Friday, June 1, 2012

Seattle City Council Opposes Coal Export Projects

On a unanimous vote, the Seattle City Council May 29 decided to oppose the development of coal export terminals within the Pacific Northwest, saying that at least half-dozen proposals in development would cause too much environmental damage.

“This goes against what we stand for from a climate change standpoint,” councilman Mike O’Brien said regarding the proposed terminals, which would see coal brought in to coastal terminals in Washington state and Oregon via train from Wyoming and Montana, then shipped to China and other Asian countries.
Coal companies have submitted permits to build export terminals near the ports of Westward, Morrow, Bellingham and Longview, where Millennium Bulk Terminals has applied for permits to build a $600 million facility in a bid to become one of the largest coal exporters in North America.

Terminal proposals, but no formal permit requests as of yet, have also surfaced in Coos Bay and Hoquiam.

One estimate says that if all the facilities are built, they’d move at least 100 million tons of coal annually throughout the Pacific Northwest.

With the proposals, however, has come vocal opposition from environmentalists, who say coal imports would bring more air and noise pollution to the Pacific Northwest.

In response to the controversy, numerous state and regional officials and entities, including Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber, Washington state Ecology Director Ted Sturdevant and the US Environmental Protection Agency have all called for a comprehensive study to determine the full potential cumulative environmental effects of the coal export proposals.

But despite the vocal opposition, proponents of the various projects say they’re in support partially because of the positive economic impact they could have on the surrounding communities.

Numerous terminal proponents spoke on their behalf prior to the Seattle council’s vote on the anti-coal resolution, including SSA Marine senior project manager Joe Ritzman. SSA is proposing the Gateway Pacific Terminal at Cherry Point.

Ritzman said that the projects could bring hundreds of jobs to the area as well as much needed tax revenue to local governments. Mike Elliott, chair of the Washington state legislative board of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen was another voice speaking against the anti-coal resolution.

“We view this as an attack on our jobs,” Elliott told the council prior to the vote.
The Council was not swayed however, and Seattle became the largest city so far to formally oppose building more coal import terminals. Other municipalities that have also passed measures so far include Hood River, Oregon and three Washington cities, Camas, Marysville and Washougal.

Legislation to End Canada Rail Strike Moves Forward

The Restoring Rail Service Act, legislation that would force the end of a work stoppage by labor and mandate the resumption of rail services at the Canadian Pacific Railway has been passed by the House of Commons.

The legislation now goes on to be debated by the Senate. If passed and enacted, the law would not only resume Canadian Pacific Railway services, but also send all unresolved issues to binding arbitration.
It’s expected that the Senate will approve the Act by June 1 and that the law could go into effect immediately.

The strike, which began May 23 and has suspended freight service across the country, was launched by the Teamsters Canada Rail Conference in response to an inability to reach a deal with railway management on a new contract.

The Teamsters Canada Rail Conference represents bargaining units of nearly 5,000 workers – 4,200 locomotive engineers, conductors, trainspersons and yardmen, as well as 220 rail traffic controllers. The collective agreements for both units expired at the end of 2011.

Among the issues the union and management are still struggling with during contract talks are pensions and fatigue management, according to negotiators.

In remarks to the media, Canadian labor minister Lisa Raitt said that the strike has to be halted because it’s putting the jobs of thousands of other, non-union workers at risk.

“The work stoppage at the Canadian Pacific Railway is affecting industries that contribute $540 million weekly to the Canadian economy through their use of the railway,” Raitt said in explaining why the legislation was being pushed through.

The labor unrest comes at a very inopportune time for Canadian Pacific, which just appointed an interim CEO about a week before the strike was launched, and also elected a new 16-member board of directors.
Former CEO Fred Green resigned from CP Rail May 17 after a four-month battle over control of the direction of the company with activist investor Bill Ackman.

