Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Russia's New Crimean Shipbuilding Sector

By Eugene Gerden

Russia is considering a massive shipbuilding program, utilizing the facilities of Crimean enterprises and plants, according to an official representative of the country’s Ministry of Industry and Trade.

As part of these plans, a special commission headed by Vladimir Shmakov, President of the United Shipbuilding Corporation, Russia’s state monopoly in the field of shipbuilding, has recently visited the Crimea to evaluate the shipbuilding potential of local enterprises.

According to state plans, the Russian Military-Industrial Commission, (which is a permanently functioning body with vast responsibilities for supervising the distribution and implementation of the “State defense order”) will soon provide the Crimean shipbuilding enterprises with state orders on the building and servicing of both military and commercial ships.

According to earlier statements by Dmitry Rogozin, Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister, who is responsible for the development of the military and industrial complex in the Russian government, Crimea has big shipbuilding potential.

“Crimea currently has several large ship repair and shipbuilding plants, located in Feodosia, Kerch and Sevastopol, which were among the largest during the Soviet times,” said Rogozin. “We have already evaluated their potential and have already decided to start production of some of vessels and marine equipment at their facilities this year”.

At present Crimea has about a dozen large-scale shipbuilding enterprises. In Sevastopol such plants include the Sevastopol Marine Plant named Ordzhonikidze, which was founded as far back as in 1783, the South Sevastopol plant and the Maritime Industrial complex.

In Kerch, shipbuilding is expected to be established at the local Zaliv plant and the Kerch Shipyard. Finally, in Feodosia, production may take place at the facilities of the existing More factory, which was founded in 1938 and which specializes in the production of hovercrafts and hydrofoils.

An official representative of United Shipbuilding Corporation (USC) has already confirmed the company’s interest in Crimean enterprises, but declined to provide details. He added that if the Crimean enterprises receive orders, it will help to save their production, scientific and technical potential, as well as ensure their integration into the Russian shipbuilding industry.

The USC believes that the transfer of some orders to Crimean enterprises will not affect the rate of utilization of the corporation itself and enterprises, which are part of it.

In the meantime, Russian experts in the field of shipbuilding have already welcomed the new state initiative, believing that it will have a positive effect on the economy of Crimea and the whole of Russia.

According to Ruslan Pukhov, director of the Center for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies, one of Russia’s leading analyst agencies in the field of maritime and shipbuilding, the annexation of Crimea by Russia is also beneficial because the Russian Black Sea Fleet will return to its historic base in Sevastopol from Novorossiysk and will no longer have to pay to rent naval bases in Sevastopol.

It is planned that at the initial stage the Crimean plants will focus first on the implementation of state orders, and later on commercial contracts. This will take place after the completion of a modernization of the facilities.

Among the planned production range are oil tankers, LNG carriers and vessels for the development of the Russian continental shelf and in particular the Arctic.

Sevmorzavod, which is the largest shipbuilding plant in Sevastopol, is expected to be one of the Crimean enterprises, which will receive funds from the Russian government.

According to Dmitry Belik, Acting Mayor of Sevastopol, Sevmorzavod is a former shipbuilding and shiprepair base for the Russian Black Sea Fleet, which had employed more than 15,000 workers in the past.

In addition to shipbuilding itself, there are plans for the development of diesel engine manufacturing, as well as casting and galvanizing production. Finally, a significant amount of funds are expected to be invested to establish the production of marine screws and other marine equipment.

Belik also added that all the Crimean shipbuilding plants will be repurchased from their current owners without any expropriation, while all the current workers will keep their jobs.

The utilization of Crimean enterprises will also help USC to implement one of the most ambitious goals for the current year and to double its revenue up to 350 billion rubles (USD$11 billion) this year, according to Alexander Neugebauer, the company’s vice president for economics and finance. In contrast to previous years, when the majority of revenue was generated by State defense orders, this year the share of revenue attracted by commercial orders will be significantly increased, which is expected to help to achieve such ambitious figures.

According to USC, its military and commercial order book is full. The largest commercial orders to be implemented in 2014 will be the production of icebreakers and offshore drilling platforms, which will be supplied both to domestic and foreign customers. In the case of domestic customers, OSC already has preliminary agreements on the supply of its new vessels and equipment to the country’s leading oil and gas producers, such as Rosneft and Gazprom. The names of foreign customers are currently not available, but according to analysts of the Russian Ministry of Industry and Trade, the new ships may be of interest to Rosneft and Gazprom foreign partners who participate in the development of oil and gas fields, including on the country’s sea shelf. Among such companies could be ExxonMobil, BP, Total and others.

