“The Salish Class vessels will provide us cost savings and efficiencies with standardized vessels and greater interoperability as well as enhance safety well into the future. BC Ferries President and CEO Mike Corrigan said. “They are very well built ships, which will serve our customers for many years to come.”

The vessels, which will be able to ferry up to 145 vehicles and up to 600 passengers and crew, feature two car decks and have a service speed of 15.5 knots. Each will be powered by three Wartsila 8L20DF engines. Gross tonnage of each ship is 8,728 tons. Salish Orca’s sister ships, Salish Eagle and Salish Raven, are expected to arrive in British Columbia this spring and start service in the Southern Gulf Islands later this year.