Friday, July 26, 2013

“K” Line Marks 25 Years at Port of Tacoma

The July 22, 2013 arrival of the ship Chicago Bridge marked the 25th anniversary of calls at the Port of Tacoma by Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha, Ltd., commonly known as “K” Line.

The Japan-based carrier, known for its distinctive red containers, is the longest-calling international shipping line at the port.

“We are proud of and thankful for the close partnership that has allowed both “K” Line and the Port of Tacoma to grow over the years,” the port’s chief commercial officer, Tong Zhu, said in a statement commemorating the milestone.

The past quarter-century has seen “K” Line’s operations at the port steadily grow, with more improvements currently in the works.

When “K” Line first called at Tacoma in 1988, its ships berthed at a 37-acre terminal on the Sitcum Waterway. In 2005, it expanded to the 93-acre Husky Terminal on the Blair Waterway. Both terminals are served by the North Intermodal Yard, whose efficient on-dock rail originally attracted “K” Line to Tacoma.

When “K” Line first arrived, it sent two outbound trains of 40-plus rail cars each week to the Midwest and East Coast, and its weekly ship call brought in about 1,700 containers. Now, it departs six trains of 100 cars each week, plus an additional 125 or more to and from Portland.

Echoing the trend of larger ships in the trans-Pacific trade, the 66,000-ton, Panama-flagged Chicago Bridge holds almost 6,000 container units.

Plans are currently underway to add 100-gauge crane rail to Pier 3 and redesign an aligned Pier 4 at Husky Terminal to accommodate the simultaneous berthing of larger ships in the future.

Port of Portland Sees 2 Millionth Hyundai

After 23 years in operation, the Hyundai import auto terminal at the Port of Portland saw its two millionth vehicle roll through in mid-July.

Growing volumes of Hyundai vehicles have helped Portland remain the second largest auto import hub on the U.S. West Coast, according to the port.

Hyundai first began importing cars through Portland in 1986 – mostly Excel subcompact automobiles bound for dealers in 29 states. But it wasn’t until 1988 that the company officially signed a letter of intent confirming the Port of Portland as its primary U.S. port of entry. “Hyundai did an extensive comparative analysis on various West Coast ports for over a year before finally deciding to anchor down in Portland,” Bob Mazer, the Portland manager of Hyundai Auto Group’s logistics provider, GLOVIS America, said.

In 1988, the port and Hyundai financed construction of a $12.2 million auto import facility and floating dock along with funds from the Oregon Lottery and a groundbreaking was conducted in June 1989. The first Hyundai auto ship called at the new facility in March 1990.

A few long term leases and two million vehicles later, Auto Warehousing Company now handles the inbound Hyundai vehicles for GLOVIS at the leased, 130-acre Terminal 6 auto processing facility.

In 2012, Portland saw more than 275,000 vehicles roll across the docks, each with an estimated economic impact of $271 to the local economy.

Currently, a $2.8 million expansion is underway to increase the processing building by 27,000 square feet and increase capacity to more than 110,000 vehicles annually. The project could double the 70 jobs already on site, and provide added work for rail, trucking, longshoreman and teamster workers, according to the port.

Port of Vancouver Oil Terminal Lease Approved

On July 23, the Port of Vancouver USA’s Board of Commissioners unanimously approved a 10-year lease for a crude oil handling facility at the port. The approval came after a series of five public workshops over a ten-week period dealing with issues related to crude oil as well as information specific to this proposal.

The project, proposed by longtime port tenant Tesoro in partnership with the logistics company Savage, is expected to bring North American crude oil to the port by rail, where it would then be transferred to marine vessels for transport to refineries in California, Washington and Alaska.

With the lease approval, the project now moves into the environmental permitting process. Washington State’s Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council is to act as the lead agency for local and state permits, and the companies will work through an extensive process to address local, state and federal requirements.

The Tesoro-Savage Joint Venture, or TSJV, would lease about 42 acres of port property to accommodate a rail unloading facility, storage tanks and a vessel loading area. The estimated capital investment by TSJV is $100 million, and revenue to the port is expected to exceed $45 million over the 10-year lease period.

When operational, the terminal would be capable of shipping up to 360,000 barrels of crude a day, with up to four trains arriving daily from North Dakota and Canada. The port also says the facility is expected to create between 80 and 120 permanent jobs and 250 temporary construction jobs.

