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.

USCG Detains Bulk Carrier in Seattle

By Mark Edward Nero

US Coast Guard personnel detained the bulk carrier ship Lowlands Kamsar in Seattle on Jan. 4 after an exam detected several significant violations. The crew of the ship was conducting cargo operations at the time of the examination.

During the exam, Coast Guard Port State Control officers discovered that the automatic fire extinguishing system that protects the vessel’s engine room had been disabled by the crew. Additionally, according to the USCG, the vessel’s owner, Misuga S.A., failed to ensure that appropriate corrective action was taken.

The vessel, a 751-foot, Panamanian-flagged ship that was built in 2010, has been ordered by the Coast Guard to remain in Sector Puget Sound’s Captain of the Port zone until the violations are corrected.

“The Port State Control program holds foreign flagged vessels to internationally agreed upon standards to ensure the safety of life at sea,” explained Port State Control Branch, Sector Puget Sound Chief Lt. Kimberly Glore. “Fire detection and extinguishing systems are vital systems that must be ready for immediate use in case of a fire onboard the ship.” Glore said that her branch is continuing to monitor the Lowlands Kamsar and has been working with the bulk carrier’s crew and Panamanian representatives to correct the vessel’s deficiencies.

Oakland Terminal Reopens After Upgrade

By Mark Edward Nero

A Port of Oakland marine terminal has reopened following two months of modernization to improve cargo handling and this week is scheduled to receive its first container ship since early December.

The 74-acre Ben E. Nutter Terminal, located in Oakland’s Outer Harbor, is managed by Everport Terminal Services. Renovations of it began in November and were complete last month. Improvements include rebuilt entrance gates for harbor truckers; more than 100 new pieces of cargo-handling equipment; and a new terminal operating system.

The terminal reopened last week to begin receiving export cargo and empty containers, and was scheduled to resume vessel operations Jan. 8 with arrival of the 1,100-foot container vessel Ever Liberal.

“Across the port we’re taking steps to improve performance and efficiency,” Port of Oakland Maritime Director John Driscoll said. “We’re pleased that the management of Ben E. Nutter Terminal shares our desire to upgrade operations in Oakland.”

The Nutter terminal at Berths 35 through 38 serves all Evergreen Line ships calling Oakland. It’s named after former Port of Oakland Executive Director Ben E. Nutter, who’s regionally considered a pioneer in containerized trade.

New Vancouver Shipyards VP Announced

By Mark Edward Nero

British Columbia-based transportation company Seaspan Marine said Jan. 4 that Ian Brennan has joined its subsidiary Vancouver Shipyards as Vice President, Supply Chain Management & Contracts.

As part of Seaspan Shipyard’s executive team, he’ll be responsible for and day-to-day oversight and direction of supply chain, warehousing and logistics, procurement, and contracts and subcontracts in support of new vessel construction at Vancouver Shipyards.

He joins the company from General Dynamics Mission Systems – Canada where he was chief counsel and corporate secretary. In that role, he was responsible for export/import, anti-bribery and trade restrictions compliance, intellectual property and licensing matters, design and management of procurement terms and conditions of purchase and sale, and all commercial and legal matters.

Prior to that, he was Commercial and Procurement Director for Project Management International Ltd. in the United Kingdom. Overall, he has more than 27 years of experience in the shipbuilding and heavy project construction industries.

“I am very pleased to welcome Ian to the team at Vancouver Shipyards,” Seaspan Shipyards President Brian Carter said. “Ian’s diverse corporate and shipbuilding experience coupled with his proven success in delivering on complex projects will be an asset for Seaspan’s new construction program.”

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Vigor Gets Olympic-Class Ferry Order

By Mark Edward Nero

Washington State Ferries signed a notice to proceed in late December with shipbuilder Vigor Industrial for work on a 144-vehicle ferry, with work slated to begin this month.

The ferry is to be built at Vigor Industrial and is expected to support about 500 jobs at Vigor’s Seattle shipyard and contractors around the region. The budget to build the vessel is $122 million, with delivery scheduled for mid-2018.

Along with current vessels Tokitae, Samish and Chimacum, the fourth Olympic-class ferry is expected to improve fleet reliability and safety by replacing four of the state’s oldest ferries, which were built during the 1950s and 1960s.

The first two Olympic-class ferries were delivered on time and under budget. The third vessel, under construction at Vigor, is reportedly on schedule and under budget, and is expected to be assigned to the Seattle/Bremerton route in early 2017.

