Friday, December 13, 2013

Port of Portland Gets New Deputy Executive Director

The Port of Portland Commission has approved the appointment of Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber’s chief of staff to a newly created position as the port’s deputy executive director.

Curtis Robinhold, whom the nine-member port commission accepted for the job Dec. 11, was nominated to the job by port Executive Director Bill Wyatt.

The position was never announced by the port, and no search to fill it was conducted.

Wyatt, who also once held the position of Kitzhaber’s chief of staff, told The Oregonian newspaper that the appointment is part of a long-term succession plan, although he doesn’t have plans to retire yet.

“I proposed Curtis to the officers after discussing this with them because I thought he was the ideal candidate,” Wyatt, 63, told the newspaper.

Wyatt, who makes $382,950 annually, was Kitzhaber’s chief of staff in the 1990s before coming to the port 12 years ago.

Robinhold, 45, became Kitzhaber’s chief of staff in 2011. Prior to that, he was chief executive of Portland-based energy efficiency finance company Energy Resource Management Corp. He was also managing director of thermal power for BP Alternative Energy in London.

Robinhold, who is expected to start at the port in early 2014, is set to initially make $285,000 a year in his new position. Kitzhaber’s office announced in mid-November that Robinhold would be leaving to take the port job.

Judge Approves Port of Grays Harbor Land Purchase

Superior Court Judge Gordon Godfrey on Dec. 9 approved the sale of the manufacturing assets of former Satsop Business Park tenant NewWood Corp. to the Port of Grays Harbor for $1.3 million.

The NewWood facility at the business park sits on a 19.67-acre site with more than 290,000 square feet of warehouse space containing millions of dollars in manufacturing equipment. The sale includes manufacturing equipment located in a port-owned building, as well as intellectual property used in the process of turning scrap plastics into building material.

New Wood Corp. has been in receivership since November 2012. The sale required that all equipment be free of liens and that personal property taxes owed to Grays Harbor County be paid from the proceeds of the sale.

The Port of Grays Harbor Commission took action in November to authorize the purchase with the intent to work with companies to find a viable operator for the facility.

“We are committed to getting the facility up and running and by purchasing these assets we are in a better position to control our own destiny,” Grays Harbor Executive Director Gary Nelson said.

The Port of Grays Harbor is Washington’s only deep-water port located directly on the Pacific Ocean. The recent addition of the Satsop Business Park increased the port’s properties to more than 1,000 acres of industrial properties and an additional 1,300 acres of sustainably managed forestland.

Port of Tacoma Extends Industrial Site Bid Deadline

Potential buyers of a 745-acre industrial site that the Port of Tacoma is looking to sell have a little more time to put in a bid. The proposal deadline for the Thurston County property has been extended from Dec. 6 to Jan. 17.

The port bought the property near Maytown in 2006 for $21.25 million as a potential site for rail system enhancements. However, because of political resistance to the port’s idea of using the site as a rail marshaling yard for trains bound to and from the port, the land was sold for about $8.5 million in cash and another $8.5 million in sand and gravel, in 2010.

However the purchaser, mining company Maytown Sand & Gravel, relinquished the property to the port in early October 2013 after deciding it could no longer operate the site.

Company principal Steve Cortner announced the decision in an Oct. 3 letter to Port of Tacoma which said Thurston County’s delay in issuing a special-use permit was among the main reasons the company was giving the property back to the port.

“This horrible delay completely depleted our working capital and we have not been able to recover so that we can make required payments to the port,” Cortner wrote at the time.

The port says the deadline extension for bids is to give those who might not have time to put together a proposal during the holiday season more of an opportunity to participate in the process.

LA Port Project Receives Public Works Award

A Port of Los Angeles project that pays homage to San Pedro’s history as a commercial fishing hub, has received the 2013 B.E.S.T. Project of the Year award from the Southern California Chapter of the American Public Works Association (APWA).

The Southern Pacific Slip Waterfront Plaza, which is located on the LA Waterfront near the Ports O’ Call Village marketplace, won in the recreation and athletic facilities category.

The Waterfront Plaza includes public waterfront access for pedestrians and vehicles and development of a 1.5-acre landscaped plaza that features the “Ghost Fish 102” sculpture, a 40-foot blue fin tuna by artist Carl Cheng, hung from a galvanized steel frame over the water at Berth 73.

Benches were also installed near the public art display. The plaza was completed in December 2012 at a cost of $6.5 million.

“The port is honored to receive this recognition from the American Public Works Association,” Port of LA Interim Executive Director Gary Lee Moore said in a prepared statement. “The S.P. Slip is a landmark and the new waterfront plaza is a fitting tribute to the fishing industry in San Pedro.”

