Friday, February 26, 2016

Longview Port Kills Refinery, Propane Terminal Talks

By Mark Edward Nero

At its Feb. 23 meeting, the Port of Longview, Washington Board of Commissioners directed the port’s interim CEO, Norm Krehbiel, to discontinue discussions related to proposals for an oil refinery and liquid petroleum gas facility.

The port had been in talks with developer Waterside Energy LLC for both the Riverside Refining plant and Washington Energy Storage & Transfer (WEST) liquid petroleum facility.

Riverside Refinery was proposed as an $800-million-plus micro-refinery in Longview that would have supplied fuels to the region. The refinery would have been fed by 30,000 barrels per day of crude oil and 15,000 barrels per day of used cooking oils and virgin seed and vegetable oils imported from international markets.

The proposed facility to export liquefied petroleum gas – specifically propane and butane – would send the products from oil producing regions to markets around the Pacific Rim.

For several months, the port worked with project proponent Lou Soumas to negotiate a non-binding term sheet on the WEST project, outlining key project information and financial documentation needed to move negotiations forward in a timely fashion.

“We have a fiduciary responsibility to ensure project proposals are viable,” port commission President Bob Bagaason said. “This decision is based on the proponent’s failure to demonstrate the WEST project’s financial wherewithal, plain and simple.”

In this instance, the port said, the proponent missed the deadline to supply financial information and the information provided post-deadline was heavily redacted and failed to communicate financial support of the project.

“This isn’t about fossil fuels, I want to make that clear,” Commissioner Doug Averett said. “The Port of Longview is open for business and all project proposals will be evaluated on their individual merits, not the commodity.”

All American Marine Wins Catamaran Contract

By Mark Edward Nero

Bellingham, Washington-based All American Marine has been awarded a contract with the US Army Corps of Engineers for the design and construction of a new hydrofoil supported aluminum catamaran survey vessel, the Army Corps said Feb. 22.

The new vessel is expected to replace the 46-year-old survey boat Shuman, and primarily perform survey missions and some dive operations in support of dredging work planned within the Corps’ Philadelphia district.

The as yet unnamed 68- by 26-foot custom aluminum catamaran will be designed by Auckland, New Zealand firm Teknicraft Design, Ltd., for whom All American Marine is the exclusive in North America builder.

The aluminum hull will feature the Teknicraft Design signature hull shape with symmetrical bow, asymmetrical tunnel and integrated wave piercer. A custom aluminum hydrofoil will be fit to span between the sponsons to generate lift of the semi displacement hulls and enhance performance.

Power for the propeller driven vessel will be provided by a pair of Caterpillar C18 diesel engines rated at 1,001 BHP at 2,300 rpm, with an EPA Tier III emissions rating. Auxiliary power will be supplied via twin Northern Lights C40M.3 40.kW generators. The vessel will have a cruise speed of 28 knots.

The vessel’s suite of deck gear includes a hydraulic A-frame, davit, scientific winch, and moon pool with deployable sonar strut. Dive platforms will be fit to the transom of each sponson.

This latest contract follows the delivery of the 62-foot Florida II, a foil assisted survey vessel that All American Marine was previously awarded to build for the US Army Corp’s Jacksonville, Fla. district.

Seaspan Investing $2 Million in Marine Programs

By Mark Edward Nero

The University of British Columbia is to receive a $2 million investment from Seaspan Shipyards over the next seven years to support teaching and research in the naval architecture and marine engineering programs at the UBC faculty of applied science.

The two parties revealed the agreement Feb. 18.

“Seaspan is developing and growing a shipbuilding and ship repair center of excellence in British Columbia, and helping drive Canada’s marine industrial base in the process,” said Brian Carter, president of Seaspan Shipyards. “We are thrilled to partner with UBC and take one giant step closer to realizing this goal by creating rewarding new careers and investing in a brighter future for thousands of British Columbians and their families.”

Seaspan Shipyards is expected to be an integral part of the new master of engineering leadership in naval architecture and marine engineering program, which UBC launched in early 2016. The one-year program combines graduate engineering courses at the faculty of applied science with business courses at the UBC Sauder School of Business.

