Thursday, October 6, 2011

Los Angeles Port Decides Not To Appeal Ninth Circuit Truck Program Ruling

The governing board of the Port of Los Angeles has decided not to appeal the recent Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that struck down the port's contentious employee-only mandate component of its truck program.

Meeting in closed session on Thursday, the five-member port commission decided to forgo a possible appeal of the decision to either the Ninth Circuit or the United States Supreme Court. The port could have asked the Ninth Circuit to review the three-member appellate panel's ruling "en banc," meaning a much larger 11-member panel of Ninth Circuit judges would have reassessed the case. The port also had a 90-day window to appeal the ruling to the US Supreme Court.

Last Monday, the three-member Ninth Circuit panel ruled that the Port of Los Angeles can not require thousands of port-servicing independent truckers to become trucking firm employees, dealing a major victory to the American Trucking Associations who had brought the original lawsuit and a major setback to International Brotherhood of Teamsters efforts to unionize the drayage drivers.

In a unanimous ruling, the appellate panel dismissed the port's argument that the port was a "market participant" in the drayage industry. Without the "market participant" claim, the court found that the port's employee-only mandate is not exempt from federal interstate commerce laws and permanently enjoined the mandate.

The appellate panel also split 2-1 in favor of the port on four other minor issues opposed by the ATA, including an off-street parking provision, financial capability requirement, maintenance provision, and placard requirement.

The case now heads back to US District Court Judge Christina Snyder, with instructions from the appellate panel to ignore the "market participation" argument that had formed the basis of her ruling last year that the port could move forward with the employee-only mandate. It is expected that Judge Snyder, as she has done in the past regarding Ninth Circuit remands, will follow the appellate court's guidelines and also permanently bar the employee-mandate.

In a statement, Los Angeles port Executive Director Geraldine Knatz praised the Ninth Circuit for those provisions where the court found in favor of the port, saying that the truck program "will assure safe, clean and more secure drayage for the long term."
"We have no plans to seek further review, " she said.

The ATA said that it has also decided not to seek an en banc review at the Ninth Circuit regarding the provision of the truck plan on which the appellate court ruled in favor of the port. The ATA legal staff is reviewing the case to determine if the trade association will appeal to the US Supreme Court.

Los Angeles Port Awards All American Marine $2.47M Vessel Contract

The Port of Los Angeles has awarded a $2.47 million contract to Bellingham,Wash.-based boatbuilder All American Marine, Inc., for the construction of a new 65-foot dive and patrol vessel.

The 65-foot by 24-foot wide aluminum catamaran will be used by the LA Port Police dive team and will feature Australia-based Teknicraft Design’s signature hull shape and hydrofoil technology. The design of the vessel is based upon the previously built R/V Shearwater and R/V Fulmar, which are operated by NOAA throughout California’s four National Marine Sanctuaries. All American Marine is the exclusive builder for Teknicraft catamarans in North America.

"We specialize in the design and construction of custom vessels, but selling another sister ship is a nice testament to the quality of the vessels we construct," All American Marine business development manager Joe Hudspeth said.

The new vessel will serve as a key asset to the port police for a wide variety of safety and security missions. One of the key functions of this multipurpose vessel is the ability to conduct oceanographic surveys within the port. By monitoring the seafloor, the LA Port Police can help ensure that America’s largest seaport remains safe and operational.

The new vessel will replace a nearly 25-year-old 46-foot vessel currently operated in the same role that has suffered from rising maintenance costs and decreasing functionality.

"Overall, the usefulness of the current vessel has significantly diminished and can no longer accommodate the requisite sonar equipment essential to dive, sonar and recovery operations," port staff said in a memo to the port's governing board.

The new vessel, according to the port, will save $335,000 in maintenance costs over ten years.

The interior layout of the new vessel promises more than 150 square feet of wet and dry working space, a fully equipped galley, and a dinette with u-shaped settee.
The working deck layout will accommodate a hydraulically actuated A-frame, survey winch, and dive platforms.

The propulsion package features twin Cummins QSM-11engines, each offering 705 BHP at 2,500 RPM.

The new vessel is scheduled for delivery in mid-2012.

Crowley Recognized for SoCal Green Efforts

The San Pedro Chamber of Commerce has recognized Crowley Maritime Corporation for its environmental efforts.

The Chamber award was given to recognize Crowley's recent early completion of an extensive re-powering of the main engines and generators of the firm's harbor class tugs, Admiral, Leader, Scout and Master. Crowley finished the project in April 2010, well ahead of the regulatory deadline of 2013, at which time all vessel operators in the area will be required to be Tier II emissions compliant.

