Friday, September 12, 2014

Seattle Port Receives $20 Million Grant

By Mark Edward Nero

The Port of Seattle will receive $20 million from the US Department of Transportation as part of the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant program, Sen. Patty Murray revealed Sept. 9.

This investment will go toward modernizing the port’s Terminal 46, a container terminal that serves as a critical export hub and economic engine in Washington State.

“This investment will provide a major boost to the Port’s efforts to lay down a strong foundation for long-term economic growth and job creation throughout the region, which is exactly what I created these TIGER grants to accomplish,” Murray said. “Modernizing Terminal 46 will protect and leverage the investments we’ve made at the Port of Seattle and will help Washington State maintain its cargo leadership for decades to come.”

The TIGER Grant Program was created by Murray in 2009 to provide competitively awarded grants through the US Department of Transportation to transportation projects throughout the country that support economic growth and employ local workers.

The Murray-authored program had provided about $3.5 billion in job-creating transportation projects in every corner of the country before this latest round of investments, which includes $600 million more in critical projects.

Components of the Terminal 46 project include dock rehabilitation, paving, crude rail extension, road improvements and public shoreline access development. Investments are being made at T46 by the port to address maintenance issues that threaten the reliability, cost-effectiveness and efficiency of the trade corridor and to compete with upgrades at Canadian ports.

Maintenance conducted during the project are expected to extend the service life of T46 by 25 to 30 years and make enhancements enabling the terminal to service two super post-Panamax vessels simultaneously.

‘Ocean Three’ Seals Global Alliance

By Mark Edward Nero

The CMA CGM Group, the world’s third largest container shipping company, announced Sept. 8 the signing of three major agreements with United Arab Shipping Corp. (UASC) and China Shipping Container Line (CSCL).

The agreements combine vessel sharing, slot charter and slot exchange, plus build upon an existing plan by UASC and CSCL to cooperate on an 18,000 TEU vessel trade agreement. The agreements, completed under the collective name of Ocean Three, cover Transpacific, Asia-United States East Coast, Asia-Europe and Asia-Mediterranean maritime trade routes.

The Transpacific trade is to consist of four weekly services to California and one service to the Pacific Northwest, while the Asia-US East Coast trade will consist of service via the Suez Canal and one service dedicated to the Gulf of Mexico.

The Asia-Europe trade is to consist of four weekly services added with two existing services, thereby offering six departures per week. The Asia-Mediterranean trade is to consist of four weekly services: two to the Mediterranean, one to the Adriatic and one to the Black Sea.

The agreements on Transatlantic trade are being finalized and will be announced at a later date, according to CMA CGM.

“This will allow us to propose to our clients a high quality and reliable alternative to existing services on the market,” CMA CGM Vice Chair Rodolphe SaadĂ© said.

These agreements are pending authorization from the US Federal Maritime Commission.

Port Metro Vancouver Launches New Support Vessels

By Mark Edward Nero

Port Metro Vancouver on Sept. 9 unveiled two new patrol vessels, as well as other operations and security assets, expected to help maintain the safe, secure, efficient and reliable movement of marine traffic and cargo within Port Metro Vancouver’s jurisdiction.

The vessels, built by Campbell River’s Daigle Welding & Marine, are to provide marine surveillance, early incident detection and activity tracking. The new “response class” vessels specialize in fast response, and are equipped for rapid situational assessment. They each have 1,000 horsepower supplied by twin Volvo D9-500 diesel engines with ZF 265 IV transmissions.

Both vessels have an overall length of about 43 feet and weigh about 15 tons.

The latest additions complement Port Metro Vancouver’s operations center, which uses a variety of security and situational awareness technologies such as live camera feeds, controlled access gates and GPS tracking on all port-authorized container trucks.

“We are bolstering our presence on land and water,” Peter Xotta, Vice President of Operations and Planning at Port Metro Vancouver, said. “This helps ensure our operations and security teams are equipped with the most appropriate tools.”

Port Metro Vancouver, working with first responders, the local community and port stakeholders, including municipalities, regional emergency response organizations, police forces and federal agencies, maintains situational awareness and has a coordinating role within its jurisdiction of about 400 miles of shoreline. Responsibilities include marine patrols, ship inspections, permitting of operational activities and the development of marine safety rules and procedures.

Longview Official: Terminal Talks Progressing

By Mark Edward Nero

Two months after saying negotiations with a Texas company that wants to build a propane and butane export terminal at the port have gone poorly, Port of Longview officials are saying that progress has been made.