In the weeks and months leading up to the vote, the proposed terminal had drawn the support of business and labor leaders and the opposition of environmentalists and others who expressed concerns about the project’s safety and potential impact on climate change.

Although the three-member commission acknowledged that the contentious issue would likely not sit well with a substantial portion of the local community, all three said they felt the project was in the port’s best interest.

Settled Litigation Clears Way for Oakland Mega-Terminal

The Port of Oakland has approved a litigation settlement agreement with SSA Terminals (SSAT) that paves the way for the creation of what could become the third largest container terminal on the West Coast.

The settlement, which SSAT revealed July 18, involves four of the port’s seven marine terminals, all of which are along Oakland’s Inner and Middle Harbors: Howard Terminal at Berths 67-68; Global Gateway Central (GGC) terminal at Berths 60-63; Oakland International Container Terminal (OICT), inhabiting Berths 57-59; and Total Terminals International (TTI) terminal at Berths 55-56.

Under the settlement, SSAT will lease Berths 57-59 and Berths 60-63 terminals through 2022 at current rates and conditions; terminate its lease for Howard Terminal effective Sept. 30, 2013; and dismiss current litigation against the port.

Additionally, and independent of the settlement agreement, the TTI lease will be assigned to SSAT through 2016, with an option to extend to 2022.

SSAT had sued the Port of Oakland in 2009, accusing the port of violating the Federal Shipping Act of 1984 by signing a 50-year lease deal with Ports America. Under the deal, the Port of Oakland had agreed to turn over operation of some of its terminals to a private investor in exchange for $686 million.

Settlement talks between the port and SSAT began in 2012 and were concluded with the July 18, 2013 announcement. Prior to the settlement, the port had been facing the expiration of all four terminal leases along its middle and inner harbors in 2016-2017.

The contracts also had very short renewal notification periods, which left the port vulnerable in the event one of the operators decided not to renew its lease.

The settlement and the independent assignment of the TTI terminal lease now allows SSAT to move forward with the creation of the proposed 350-acre mega-terminal, which would be the largest in Northern California.

“These terminal expansions are a prerequisite to remain viable to our customers and for them to continue to retain Oakland as a port of call,” SSA Terminals Vice President Jon Rosselle said. “It also further enhances the logistics chain for exporters and importers in the local region and well beyond.”

The port says agreement also provides Oakland with important competitive benefits that would facilitate the efficient flow of cargo through the terminals.

“We reached this litigation settlement to protect the port’s long-term viability as a job-creating economic engine for this region,” port Board President Ces Butner said. “This is a fair deal and creates a lease in line with current market realities.”

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Washington State Invests $2 Million in Port Projects

The Washington State Community Economic Revitalization Board (CERB) on July 18 revealed that it was giving more than $2 million to three ports in the state for public investments targeting business growth and job creation.

The CERB has agreed to provide an $850,000 loan and $150,000 grant to the Port of Sunnyside in Yakima County to construct a wastewater pre-treatment facility for the expansion of the Darigold facility located at the port.

The Port of Sunnyside says it will match CERB’s investment with $5 million in local and federal funds for the wastewater improvements. The new infrastructure will allow the creation of 25 new jobs and retention of 137 existing jobs at the facility.

Darigold, a Seattle-based dairy agricultural company, says it expects to invest $22 million in their private facility as a result of this project.

CERB additionally approved a $500,000 loan and $100,000 grant to the Port of Whitman in Whitman County to build two rail spur segments, which are expected to provide infrastructure to support additional rail cars delivering bulk commodities to the McGregor Co., a Washington fertilizer and agri-chemical company.

The Port of Whitman says it will match CERB’s investment with nearly $138,000 in local funds to construct the rail spurs. The McGregor Co. says it will invest $10 million in its private facility and create 10 jobs as a result of the project.

Additionally, a $499,000 CERB loan was given to the Port of Camas-Washougal in Clark County to construct a food processing and distribution center for gourmet fresh foods supplier Foods in Season, which sells wild-foraged foods from the Pacific Northwest to high-end restaurants in the United States, Europe and Japan.

