Friday, November 13, 2015

Crowley Wins PNW, Alaska LNG Distribution

By Mark Edward Nero

Crowley Maritime Corp.’s petroleum distribution group has been granted approval by the US Department of Energy and the Canadian National Energy Board to import Canadian-sourced liquefied natural gas for supply, transportation and distribution throughout the Pacific Northwest and Alaska.

The renewable, two-year import and export licenses now allow the company to import up to 2.12 billion cubic feet of LNG via truck in 10,700-gallon ISO tanks or in bulk via ocean-going vessels.

“This approval is an important step in expanding Crowley’s capability to provide LNG for the Pacific Northwest and Alaska markets, building on the company’s existing service offerings in the region,” said Matt Sievert, Crowley’s director of business development for LNG. “It’s exciting for many of our commercial and industrial customers because the availability of LNG has been very limited in the past.”

The transportation from Canadian-based liquefaction facilities to customers is to be managed by Crowley’s logistics experts, coordinating over-the-road transportation and shipping via barge to Alaska. From there, Crowley’s Alaska distribution team plans to deliver LNG directly to customers’ facilities, where it can be re-gasified into pipeline natural gas marine and industrial applications, as well as power generation and mining.

Crowley says it’s now working to secure long-term, 25-year licenses with the Department of Energy and National Energy Board. At the same time, the company says, it’s monitoring the development of Alaska LNG supply projects, which would be a closer source to the Alaska interior markets.

Crowley, which has been serving Alaska for more than 60 years, currently operates 22 fuel terminals in western Alaska and the rail belt.

POLB Has Best Oct. Volumes in 8 Years

By Mark Edward Nero

Despite a decrease in imports, cargo volume rose 6.3 percent at the Port of Long Beach last month compared to the same month last year, making for the best October in eight years, according to newly released data.

Strong export growth of 6.5 percent in October buoyed the port’s overall numbers.

However, a slight decline in imports indicated that retailers of clothing, electronics and other consumer goods apparently stocked up early for the rapidly approaching shopping season that starts with “Black Friday” – the day after Thanksgiving.

“We had an early peak in July and August, with much of the inventory for the holiday shopping season coming early,” Port of Long Beach CEO Jon Slangerup explained. “On the export side, we’ve seen increases for the past two months, as shipping lines choose Long Beach for its reliability and service.”

“Year to date, we’re up more than five percent, so 2015 is shaping up to be one of our best years ever,” he said.

A total of 619,983 TEUs moved through the port in October. Exports increased to 128,308 TEUs and empty containers – those being sent back overseas to be refilled with goods – continued to rise, climbing 20.8 percent to 183,681 TEUs.

Imports, however, were down 0.8 percent to 307,995 TEUs.

Through the first 10 months of 2015, Long Beach cargo was up 5.4 percent overall compared to the same period last year.

The latest and historical monthly cargo numbers are available at

Oakland Container Volume Down 7 Percent

By Mark Edward Nero

The Port of Oakland’s October 2015 container volume of 192,284 TEUs – including imports, exports and empty containers – was a drop of 6.9 percent compared to the same month last year, according to newly released data.

Containerized import volume at the Port of Oakland declined last month for the first time since February. October’s full container import total – 70,697 TEUs – was a decrease of 3.3 percent compared to the same month in 2014, the port said Nov. 10.

Before last month, Oakland had reported seven consecutive months of import gains.

October’s full container export volume fell to 74,293 TEUs, a decrease of 13.7 percent compared to the same month last year.

The only area in which Oakland saw an increase was the volume of empty containers exported: the 30,975 TEUs sent out last month was an increase of 16.5 percent over the same month last year.

The port is attributing last month’s volume decrease to lighter-than-usual peak-season activity. Autumn is usually the busy time in container shipping when retailers import goods for holiday store shelves, but some ocean carriers are reporting lower demand for space on their ships.

For the calendar year to date, Oakland moved 1.89 million units during the first 10 months of 2015, a five percent drop from the corresponding period in 2014.  

The latest and historical monthly cargo numbers for the Port of Oakland are available at

POLA Receives $1.8 Million in FEMA Grants

By Mark Edward Nero

The Port of Los Angeles has received three grants from the US Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) totaling $1.8 million.

The grants, which were applied for in May and approved by the port’s harbor commission on Nov. 10, will help pay for $2.5 million in planned port police security and operation integration initiatives, plus cyber security infrastructure.

The security projects to be undertaken include: a $1 million integration, maintenance and repair of port security systems; and a $1 million integration of external security video feeds from various government departments, terminals and mobile sources.

Also included is a $500,000 project for improvements to the port’s mass notification system; and infrastructure upgrades that address a variety of cyber risks associated with port complex security.
“These grants will allow us to continue extremely important programs and technology upgrades necessary to keep our security operations state-of-the-art,” port Executive Director Gene Seroka said in a statement.

As a condition of the FEMA grant program, the port will contribute 25 percent in additional non-federal funds, or $625,000 total for the three projects, while the federal match of $1.87 million brings total funding for the three initiatives to $2.5 million.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

TOTE Delaying LNG Vessel Conversions

By Mark Edward Nero

TOTE Maritime says its delaying its conversion of two Tacoma-based ships to liquefied natural gas-fueled propulsion due to the loss of the 790-foot container ship El Faro on Oct. 1 during a voyage to Puerto Rico from Florida.

