Friday, May 10, 2013

Port of St. Helens Coal Export Plans Dropped

Energy company Kinder Morgan on May 8 said it has abandoned plans to build a coal export terminal at a Port of St. Helens industrial park, but says it will consider other Pacific Northwest locations for the facility.

The Houston-based company had been exploring the possibility of putting a terminal in place since early 2012. According to spokesman Allen Fore, Kinder Morgan decided not to seek permits not because of community and regional opposition to coal exports, but because of site logistics. The company couldn’t find a favorable configuration for conducting business, he said.

In January 2012, Kinder Morgan had proposed to design, build and operate a state-of-the-art coal export terminal at the Port of St. Helens’ Port Westward Industrial Park.

The proposed terminal was estimated to require $150 to $200 million in capital investment for construction and development, and would have generated an estimated 80 full time jobs to manage and operate the facility, according to Kinder Morgan. The project could have created more than 150 construction jobs over an 18 to 30 month period, according to estimates.

It was one of more than half a dozen proposed coal projects in the region the past few years, only three of which – Gateway Pacific Terminal, planned for Cherry Point, Washington, Millennium Bulk Terminal, planned for Longview, Washington, and a planned Port of Morrow facility near Boardman, Oregon – are still active.

Despite moving on from the Port of St. Helens, Kinder Morgan says it will explore other potential sites in the Pacific Northwest, where it has a sizable presence.

The company’s holdings in the region include two terminals in Portland that distribute gasoline and diesel to gas stations and load barges going up the Columbia River to supply eastern Oregon and Washington; a pipeline that transports gasoline and diesel from Portland to Eugene; and a dry bulk export terminal within the Port of Portland that handles soda ash, a common ingredient in glass.

Deputy CEO Appointed at Port of Seattle

Port of Seattle executive Kurt Beckett was appointed to the previously vacant role of deputy chief executive officer on May 7 by CEO Tay Yoshitani.

Beckett’s primary responsibility is expected to be port infrastructure development and internal operations, according to the port, which would allow Yoshitani to focus on business development, attracting new shipping lines and air services to Seattle and advancing policy issues central to the port’s competitiveness.

Beckett, who has served as Yoshitani’s chief of staff since 2010, is also expected to direct the port’s public affairs, organizational performance, small business development, social responsibility, law enforcement and capital development teams.

“Kurt has been an outstanding member of our executive team during my tenure here in Seattle,” Yoshitani said in announcing the appointment. “He leads our successful effort to strengthen organizational performance and handles several strategic issues at the port. I’m confident he will continue to bring the same energy and focus in this larger role.”

Yoshitani is expected to continue overseeing the port’s maritime cargo and cruise business and real estate holdings. He will also continue to manage the port’s finances and budget.

“Our greatest asset at the port is our staff,” Beckett said. “We want to empower our employees’ ideas, which will help continue the port’s strong record of performance and exceed customer expectations. We intend to be an even more effective economic development engine for the citizens of King County and Washington State.”

Beckett joined the port in 2007 as director of external affairs, after senior staff roles with Sen. Maria Cantwell and Congressman Norm Dicks.

SCIG Receives LA City Council Approval

On an 11-2 vote, the Los Angeles City Council on May 8 gave final approval to the proposed Southern California International Gateway (SCIG) intermodal rail yard, a planned rail yard project near the Port of Los Angeles.

The near-dock rail container transfer facility represents a private investment of more than $500 million by Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway, which plans to develop and operate the rail yard on a 185-acre site.

The Port of Los Angeles Harbor Commission approved the project in March.

“This is a good project from both an environmental and economic point of view,” Councilman Joe Buscaino, a strong supporter of the project, said. “This will be the cleanest rail yard ever built in this country and will mean a reduction in air pollution through better cargo handling and eliminating one million truck trips a year on the freeway.”

The project had been opposed by local residents and environmental activists who have said that the facility would bring more noise and air pollution to an area that has already suffered from plenty of both over the years due to port-related activities.