The Port of Camas-Washougal says it’ll match CERB’s investment with over $1.3 million in local funds to complete the distribution center.  Foods in Season says it will invest $500,000 in private equipment and create 10 permanent jobs as a result of this project.

The release of funds to the projects is contingent upon each applicant completing specific pre-contract requirements, such as finalizing other funding sources and obtaining necessary permits, according to the CERB.


Port of Everett Receives Ro/Ro Facility Grant

The Port of Everett has received a $1.5 million grant from the State of Washington to help complete the second phase of its roll-on/roll-off cargo (Ro/Ro) facility, a project expected to allow the port to accommodate the largest Ro/Ro ships in the world.

With the funding, the port will be able to begin the second phase of a project that strengthens the dock for loading and unloading cargo. The port is also rebuilding the rail spur on the terminal with the help of a state rail bank loan.

The project’s initial phase enhanced the existing dolphin berth to handle larger ships.

The port says Ro/Ro capabilities are critical to maintaining its ability to meet the shipping needs of the local aerospace industry and nearby military installation. Gov. Jay Inslee recently implemented a strategy to ensure the Boeing 777X aircraft is assembled in Washington state; among the list of strategies was the investment in the port’s Ro/Ro dock.

“Our ability to support the aerospace logistics chain will be greatly enhanced with state funding for this project,” Port of Everett Executive Director John Mohr said.

Gov. Inslee, in supporting the grant, said that the funding would help the port “boost efficiency and add capacity at the main point of entry for airplane parts manufactured in Asia, and help ensure the 777X and future Boeing airplane programs are built in Washington.”

Since 1992, the Port of Everett has moved every oversized part for over 1,000 Boeing 777 airplanes to date.



Port of Hueneme Has Best-Ever Fiscal Year

Despite concerns in recent months about reduced productivity related to federal sequestration, the Port of Hueneme’s 2012-2013 fiscal year turned out to be its best ever for cargo movement.

The total tonnage for the recently ended FY 2012-2013 jumped to about 1.4 million metric tons, representing a 9.2 percent jump over FY 2011-2012, and a 2.8 percent increase over the port’s previous record of 1.39 million metric tons, set in FY 2005-2006.

The port attributes its growth in freight activity in the niche markets of automobiles, high and heavy cargo, fresh produce, fertilizer, and domestic commodities like fish and petroleum products.

Automobile imports rose over 12 percent over the previous fiscal year, while exports were steady at a 1.2 percent growth. A portion of this increase is attributed to additional imports from Hyundai and Kia. A large fraction of the export increase, according to the port, was driven by more foreign manufacturers, specifically Honda and Toyota, operating from new facilities within the United States and sending their autos to the Asian market.

Shallow draft cargo -- fish, lube oil, and vessel fuel -- increased 6.6 percent for the year, according to port data, while offshore domestic oil trade saw a 1.1 percent decrease.

The port’s most recent fiscal year ended June 30, 2013. Back in March, due to federal sequestration, US Customs and Border Protection inspections were cut back by one day a week at Hueneme, leading to complaints by port officials, vessel operators and others.

The cutbacks, however, have not led to lengthy, sustained cargo backlogs.


LA Port Launches Investment Grant Program

The Port of Los Angeles is introducing a pilot program that will provide $50,000 in grant funding for local programs and events benefiting the Los Angeles Harbor and waterfront.

“This pilot grant program is designed to help the Port of Los Angeles reach and support a variety of local organizations undertaking programs and projects that positively impact our local port community,” Cynthia Ruiz, the port’s Deputy Executive Director for External Relations said in a statement announcing the program.

In addition to supporting efforts that promote the LA Waterfront and surrounding coastal areas as vibrant visitor destinations, grants will also be awarded to organizations focused on educating the community about environmental stewardship and sustainability, the benefits of international trade, security and safety and maritime history and tradition.

Grant applications for the new Community Investment Sponsorship Program are due by Sept. 20, 2013.

The program will make funds available in increments of up to $5,000 per requesting organization. Nonprofit organizations must have 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status to apply, and funds must be spent by June 30, 2014.

A grant committee made up of port and community representatives will review and approve all grant applications. Funds for this program come from Port of Los Angeles revenues.

The Community Investment Sponsorship Program grant application can be seen and downloaded at the port’s website: For additional information or questions, applicants may call the port’s public relations department at (310) 732-3508.