Friday, March 23, 2012

Oakland TEU Volume Drops 5 Percent

The number of 20-foot equivalent units that moved through the Port of Oakland in February was down five percent compared to the same month last year, according to newly released data by the port.

A grand total of 166,926 TEUs traveled through California’s third-largest port in February 2012, which was not only a decline from February 2011, but a drop of almost 29,000 containers from the 195,704 that were shipped through the port in January 2012.

The biggest decline for the month was in full imports, which fell 15.5 percent compared with the same month last year. Imports and exports of empty containers were also down, by 5.7 percent and 6.4 percent, respectively.

The one category where Oakland saw an increase was in full exports, which reached 78,274 TEUs in February, an upsurge of 3.9 percent compared with the same month in 2011.

The drop in imports last month can be partially attributed to the start of the Chinese New Year; import volumes typically fall following the New Year as factories in Asia close for about a week during the holidays.

In 2011, when the New Year fell on Feb. 3, the slowdown was felt in the latter part of the month and into early March. But this year, since the New Year fell on Jan. 23, the entire slowdown period came in February. California’s two largest seaports, Los Angeles and Long Beach, also saw total volume declines last month due in part to the decreased movement of goods to and from China.

For the calendar year to date, the Port of Oakland’s container volume is actually up 1.4 percent compared with 2011. This is mainly due to a 5.4 percent increase in full exports the first two months of the year, as well as a 2.9 percent rise in empty imports compared with the first two months of 2011.

Tags: Port of Oakland, container volumes

Study Says Port of Portland a Vital Economic Engine

The Port of Portland generated 26,598 direct, induced and indirect jobs, $1.7 billion in wages, salaries and consumption impacts, $4.6 billion in business revenue and more than $164 million in state and local taxes in 2011, according to a new economic impact analysis.

Additionally, marine operations at Portland’s four terminals generated more than 9,000 jobs, more than $750 million in personal income, $803 million in business revenue and about $72 million in state and local taxes, according to the study, which was conducted by John C. Martin Associates of Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

“The annual business revenue generated is about four percent of the Portland-Vancouver gross regional product,” Bill Wyatt, the port’s executive director, said. “This industry definitely plays a critical role in our regional economy and quality of life.”

About 26,600 area residents work at a Port of Portland-related job, according to the study, including airline personnel, longshore workers, distribution and warehouse employees, truck drivers, railroad employees, river and bar pilots and rental car company workers.

In addition to its seaport, the Port of Portland oversees three airports – most notably Portland International Airport – and four business parks.

The port’s aviation and marine activities directly generated about $54 million in local property taxes in 2011, a 6 to 1 return ratio, according to the study.

Tenants of the port’s four business parks generated more than 30,000 jobs, created about $1.5 billion in direct, induced and indirect income and consumption expenditures, about $5.3 billion in sales revenue and about $138 million in state and local taxes.

The port recently acquired another business park in Gresham, the Gresham Vista Industrial Park, but the impacts of that property were not included in the study.

The Port of Portland conducts periodic economic impact studies to track the impacts of new or lost business, changes in tonnage levels, operations and passenger levels, new real estate opportunities, capital expenditures and public policy issues. The last study was conducted in 2006.

The latest report can be viewed on the port’s website at:

POLB to Live Stream Industry Forecast

The Port of Long Beach is planning to live stream its annual industry forecast event, “Pulse of the Ports: Peak Season Forecast,” which takes place Wed., March 28 at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in downtown Long Beach.

The event will webcast live at from 7 am to 10 am Pacific Standard Time.

Speakers during this year’s forecast include: Walter Kemmsies, chief economist with civil engineering firm Moffatt & Nichol; Daniel Wall, senior vice president of ocean and cargo management services with global logistics company Expeditors; Peter Friedmann, executive director of the Agriculture Transportation Coalition; OOCL USA President Erxin Yao; Peter Peyton, vice president of International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 63; Bruce Wargo, secretary of the West Coast Marine Terminal Operators Agreement; John Kaiser, vice president and general manager of intermodal for Union Pacific Railroad; and Robert Curry, Sr., president of California Cartage Co.

After the forecast, the Port of Long Beach sponsors the second annual Point Counterpoint event on goods movement, which takes at 6 p.m. Cal State Long Beach’s Carpenter Performing Arts Center.

This free forum will explore the impact of port growth on jobs, the community and the environment in Southern California. For more information, visit

Public Meeting Scheduled on San Diego Port Ordinances

The Port of San Diego plans to have a public meeting next week regarding potential changes to ordinances regulating entertainment and commercial activities on lands administered by the port.

The meeting is planned for 5 pm Mon., March 26 at the training room of the port’s administration building, 3165 Pacific Highway. This is the second of two meetings planned on the topic. The first was Thurs., March 22 at the admin building. The meetings’ purpose is to review proposed changes to the ordinances and to continue gathering input from stakeholders regarding sales of merchandise and services.

