Friday, March 31, 2017

Economist Predicts US Cargo Container Trade Growth

By Mark Edward Nero

International trade is expected to grow for the US in 2017, as domestic economic conditions improve and the world economy accelerates, an economic forecaster predicted at the Port of Long Beach’s annual “Pulse of the Ports” peak season forecast on March 29.

Containerized imports from Asia are expected to increase by 6.9 percent in 2017, but US container exports to Asia to climb a modest 1.3 percent, according to panelist Mario Moreno, Senior Economist with IHS Maritime & Trade.

He also predicted that the overall US economy would rise by about 2.3 percent this year.

More than 500 people attended the 13th annual forecast event hosted by the Port of Long Beach and presented at the Long Beach Convention Center. Industry experts offered insight into trends in global shipping and how they affect the San Pedro Bay port complex.

A panel of six experts from all sectors of the supply chain shared their views on new container vessel alliances, fluid international trade policy, railroads, trucking and other issues facing worldwide commerce.

In addition to Moreno, panelists included John Zarrella, Sales Manager, Preferred Shipper Services; Ken O'Brien, Chief Operating Officer, Gemini Shippers Group; Steve Rothberg, Partner, Mercator International LLC; Anthony Hatch, Principal, ABH Consulting; and Alex Cherin, Intermodal Conference Executive Director, California Trucking Association.

The question and answer portion of the event was moderated by Mark Hirzel, District Manager of A.N. Deringer Inc., while Port of Long Beach Chief Commercial Officer Noel Hacegaba served as master of ceremonies.

Port of Long Beach Interim Chief Executive Duane Kenagy said that the annual forecast event helps industry see the big picture and plan more accurately for the months ahead.

“We have challenges this year,” he said. The challenges include the effects of the new vessel-sharing alliances, growth among competing North American ports and how Washington will address trade policies. “This forum gives us the opportunity to step back and take a look at our industry’s issues from all angles.”

The archived webcast of the event is available at

Study: Cruise Industry Leads in Environmental Performance

By Mark Edward Nero

The cruise industry is a leader in the development of innovative technologies, the reduction of air emissions and wastewater treatment practices, according to a new study released March 30 by Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA).

The study provides the first-ever wide-ranging analysis by independent maritime environmental experts of the cruise industry’s environmental practices and performance. It found that with both air emissions and wastewater treatment practices, CLIA members are leaders in the global commercial maritime sector in the development of innovative technologies to advance environmental stewardship. It also found that CLIA members lead in the development of industry policies and best practices that increase positive environmental performance, and that although cruise ships represent less than one percent of the global commercial maritime fleet, the industry’s actions have substantially contributed to the maritime community’s initiatives in environmental stewardship.

The detailed study, which was commissioned by CLIA and prepared by Energy and Environmental Research Associates, LLC, (EERA) analyzed the practices and performance of the CLIA members’ global fleet of about 300 ocean-going cruise ships, as well as the industry’s investment in technological innovation aboard newly built ships in its growing fleet.

When comparing the level of emissions from all commercial shipping vessels at ports where cruise ships visit in the US and Europe, the study found that the at-berth emissions of cruise ships account for only three percent and 1.2 percent of all emissions within those ports in the US and Europe, respectively.

Overall, EERA found that CLIA members meet or exceed international air emission requirements and are leaders in the maritime sector in adopting cleaner fuels, controlling air emissions and preparing vessels to connect to shore-based energy systems.

Technologies and best practices identified in the EERA report include:

• Systems to reduce air emissions from exhaust stacks, including, as one example, advanced exhaust gas cleaning systems to reduce sulfur oxide and particulate matter.

• The use of shore power where available, and noting that CLIA members’ use of advancements in alternative fuels and emissions abatement technologies could reduce the need for investment in additional shore power in the future.

• Fuel switching to lower sulfur fuel before entering an emission control area, if other methods of emissions abatement aren’t otherwise available on a cruise ship.

• Investment in the use of alternative fuels such as liquefied natural gas, with an increasing number of new build orders for LNG-fueled ships.

The full report can be read and downloaded at

Port of Oakland Invests in Solar Power

By Mark Edward Nero

Port of Oakland Commissioners have approved an $8.9 million deal to purchase solar power for the next 20 years. The port said its municipal utility will resell the electricity to tenants, including those at both the seaport and Oakland airport.

Under the agreement, which was approved March 23, the port plans to buy about 11,000 megawatt hours of electricity annually from a planned expansion of a solar farm located in Lancaster, Calif., about 90 minutes northeast of Los Angeles.

The solar farm expansion is expected to come online in December 2020, according to the port. Oakland said it will pay $39 per megawatt hour for the solar-generated electricity.