“UBC is western North America’s only academic institution offering graduate programs in naval architecture and marine engineering,” interim university President Martha Piper said in a statement. “Seaspan’s investment supports our leadership in these areas and also advances BC’s shipbuilding and marine solutions.”

As a result of the agreement, two new chair positions are to be created at the university: one in naval architecture and one in marine systems engineering, both of which are expected to be recruited this summer.

“Master of engineering leadership graduates will be primed for careers overseeing shipbuilding operations, procurement, and ship design,” said Marc Parlange, dean of the UBC faculty of applied science.

More information about the naval architecture and marine engineering master’s programs is available at

Vancouver USA Signs Terminal Development Deal

By Mark Edward Nero

The Port of Vancouver USA and Clark College have signed an agreement that opens the door to partnership at the port’s Terminal 1 waterfront redevelopment.

During its Feb. 23 meeting, the port’s Board of Commissioners unanimously approved an agreement aimed at stimulating education, art and commerce, and “creating a sense of place” at Terminal 1, which is the site of unfolding redevelopment.

Owned by the port for more than a century, Terminal 1 most recently housed the Red Lion Hotel Vancouver at the Quay and The Quay Restaurant. Both businesses closed in November 2015. The port says it immediately began “reenergizing” the space, bringing in biotech company AbSci LLC and locally owned Torque Coffee Roasters.

The agreement signed Feb. 23 allows Clark College to collaborate with port tenants at Terminal 1 to provide educational and community programs that “support and energize” the local economy, according to the port.

“This is another exciting step in keeping Terminal 1 active while we move through the planning and permitting processes for redevelopment,” Vancouver USA CEO Todd Coleman. “We’re excited for the opportunities this brings for us, for the college and for future industry at the waterfront.”

“Being a partner with the Port of Vancouver provides dynamic learning opportunities,” Clark College President Bob Knight said. “We see a home at the port for future programing and are happy to connect Clark College to the revitalized waterfront.”

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

FMC Fines Calif. NVOCCs

By Mark Edward Nero

The Federal Maritime Commission said Feb. 18 that it has completed compromise agreements with four ocean transportation intermediaries -- including two in California -- and one vessel-operating common carrier, recovering a total of $520,000 in civil penalties.

The intermediaries include both non-vessel-operating common carriers (NVOCCs) and freight forwarders. They include Ba-Shi Yuexin Logistics Development Co. Ltd., a licensed and bonded NVOCC based in Alhambra, Calif. and Thornley & Pitt, Inc., a licensed NVOCC and freight forwarder in Millbrae, Calif.

Ba-Shi Yuexin Logistics was alleged by the FMC to have obtained ocean transportation for property “at less than the rates and charges otherwise applicable” in its service contract with NYK Line. The company was also accused of providing transportation to its customers at rates not in accordance with Ba-Shi’s NVOCC tariff.

Under the terms of the compromise, the company paid $100,000 in penalties.

Thornley & Pitt was alleged by Commission staff of knowingly and willfully obtaining transportation at less than applicable rates by improperly obtaining access to service contracts to which Thornley & Pitt was not the contract signatory.

Under the terms of the compromise, the company made a payment of $65,000.

NVOCCs and freight forwarders in Germany, Taiwan and New York were also fined between $50,000 and $170,000 under similar allegations.

The penalties resulted from investigations conducted by Commission area representatives in Seattle and New York, as well as by Washington DC headquarters staff.

Although the parties settled and agreed to penalties, they were not required to admit to violations of the Shipping Act or Commission regulations.

Oakland, Tenant Reach Lease Termination Agreement

By Mark Edward Nero

The Port of Oakland has agreed to a lease termination agreement with bankrupt tenant Outer Harbor Terminals LLC.

The port’s Board of Port Commissioners approved the agreement the afternoon of Feb. 19, and it is now set for review by a bankruptcy judge in Delaware who is overseeing Outer Harbor Terminals’ request for bankruptcy protection.