On Sept. 9, port CEO Geir-Eilif Kalhagen told port commissioners that negotiations with Haven Energy progressed significantly last week. The port has closed “a lot of the gaps” in negotiations with Haven for lease of port property and dock use, Kalhagen said.

It was a marked contrast from Kalhagen’s July 8 comments to the port board, when he said he was disappointed with the talks so far with Haven, a subsidiary of Houston-based natural gas-related infrastructure company Sage Midstream. Kalhagen said at the time that Haven didn’t understand Washington environmental regulations or pricing structures.

Haven is proposing an export facility to move propane and butane, currently being flared in the Midwest, to energy markets around the Pacific Rim. The company is considering building a unit train-accessible rail unloading facility, storage tanks and ship loading area at the port with the capability to load marine vessels with up to an about capacity of 550,000 barrels.

The company’s proposal calls for the cargo to be railed to the port from the North Dakota and South Dakota, then refrigerated and stored on site at Longview before being loaded to vessels for export to Hawaii, Mexico and Asia.

In April, the company entered into a one-year option agreement with the port to evaluate the project.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Fidley Watch: Bugs

By Chris Philips, Managing Editor

Last week a subscriber who is a longshoreman at the Port of Los Angeles alerted us to a 9,000-TEU container carrier that was “yellow flagged” because of a gypsy moth infestation discovered by US Customs and Border Protection agents. Not to worry – the ship was quarantined and fumigated, and subsequently released.

The idea of quarantine for a pestilent vessel makes sense, and these cases are handled in a routine manner, on a fairly regular basis, and sent on their way.

Of more concern would be the case of a vessel arriving with a crewmember (or members) suffering from a communicable disease. Rest assured – in this instance, the local branch of the Atlanta, Georgia-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) would be the entity tasked with addressing the issue.

A media spokesperson for the CDC provided us with the procedure following the case of a cargo ship that arrives with an onboard death or illness:
Federal Regulations require the master of a ship destined for a US port of entry to immediately report any death or illness among the ship’s passengers or crew, including those who have disembarked or have been removed from the ship due to illness or death. Reports must also (immediately) be made to the nearest CDC Quarantine Station.

Required reporting includes persons displaying signs or symptoms of a fever of greater than 100 degrees lasting more than 48 hours or any fever accompanied by a rash, swelling of the lymph glands or jaundice. Certain cases of diarrhea are also reportable, and cruise ships reporting more than 13 diarrhea cases do so to the CDC Vessel Sanitation Program.

For passengers and crew, the CDC has a fairly straightforward procedure, but what is the procedure for an unexpected traveler, or stowaway?

The US Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) have no hard numbers for people who enter the country as stowaways, but have no fear- the regulations are clear-cut:

If caught while aboard ship, a stowaway must be kept locked up, treated in a humane manner, and turned over to the INS, who then fine the ship and repatriate the stowaways to their country of origin, along with an escort, at the vessel’s expense. The cost to vessel and crew is pretty good incentive to encourage operators to do their best to ensure that no one manages to stow away.

Even though thousands of stowaways are discovered every year, many probably aren’t.

Last month a group of 35 men, women and children were found inside a shipping container in the UK. They were discovered because one of their number had died, and the remaining “passengers” we’re screaming for help. Although the group was from Afghanistan, the West African ports of Lagos, Nigeria and Abidjan, Ivory Coast are the leading ports of embarkation for stowaways. They’re also “ground zero” for the Ebola virus. Recent container stowaway discoveries include 12 people traveling from Ghana and Nigeria to Spain.

With the current outbreak of a particularly virulent and deadly virus in West Africa raging inside or adjacent to the two countries with the highest number of stowaways, how is the US protecting itself from this very real threat?

Another CDC spokesperson told us there are currently no enhanced efforts to screen or address migrants who arrive in the US in a mode other than airline travel. When asked what the commercial maritime industry could do to safeguard against the possibility of sick stowaways, her response was, “I don’t know.” We’re not reassured.

Long Beach Breakwater Suffers Multiple Breaches

By Mark Edward Nero

Hurricane Marie, which caused 10-to 15-foot high wave surges in Southern California in late August, also resulted in three breaches in the breakwater that protects the Port of Long Beach, the Army Corps of Engineers confirmed Sept. 4.

About 200 hundred tons of rocks from the so-called Middle Breakwater were displaced during the storm, and the breeches could grow even larger as additional waves strike and erode the areas, according to the Army Corps.

“The next step is to develop a plan to repair the damage, which ranges from breach to significant damage to moderate damage to minor damage,” Corps of Engineers spokesman Greg Fuderer said.
Hurricane Marie grew into a large and powerful Category 5 storm and moved west-northwestward off the Pacific Coast of Mexico in late August, causing dangerous conditions from the Baja California Peninsula up through Southern California.

