Thursday, July 30, 2015

Anti-Drilling Activists Block Vessel Departure

By Mark Edward Nero

About two-dozen activists with Greenpeace formed a blockade off the St. John’s Bridge in Portland on July 29 in order to delay Shell’s Arctic icebreaking vessel, the MSV Fennica, as it attempted to leave the Port of Portland.

The action by Greenpeace climbers is one of several protests, including a 24-hour vigil, in the area since Shell’s drilling support vessel arrived in Portland.

The Shell-contracted MSV Fennica has been in Portland since July 25 for repairs to a meter-long gash in its hull acquired off the coast of Dutch Harbor, Alaska. The Obama administration released a decision last week requiring the MSV Fennica and its capping stack, a critical piece to Shell’s drilling fleet, to be fully repaired and on the drill site before the company can drill deep enough for oil. Shell must also reapply to federal regulators for specific drill permits.

The climbers secured themselves in place suspended from the bridge with enough supplies to last for days. The climbers displayed banners with slogans including “#ShellNo” and “Save the Arctic.”

“Every second we stop Shell counts,” Greenpeace USA Executive Director Annie Leonard said. “The brave climbers here in Portland are now what stand between Shell and Arctic oil.”

Since Shell’s drilling fleet arrived in the Seattle area and then began moving North to the drill site, a protest movement has emerged in the Pacific Northwest and extending to Alaska. In June, activists in kayaks formed a blockade around Shell’s drilling rig the 40,000 ton Polar Pioneer as it left Seattle en route to Alaska.

In May, the Obama administration approved Shell’s plan to drill for oil in the Chukchi Sea in the Alaskan Arctic. Since that approval however, both Shell’s rigs, the Polar Pioneer and Noble Discoverer, have failed routine inspections.

The MSV Fennica is one of two primary icebreakers in Shell’s drilling fleet, and is equipped with a capping stack, which Shell is federally required to have on site in the Chukchi Sea. Until the MSV Fennica and the capping stack are on site in Alaska and Shell is granted federal drilling permits, the company can only drill top wells, thousands of feet above any projected oil.

Matson Reaches Harbor Spill Settlement

By Mark Edward Nero

Honolulu-based shipping company Matson Inc. said July 29 that it has reached a settlement with the state of Hawaii to resolve any and all civil, criminal and administrative claims relating to the discharge of about 233,000 gallons of molasses into Honolulu Harbor nearly two years ago.

On Sept. 9, 2013, Matson received reports of molasses in Honolulu Harbor and after investigations in the water and under piers, Matson’s contractors discovered a hole in a pipe elbow beneath a pier. The hole was plugged and the pipe elbow was isolated from the rest of the pipeline using a metal plate. The pipe elbow was later removed and the pipe capped.

Under the agreement, Matson is to pay $5.9 million to the state as compensation for damaged coral and lost fish, as well as the state’s response and other costs. Also part of the settlement, Matson has terminated its molasses operations in Honolulu and has committed to remove the molasses risers and tanks at Sand Island terminal at an estimated cost of between $5.5 million and $9.5 million bringing the total cost to Matson of between $11.4 million and $15.4 million.

In 2013, Matson also committed to releasing a report detailing its investigation of the incident, the resulting impact to aquatic life and the settlement of legal claims. The eight-page report can now be found on Matson’s website in the news release section.

“Environmental stewardship is a core value in our company, so this event was a blow to all of us at Matson,” the company’s president and CEO, Matt Cox, said. “We can't take back what happened, but we've done our best to make it right.”

POLB Issues Environmental Awards

By Mark Edward Nero

Shipping lines, environmental organizations, trucking companies, terminal operators and a railroad were honored July 29 by the Port of Long Beach during the port’s annual Environmental Achievement Awards. The awards are an outgrowth of the port’s Green Port Policy, a series of environmental initiatives.