The two ‘no’ votes were cast by Council members Bernard Parks and Jan Perry, who said they had concerns about how the noise and air pollution generated by the project would affect the nearby residential areas.

“It doesn't look like we’ve done our best to deal with these issues,” Parks said. “There are still fundamental issues that need to be resolved.”

With the project now approved, construction’s due to begin later this year on the near-dock rail yard, which would transfer containerized cargo between trucks and railcars about four miles north of the Los Angeles and Long Beach ports, primarily on land owned by the City of Los Angeles Harbor Dept., as well as on adjacent private land in Los Angeles, Long Beach and Carson.

The facility’s expected to open in 2016.

World Ports Conference Attracts Hundreds

About 500 officials from ports across the globe gathered in downtown Los Angeles this week for the 28th World Ports Conference, a record number for the biennial gathering, which is organized by the Tokyo-based International Association of Ports and Harbors.

The IAPH, a nonprofit global alliance of roughly 200 ports and 150 maritime companies and institutes representing about 90 countries, is dedicated to fostering cooperation among ports and harbors and promoting the vital role they play in the world. IAPH member ports handle about 80 percent of world container traffic and more than 60 percent of all international maritime trade.

“This is the first IAPH conference for almost half of our registered delegates and the conference program reflects the breadth and depth of IAPH as the voice of the global ports community,” 2011-2013 IAPH President and Port of Los Angeles Executive Director Geraldine Knatz said.

The conference, which was held May 6-10, conducted working sessions, with topics including the global economy, climate issues and logistics. The first day’s keynote speaker was Capt. Richard Phillips, who was the skipper of the M/V Maersk Alabama cargo ship when it was hijacked by four Somali pirates in 2009. The hijacking was the first successful pirate seizure of a US-flagged ship since the early 19th century.

During his remarks, Capt. Phillips recounted the details before, during and immediately after the hijacking, including how he was held hostage in a lifeboat until three of the four hijackers were killed by U.S. Navy SEAL snipers.

“The real heroes of this story are those Navy SEALs who risked their lives to save mine,” Phillips said. “The dedication that they have to one another and the precision in which they execute their missions proves beyond any doubt that a dedicated, motivated professional team can overcome most any obstacle and solve most problems.”

Among those in attendance was first-time attendee Ki-tack Lim, president of the Busan, South Korea Port Authority. Lim was installed as the head of the Port of Busan, the world’s fifth-busiest port, in July 2012. Lim said there were three reasons for being in attendance, with networking being chief among them.

“We hope to have interactions between Busan Port and other ports worldwide to make a global network,” he said. “Secondly, Busan is already well known within the country, but we would like to raise our reputation outside.”

He also said Busan, which moves about 17 million TEUs a year, would like to deepen its relations with lesser-developed nations as well as with the ports on the West Coast of North America.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

New Port of Portland Commissioner Confirmed

Robert L. Levy, a Umatilla County resident and self-employed farmer, has been confirmed by the Oregon State Senate as the newest Port of Portland Commissioner.

Levy operates both the Windy River and L&L Farms in Hermiston, Oregon and was previously the owner of American Onion Inc., a food products wholesale company. He currently is chair of the Westland Irrigation District and also serves on the board of the Cunningham Sheep Co. ranch. He also previously served on the Oregon Board of Agriculture.

“During my business career as a farmer and rancher, I have been involved in importing and exporting a number of agricultural products through the port’s facilities and understand what an important role the port plays in our state and the region,” Levy said. “I look forward to representing those interests and the interests of all Oregonians on the Commission.”

Commissioners are unpaid volunteers who are appointed by the governor and confirmed by the state Senate. They serve four-year terms and can be reappointed at the pleasure of the Governor. Levy replaces Commissioner Steve Corey who has served on the Commission since 2003 and whose current term has expired.

“I had the pleasure of traveling with Bob on last fall’s trade mission to key markets in Asia,” Gov. Kitzhaber, who nominated Levy to the nine-member commission, said of Levy in a prepared statement. “He understands the importance of trade to businesses both large and small and will be a strong voice for Oregon exporters and importers on the Commission.”