USS Iowa Arrives in Southern California

After initially having its departure date delayed about a week, the former battleship being moved from Northern California to Southern California for a new role as a floating museum has arrived at its destination.

The 887-foot ship USS Iowa was originally scheduled to depart the Port of Richmond May 20 for a four day trip south, but was delayed six days due to rough seas in the San Francisco Bay area. It arrived at a temporary berth several miles offshore from Seal Beach, California, during the early morning hours of May 30.

The vessel was delivered by the 7,200-HP tugboat Warrior, which is operated by Crowley Maritime Corp. On June 9, Crowley’s harbor tugs are scheduled to move the ship up the main channel to its new permanent home in Berth 87 at the Port of Los Angeles.

“It is an honor for our team and company to have the privilege of caring for the USS Iowa on her journey to her new home,” Crowley port captain Andrew Gauthier said.

The 45,000-ton USS Iowa is scheduled to open to the public on July 7 at Berth 87, directly south of the World Cruise Center. The museum’s operator, the non-profit Pacific Battleship Center says it will offer guided tours and educational programs, including overnight stays and youth camps. About 400,000 visitors are expected to visit the ship annually.

During its heyday, the USS Iowa took part in every major military conflict from World War II until the post-Cold War period. It was decommissioned in 1990 and donated to the Los Angeles-based Pacific Battleship Center in 2011.

BNSF Plans $120 Million in California Rail Improvements

BNSF Railway announced May 29 that it plans to spend $120 million on rail capacity improvement and maintenance projects within California.

BNSF says it plans to install an automated gate system at its Hobart Intermodal Facility in the Los Angeles area to increase the velocity of container/trailer processing, plus continue its California track maintenance program, which includes 786 miles of track surfacing and undercutting work, the replacement of 40 miles of rail and about 377,000 ties.

Signal upgrades for federally mandated positive train control are also included in the plan.
“BNSF’s investments will improve our ability to provide rail freight services to California businesses and communities and will expand opportunities to create more jobs and growth for the California economy,” BNSF Chair and CEO Matthew Rose said in a statement announcing the move.

The planned capital investments in California are part of BNSF's total 2012 capital commitment of $3.9 billion, the largest portion of which is spending $2.1 billion on the railway’s core network and related assets. BNSF also says it plans to spend more than $1 billion on locomotive, freight car and other equipment acquisitions.

The program also includes about $300 million for federally mandated positive train control and $400 million for terminal, line and intermodal expansion and efficiency projects, according to the railway.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Propulsion Systems – Looking at the Whole Picture

By Jim Shaw

The traditional view of propulsion, looking at engines, shafting and propellers, is rapidly changing to encompass the entire vessel: anything that can lead to higher efficiency and less pollution. At a meeting of shipping executives in Europe earlier this year Fridtjof Rohde of German classification society Germanischer Lloyd noted that there are many opportunities for finding and exploiting efficiencies to save fuel and money, even in the tight conditions facing the industry today. He added that this can be done while operating a more environmentally friendly ship. The use of new computational techniques, he said, “has opened up the design space for shipping,” both in the development of new designs and in the ability to make improvements during conversions or upgrades to existing tonnage. “Upgrades to propellers, improving the wake field and appendages, and installing new ‘smart’ software systems such as FutureShip’s ECO-Assistant”, he stressed, “could significantly improve” a vessel’s performance. In the newbuilding sector he observed that the use of computational fluid dynamic techniques to optimize the hull form of an existing design, plus selecting the right engine and “smarting up” auxiliary systems, could also result in improved competitiveness and a better bottom line.