Crowley partnered with Bay Ship and Yacht Co., of Alameda, Calif., to complete the project, which has resulted in a 3.24-ton reduction in particulate matter emissions and a 109.52-ton reduction in mono-nitrogen oxides per year, for all tugs combined.

Crowley also received recognition for using shoreside electricity to power its tugs while docked and awaiting future jobs, cutting emissions and noise. The ship-to-shore system was funded through a $4 million Port of Los Angeles air quality mitigation grant.

FMC to Examine Canada/Mexico Cargo Diversions, Issues New Rule on Service Contracts

The Federal Maritime Commission on Wednesday voted unanimously to begin a Notice of Inquiry into disparities that may be causing US-bound cargo to be driven to Canadian and Mexican ports. In a separate action, the Commission also voted unanimously to approve a proposed rule to provide flexibility and certainty to ocean carriers and customers who use service contracts with rates linked to freight-rate indices.

Speaking at the Canadian Maritime Conference in Montreal two weeks ago, FMC Chariman Richard Lidinsky said that he wanted to move forward with the diversion review based on a personal request from US Senators Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray, both of Washington state.

Cantwell and Murray said in their Aug. 29 request to Lidinsky that the federal HMT has become a "significant competitiveness issue" with the rise of Canadian and Mexican West Coast ports.

"It appears the HMT may be a key factor causing US ports to lose a growing share of imported container cargo from Asia," the senators said.

The two senators asked Lidinsky to "conduct an analysis of the impacts and the extent to which the HMT and other factors impact container cargo diversion from US West Coast ports to West Coast Canadian and Mexican ports, as well as offer legislative and regulatory recommendations to address this concern."

Inaugurated in 1986, the HMT is a federal tax imposed on shippers based on the value of imported and domestic goods being shipped through US ports. The tax, which generates between $1.3 billion and $1.6 billion a year, is placed in the federal HMT Trust Fund to be used for maintenance dredging of federal navigational channels.

"A growing number of containerized US imports from Asia move through the West Coast Canadian container ports of Vancouver and Prince Rupert en route to the US Midwest (i.e., Chicago and Memphis) through cross-border rail," the senators wrote in their letter to the FMC chair.

"Additional volumes enter US markets via Mexican ports. As a result, non-US ports are able to claim a substantial per-container cost advantage over US seaports based on the HMT alone. The results of this unfair disparity are increased cargo diversion and lost US jobs."

The FMC Notice of Inquiry approved Wednesday will seek government, business and public comment and information to inform the Commission’s study of the US Harbor Maintenance Tax and other disparities that may be driving US-bound cargo from US ports.

"Canadian and Mexican ports are free to compete with US ports for US cargo. But they should do so on a playing field that is not artificially tilted by governments’ policies," Lidinsky said Wednesday. "So the primary question is: are we handicapping our own ports in international competition?"

In their second action, the Commission on Wednesday voted unanimously to issue a proposed rule that would give more flexibility for ocean carriers and shippers to use service contracts with rates linked to freight rate indices. To date, the Commission has received more than fifty service contracts that reference freight indices.

Under the Commission’s current rules, service contracts can only reference outside terms, such as a rate in a freight index, that are "contained in a publication widely available to the public and well-known within the industry." The proposed rule would make clear that contracts can reference freight indices or other outside terms, so long as they are "readily available to the parties and the Commission."

"This proposed rule is another example of the Commission implementing President Obama’s guidance to revisit regulations to reduce burdens and promote flexibility," Lidinsky said.

"To the maritime industry, my message is: go forth and innovate. The FMC will try to give you the certainty and flexibility you need, while continuing to protect the shipping public."

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Bulk and Breakbulk Report

By Jim Shaw

Several trends have developed recently in the handling of bulk and breakbulk cargos in North America. One is an awaking of the potential for coal exports, with a number of facilities already being built or planned as China’s appetite for the commodity grows, moving US coal exports to their highest level since 1992. Another is grain, with a new grain export facility coming on line at Longview, Washington and an existing facility at the Port of Vancouver (USA) being expanded. Grain exports have also been up on the Great Lakes this year, and the Port of Long Beach has begun preparing an environmental impact report on a proposed new grain facility to be built on Terminal Island (see Pacific Maritime Magazine, September 2011).