During the event, Long Beach Mayor Garcia introduced the “Mayor’s Green Port Award,” which was presented to terminal operator Long Beach Container Terminal for its commitment to working with the port to implement clean technologies and to create the world’s most advanced container shipping terminal.

The port also gave out seven “Environmental Excellence” honors to companies and groups for going above and beyond the past decade in helping the port achieve its ambitious environmental goals. The awardees are:

• Mediterranean Shipping Co. (MSC), for its performance in the port’s Green Flag Vessel Speed Reduction Program, which since 2005 has asked vessel operators to slow down to 12 knots near the port in order to reduce air pollution.

• Tesoro for top performance in the port’s Green Ship Program, which since 2012 has encouraged shipping lines to dispatch their cleanest ships to Long Beach.

• An environmental coalition including the Natural Resources Defense Council, Coalition for Clean Air, East Yard Communities for Environmental Justice and Communities for Clean Ports/EndOil, for highlighting environmental issues and “bringing about meaningful change.”

• The SSAT/Matson terminal for its consistently high performance in the port’s stormwater runoff control program, which seeks to improve and safeguard water and sediment quality in the harbor.

• Ability Tri-Modal trucking company for leadership in the port’s Clean Trucks Program, which has slashed diesel pollution from trucks by 90 percent since 2008.

• Trucking company Total Transportation Services, also for leadership in the Clean Trucks Program and in technology advancement.

• Pacific Harbor Line, the port’s short line railroad, for its pursuit of cleaner locomotives to move freight in the harbor complex.

In addition, nine vessel operators overall were honored at the event as top performers in the port’s Green Flag Vessel Speed Reduction Program.

Winners who slowed down within 20 nautical miles were: Carnival Cruise Lines, CMA CGM, Hanjin Shipping Co., Matson, Inc. and Alaska Tanker Co. Alaska Tanker received special honors for 100 percent compliance from 20 miles since 2006.

In the 40-nautical-mile category, the winners were COSCO, “K” Line, MOL and Mediterranean Shipping Co. Also, over 150 vessel operators earned the Green Flag for their participation in the program in 2014.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Jensen-Designed ATB Receives Shipping Bureau Approval

By Mark Edward Nero

A Jensen Maritime-designed, liquefied natural gas bunkering articulated tug-barge (ATB) has been granted “approval in principle” by classification society American Bureau of Shipping, Jensen revealed July 27.

The designation means that Jensen’s vessel concept, which is classed as an A1 Liquefied Gas Tank Barge, is compliant in principle with ABS rules and guides.

Jensen’s ATB is also oceans rated, meaning that it is not limited to intracoastal waterways, like other similar types of LNG ATBs.

Jensen says the ATB will be built with four 1,000-cubic meter Type C LNG tanks (seven bar working pressure), capable of carrying enough LNG to fill up a large containership twice before having to replenish its own supply.

“This vessel is exciting for so many reasons, but perhaps most notably because it offers a solution for the maritime industry, which struggles with whether to develop LNG infrastructure or vessels first,” Jensen Vice President Johan Sperling said. “This unique concept offers customers an economical alternative to sourcing LNG terminals or trucking LNG to multiple ports.”

The barge measures 360 feet by 60 feet by 35 feet, with a combined tug-and-barge length of 452 feet. The tug also features two GE 6L250 Tier 3 engines, each offering at least 2,035 horsepower, and two Rolls Royce 205 Z-drives, with a speed of 12 knots.

The ATB is designed to carry 30,800 gallons of fresh water and 90,100 gallons of ballast water and provides enough space for 12 crewmembers. Safety features include a double hull, designed to help to protect the ATB’s 4,000-gallon fuel tank, and firefighting capabilities. Because there is no linkage between the tug and barge, the two could disconnect quickly in the event of emergency.

Jensen says expected time to build the ATB is between 18 and 30 months.

Ledcor Adds 6 Barges to PNW Fleet

By Mark Edward Nero

Construction company Ledcor Group, which has headquarters offices in both San Diego and Vancouver, Canada, has taken delivery of six new cargo barges that will be used to serve clients in southwest British Columbia.