EEDI and the Bottom Line
Shipowners in attendance took note of Rohde’s remarks because they have been looking for any ideas that might improve their profit margin, particularly in regards to propulsion efficiency. This is largely because of the dramatic rise in fuel prices that have taken place in just the past few months. During the first quarter of this year oil prices increased by about 14 percent, a jump that saw marine fuel sales in Singapore, one of the world’s largest bunkering centers, fall to a two-year low when bunker-C hit $742.5 per ton. At the same time, new ships have to comply with the International Maritime Organization’s Energy Efficiency Design Index (EEDI), which was agreed upon last July. Under EEDI, shipping costs are expected to be cut by US$5 billion by 2020 through various efficiencies while the amount of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere is to be reduced by some 20 billion tons.

Matching Engine to Propeller
Nicholas Skiadaresis, Managing Director of ENES Marine Service S.A., pointed out that any means of reducing fuel consumption usually produces other benefits, including reduced CO2 emissions and a better EEDI. Skiadaresis, who has been studying the efficiencies of new Cape-size bulk carrier designs, underlined the fact that propulsion specifying has gone beyond basic machinery to also include such spacial constraints as engine room length, the position of the shafting center line, the base line to propeller tip clearance and aperture clearances, all factors that have to be considered in finding the optimal combination for a particular hull. Although incorporating the required adjustments to a ship’s final design might boost costs the careful matching of engine and propeller, he noted, usually results in fuel savings of some 10- to 11-percent. Skiadaresis also illustrated how the optimal operating point for a vessel could be found by identifying the lowest SFOC (specific fuel oil consumption) at the lowest engine RPM. From this an engine can be identified and matched with a propeller, which could – through studying the required power for specific combinations of propeller diameter and pitch to diameter ratio – produce the most efficient results. Although choosing an engine and matching propeller not specified in a ship’s original base design might raise costs moderately, he observed that due to today’s extremely high fuel prices, these improvements would probably have very short payback periods.

Most Fuel Efficient Design
Tim Blackburn, managing director of the China Navigation Company of Singapore, noted that his firm “specifically focused” on selecting the most fuel efficient Handysize bulk carrier design available when it recently ordered four ships from China’s Chengxi Shipyard. The 39,700-dwt bulkers, priced at about $24 million each, are to be built to the B Delta 37 standard design drawn up by the Finnish naval architect group Deltamarin. According to Deltamarin the newbuildings are expected to deliver the “lowest cost per ton-mile” of any similar sized handy bulk carrier, a projection that has also induced Louis Dreyfus Armateurs and M.T.M. Ship Management Pte/Strategic Shipping to order variations of the design.

The China Navigation ships, which may eventually total ten, will measure 180 meters by 30 meters and have a cargo capacity of 48,500 cubic meters. Deltamarin says that the service speed at design draft will be about 14 knots and that model tests have indicated a daily fuel oil consumption at this draft and speed of about 18 tons, including 15 percent sea margin. Fuel-saving features are to include a modified hull form as well as enhancements to propeller, rudder and main engine.

Super Efficient Supertankers
The move toward highly fuel-efficient ships is also spreading to the largest vessels afloat, the Very Large Crude Carriers (VLCCs), as bunker prices continue to climb while freight rates remain weak. Ship broker EA Gibson predicted in March that the next generation of supertankers will have to be super-efficient and that design speeds may be reduced from the existing standard of around 15 knots to as low as 13 knots. “If newbuilding prices continue to fall and fuel costs continue to rise,” the broker mentioned, “an increase in efficient VLCC orders is likely to prevail, especially as the tanker industry comes under even more environmental pressure.”

John Fredriksen’s Frontline, one of the largest operators of big tankers, has suggested that, at current bunker prices, ships with enhanced engine and hull efficiencies could save close to $10,000 per day. This implies a savings of about 15 tons of fuel per day – but the savings could potentially be even higher. Several highly efficient VLCCs already under construction will be able to super slow-steam, thus dropping bunker consumption to about 30 tons per day less than conventional tonnage of the same size. Based on the assumption of bunker prices remaining relatively high, at around $700 per ton or more, this could translate to savings of about $20,000 per day. At current levels this would make a significant difference to a shipowner’s profitability, especially if bunker prices go beyond $750 per ton which, considering current political problems in the Middle East, they might easily do.

