Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Port of Vancouver Cargo Traffic Slides

By Mark Edward Nero

Total cargo at Canada’s largest port for the half-year ending June 30 was 66.0 million metric tons, an overall decrease of 5.9 percent over the same period in 2015, according to data released Aug. 19 by the Port of Vancouver.

According to the port authority’s 2016 mid-year statistics report, a softened global economy, the weakened Canadian dollar, and some containerized cargo shifting back to United States ports following an extended labor disruption on the US West Coast last year were all factors contributing to lighter than usual traffic through the port.

Despite the short-term slowdown, forecasts show that long-term growth in trade is expected to continue to boost the Canadian economy.

“The slight decrease in cargo volumes in the first half of 2016 is expected, given the record year we experienced in 2015 and the softening global economy,” Vancouver Fraser Port Authority President and CEO Robin Silvester explained. “The long-term outlook for Canadian trade is one of growth, and the port will be ready to handle increased volumes through Canada’s West Coast.”

The half-year results represent a softening of volumes in all major commodities except grain, where increases in barley (up 41.8 percent) and canola (up 40.1 percent) contributed to overall growth in that sector.

In the container sector, volumes weakened in the first half of 2016 compared to last year, when the port had experienced a temporary surge of cargo in 2015 as shippers moved freight through Canada due to traffic congestion caused by labor disruptions at US West Coast ports. Between January and June 2016, 1.4 million twenty-foot equivalent units moved through Vancouver, a decrease of 6.5 percent from the same period in 2015, a record-breaking year. Compared to 2014, 2016 volume is up 1.3 percent.

Unions Oppose Tanker Escort Contract

By Mark Edward Nero

Maritime labor leaders who say they’re concerned about the safety of Prince William Sound and the creation and retention of good-paying Alaska jobs expressed concerns on Aug. 22 about a contract announced last month between Alyeska Pipeline Services Co. and shipbuilder Edison Chouest Offshore.

Under the contract, Edison Chouest Offshore is to provide marine tanker escort and spill prevention and response support in Prince William Sound, including the Valdez Narrows through Hinchinbrook Entrance.

“We’re insisting that state and local authorities take a much closer look at this agreement, which was negotiated behind closed doors with the goal of cutting costs and cutting corners,” Alan Cote, president of the Inlandboatmen’s Union said. “Alaska workers and citizens deserve due diligence and transparency before putting human and natural resources at risk.”

Alyeska, owned by oil giants BP, Conoco and ExxonMobil, announced in July that it has decided to replace Crowley Marine, despite the company having provided oil tanker escort and oil spill response services for 25 years without serious incident.

The transfer of operations to Edison Chouest Offshore has raised both economic and environmental concerns, says the union, particularly in light of the company’s role in the Kulluk oil rig disaster, a December 2012 incident in which Kulluk drifted aground after the icebreaking anchor-handling tug Aiviq lost the tow in heavy weather. Although the Kulluk was recovered, the damage was heavy enough that Shell decided to scrap the vessel in 2014.

Aiviq was built and operated for Shell by Edison Chouest, which is based in Louisiana, but has an Alaska presence. Alyeska and Edison Chouest have said that a vigorous vetting process took place before the deal between the two parties was sealed.

Alyeska also cited Edison Chouest Offshore’s safety record, in-depth experience and technical capability, management systems and equipment options as important considerations in its decision to issue the new contract.

However, Don Marcus, president of the International Organization of Masters, Mates & Pilots denigrated the agreement as being a result of cost cutting.

“Edison Chouest is a financially troubled company that eliminated more than 2,000 jobs in 2015 and forced deep wage and benefit cuts this year. Rather than using crews experienced in Alaska’s unforgiving maritime conditions or hiring Alaskan workers, they plan to bring Gulf Coast workers off of layoff and give them the difficult task of operating in Prince William Sound,” Marcus said.

The new contract calls for a transition plan of about 24 months.

POLA Emissions Report Shows Continued Progress

By Mark Edward Nero

The Port of Los Angeles has largely continued to preserve clean air gains that have reduced key pollutants, lowered health risk in surrounding communities and improved the quality of life in the greater Los Angeles area, according to the latest release of an annual report.

The detailed inventory’s latest findings, which were publicly revealed Aug. 18, are based on data collected during calendar year 2015 and reviewed by regional, state and federal air regulatory agencies.

The results show the port continues to exceed its 2023 targets for reducing diesel particulate matter and sulfur oxides (77 percent and 93 percent, respectively) and is within striking distance of its 2023 target of reducing NOx emissions 59 percent.

The port also held the line on reducing the health risk of port-related emissions by lowering them 85 percent.

The baseline for the levels is 2005, the year before the port adopted a massive environmental effort known as the San Pedro Bay Clean Air Action Plan.

Overall, diesel particulate matter (DPM) emissions remain down 85 percent from all sources related to port operations, replicating the port’s record set in 2014, according to the report. Likewise, sulfur oxides (SOx) emissions are down 97 percent, nearing total elimination. Nitrogen oxides (NOx) emissions are down 51 percent, just one percent shy of the 52 percent reduction rate in 2014.

The emissions inventory also shows that greenhouse gas emissions were 10 percent below the 2005 baseline, but the 2015 GHG emissions were higher than port emissions in 2014, when they were 16 percent below the 2005 baseline. The increased 2015 GHG emissions are mostly attributed by the port to congestion issues experienced in the first part of 2015. With congestion now behind it, the port says it anticipates a return to larger GHG emissions reductions for 2016, as it continues its efforts to achieve a goal of reducing GHGs 80 percent by 2050, based on 1990 levels.

Cargo handling equipment upgrades played a key role in offsetting congestion-related emissions in 2015, as the upgrades helped diesel particulates remain stable compared to 2014 with only a small increase in NOx emissions.