The barges were designed by Capilano Maritime of North Vancouver, BC.

Ledcor, which says its marine division has grown rapidly since its inception in 2012, is on-target to double its fleet size by 2016, bringing its fleet total to nine tugboats and 23 barges.

The six new barges, which were delivered from China, were jointly designed with customer Mainland Sand & Gravel to meet its market and operational requirements. The Mainland quarry in Mission, BC, produces aggregates that are delivered to various depots on the Fraser River.

Two of the six barges are 73 meters in length (239 feet) and 18 meters (59 feet) wide, and are to carry 3,800 tons of cargo. The other four of barges are 63 meters in length (206 feet) and 18 meters wide, and will carry 3,300 tons of cargo.

The barge dimensions and cargo lift capacities are sized for the water depths available at the quarry, loading dock dimensions, and in consideration of Fraser River bridges under which the barges must transit.

K-Line Settles Price Fixing Charges

By Mark Edward Nero

Attorneys representing a group of consumers and auto and truck and equipment dealerships in antitrust claims against more than a dozen international shipping firms have reached a settlement with Tokyo-based Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha Ltd., known as K-Line.

The settlement was announced during a July 23 hearing before Judge Esther Salas of the US District Court for the District of New Jersey in Newark.

The plaintiffs, which include the indirect purchasers of millions of vehicles transported to the United States, claim that K-Line and other maritime carriers have unlawfully conspired to rig bids, fix prices and overcharge for their services.

The lawsuit notes that the market for transporting new vehicles for sale in the US is almost $1 billion annually. Terms of the settlement have not been announced.

“We are delighted to announce the first major settlement in the vehicle carriers case with K-Line,” attorney Warren Burns of Burns Charest LLP, interim co-lead counsel for the end-payor plaintiffs, said July 23. “This is a very significant and substantial first step to assure that American consumers are compensated for the conspiracy to fix the price of international car-shipping services.”

Burns said his firms expects to make the dollar amount public “very soon” after the settlement approval is filed by federal authorities.

The other defendants include among others Nippon Yusen Kabushiki Kaisha (NYK Line) and Compania Sud Americana de Vapores (CSAV), both of which previously pled guilty to participating in the conspiracy that is still being investigated by the federal government.

Some maritime company defendants have sought to dismiss the claims by arguing that the 1984 Shipping Act, which regulates ocean shipping companies, preempts state antitrust laws that protect indirect purchasers against price-fixing.

Burns, however, countered with the argument that state antitrust laws complement the Shipping Act, and that Congress in no way intended to bar such state claims.

Boat Track Owner Settles Water Pollution Charges

By Mark Edward Nero

Sprint boat racetrack operator A2Z Enterprises reached an agreement with the US Environmental Protection Agency on July 24 to resolve violations of the federal Clean Water Act. Through the settlement with the EPA, A2Z Enterprises has agreed to pay a $14,000 penalty and restore wetlands on its property in Port Angeles, Washington, that were filled in conjunction with the construction of a sprint boat racetrack.

A2Z Enterprises used mechanized construction equipment from July to September 2011 to build a sprint boat racetrack and a gravel road. The violation, according to the EPA, occurred when fill material was placed in wetlands that were outside of the project’s original boundaries without the required permit, resulting in the illegal placement of fill materials into adjacent wetlands.

Fill materials were placed into about 1.31 acres of wetlands that connect to the Strait of Juan de Fuca through Dry Creek. The Clean Water Act requires a permit before dredged or fill material may be discharged into US waters.

Wetland and stream ecosystems within the Puget Sound play a critical role in the health of the Pacific Northwest waterways by trapping floodwaters, recharging groundwater, removing pollution, and providing fish and wildlife habitat. Salmon depend on the clean waterways that wetlands help to buffer and protect.

Under the settlement, A2Z Enterprises is responsible for removing the fill and restoring the 1.31 acres of wetlands by Sept. 30.