Lower Speeds, Bigger Propellers
One of the first operators to invest in highly efficient VLCCs has been Athens-based ship management company Almi Tankers, which has ordered two of the vessels from South Korea’s Daewoo that will be fitted with the new 7G80ME-C9.2 main engines launched by MAN Diesel & Turbo (MAN) in 2010. These ultra-long stroke power plants, which are being built by Hyundai Heavy Industries under license, are to be test bed run later this year and the twin ships delivered before the end of 2013.

Ole Grøne, senior vice president of Low-Speed Promotion & Sales for MAN, explained that the G series has been specifically designed to turn larger propellers than earlier engines. Traditionally, super long-stroke S-type engines with relatively low engine speeds have been applied as prime movers in tankers. However, Grøne said that following the “efficiency optimization trends in the market,” the possibility of using even larger propellers has been “thoroughly evaluated” with a view to using engines with even lower speeds for propulsion, particularly in VLCCs.

“VLCCs may be compatible with propellers with larger propeller diameters than the current designs and thus higher efficiencies following an adaptation of the aft hull design to accommodate the larger propeller,” he noted. “The new ultra-long stroke G80ME-C9.2 engine type meets this trend in the VLCC market.” MAN has estimated that such new long-stroke engine and large propeller combinations could offer potential fuel-consumption savings of between 4 and 7 percent along with similar reductions in CO2 emissions.

Electronically-Controlled Gas Injection
Japan’s Mitsui O.S.K. Lines (MOL) has also been looking at MAN’s engine research and has decided to temporarily convert a slow speed diesel in one of its newbuildings to an electronically-controlled gas injection (ME-GI) engine for testing purposes. The engine had been designed, manufactured and delivered by Mitsui Engineering & Shipbuilding (MES) with oil injection specifications but will be modified to run on gas or fuel oil at any ratio depending on the relative cost of the two fuels and owner preference.

The ME-GI, which combines gas injection technology and electronic control technology, was first unveiled by MAN at its Diesel Research Center in Copenhagen, Denmark last May. MES, a MAN Diesel & Turbo licensee, adopted the ME-GI as the engine of choice for its newly developed LNG carrier “Double Eco MAX” in July of last year, with the concept vessel expected to achieve a 30 percent reduction in fuel costs and CO2 emissions over currently active LNG tonnage.

MOL, which recently elected to scrap several of its older oil burning VLCCs, despite their double-hull construction (see Pacific Maritime Magazine, Feb. 2012), has been investigating adoption of ME-GI gas injection technology in a number of its future vessels. This research is taking place in parallel with the company’s Sempaku ISHIN project, which has been examining the design and configuration of highly efficient and environmentally friendly ships ranging from car carriers to cruise ferries.

Dual Fuel and Low Speed Gas
The use of gas, or LNG, as a marine fuel is continuing to grow and the largest commercial vessel to use it as fuel to date, other than LNG tankers, is the 25,000-dwt product tanker Bit Viking, completed by China’s Shanghai Edwards shipyard in 2007 and owned by Sweden’s Tarbit Shipping.

The conversion of this vessel to LNG last year saw its original twin 6-cylinder Wärtsilä 46 engines, which ran on heavy fuel oil, converted over to Wärtsilä 50DF dual-fuel engines capable of operating on LNG. At the same time, two 500 cubic meter capacity LNG storage tanks were installed on the ship’s foredeck, along with new piping, valves and safety equipment for bunkering purposes. The converted ship has since been operating along the coast of Norway on behalf of Norwegian oil major Statoil. According to its owners, the conversion has reduced carbon emissions dramatically and has qualified the vessel for lower nitrogen oxide (NOx) emission taxes under the Norwegian government’s NOx fund scheme, a major stimulus for future LNG conversions in that country.