The port’s LA waterfront area features several beautification and redevelopment projects that cover more than 400 acres of port property in the San Pedro and Wilmington areas.

The American Public Works Association is a group of public agencies, private sector companies and individuals dedicated to providing high quality public works goods and services.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

LNG-powered Ships and Fire Protection: An Industry Q&A

The heat is on for the industry to upgrade marine vessel fleets from traditional fuels to liquefied natural gas (LNG). While there is a lot of talk about this switch, there are still many questions ship owners, builders and operators must consider when thinking about transitioning or building for LNG propulsion.

Interested in discovering the most important issues to the shipping industry, Tyco Marine Services spoke with decision-makers at the 2013 International WorkBoat Show to learn what the industry wants to know about LNG-powered ships and fire protection.

What is the current state of LNG-powered vessels in the industry and what is the expected growth rate for the construction/conversion of these ships?
Currently there are approximately 40 LNG-powered vessels in operation globally with roughly 40 new builds on order. Twelve of the vessels in operation are Offshore Supply Vessels (OSV).

With the number for new orders and interest in retrofits continuing to grow, LNG as a fuel source will continue to shape the maritime industry as the next generation of ships.

What are the dangers presented by LNG-fueled ships?
As the momentum to use LNG as a propellant gains speed, it's important to maintain the safe track record of LNG. Regulations and standards are evolving with industry trends; by knowing hazards and installing proper fire protection systems, the dangers of working with LNG can be minimized.
In LNG vessels, fire hazards are primarily present when transference of the fuel creates a spill or when a vapor leak occurs.

Containment of materials is key when transferring LNG and the potential for a spill is higher. While a fire hazard during the exchange is low, since LNG is refrigerated at -160˙C (-260˙F), structural damage to the vessel can be a larger concern. Methane (which makes up 90 percent of LNG) is lighter than air, making it unlikely that a high enough concentration of methane can gather at the same time an ignition source is present. This is assuming the bunkering takes place outdoors, which is standard for most operations.

Engine rooms have all the ingredients for a potential fire hazard. Typically, LNG is in a gaseous state in an engine room and potential ignition sources, such as exhaust manifolds and turbo chargers make the opportunity for fire high.

Additionally, LNG burns very clean – almost invisible – making early detection of a fire a challenge. Gas detection is crucial in preventing a major fire event.

What are the current regulations and what's coming that will impact LNG-powered ships?
One of the greatest challenges for the industry will be meeting stringent emission requirements for vessels operating within the 200-mile perimeter known as the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). The EEZ is the area beyond and adjacent to the territorial sea of the coastal State.

EEZ requirements help minimize environmental effects of potential contaminants such as methane slips, or methane that does not burn during combustion. Currently, most diesel-powered vessels do not meet the minimum EEZ requirements. As a result, engine manufacturers are looking to produce LNG-fueled engines with minimal methane slip.

With respect to fire protection for the marine industry, there are a variety of regulations and standards being reviewed – all of which have the potential to change to adapt to the emergence of LNG-powered vessels. The International Maritime Organization (IMO), American Bureau of Shipping (ABS) and the United States Coast Guard (USCG) will all play major roles to update and enforce important regulatory standards related to fire protection on LNG ships.

For example, one recent regulation proposed by the USCG, known as CFR-46 Subchapter M, intends to promote a safer work environment on towing vessels. One of the newly proposed measures within CFR-46 Subchapter M may require fire protection for all vessels that qualify for a certificate of inspection (COI).

It will be important for ship owners and builders to work with a fire protection service that has the experience and knowledge to stay ahead of regulation changes and industry needs.

What makes fire suppression for LNG-powered ships different from that for traditional fuels?
LNG powered vessels present additional fire hazards compared to legacy diesel-powered vessels, and thus, require additional fire protection. For instance, while a traditional fuel vessel requires fire protection primarily for the engine room, LNG vessels require protection in the engine room as well as at bunkering stations, gas valve areas (GVA), and the LNG tank space.
When choosing fire suppression solutions for engine rooms and machinery spaces, it is important to consider clean agents that provide total flooding capabilities, while still offering complete suppression for valuable equipment. The following agents are waterless gases with limited ozone depletion potential. Each requires very little cleanup post-discharge, providing minimum downtime for operators.
• High-pressure carbon dioxide – Designed for non-occupied spaces, this agent displaces combustion supporting oxygen by flooding the protected area. Stored in individual cylinders, the system can be discharged remotely or locally at the system.
• FM-200 – Recommended as a Halon alternative, this agent is safe for areas where people may be present and works by removing heat from fire hazards.
• Novec 1230 – Stored at low vapor pressure and a liquid at room temperature, Novec 1230 enables ease of handling and system recharging.
• Inert Gases – Made of naturally occurring gases, this non-synthetic agent is safe for people and does not produce a fog, ensuring escape routes to remain visible.
Bunkering stations require the benefits of dry chemical powder agents to suppress fire incidents.
• ABC multipurpose agent – Comprised of a mix of monoammonium phosphate and ammonium sulfate, this agent interferes with the chain reaction of Class B – flammable liquids or gas fires.
• Purple K (PKP) – Developed to suppress Class B fires from two fronts, PKP smothers fires in addition to breaking the chemical reaction of the source.