The regulations need to be updated due to a number of changes that have occurred along the waterfront and adjacent land, so that the rules accurately reflect the activities that now take place, according to Jim Hutzelman, the manager of community services in the port’s Business Development & Marketing department.

Specifically, the changes would affect sections 8.02, 8.04 and 8.05 of the Port District Code, which govern business and commercial activities on port lands.

Drafts of the proposed ordinances are scheduled to be presented to San Diego’s Board of Port Commissioners in May. The ordinances would take effect 30 days after board approval.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Fidley Watch: Shovel Ready

As this month’s Shipyard Issue goes to press, Vigor Industrial has announced its intent to purchase Ketchikan- based Alaska Ship and Drydock Inc. (ASD)from the Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority (AIDEA)

Pending approval of the deal by AIDEA, ASD and Vigor were expected to complete the transfer of ASD’s business and assets to Vigor by March 1st.

In February of last year, Vigor completed its $130 million purchase of Seattle’s Todd Pacific Shipyards. With ASD and the former Todd Shipyards facilities, the company will own and operate seven yards, allowing Vigor to offer shipbuilding, repair and modernization services in seven facilities throughout the Pacific Northwest, in Alaska, Washington and Oregon, with ten drydocks and more than 17,000 feet of pier space. The combined companies will employ close to 2,500 workers across the Pacific Northwest.

Vigor’s purchase of ASD comes on the heels of an announcement by Alaska Longline Company that they will build a new 136-foot factory longline fishing vessel at ASD to a Jensen Maritime Consultants design. The new vessel, yet to be named, will be one of the first to be built after the American Fisheries Act was modified in 2010 to allow Bering Sea vessel owners to replace or rebuild their fleets.

The federal legislative amendment, along with actions taken or under consideration by the North Pacific Fishery Management Council, could see billions of dollars of capital investment in shipbuilding and conversion work for West Coast shipyards over the next 25 years—a generation of workers stand to benefit.

Another longline contract to build a similar, but larger, vessel has been awarded to J.M. Martinac Shipbuilding Corporation of Tacoma, Washington. The new 184-foot Northern Leader is expected to have one of the largest freezer hold capacities of any longliner vessel, and will have diesel-electric propulsion with azimuthing stern drives.

Other yards along the West Coast are bidding on similar projects and it’s high time the Bering Sea fleet was updated. The average age of the approximately 36 vessels currently operating in the freezer longline fleet is 40 years old, and many are more than 50 years old. Replacement vessels will be safer for the crew, meet international class and loadline requirements and be more fuel-efficient.

Most of the newbuild yards on the West Coast are capable of building these vessels, and the quality of construction offered by US West Coast yards suggests that most of the vessels will be built in the area. The $20 to $40 million per vessel of private capital invested in the new ships will provide much needed economic stimulus to the communities served by the shipyards building them, without borrowing from China or dipping in to our grandchildren’s retirement accounts.

We understand that catcher boats, trawlers and even the fishing industries behemoth factory trawlers are also planning for replacement of their aging fleets. Industry experts predict as many as 400 new vessels could be built in the next 25 years.

These vessels are being built in American yards by American owners with no subsidies, tax incentives or public financing.

That’s what true economic stimulus looks like.

To learn more about the fleet upgrade program, attend the Philips Publishing Group’s 2nd annual Bering Sea Fisheries Conference on April 24th –
Chris Philips, Managing Editor

ILWU Officials Plead Guilty

The president of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union’s Local 21 chapter and a member of the union’s executive board have both pleaded guilty to charges related to last summer’s protests at the EGT terminal at the Port of Longview.

On March 15, Daniel Craig Coffman submitted a guilty plea to misdemeanor second-degree criminal trespass charges for his role in protests conducted at the ports on two occasions last September and one in July.

He was sentenced by Cowlitz County District Court to 20 hours of community service and fined $600.

Two days before Coffman issued his plea, ILWU executive board member Michael Kelly Muller pleaded guilty in Superior Court to one count of obstructing/delaying a train during a Sept. 7 picket and one count of second-degree criminal trespass during a July 11 protest.

He was sentenced to a day in jail, 10 hours of community service and $200 fine.

The pickets and subsequent arrests were part of a labor dispute between the union and EGT, the operator of a grain terminal at the port. Over the course of the protests, which lasted much of last summer, more than 200 members of ILWU Local 21 and their supporters were arrested, with most being charged with trespassing and disorderly conduct.

The dispute stemmed from company using the services of a union other than the ILWU at Berth 9, a $200 million joint venture between Bunge Ltd., ITOCHU International and STX Pan Ocean.