For its part, Wärtsilä has gone on to successfully test its low-speed gas engine technology in trials conducted at the company’s facilities in Trieste, Italy. The tests have demonstrated that the new engine’s performance fully complies with the upcoming IMO Tier III nitrogen oxide limits, thereby setting a new benchmark for low-speed engines running on LNG.

Beyond the Propeller
Looking well beyond the visible horizon Wärtsilä has been investigating new means of propulsion as well as new ship types. One of the most interesting is a large tanker that would transport fresh water while making use of a “Fishtail” propulsion system. The latter would utilize two large horizontal fins that would rotate during each movement to achieve the right angle of attack for incoming water. As the large dimensions of the fins would offer low loadings, and rotational losses would not be present in the vessel’s wake, this system could achieve very high levels of efficiency. However, the vessel’s top speed would be low. The challenge for Wärtsilä engineers is to design a construction that moves the fins in the right way while still offering a high level of reliability.

The power to drive the fins would be generated by engines capable of burning biofuels as well as LNG. In addition, the vessel, which would be similar in size to a conventional double-hull oil tanker with a deadweight of about 150,000 tons, would be equipped with Flettner rotors and a hull air-lubrication system, two developments that have already entered service. Flettner rotors were installed on Enercon’s E-Ship 1, which entered service last year, and NYK-Hinode Line’s twin module carriers Yamato and Yamatai both have air hull lubrication systems installed (see Pacific Maritime Magazine, Sept. 2010).

Biofuels and Algae Harvesters
The expanded use of biofuels for marine propulsion, a development already starting to take place, may generate a use for one of Wärtsilä’s other concept vessels, the “Algae Harvester.” Such a vessel would collect algae from large basins floating in the sea by slowly sailing up and down inside the basin while using hinged booms to direct surface water into the vessel. Once inside, the water would be filtered to separate the algae from the seawater. The algae would then be transferred into two barges stored in recessed openings in the ship’s side, after which they would be collected by a pusher tug and taken to shore for discharge and processing. There would be no full-time crew, as the ship would be operated from a shore-based control station via a satellite link. Most power required would be produced by fuel cells running on biogas stored onboard in liquid form. The cells would supply the base load of electricity during slow-speed harvesting operations but when higher speeds might be needed, such as during repositioning trips, the vessel’s dual-fuel engines would be started. Propulsion would be through a low-loss electric drive system powering two pull-type thrusters. Although still being researched, the creation of biofuel from algae could provide an economically viable, low emission transportation fuel according to ExxonMobil, which has been studying the concept in partnership with Synthetic Genomics since mid-2010.

Port of Seattle a Finalist for DoD Award

The Port of Seattle has been named one of 30 finalists for the 2012 Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award, which is the Department of Defense’s highest employer recognition award.

The award, which was created in 1996, publicly recognizes employers that provide exceptional support to their employees serving in the US National Guard and military reserves. Nominations must come from a Guard or Reserve member who’s employed by the nominated organization, or from a relative of that person.

About 20 percent of Port of Seattle employees are veterans or currently serve in the National Guard or reserves, according to the port. Seattle is the only US port that is a finalist for the award, and just one of three companies on the West Coast.

“The men and women in the Guard and Reserve gladly serve our country when called, and we owe them a debt of gratitude,” port CEO Tay Yoshitani said. “Supporting their desire to serve, ensuring they have a job when they come home – it is our honor to play a small role in their contribution.”

Examples of ways nominated employers show their support for the military members they employ, according to the DoD, include continuing their pay, sending them care packages while they’re deployed and being flexible with work schedules.

This year’s award nominees range from small businesses to larger private companies, to public agencies like the port. Since its inception, more than 160 employers have received the Freedom Award, according to the DoD.

Fifteen award winners will be selected from the finalists, and will be honored at an event in Washington DC scheduled for later this year.

