Friday, January 8, 2016

Port of Longview CEO Fired

By Mark Edward Nero

Geir-Eilif Kalhagen has been terminated without cause from his position as Chief Executive Officer at the Port of Longview, the port announced during its Jan. 5 Board of Commissioners meeting. The termination is effective immediately.

The Board of Commissioners reached the 3-0 decision, it announced, based on differences between it and Kalhagen regarding a vision of growth and development for the port.

Those differences became apparent during the review of a 2014 proposal to place a $300 million propane and butane export terminal at the port. Kalhagen had supported a plan by Haven Energy Terminals to move propane and butane currently being flared in the Midwest to energy markets around the Pacific Rim. The company was looking at building a unit train-accessible rail unloading facility, storage tanks and ship loading area at the port with the ability to load marine vessels with a capacity of up to 550,000 barrels.

But in March 2015, the port commission unanimously voted to not enter into the lease agreement. Several reasons were given including community opposition and the belief that the project provided too few jobs to justify the risks presented.

The Commission said this week that it plans to explore “all options” for interim and long-term succession plans for the CEO position, while also expressing confidence in the port’s current senior leadership to oversee all operations while the Board of Commissioners evaluates its options.

Port Chief Operating Officer Norm Krehbiel is expected run the port during the search for Kalhagen’s replacement.

Kalhagen was hired in July 2012 to replace Ken O’Hollaren, who retired after nearly 25 years as CEO. Prior to joining the Port of Longview, Kalhagen was the general manager for the Pacific Northwest office of Tidal Transport & Trade, a position he held for a little over two years. Before joining Tidal Transport in June 2010, he spent 15 months as an operations manager with Grieg Star Shipping.

From December 2007 to January 2009 he was an operations manager with Star Forest Carriers PTE Singapore. A year after he was hired at Longview, he received a six percent raise and three-year contract extension that was supposed to keep him at the port through at least September 2016.

Under a severance package approved by the port, Kalhagen is to be paid four months salary — about $60,000, based on his $187,000 annual wage – and he’ll receive 12 months of health benefits, according to port staff.