If we want to retrofit a boat for LNG-propulsion, do we need to change our fire protection system?
Vessels fueled by LNG need fire protection systems that are flexible and accommodate the spaces inherent to these ships, including the engine room, machinery spaces and bunkering system areas. As outlined above, each area requires a fire suppression system that dispenses the correct agent for the potential hazards of each.

It is always best to work with a fire protection engineer early in the retrofit process to ensure current fire protection regulations and standards are met. Additionally, ship owners and operators can gain peace of mind knowing people and assets are protected.

How do you address space constraints with LNG fire protection systems?
The layout of an LNG-powered ship can vary considerably and identifying the right fire suppression system depends on whether a ship is a newbuild or a retrofit job. The engine, machinery and mechanisms involved in powering an LNG ship use more valuable deck space than hydrocarbon-fueled ships. With square footage at a premium, it is critical that deck space be used well.
When choosing fire suppression solutions for engine rooms and machinery spaces, it is important to consider clean agents that provide total flooding capabilities, while still offering complete suppression for valuable equipment.

Typically, the fire protection systems required in LNG-fueled ships need more deck space because the holding tanks have a much larger footprint than those of traditional fuels, but there is a fire suppression option to suit every need.

When the footprint of the system is important, clean agents such as Novec 1230 and FM-200 may be the best choice as the overall system is smaller and maximizes the space available. High-pressure carbon dioxide systems require multiple cylinders, which take up more deck space, but also offer configuration options. Ultimately, a system engineer can help design the best option to provide total fire protection, while considering costs and space constraints.

Fire protection in the new LNG normal
As the maritime industry continues to shift and move toward increasing the number of LNG-powered vessels in operation, fire protection must remain top-of-mind for ship owners, operators and builders. Companies like Tyco Marine Services can help offer expertise and insight to design total system solutions that help address potential hazards and protect lives, and limit downtime and damage to property, if a fire occurs.

Steve Pelletier, business development manager, Tyco Marine Services, is a former member of the United States Coast Guard, and holds associate degrees in science and electronics engineering. He has worked in the fire protection industry since 1996.

FMC Delays Consideration of Shipping Alliance

The Federal Maritime Commission on Dec. 5 decided to delay a vote on whether or not to approve an alliance between the world’s three largest container companies, Maersk Line, Mediterranean Shipping Co. and CMA CGM.

The FMC voted to approve a request for additional information from the parties to the proposed sharing plan, known as the P3 Network Vessel Sharing Agreement. The request for additional information delays the timeframe of the proposed agreement: after the parties have submitted the requested information and documents, a new 45-day regulatory review period is set to begin.

The request for more information came at the behest of Commissioner William Doyle.

“In addition to my own questions and considerations posed by my fellow commissioners, I have taken into account comments submitted to the Commission and drafted further questions addressing those filings by stakeholders, including but not limited to the concerns publicly raised by the National Industrial Transportation League, the International Longshoremen’s Association, and the Global Shipper’s Forum,” Doyle said.

Among the various concerns Doyle and other FMC members have expressed about the proposed alliance are a reported vessel reduction once the proposed alliance is consummated and a lack of significant filing with regulatory authorities in Europe, China or the US.

Cargo owners have lobbied against the agreement since it was announced saying that it could create a monopoly and put smaller shippers out of business.

A 15-day period for interested parties to comment on the proposed agreement opens this week.
The three carriers announced in June that they intended to begin cooperating in 2014 on routes covering Asia to Europe as well as transpacific and transatlantic routes to the United States.

Early estimates by Maersk Line’s chief trading and marketing officer put market control of such an alliance at about 42 percent on the Asia to Europe route, 24 percent on the transpacific routes, and 40 to 42 percent on the transatlantic route.

The three parties filed the P3 Network Vessel Sharing Agreement with the FMC in October. Pursuant to regulatory statute, agreements filed with the Commission become effective after 45 days, but the Commission can request additional information and documents from the filing parties necessary to complete the required statutory review.

Upon receipt of complete and adequate responses to the request for additional information, a new 45-day period begins.

The Maritime Commission’s scheduled to discuss the alliance proposal with officials from China and Europe on Dec. 17 in Washington DC.