The Great Lakes have also been seeing a substantial growth in the shipment of wind energy components, as have ports in Texas and along the Pacific Coast. The size and weight of some of these components has mandated specialized handling machinery, laydown areas and inland transportation corridors. These same requirements have also come into play for very large structures and modules being moved to oil sand development projects in Canada as well as to the petroleum production fields of Alaska. The export of logs and lumber is also making a comeback, with log exports up 79 percent and lumber exports up 83 percent through the first half of the year, benefitting such Pacific Northwest ports as Astoria, Olympia and Tacoma.

Forest Product Jump
Although it is not known how long the current export boom in logs and lumber will last, several West Coast ports have managed to garner some of the business, with Oregon’s Port of Astoria returning to the log trade for the first time in nearly 15 years. The logs being exported out of Astoria are being moved by Westerlund Log Handlers using the Port’s Pier 1 and Pier 3, with most storage taking place at Pier 3.

In Tacoma, Washington, where log exports nearly disappeared three years ago, TPT US Limited, a New Zealand-owned company, has been shipping logs out of the port’s export facility on the Hylebos Waterway, with the 100-millionth board-foot of timber loaded aboard the bulker TPC Longview in August. TPT began shipping logs through Tacoma in June of last year, a move that boosted the port’s total logs exports by nearly 200 percent through the middle of this year.

TPT representatives said tariffs imposed on wood exports from Russia, of which China has been a major customer, have stimulated log purchases in North America, while Japan’s devastating earthquake and tsunami also helped boost exports of lumber. The log export boom has helped the Port of Olympia, Washington set a new record in operating revenues for the first half of this year, with more than a dozen ships loaded. According to the US Forest Service’s Pacific Northwest Research Station, a total of 569.2 million board feet of softwood logs and 232.2 million board feet of softwood lumber were exported from the West Coast during the second quarter of this year, with logs up nearly 38 percent over first quarter figures.

Wind Energy
Another cargo witnessing substantial growth has been wind energy components destined for inland wind farms. These components, principally made up of support towers, turbine nacelles and blades, had been moving through a relatively small number of gateways that could furnish sufficient lay-down area, crane capacity, and inland transportation corridors. However, the number of ports now handling the components has grown, diluting to some extent the cargos offered to the original importing ports. Stepping into the wind energy sector this year has been the Port of Searsport, Maine, where 22 wind turbine sets were unloaded from the heavylift ship BBC Orinoco this past summer. Although the ship was able to self-discharge the tower sections and blades, Donjon Marine’s derrick barge Chesapeake 1000 had to be moved north from Port Newark, New Jersey by the tug Atlantic Salvor to handle the heavier turbine nacelles. All of the components were destined for the Record Hill wind farm development located in Western Maine.

Another East Coast port moving into the turbine business this year, although on the export side, was Florida’s Port of Pensacola, which has been moving nearly 300 wind turbines to Brazil. The turbines, manufactured at a nearby GE Wind Energy plant, are transported from the plant to the port by specialized trailers. Eight vessels are to be loaded this year, each ship handing between 35 and 40 nacelles.

Record Coal
In nearby Alabama, the largest export coal shipment ever handled at the Port of Mobile departed the port’s McDuffie Coal Terminal in late July aboard the post-Panamax bulk carrier E.R. Boston. The ship loaded 129,016 short tons of coal, breaking the previously record, which had been set 11 years ago. The cargo, bound for Immingham, England, brought the McDuffie terminal’s total export volume to 7,589,753 short tons for the current fiscal year. Jimmy Lyons, director and chief executive officer for the port, credited recent investment in port infrastructure and harbor deepening for the new record. “Our investments at the Port of Mobile to handle larger post-Panamax sized vessels are paying off for our shippers by providing customers with economies of scale shipments along with new harbor and terminal capabilities,” noted Lyons, who added that Mobile now has a 45-foot-deep channel as well as a new turning basin while McDuffie’s infrastructure has been improved with new Post-Panamax cranes.

The 178,978-dwt E.R. Boston, which has a beam measurement of 148 feet, was loaded in a little over three days at a load rate of 1,596 short tons per hour.

Coal throughput at McDuffie is expected to improve still further toward the end of this year as Walter Energy, a metallurgical coal mining company which currently ships all its export product through McDuffie, completes its acquisition of the Mobile River Terminal Company from US Steel. “This acquisition will help ensure that we will have unconstrained shipping capacity to support our long-term coking coal production plans in Alabama,” said Walter Energy’s chief executive officer, Joe Leonard.