The two-mile long Middle Breakwater, which was completed in 1949, was built to protect the US Pacific Fleet and now shields ships entering the Port of Long Beach from large waves.

Hurricane Marie’s 10-15 foot waves resulted in the suspension of vessel operations at two Port of Long Beach marine terminals Aug. 27 after longshore workers were endangered by the surges.

Total Terminals International on Pier T, with two Mediterranean Shipping Co. container ships at berth, and Crescent Terminals on Pier F, with two break-bulk ships including an MOL roll-on/roll-off vessel at berth, were the terminals that temporarily halted work as a result of the waves.

Vancouver USA Port Inks Agriculture Deal

By Mark Edward Nero

Port of Vancouver USA CEO Todd Coleman traveled to Fargo, North Dakota Aug. 27 to sign a contract with that state’s agriculture commissioner that allows the port to provide dedicated rail service to move North Dakota agricultural products west in would-be empty railcars returning from eastbound shipments.

“The Port of Vancouver will lease blocks of railcars to move products,” Coleman explained. “This means more cars are available, reliability is increased and North Dakota farmers remain competitive in the global market.”

Cargoes are already moving by rail East from the Pacific Northwest, but those railcars often return West without cargo. The new rail service attempts to introduce more control and efficiency into the process by allowing the port to lease railcars to carry those eastbound cargoes.

Once the eastbound cargoes have been delivered, the port and its logistics partners will fill cars with agricultural products for the return trip to Vancouver.

The port’s responsibilities under the contract include designating load centers, managing railcars and providing monthly service reports.

“We’re looking at moving the first full railcars back to Vancouver as early as mid-September,” Coleman said.

The port is working with BNSF Railway to provide the service and eventually expand to unit trains if demand grows.

Bulk agricultural products are one of the port’s key service areas, and grain is its top export by weight. Nearly 1.4 million tons of wheat moved through the port on its way to markets in the Pacific Rim during the first half of 2014.

POLA Receives Emissions Reduction Grant

By Mark Edward Nero

The Port of Los Angeles has received a $469,000 grant award from the US Environmental Protection Agency to retrofit cargo handling equipment. The port secured the grant on behalf of two terminal tenants – SA Recycling and APM Terminals.

The port will administer the grant funds for the project, which involves retrofitting 14 pieces of cargo handling equipment with diesel particulate filters.

The retrofit is expected to result in a reduction in particulate matter emissions by 85 percent and carbon monoxide and hydrocarbon emissions by 90 percent. Retrofitted equipment is to include a top handler, material handlers, loaders, haul trucks and a bulldozer. The project is expected to be completed by December 2015.

Although the port will oversee the grant project, SA Recycling and APM Terminals own the cargo handling equipment and will conduct the retrofits.

The grant is funded through the EPA’s Diesel Emissions Reduction Act (DERA) program. The Port of LA was one of six ports nationwide to receive EPA funds as part of the DERA grants program, which focuses on retrofitting, replacing or repowering diesel engines to reduce harmful emissions.
SA Recycling, a metal recycler, has had operations at the Port of Los Angeles since 1962 and also operates over 50 recycling facilities throughout California, Texas, Arizona and Nevada.

APM Terminals, which operates a 400-acre container terminal at the Port of Los Angeles, has business interests in 70 port and terminal facilities globally.

$858 Million POLB Budget Approved

By Mark Edward Nero

The Long Beach City Council voted unanimously on Sept. 2 to approve an $858 million budget for the Port of Long Beach for the upcoming fiscal year. Two-thirds of the spending is earmarked for a building and modernization program.

The budget was first approved by the port’s Board of Directors in July, but consent from the City Council was required for it to become official.

For the fiscal year starting Oct. 1, 2014, the Port of Long Beach plans to spend $579 million on capital projects as part of an ongoing, decade-long, $4 billion investment in upgrades and efficiency improvements.

“To remain competitive, the port needs to continually reinvest in major facilities upgrades,” POLB Chief Executive Jon Slangerup told the City Council just before its vote.

The budget projects operating revenue of $346.8 million in the coming year, on par with revenues in the current fiscal year. The approved budget also adds 28 new full-time positions, including 20 in the engineering department to support ongoing capital improvements, and six to enhance port security operations. The budget also includes funding of more than $30 million for environmental programs and projects, such as technology-advancement demonstrations of a barge-based pollution-control system for ships at berth and an electric highway truck system.

Earlier this year, the adjoining Port of Los Angeles approved a FY 2014 budget of nearly $939 million.