MARAD Study: Panama Canal Expansion to Have Substantial Effect

The expansion of the Panama Canal is expected to have more of an impact on shippers, ports and freight corridors on the East and Gulf coasts than the West Coast, according to a newly released study by the US Department of Transportation’s Maritime Administration (MARAD).

The study, which was released in late November, reports on shipping patterns and industry costs that could help the United States prepare for the anticipated impact on its ports, waterways and intermodal freight systems from the Panama Canal expansion.

The expansion, scheduled for completion in 2015, will give much larger vessels, specifically “Post Panamax” vessels, greater access to the US ports on the East and Gulf coasts.

The Panama Canal Expansion Study, the first of a two-part report, found the integration of Post-Panamax vessels into US trade lanes will have substantial implications for the nation’s shippers, ports and surface freight corridors, particularly along the East Coast, Gulf Coast and inland states located east of the Mississippi River.

The report also found that more cost-effective service generated by the larger vessels could improve the ability of some US exports, such as grain, coal, petroleum products and liquefied natural gas, to compete in global markets.

However, shifts in shipping patterns impacting the national transportation system are expected to occur slowly and over time.

“Preparation is the key, and we’re already seeing it,” Acting Maritime Administrator Chip Jaenichen said. “Increased cargo means expanded capacity, and forward-looking ports are deepening their harbors and improving their intermodal connections.”

Shortlist for LNG Ferry Contract Revealed

Victoria, British Columbia-based BC Ferries has announced that five shipyards, including one in North America, have made the shortlist for consideration of a contract to build three new liquid natural gas-powered ferries.

BC Ferries has issued a request for proposals to the five shipyards to build three intermediate class ferries to replace the 48-year old Queen of Burnaby and the 49-year old Queen of Nanaimo, both of which are nearing the end of their service lives and are scheduled to be retired in 2016.

The one North American company out of the five pre-qualified shipyards is Vancouver Shipyards Co., an affiliate of Seaspan Marine Corp., which is an association of Canadian companies involved in coastal and deep sea transportation, bunkering, ship repair and shipbuilding services in Western North America.

The other four shipyards under consideration are Fiskerstrand Blrt As, of Norway; Germany-based Flensburger Schiffbau-Gesellschaft mbH & Co.KG; Remontowa Shipbuilding S.A. of Poland; and Turkish company Sefine Shipyard.

BC Ferries says it intends to build two vessels capable of carrying 145 vehicles and up to 600 passengers and crew to replace the two aging ferries. A third vessel capable of carrying 125 vehicles and up to 600 passengers and crew is also being built to augment peak and shoulder season service on the Southern Gulf Islands route, plus provide refit relief around the fleet.

The three would be BC Ferries’ first LNG-powered vessels. In its request for proposals, BC Ferries stipulated that the three vessels be designed to operate on either liquefied natural gas or marine diesel oil.

“We expect to operate these new intermediate class ferries with LNG, which will reduce our fuel costs, and in turn help reduce the upward pressure on fares,” Mark Wilson, BC Ferries’ Vice President of Engineering said.

“Currently we operate 18 classes of vessels in a fleet of 35 ships,” Wilson said. “This project is the stepping stone to eventually bring the fleet into potentially five classes of vessels.”

The RFP closes at the end of February and BC Ferries says it expects to award a contract next spring. The two-145 vehicle ferries are expected to enter service in 2016; the 125-vehicle ferry is expected to be in service in 2017.

Vehicle Importer Renews POLA Lease

WWL Vehicle Services Americas (WWL VSA), a subsidiary of global shipping and logistics company Wallenius Wilhelmsen Logistics (WWL), has renewed its long-term lease with the Port of Los Angeles.
The Los Angeles Board of Harbor Commissioners approved the new lease in late November. According to the port, the agreement’s a reflection of a commitment to maintain a diversified cargo portfolio that makes use of land and water resources and promotes economic growth.

“WWL has been an important source of jobs and revenue at the port for years,’’ port Interim Executive Director Gary Lee Moore said in a prepared statement. “WWL is a unique facility at the port and we’re extremely pleased to extend our relationship.”

WWL VSA operates a 91-acre automotive processing terminal at the port that processes about 200,000 vehicles annually. The 10-year agreement provides for a five-year extension, an option that would allow WWL VSA to operate at its current home at Berths 195-200A through Jan. 1, 2027.

“WWL Vehicle Services Americas is pleased to extend its presence at the Port of Los Angeles,” WWL Vehicle Services Americas President and CEO John Felitto said. “The vehicle processing facility we’ve developed at the port plays an important role in WWL’s network, and is a key location and processing center for auto manufacturers serving the western United States.”

The WWL terminal specializes in receiving new cars shipped from overseas and preparing them for distribution and sale throughout the United States. The terminal also exports restored and vintage cars.