West Coast Coal
In Texas, Kinder Morgan Energy Partners LP has agreed to invest $18 million to expand its exporting facility at Houston, Texas to handle up to 2.2 million tons of Colorado coal annually. The company exporting this coal has not been identified but the mine is said to be located west of Trinidad, Colorado, near the New Mexico border. Kinder Morgan CEO Richard Kinder remarked that the Colorado export deal was the result of a “tremendous increase” in the demand for coal overseas.

St. Louis-based Arch Coal, which has been investing in West Coast coal terminal expansion at Longview, Washington and Prince Rupert, British Columbia, owns Colorado’s West Elk Mine. At the start of this year, Arch signed a five-year agreement with British Columbia’s Ridley Terminals Inc. (RTI) at Prince Rupert giving the firm a throughput capacity at the Canadian gateway of up to 2 million tons of coal for the rest of this year and up to 2.5 million tons for 2012 through 2015.

The deal follows Arch’s acquisition of a 38 percent stake in Millennium Bulk Terminals last year, which is preparing to construct a major new coal exporting facility at Longview, Washington on the former site of Reynolds Metals Company. However, Millennium’s plan has run into considerable local opposition, particularly after it was revealed that the firm’s parent company had discussed plans to expand the terminal’s throughput capacity to a much greater degree than originally presented. Following public comment, Millennium withdrew its permit application for the terminal this year but said it plans to resubmit next year. In the meantime it has been working with the property owner to clean up the site, which is still contaminated from decades of aluminum making.

SSA at Cherry Point
Another potential West Coast coal exporting site is also facing criticism. In February of this year Seattle-based terminal operator SSA Marine submitted preliminary documents to Whatcom County, Washington agencies and the US Army Corps of Engineers concerning its plan to develop a $500 million dry bulk cargo terminal just south of Birch Bay on Puget Sound.

The site, located between the BP Cherry Point oil refinery and the Alcoa Intalco Works aluminum smelter, has been zoned industrial for many years and current land use regulations envision eventual construction of the type of pier that SSA is proposing. Although the new terminal is being permitted to handle a variety of dry bulks, including grain, potash, iron ore and calcined coke, coal is expected to be its major export commodity, with Peabody Energy of St. Louis, Missouri having already reached an agreement to export 24 million tons of coal per annum through the facility, most of it to Asia. The coal would be shipped to the terminal from Peabody’s Powder River Basin operations in the Rocky Mountains by the BNSF Railway.

However, in July disagreement arose between Whatcom County Planning and Development Services and the consulting firm of AMEC over land clearing and road building on the site, which AMEC said was necessary to conduct field testing for SSA, but which the county said was not authorized. On August 1, a coalition of environmental groups that had signed an earlier agreement to drop a lawsuit that had blocked SSA’s first plan for a much smaller terminal said they were ending negotiations with SSA. Nevertheless, SSA says it still hopes to begin construction of the facility by 2013 and have the three-berth terminal one line by 2015.

Gain in Grain
Yet another West Coast bulk terminal project experiencing problems is the new EGT grain elevator at the Port of Longview. EGT, which is a partnership of Bunge North America, Itochu Corp. and STX Pan Ocean, had planned on shipping grain through the new $200 million facility by this month, following its completion by general contractor T.E. Ibberson, but labor protests have held up these plans. Protests by International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) members prevented train deliveries to the elevator starting in mid-summer and had not tapered off by early September, despite the issuance of a temporary restraining order by a federal judge in Tacoma. On September 8, ILWU members at Seattle and Tacoma walked off the job to join the protest, which brought a clash with police and some damage to equipment at the EGT terminal. Talks between EGT and the ILWU over labor use at the facility had broken off earlier this year and EGT later hired General Construction Company of Federal Way, Washington to operate its facility, with General choosing to hire workers affiliated with local 701 of the Operating Engineers union.

The Port of Longview said it had assumed those jobs would be given to ILWU members when it finalized its 30-year lease with the company in 2009. However, EGT said its lease with the port gives it the option not to hire union workers. EGT hopes to eventually use the complex to ship grain from growers in the Midwest and Western states to China, Japan and Korea but the first grain train confronted by ILWU members suffered more than 70 dumped carloads and numerous cut brake lines.

Vancouver (USA) Elevator Expansion
As the EGT facility struggles to come on line at Longview, the United Grain Corporation (UGC) at the Port of Vancouver (USA) has been adding an additional 60,000 tons of grain storage space at its site along the Columbia River, part of a $72 million expansion project. Two obsolete port buildings located on the site have already been leveled and a third is about to be dismantled, all to make way for both the terminal expansion and the port’s on-going West Vancouver Freight Access (WVFA) rail project.