In recent years, the development of shipbuilding has become one of the priority targets of the Russian government. In addition to Crimea, the government plans to continue its active development in the Far East. As part of this, the government plans to speed implementation of a project to build the Zvezda super shipyard, which will be located in Primorye (Far East) and will be the largest shipyard in the country.

According to the latest decision of the Russian government, the shipyard should be built no later than by 2018, instead of originally planned 2021, due to pressure of the country’s leading oil and gas producers. Upon completion of construction, Zvezda will become the largest shipyard in Russia, which will augment the existing state shipbuilding program by about 30 percent.

The building of the shipyard is expected to attract some leading design bureaus from St. Petersburg, Moscow, Europe and the US as well as leading shipbuilding corporations from Southeast Asia, and in particular from Korea.

Already during the first stage the shipyard will have the capacity to build ships with a length of 250 meters and launching weight of up to 30,000 tons.

The shipyard will specialize in the construction of tankers with a deadweight of up to 350,000 tons, gas, ice-class vessels, special vessels, offshore platform elements and other marine equipment.

Analysts of Russian Ministry of Industry and Trade believe that the segment of offshore vessels is expected to be the most profitable for USC and the whole Russian shipbuilding industry in the near future. According to earlier estimates of Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, the USC’s portfolio in this segment may reach 512 vessels by 2030, with a total value of 6.5 trillion rubles (USD$180 billion).

However implementation of these ambitious plans may never take place, due to current financial difficulties being experienced by the Russian government, associated with the recent Crimean crisis and devaluation of the ruble. According to Alexey Rachmanov, Russia’s Minister of Industry and Trade, the funding of the existing state program to help develop the national shipbuilding industry through 2030, initially estimated at RUB 1.3 trillion (USD$37 billion) could be cut by up to 40 percent.

Eugene Gerden is a free-lance writer based in Moscow, Russia who has covered the European maritime industry for 10 years. He can be reached at gerden.eug@gmail.com.

POLB Selects New Executive Director

By Mark Edward Nero

The Long Beach Board of Harbor Commissioners on June 30 voted to name Jon Slangerup, a veteran corporate executive with extensive experience in global logistics and environmental technologies, as the Port of Long Beach’s new executive director.

Slangerup has served the past two decades as a president, CEO and/or director of both public and private companies, ranging from technology startups to a subsidiary of FedEx Corp. During the last seven years of a 20-year career with FedEx, Slangerup was President of FedEx Canada, which he helped transform from a small regional domestic courier operation into Canada’s leading international express logistics company.

Since FedEx, he has served as a CEO and board member of environmental technology companies providing solutions in marine ballast water treatment, renewable energy and distributed power generation to customers throughout the world.

“He’s an extremely capable leader, proven team-builder and expert at managing a world-class organization,” Harbor Commission President Doug Drummond said. “In our highly competitive, quickly changing industry challenged by major environmental and energy issues, he’s the perfect person for the job.”

Harbor Commissioners made the decision on Slangerup in an executive session following their regular June 23 board meeting. Slangerup succeeds former POLB Executive Director Chris Lytle, who left the port in July 2013 for a similar position at the Port of Oakland. The Long Beach civil engineer had served as the port’s interim executive director since Lytle’s departure.

“I am extremely pleased to be joining the Port of Long Beach team, which has a long and distinguished record of operational excellence, technological innovation and environmental stewardship,” Slangerup said. “The Port of Long Beach is investing billions of dollars in advanced technology and infrastructure development, and I look forward to working with our team.”

Slangerup’s hiring means that both major Southern California ports now have head officials after several months without one. On June 11, the Los Angeles City Council confirmed veteran shipping industry leader Gene Seroka as the new executive director of the Port of Los Angeles. Seroka replaced former Executive Director Geraldine Knatz, who retired in late 2013.

Everett Port Moves to Complete Cleanup, Revitalization Projects

By Mark Edward Nero

The Port of Everett Commission has awarded a $6.143 million contract to general contractor Magnus Pacific to complete the final phase of the port’s Everett Shipyard cleanup, and kick-off the first phase of its marina revitalization efforts, known as the Central Dock Improvements.