In January, Outer Harbor filed for bankruptcy and announced its intention to close its Oakland operation, which is one of five privately-operated marine terminals at the port. If the bankruptcy court approves the lease termination agreement, Outer Harbor Terminal will close April 29.

The agreement terminates the 50-year lease that Outer Harbor signed with the port in 2009, and imposes several conditions, among them that Outer Harbor Terminal would continue Oakland vessel and cargo operations through March 31, and that it would pay about $6 million in February and March rent to the port.

The agreement also requires the terminal operator to clean up debris and remove equipment on the 166-acre property, plus pay the port $5.1 million for additional cleanup and repair.

In return, the port would provide free rent in April to ensure the terminal remains open for cargo operations until the shutdown.

“We’re not pleased to see a terminal close, but this agreement helps ensure a smooth transition for our customers,” Port of Oakland Maritime Director John Driscoll said. “All of our attention now is on efficiently migrating their cargo to the other terminals in Oakland.”

Earlier this month, the port developed a continuity plan to move ships and cargo to adjacent terminals when Outer Harbor Terminal closes, and also implemented a $1.5 million transition assistance program to extend gate hours at port terminals.

Seattle Fisheries Combining Management

By Mark Edward Nero

Two Seattle-based companies, Prowler Fisheries and Blue North Fisheries, have reached a combined management agreement that they say is expected to streamline efficiencies and help optimize day-to-day operations for both businesses.

Under the agreement, Blue North Fisheries will manage Prowler Fisheries’ five hook-and-line catcher processors currently operating in the Bering Sea, Aleutian Islands and Gulf of Alaska. In addition, a Blue North subsidiary will market and sell all of the frozen-at-sea products produced by the Prowler vessels starting B Season 2016.

“Our agreement will enhance both companies’ strength and market agility,” said Larry Cotter, Prowler Fisheries managing partner. “We believe the benefits will be far-reaching: vessel crews will see a continued focus on quality and efficiency, an increased presence in Dutch Harbor Alaska and great support from the Seattle Blue North team.”

Further, Cotter said, agreement allows efficiencies to be shared by Blue North and Prowler in everything from insurance, fuel and groceries to repairs, compliance and documentation.

Also part of the agreement, Prowler Fisheries will close the Seattle office of Alaska Longline Co., the operation that currently manages its Prowler vessels. Many of the current Alaska Longline employees are expected to be retained by Blue North.

Cotter will remain the managing partner of Prowler Fisheries.

“This relationship represents a big step in operational innovation in our industry,” said Blue North President and CEO Kenny Down. “This agreement allows for the autonomy of each group while combining management under one roof in a strong structure – stronger than could ever be accomplished separately.”

Bulk Carrier Spills Oil in Columbia River

By Mark Edward Nero

The bulk carrier Nord Auckland spilled roughly 80 gallons of oil in the Columbia River while anchored near the Port of Kalama on Feb. 18, the US Coast Guard and Washington Dept. of Ecology say.

According to the USCG, watchstanders at Coast Guard Sector Columbia River received reports of sheening in the water from National Response Center personnel shortly after 10 am on the date of the incident, then about 1 pm, pollution response experts from the Incident Management Division, based at Coast Guard Marine Safety Unit Portland, Oregon, arrived on scene.

Dept. of Ecology staff later participated in an overflight surveillance and observed a number of sheening trails downriver. Oil was observed near shorelines and near wildlife concentrations, however, no direct observations of oiled wildlife have been reported, according to the USCG.

The 610-foot Singapore-flagged Nord Auckland, which was built in 2010, reportedly released bunker oil due to operator error: the oil was intended to be burned in the incinerator.

The vessel’s owner contracted the spill response and prevention non-profit Clean Rivers Cooperative, which responded with crews on two booming vessels to engage in cleanup operations.

However, after performing a close inspection of the oil observed by air, the boat assessment team determined that the oil was too thin and weathered to be recovered by mechanical collection methods.
The incident is still under investigation, according to Coast Guard Sector Columbia River.