Replacing and retrofitting off-road terminal equipment has been a mainstay of the Clean Air Action Plan since its inception, and the use of the cleanest available engines jumped to 45 percent of all cargo handling equipment, up from 30 percent in 2014.

The POLA’s full 2015 air emission inventory can be seen at

Cruise Industry Details Environmental Efforts

By Mark Edward Nero

The Cruise Lines International Association has released its 2016 Environment Sustainability Report, which details the state of the industry’s environmental initiatives and what it says is its ongoing commitment to sustainable voyaging. The report, released Aug. 10, outlines cruise lines’ continuing efforts to collaborate with environmental stakeholders, develop new technologies and engage the maritime sector in best environmental practices and policies.

Highlights from the report include:

• Some cruise ships recycle or repurpose nearly 100 percent of the waste generated on board — by reducing, reusing, donating, recycling and converting waste into energy.

• Cruise ship waste management professionals recycle 60 percent more waste per person than the average person recycles on shore each day.

• Cruise ships utilize ecological, non-toxic coatings on ship hulls to reduce fuel consumption by as much as 5 percent.

• The cruise industry has pioneered advanced wastewater treatment systems that can produce cleaner water than the wastewater systems of most coastal cities in the United States.

• Cruise line association members have invested over $1 billion in advanced emissions technologies and alternative fuels.

The full 2016 Environmental Sustainability Report can be viewed at

Friday, August 19, 2016

Doorae Shipping Guilty of Faulty Recordkeeping

By Mark Edward Nero

On August 18, United States District of Hawaii Court Judge Leslie Kobayashi accepted the guilty plea of a South Korean maritime operations company and sentenced the company to a $275,000 fine and three years’ probation for violating the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships by failing to maintain an accurate oil record book.

It was Doorae Shipping Co.’s second conviction by a US court this year.

The information to which Doorae most recently pled guilty is regarding the company’s operation of the marine vessel B. Pacific, a petroleum oil tank ship registered under the flag administration of the Marshall Islands.

Information produced to the court established that from between July 8, 2016, through July 14, 2016, during a Port State Control examination conducted by the US Coast Guard, employees of Doorae Shipping presented the B. Pacific’s oil record book to representatives of the Coast Guard knowing that it failed to document or acknowledge that about 5,400 gallons of oil-contaminated bilge water had been stored in an unapproved void space neither designated nor appropriate for the storage of oil and other ship generated liquids. Additionally, the oil record book also failed to document the location of about 8,400 gallons of machinery space oil-contaminated bilge water.

It was just four months ago, in April 2016, that Doorae Shipping was convicted and sentenced to pay $950,000 in fines and penalties for violating the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships after committing another criminal violation of the act.

“This failure to properly follow the law with respect to maintaining an accurate and truthful oil record book requires another conviction and sentence commensurate with Doorae’s conduct,” United States attorney for the District of Hawaii Florence Nakakuni said.

“Environmental crimes are a serious threat to the health of our oceans,” said Capt. Mike Long, Coast Guard captain of the port for Honolulu. “This case sends a clear message that violators will be vigorously investigated and prosecuted.”

Seaport Alliance Monthly Volumes Up Slightly

By Mark Edward Nero

The Northwest Seaport Alliance, a marine cargo operating partnership of the Port of Seattle and Port of Tacoma, says that strong import volumes last month suggest peak shipping season is just around the corner.

Full imports jumped nearly 12 percent last month compared to July 2015, according to data released Aug. 17.

Full export containers also followed last month’s trend, surging more than 17 percent month over month on the strength of agricultural products. Total container volumes in July edged up two percent month over month.

Cargo owners are forecasting a three to five percent increase in volume during peak season, when retailers build up inventories ahead of the holiday shopping season.

Anticipating the increase, the Seaport Alliance earlier this month launched a program to help extend gate hours at international terminals to reduce congestion and keep cargo flowing through the peak.

Through the first seven months of the year, total Seattle-Tacoma container volumes are flat, at just about two million TEUs. However, full import container volumes grew nearly three percent year-to-date to 760,923 TEUs, while full exports marked a nearly 13 percent year-to-date gain to 542,258 TEUs.

Domestic volumes remain sluggish, down three percent year-to-date to 448,357 TEUs, something the Seaport Alliance blames on the weakened Alaskan economy.

In other cargo news, auto imports dipped nearly three percent year to date in July, and breakbulk cargo continues to struggle, down 33 percent due to the strong dollar and slowing economic growth in China.

Navy Awards Vigor Ship Overhaul Contract

By Mark Edward Nero

The US Navy has awarded Portland, Oregon-based Vigor Marine a $9.3 million contract for a 71-calendar day shipyard availability for the regular overhaul and dry docking of USNS Henry J. Kaiser (T-AO 187).

The Navy’s Military Sealift Command in Norfolk, Virginia is the contracting activity. Work is to include general services, clean and gas free tanks, ballast tank blast and paint, cargo tank blast and paint, cargo and ballast tank close up survey, expansion joint structural steel replacement and port and starboard main engine 72,000-hour overhaul.

Also included: starboard main engine coupling and shaft brake replacement, dry docking, underwater hull blast and paint, propeller maintenance, 15-year tailshaft inspection and repair underway replenishment quad cargo gear survey blocks and sheaves.

The contract was procured with proposals solicited via the Federal Business Opportunities website; Vigor Marine’s offer was the only one received.

Funds in the amount of $9,319,391 were being obligated at the time of award, and the contract also includes options, which, if exercised, could increase the total contract value to $9.6 million.

The work is to be performed in Portland, and is expected to be completed by Dec. 19, 2016.