ICTSI Oregon Receives Business Award

ICTSI Oregon, the company that runs the container and break bulk operations at the Port of Portland’s Terminal 6, was awarded the Foreign Direct Investment Business Award during the International Awards and Scholarship Dinner in Portland on May 15.

The awards, which are presented annually by the Oregon Consular Corps and the City of Portland, honor globally-focused businesses throughout the state.

The award was presented to ICTSI Oregon CEO Elvis Ganda by Portland Mayor Sam Adams and Jose L. Cuisia, Jr., the Philippines’ ambassador to the US.

ICTSI Oregon began Terminal 6 operations in February 2011 as part of a 25-year lease it negotiated with the port in 2010.

“It is an honor to be recognized alongside other successful colleagues from the business community in our region,” Ganda said regarding the award. “Our first year in Portland has been characterized by a lot of hard work and long hours, and we appreciate the recognition of how our investment and growth positively impacts the local economy.”

The Port of Portland saw a nine percent increase in container traffic and a 27 percent increase in full export containers in 2011, something it partly attributes to the presence of ICTSI. Productivity is also up, and last May the longstanding single shift production record at Terminal 6 was broken, with moves averaging 47.75 gross moves per hour, according to the port.

In addition to ICTSI Oregon, other honorees during the business awards included the Intel Corp., which received the Global Leader award; Columbia Steel Casting Co., which was presented with the Export Leader honor; Chris King Precision Components, which received the Small Business Exporter award; and DECK Monitoring, which was honored with the Small Business Exporter award.

Workshop on Bay Area Ballast Water Set

The Bay Planning Coalition, an organization dedicated to enhancing commerce, recreation and the natural environment in the San Francisco Bay region, will conduct a workshop on ballast water from 8 am to 11:30 am Thursday, June 7 in downtown Oakland.

Ballast water discharge has been cited as one of the primary sources for the spread of aquatic invasive species. The BPC will convene two panels during the workshop: one on the science of ballast water treatment and the other on federal and state ballast water regulation.

The workshop’s goal, according to the BPC, is to facilitate dialogue between stakeholders in the maritime and water/wastewater industries on ballast water regulations, treatment capabilities, environmental and economic impacts within the Bay. Specific regulations to be discussed include the 2006 California legislation mandating ballast water treatment standards for discharge in California waters; the Environmental Protection Agency’s draft 2013 National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Vessel General Permit (VGP); and US Coast Guard mandates for vessels to install USCG-approved ballast water management systems.

Among those scheduled to give remarks in the panels are representatives from the ports of Oakland and San Francisco, the California Maritime Academy and the Environmental Protection Agency.

The workshop’s location is the downtown Oakland offices of engineering and construction company URS, 1333 Broadway, Suite 800.

An attendance fee is required for members of the general public to attend. For more information on both the workshop and Bay Planning Coalition, visit

Long Beach Port Reducing Frequency of Board Meetings

The Port of Long Beach harbor commission has voted to implement a plan under which the number of business meetings it conducts each month will be reduced from three to two.

Beginning June 4, the board will meet on the first and third Mondays of each month, with one meeting taking place during the day and the other in the evening. In recent years, the board had met three times a month, usually at 1 pm on Mondays. Up until late 2008, the board met four times a month, at 1 pm each Monday. Up to this point, the meeting agendas had always been posted the Friday prior to the meeting.

Going forward, however, meeting agendas are planned to be posted two Fridays prior to each business meeting, with a revised version posted on the Thursday before the meeting, if necessary. If a scheduled meeting would fall on a holiday, the meeting will be conducted the following Monday, according to the port.

Port officials say the new schedule will be implemented during a 90-day trial period, after which the commission is expected to decide whether to make the changes permanent.
The next Long Beach Board of Harbor Commissioners business meeting is scheduled for Mon, June 4 at 5 p.m. at the port’s headquarters, 925 Harbor Plaza, in the sixth floor board room.

More information about upcoming PoLB board meetings can be seen at