Olympic-class ferries are equipped with the latest emergency-evacuation and fire suppression systems, Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant elevators, and wider car-deck lanes that provide more room for passengers to access their vehicles. The vessels’ hulls are designed to reduce wake and provide better fuel efficiency, while cleaner burning engines reduce emissions.

“Our top priority is keeping the ferry system safe and reliable for the millions of commuters, freight haulers and travelers who depend on us every year,” Washington State Ferries Chief of Staff Elizabeth Kosa said in a prepared statement. “Thanks to state lawmakers and critical funds from Connecting Washington, we are able to meet some of the ferry system’s most urgent needs, including building this new ferry.”

A public process to determine the fourth ferry’s name is being led by the Washington State Transportation Commission.

MARAD Announces Small Shipyard Grant Program

By Mark Edward Nero

The US Maritime Administration on Dec. 31 announced the 2016 funding availability for its Small Shipyard Grant Program.

There’s currently $4.9 million available for grants for capital and related improvements to shipyard facilities that will foster “efficiency, competitive operations, and quality ship construction, repair, and reconfiguration,” according to MARAD.

“Potential applicants are advised that it is expected, based on past experience, that the number of applications will far exceed the funds available and that only a small percentage of applications will be funded,” MARAD stated in its announcement.

It’s anticipated that between five and 10 applications will be selected for funding, with an average grant amount of about $1 million.

Grants under the program can’t be used to construct buildings or other physical facilities, or to acquire land unless such use is specifically approved by the Maritime Administration as being consistent with, and supplemental to, capital and related infrastructure improvements.

Grant funds can be used, however, for maritime training programs to build technical skills and operational productivity in communities where the economies are related to or dependent upon the maritime industry.

The period for submitting grant applications began in mid-December and the deadline for applications is Feb. 16. Grants are expected to be awarded by April 18.

Complete information about the grant program, including full submission requirements and the mailing address for grant applications, can be found in the MARAD funding notice:

Canal Expansion 96 Percent Complete

By Mark Edward Nero

The expansion of the Panama Canal, which has been ongoing for nearly a decade, is now 96 percent complete, according to the head of the governmental body overseeing the project.

Jorge L. Quijano, CEO/Administrator of the Panama Canal Authority, provided the update in late December at industry event in Panama City.

“We are very close – only four percent remains to complete the project,” Quijano said. “An expansion of the Panama Canal has never been done and we should all feel very good about where we are today.”

According to Quijano, reinforcements of the locks are scheduled to be complete by mid-January, after which testing of locks reinforcements and additional testing will occur.

In April, transit trial tests with a chartered vessel in the Atlantic locks are scheduled. After that, a date for the expansion’s inauguration is expected to be chosen, likely in the second quarter of 2016, followed by the commercial opening date.

The $5 billion canal expansion is expected to allow post-Panamax ships carrying 13,000 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) to travel through the canal en route to East Coast terminals, thereby bypassing the US West Coast. It was initially scheduled to be complete in 2014 to coincide with the 100-year anniversary of the opening of the existing canal, but snafus have delayed the completion.
Among the most recent problems occurred last September when localized seepage was found in September in the concrete sill between the lower and middle chamber of the Canal’s expanded Pacific Ocean-facing locks. The leaks are expected to be fixed this month, according to contractor Grupo Unidos por Canal.

A video of the project’s recent progress can be seen at:

Stockton Port Sets Vessel Record

By Mark Edward Nero

For the second year in a row, the Port of Stockton has set a record for annual vessel traffic. The port saw total of 247 ships during 2015, compared to 230 ship arrivals in 2014, which had been Stockton’s previous all-time record.

But despite the increased number of cargo ships entering the Northern California port, the overall cargo volume was down: it was 3.87 million metric tons in 2015, compared to 2014’s 4.11 million metric tons, port Director Richard Aschieris told the local media near the end of 2015.

The decline, Aschieris said in late December, reflects a change in the mix of cargo being moved through Stockton.

For example, coal exports slipped to an expected 1.07 million metric tons in 2015 from 1.74 million metric tons in 2014, and such exports could disappear entirely in 2016 because of shifts in global demand and monetary exchange rates, he said, due to its expense on the international markets and the high value of the US dollar.

After coal, the top cargos that the port handled in 2015 were liquid fertilizer (620,000 metric tons); bulk cement (376,000 metric tons); steel products (298,000 metric tons); and molasses (219,000 metric tons).

The Port of Stockton, a deepwater port in north-central California, serves the state’s inland agricultural region and typically handles such commodities as rice, animal feed and fertilizer.