Local 21 had contended that its contract with the Port of Longview required that the 25 to 35 jobs inside the terminal go to ILWU labor. The company, however, said its lease agreement with the port did not specify ILWU workers. Members of Operating Engineers Local 701 had been working at the terminal.

The issue was settled under an agreement ratified by the port Jan. 27. It says that all labor at the terminal must be dispatched through the Local 21 union hall. Notably, however, the agreement did not alleviate the ILWU from responsibility for estimated hundreds of dollars in damage inflicted on the terminal during the months of protests.

Three union members who participated in the protests are facing a variety felony charges, including sabotage and assault with a deadly weapon.
Their trials are expected to begin later this year.

California Ports Receive B- Grade from Engineering Council

The American Council of Engineering Companies of California has given the state’s ports a B- grade in its latest analysis of the state’s infrastructure.

In its report, which was issued March 1, ACEC California says it believes the state should take a more cohesive approach to port structures and their connections with other modes of transportation.

The idea, the Council says, is to view the ports as part of a complete transportation system and plan accordingly.

The ACEC also says the state can also improve its ports by making sure that harbor maintenance tax funds are properly allocated and used for their intended purpose.

“California’s ports are a key element in our state’s global competitiveness, and efficient goods movement should be an economic priority for our state,” ACEC California executive director Paul Meyer said.

The grade is an improvement over the last time the Council released the results of its state infrastructure analysis. In the previous report card, released in 2006, California’s ports received a C+.

As part of its analysis, the ACEC grades eight areas: ports, levees/flood control, water supply, the transportation system, aviation, wastewater, urban runoff and solid waste management.

The state’s transportation system received a grade of C- this year, which the engineering society said was due to the bloated state of the California Department of Transportation.

ACEC has called for a reduction in Caltrans staffing, assigning more resources to improvements, authorizing municipalities and counties to take more responsibility for project delivery and making greater use of public-private partnerships and design-build.

ACEC California also recommends that the state revamp how it pays for transportation improvements. The current system, which primarily relies on gas tax revenue, is becoming “archaic” as electric, hybrid and non-traditional vehicles become more popular, according to the engineering society.

Long Beach Welcomes Largest-Ever Ship

The MSC Fabiola arrived at the Port of Long Beach March 16, making it the largest container ship ever to make a call to North America.

“This is the largest container vessel now serving the US-Asia trade, and the fact that it is calling to the Port of Long Beach is significant,” port Executive Director J. Christopher Lytle said.

The vessel, which measures 1,200 feet long by 157 feet wide and can carry more than 12,000 20-foot equivalent units, was built in 2010 and is operated by Geneva-based Mediterranean Shipping Co. It was brought in to Pier T on Terminal Island by Jacobsen Pilot Service.

The MSC Fabiola, which is scheduled to return to Pier T’s Total Terminals International facility monthly, previously served Asia-to-Europe trade routes; it’s making its maiden voyage in the trans-Pacific trade. It came from China’s Port of Yantian.

After unloading, and then loading more cargo, the ship departed Long Beach the evening of Monday, March 19.

Currently, the larger container ships typically serving Asia and North America have capacities of about 8,000 TEUs, but the MSC Fabiola’s arrival was the first of what’s expected to be a string of larger container ships to be deployed by ocean carriers in Pacific Rim routes.

Larger ships are more cost effective for ocean carriers, but few ports have deep enough navigation channels to handle these massive ships. The Port of Long Beach’s main channel is 76 feet deep, the deepest in North America.

“Long Beach is big ship ready, and we continue to invest so we’ll be ready for the next generation of larger, environmentally friendlier and more efficient cargo ships,” Lytle said.

Port of Portland Names New CFO

Cindy Nichol, the finance director at San Francisco International Airport, has been tapped to become the Port of Portland’s new chief financial officer, the port announced March 14.

Nichol, who joins the port April 16, was hired to replace Vince Granato, who was named Portland’s chief operating officer Feb. 9.

Nichol had been the airport’s finance director since 2008. She began her career at the Massachusetts Port Authority, and had worked on debt issuance, budgeting, revenue enhancement and rate setting for the Authority’s airport, seaport, real estate, and bridge facilities.

“I couldn’t be more pleased to add someone of Cindy’s caliber to our management team,” Wyatt said in a statement announcing the hiring. “She brings a wealth of experience in airport and seaport financial planning and economic analysis, from both the airport management and consulting perspectives that will serve the port well as we address the challenges and opportunities of the changing global marketplace.”

The hiring was the latest move in a shakeup of top management at the port that Wyatt set in motion in early February.

In addition to Granato being named COO, Sam Ruda, the port’s former director of marine and industrial development, was named by Wyatt to the newly created position of chief commercial officer, where he’s responsible for the commercial and business development activities at the port’s marine and aviation facilities and its commercial real estate holdings.