The cluster of new storage silos being put up by UGC are being built using the “slipform” method which concrete is poured into a continuously moving form that is jacked up as the concrete sets, moving about one foot per hour. The completed bank of 24 silos is to stand over 300 feet, or roughly 20 stories high. Once handling machinery is installed, the new silos will be used to clean, sort and store corn and soybeans destined for export to the Orient.

According to Curtis Shuck, the port’s director of economic development and facilities, China’s rising middle class, with its appetite for more meat, is fueling the demand for more US-grown corn and soybeans to serve as livestock feed. The new storage capacity is expected to come on line by next autumn and will add an additional two million tons of export capacity to the UGC elevator, which already ships out an average of 3 million tons of wheat each year.

California Coalition Calls For Release of Billions in Idle Federal Dredging Taxes

A coalition of California elected officials, port authorities and shipping industry leaders are ratcheting up their demands that Congress immediately release the state's $5.6 billion share of the federal Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund to boost investment in and job growth at the state's ports.

"California’s future as a global leader depends on much needed job creation and economic growth," California Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom said at a press conference in Oakland on Friday.

"Utilizing the federal Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund surplus doesn’t cost anyone a dime in new taxes, and it would immediately boost our trade competitiveness, invest in California’s infrastructure, and help to both grow jobs on our waterfront immediately and on our farms and manufacturing floors over the long term.”

Established in 1986, the Harbor Maintenance Tax (HMT) is a federal tax imposed on port customers based on the value of the goods being imported through about 200 of the nation's ports. Typically collected by customs brokers, the taxes are placed in the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund to be used for maintenance dredging of federal navigational channels.

According to the American Association of Port Authorities, over 90 percent of the nation's top 50 ports engaged in foreign waterborne commerce require regular maintenance dredging.

However, while the tax continues to be collected – to the tune of more than $400 million a year from California port customers alone – the vast majority of the collected taxes remain idle in the trust fund.

Even of those HMT funds allocated, California does not receive an equal share based on its contributions. While California port customers contribute more than 30 percent of all HMT funds collected, the same ports receive less than 5 percent of those HMT funds expended.

In response to this situation, State Sen. Mark DeSaulnier (D-Concord) and Sen. Jean Fuller (R-Bakersfield) have jointly authored California Senate Joint Resolution 15, which demands that the state's entire $5.6 billion share of the trust fund surplus be released immediately to fund improvements at California ports.

"The California businesses calling on the federal government to release Harbor Maintenance funds aren’t just on the waterfront," Fuller said at the press conference.

"In fact, agricultural exporters in the Central Valley are hurt when this money isn’t spent as promised. These funds were collected for the purpose of making the necessary infrastructure improvements and by seeing that the funds are spent on those improvements, we can ensure that California’s ports are among the most competitive in the world."

Newsom and the two state senators were joined at Friday's press conference by representatives of the Port of Oakland, the California Marine Affairs and Navigation Conference (CMANC), the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU), the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA), and the Pacific Merchant Shipping Association (PMSA) to offer support to the DeSaulnier/Fuller resolution.

"Spending this money as intended will clear navigational channels in the San Francisco Bay that have draft restrictions on them – if we don’t maintain our channels then our ability to maximize our exports are limited. The taxes to pay for these projects have already been collected, but that won’t help us achieve anything if the funds we need are sitting in an account in Washington DC just waiting to be spent," CMANC Executive Director Jim Haussener said.

Port of Oakland Commissioner Gilda Gonzales also highlighted the impact on jobs.
"When our channels are in good shape that means commerce can flow efficiently, our ports remain competitive internationally, and we can continue to support thousands of jobs here in California and across the nation," Gonzales said.

James McKenna, President of the PMA, added that the idle HMT funds collected from California port customers has led to a dearth of needed dredging and "the inability to keep channels dredged to their maximum depth is nothing but a short-sighted drag on our economic growth."

The lack of HMT investments in the state is also a threat to the competitiveness of California ports, according to PMSA President John McLaurin.

"It is imperative that the taxes already collected from California be made available for California projects immediately," McLaurin said.

"We must continue to make investments in California’s ports in order to stay at the top of the game. When we lose cargo and business, we lose vital jobs that are imperative to our local and state economies."

Report: Five West Coast in Top Ten US Import Ports, LA/LB Rank 1 And 2

West Coast ports captured five of the top ten positions on a recent ranking of top US import ports by trade intelligence firm Zepol that examined government trade data for the January to July period.