El Faro had been scheduled to move to Tacoma from Florida later this month to replace one of two Tote Maritime Alaska ships that sails between Tacoma and Anchorage. That vessel, the ORCA class Midnight Sun, had been scheduled to head to Singapore-based Keppel Shipyard for a four-month conversion of its propulsion system from oil to LNG.

The planned conversion, if it eventually moves forward, would be one of the world’s first major transformations of a large roll on/roll off vessel to LNG, according to Totem Ocean.
TOTE Maritime President John Parrott recently informed the media that without a ship to replace the Midnight Sun, TOTE is forced to delay the conversion by a year.

El Faro, previously known as the Northern Lights, served the Alaska route until 2006 when it was transferred to Florida to serve TOTE Maritime Alaska’s sister company, TOTE Maritime Puerto Rico.

The 40-year-old El Faro sank Oct. 1 when its propulsion system failed as it encountered hurricane-force winds and waves east of the Bahamas. A total of 33 crew members were killed.

El Faro has already been replaced on the Puerto Rico run by the Isla Bella, the first of two new LNG-fueled containerships built for TOTE by NASSCO San Diego.

MARAD: US Shipbuilding Generates $37 Billion

By Mark Edward Nero

The private shipbuilding and repair industry in the US provided more than 110,000 jobs across all 50 states in 2013 and contributed more than $37 billion to the gross domestic product, according to a newly released study by the Maritime Administration.

In 2013, the US private shipbuilding and repairing industry directly provided 110,390 jobs, $9.2 billion in labor income, and $10.7 billion in gross domestic product to the national economy, according to the study, which was released the first week of November.

Including direct, indirect, and induced impacts, on a nationwide basis, total economic activity associated with the industry reached 399,420 jobs, $25.1 billion of labor income, and $37.3 billion in GDP in 2013, the document states.

The states with the highest reported levels of overall direct, indirect, and induced employment associated with the industry were Virginia, California, Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas.

There are currently 124 shipyards in the United States, spread across 26 states, that are classified as active shipbuilders. There are also more than 200 shipyards engaged in ship repairs or capable of building ships but not actively engaged in shipbuilding.

Employment in shipbuilding and repairing is concentrated in a relatively small number of coastal states, with the top five states accounting for 63 percent of all private employment in the shipbuilding and repairing industry.

“Everything that shipbuilding meant in 1789, it still means today,” US Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said. “In 2015, American shipbuilders ensure that our nation can build and maintain the vessels that our military needs to keep our nation secure. In 2015, American shipbuilders still provide essential commercial vessels (that) enable domestic commerce on our inland waterways and link to our domestic energy supplies.”

Study: Vancouver USA Has $3 Billion Regional Impact

By Mark Edward Nero

The total annual regional economic value of cargo handled at Port of Vancouver USA marine terminals and the revenue generated by the industrial tenants is $2.9 billion, a significant increase over the $1.6 billion of economic value generated in 2010, according to a newly-released economic impact study.

According to the study, the port’s record year of revenues and cargoes in 2014 contributed to a growth in both the marine business and industrial tenants and customers.

Between 2010 and 2014, non-marine tenants and maritime activity at the port increased direct jobs by 900 with a $42.9 million increase in direct personal salary income.

The study was conducted by Martin Associates, a Pennsylvania-based firm that conducts similar studies for major ports throughout the US and Canada. The port regularly commissions economic impact studies to measure its economic influence in Clark County and the Pacific Northwest. Before now, the last study was conducted in 2010.

Additional highlights of the latest study include:
Total jobs associated with port activities -- including direct, indirect, induced and influenced jobs -- equaled 20,202, up from 16,996 in 2010.

Of those jobs, 3,237 were directly generated by port marine and industrial activities, an increase from 2,337 in 2010.

The 3,237 jobs directly generated by port marine and industrial activities paid $159.2 million, up from $116.3 million in 2010.

Port business activities contributed $102.7 million in 2014 state and local taxes – an increase of 27 percent over 2010’s $80.8 million.

Survey: Ship Operating Costs to Rise 3 Percent

By Mark Edward Nero

Crew wages, repairs and maintenance, along with dry-docking, are costs most likely to increase most significantly this year and next, according to the latest annual survey of ship operating costs by London-based accounting firm Moore Stephens.

The respondents, mainly vessel owners and managers in Europe and Asia, suggest that vessel operating costs across the board will rise by 2.8 percent this year and 3.1 percent next year. 

A large number of new regulations was a major reason cited, with other reasons for cost increases suggested by respondents to the survey being the high bargaining power of the oil majors, the advent of more sophisticated machinery aboard ship and stricter rules regarding maintenance and repairs carried out in ports, where the ship’s crew, who might be able to do the job cheaper, are forced to give way to more expensive contractors.

It’s also pointed out that in the marine equipment and services sector, the power of the buyers is being somewhat eroded by consolidation of fewer, larger companies, who are able to price accordingly.

Increases in port dues are also mentioned as likely to affect costs in the medium term, and there were several observations about crew cost increases.