The port announced the contract June 26.

The cleanup efforts are expected to restore the environmental health of the former shipyard site, while allowing the port to take steps toward improving the economic vitality of the Central Marina in preparation for a broader revitalization project called Waterfront Place. The site’s expected to be ready for development once the cleanup is complete.

The project, located along West Marine View Drive between 14th and 15th Streets, is expected to begin in August and finish up in April 2015. The cleanup requires removing and replacing aging marine infrastructure as needed to access and remove contaminated materials. Specifically, the work includes:

Dredging about 11,000 cubic yards of sediment from the marina; excavating about 3,500 cubic yards of contaminated soil along the shoreline; removing five marina docks; removing the 14th Street haul-out structure; removing hundreds of creosote treated wood piling; reconstructing about 360 linear feet of bulkhead; removing and replacing a City of Everett sewer outfall line; and building a temporary public access path along the reconstructed bulkhead.

The port is working in partnership with the Washington State Department of Ecology on the cleanup as a part of the state’s Puget Sound Initiative. The project is funded by the Port of Everett as well as an ecology remedial action grant funded by a voter-approved tax on hazardous substances and settlement funds from Everett Shipyard.

The cleanup site, known as Fisherman’s Harbor, is at the front of the Waterfront Place Central development project. The area is expected to be a year-round hub of activity that includes commercial fishing, recreational boating, shopping and dining.

Port of Longview Reports Record Volumes

By Mark Edward Nero

The Port of Longview announced on June 27 that it handled a record amount of cargo in 2013, seeing cargo volumes soar by 18 percent as demand for logs and grain increased in Asia.

The port handled 7.4 million metric tons of cargo in 2013, compared to 6.3 million metric tons in 2012, according to data. Log exports skyrocketed by 62 percent, from 531,000 metric tons in 2012 to 858,000 metric tons last year.

Steel imports surged 47 percent, something the port attributed to the United States’ drastic reduction of foreign steel import tariffs. Bulk cargos continued to play a large role at the port last year, with upticks in salt, calcined coke, wheat, soybeans, talc and soda ash.

Despite the gains, however, operating revenue at the port dipped slightly in 2013, breaking a five-year record streak. The port’s 2013 year-end results revealed a six percent decrease in operating revenue, falling from $33.8 million in 2012 to $31.7 million last year. The 2013 numbers did exceed those of 2011, when the operating revenue was $28.3 million.

The majority of Longview’s operating revenue comes from cargo handling fees, while four percent is from property rentals. After covering operating costs, the port’s 2013 net operating income, before depreciation, was $6.7 million.

Longview attributes the 2013 operating revenue drop to fluctuations in cargo markets. Wind energy cargo and iron oxide fines, of which the port handled large quantities in 2012, did not come through the port last year. The demand for wind energy cargo plummeted due to delays in approving federal wind energy subsidies. The port says additional cargos were impacted by customers switching to sourcing cargo domestically and by poor weather conditions affecting crop production.

Despite the revenue drop, however, Longview managed to hold its place in 2013 as the third largest port in Washington state by operating revenue, behind Seattle and Tacoma.

Port Angeles Hires Business Development Director

By Mark Edward Nero

The Port of Port Angeles said June 30 that it has hired Jennifer States as its new Director of Business Development.

As the Director of Business Development, States is responsible for “developing and implementing strategies to encourage new business development, stimulating job growth, coordinating business retention and promoting expansion activities” within Clallam County, according to the port.

States brings to the port 15 years of experience in energy and environmental issues, with an emphasis on business and economic development. A Nebraska native, she was recruited by Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) to Washington state in 2007, where her focus grew to include hydropower and emerging wave and tidal energy technologies.

At PNNL, she served as program manager for Wind and Water Power Technologies, as well as Renewable Energy for National Security. While there, she received the Women of Wind Energy’s Rising Star award in 2010, partially due to her efforts implementing the Treasury’s Section 1603 renewable energy grant in lieu of tax credits. This incentive has supported construction of more than 96,000 renewable energy projects.

Since 2012, she has been a board member of the nonprofit Oregon Wave Energy Trust, a Portland-based public-private partnership that helps develop ocean energy by connecting stakeholders, supporting research and development and engaging in public outreach and policy work.