The Port of Los Angeles topped the list, with the neighboring Long Beach port filling the second slot. Los Angeles handled a total of 2.3 million import TEUs in the seven-month period, a 2 percent increase over the same period last year. Adjacent Long Beach handled a total of 1.8 million import TEUs, up 6.3 percent over the January to July period in 2010.

West Coast ports rounding out the top ten included: the Port of Seattle in fifth place with just over 472,000 inbound TEUs despite a 14.1 percent decline over 2010; the Port of Oakland in sixth place with just over 443,000 inbound TEUs, up 2.1 percent over last year; and in tenth place, the Port of Tacoma with just under 268,000 inbound TEUs handled, a 0.7 drop from last year.

The Minnesota-based Zepol's report is based on data collected by US Customs and the US Census Bureau from the Automated Manifest System and excludes Freight Remaining on Board as well as empty containers. Zepol points out that due to US Customs rules on import disclosure, not all major importers and suppliers could be identified.

In addition to the top import ports, the report found that Maersk remained the top import carrier through July, a position the carrier held during the same period last year. Rounding out the top ten import carriers, in descending order, were MSC, APL, Evergreen, Hanjin, Hapag Lloyd, CMA CGM, Hyundai, OOCL and COSCO.

The largest carrier gains were experienced by MSC, with a 17.4 percent increase over the same period in 2010. The biggest slide during the January to July period was carrier China Shipping, which while dropping 25 percent over the year-ago period, still managed to hang on to the number 15 slot on the list.

The report also found that the top consignees for US imports during the January to July period were LG Electronics, Dole, Samsung Electronics, Michelin, and Rooms To Go. LG Electronics grew a marginal 0.4 percent compared to the same period last year, when it also held the top consignee slot. Samsung Electronics, while still holding the number three slot, was the big loser, sliding 20 percent compared to the same period in 2010. Three of the top 16 import consignees gained more than 40 percent over the 20010 period, including Michelin, Arauco Wood, and Falken Tire.
China remained the top trading country for US imports, with Japan, Germany, Mexico and Venezuela rounding out the top five. US imports originating in China grew 12 percent compared to the first seven months of 2010, and number two Japan – despite the devastating earthquake and tsunami earlier this year, managed to post a 4.7 percent gain over the first seven-month period last year.

The top US imports through July were petroleum products, machinery, automobiles and trucks, electronic goods, and clothing/apparel.

The full 12-page report is available for free at

Targa Resources Purchases Tacoma Port Petroleum Storage Facility

Houston-based energy firm Targa Resources announced Monday that it has purchased two petroleum product storage and terminal facilities, including the Targa Sound Terminal on the Hylebos Waterway at the Port of Tacoma.

The Tacoma facility has 758,000 barrels of capacity and handles refined petroleum products, LPGs and biofuels, including ethanol and biodiesel.

Targa acquired the facility as part of the private purchase of previous owner Sound Refining Inc. Targa said that the Sound Refining management team would remain in place and previous growth plans for the facility would continue forward.

The publicly traded Targa also announced the purchase of the Targa Baltimore Terminal on the Patapsco River in Baltimore. The facility has approximately 505,000 barrels of storage capacity, contains blending and heating capabilities, and has tanker truck and barge loading and unloading infrastructure.

The total cost of the two transactions, which closed effective September 30, 2011, was approximately $127 million. While Targa declined to specify the individual transaction amounts, the firm noted that the Tacoma purchase was the larger of the two.

Transpac Carrier Group Suggesting Increased Export Commodity Rates

The ten carrier members of the Westbound Transpacific Stabilization Agreement, citing unsustainable commodity rate levels, will implement rate increases on export commodities effective Nov. 1.

The WTSA is reviewing commodities on a case-by-case basis--more than a dozen to date--with rate increase guidelines being posted to their website at

Some already posted rate changes effective Nov. 1 include: $50 per FEU increase on wastepaper; $100 per FEU increase on hay; $200 per FEU increases on agricultural products, chemicals, clay, lumber, woodpulp, and kraft liner board; and, several additional commodity increases based on point of origin.

By law, the WTSA cannot impose rate increases; only suggest them to its members. In practice, though, WTSA recommendations are nearly universally adopted by member carriers.

WTSA members include carriers APL, Cosco, Evergreen, Hanjin, Hapag-Lloyd, Hyundai, "K" Line, NYK, OOCL and Yang Ming.