The megawatt hours, according to the port, represent about 35 percent of the renewable energy that Oakland needs by 2030 to meet California renewable portfolio standards requirements under state law.

The Port of Oakland operates its own electrical utility; the utility buys electricity and resells it to tenants at the seaport as well as at Oakland International Airport, which is operated by the port.

Port of Seattle Opens 150 Paid Internship Slots

By Mark Edward Nero

The Port of Seattle is kicking off its 2017 summer intern program with 150 paid roles for high school and college students, which is triple the number of positions offered just two years ago.

“We need to tackle three fundamental challenges in our economy right now: a coming labor shortfall in skilled trades and port-related industries, fewer industries creating good paying jobs that support the middle class, and a lack of opportunities in disadvantaged communities,” Port of Seattle Commissioner Stephanie Bowman explained.

“We designed our internship program and partnerships to do more to inspire students to explore these industries, learn about skills training and get connected to opportunities,” she said.

In addition, area businesses in the maritime and manufacturing sectors are participating in an expanded pilot program to host and train their own interns. Last year, companies like Vigor and Status Ceramics partnered with the port to create additional opportunities for students.

This year, participation in the program means the placement of a port-recruited intern, and support in the form of training for intern supervisors, access to youth counselors, and off-site education and enrichment opportunities.

In addition to youth career exploration events, the Port of Seattle supports programs with local private employers and unions to improve career pathways for airport workers looking to take on more challenging and higher wage work. The Port is also working to increase adult referrals to pre-apprenticeship, apprenticeship and union trades job opportunities through a trades partnership with local governments and nonprofits.

On March 30, the Youth Maritime Collaborative hosted an interactive event where those interested in maritime careers could meet potential employers and explore a variety of opportunities in the field.

The Youth Maritime Collaborative is an organization of maritime industry companies, educational institutions, non-profits, community service providers and public agencies established to help address the maritime industry’s urgent need for skilled workers.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

NASSCO Christens, Launches Final ‘ECO Class’ Vessel

By Mark Edward Nero

On Saturday, March 25, General Dynamics NASSCO christened and launched the Palmetto State – the final ship in an eight-ship “ECO Class” tanker program to be constructed at the company’s San Diego headquarters.

According to NASSCO, the new ECO-class design symbolizes the emerging direction of the shipping industry in the US toward cleaner, more fuel-efficient modes of transporting product. The design provides a 33 percent fuel efficiency improvement compared to product tankers built just a few years ago.

In 2013, NASSCO entered into agreements with two companies, American Petroleum Tankers and SEA-Vista LLC, to design and construct a total of eight 50,000 deadweight-ton, LNG-conversion-ready product tankers to include a 330,000-barrel cargo capacity each. Seven of the eight tankers have been delivered to their respective customers. The final tanker, the Palmetto State, is scheduled for delivery this summer.

More than a thousand shipbuilders, their families and friends, and members of the community attended the christening celebration. Congresswoman Susan Davis (D-San Diego) served as the principal speaker for the event.

The ship’s sponsor, who christened the vessel with the traditional break of a champagne bottle on the ship’s hull, was Linda Rankine, the wife of Bill Rankine, manager of marine chartering and operations for CITGO. NASSCO’s manager of planning, Karen Herrmann, served as the trigger honoree, and CITGO marine chartering manager Shari Flippin acted as the first shore removal honoree.

The Palmetto State and her sister ships are the most fuel-efficient tankers to service the Jones Act trade, according to NASSCO, which is the only major shipyard on the West Coast of the United States conducting design, construction and repair of commercial and US Navy ships.

In the past decade, NASSCO has delivered 29 ocean-going ships to government and commercial customers, including the world’s first LNG-powered containerships. In the past two years, NASSCO processed more than 120,000 tons of steel.

1,000th Neo-Panamax Vessel Passes Through Expanded Panama Canal

By Mark Edward Nero

Less than nine months after the inauguration of the expansion of the Panama Canal, the waterway has welcomed its 1,000th Neo-Panamax vessel.

On Sunday, March 19, Mediterranean Shipping Co.’s containership MSC Anzu made the historic 1,000th transit through the expanded canal, heading northbound from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean. The Panama-flagged containership, which was built in 2015, measures about 300 meters (984 feet) in length and 48.23 meters (157 feet) in beam with a carrying capacity of over 9,000 TEUs.

The 1000th transit marked a significant milestone for the Expanded Canal, which is experiencing a steady flow of traffic – including containerships, liquid petroleum gas vessels and liquefied natural gas vessels. Other segments like dry bulk carriers, vehicle carriers and crude product tankers have also transited through the expanded canal, according to the Panama Canal Authority, the government of Panama agency charged with managing, operating and maintaining the canal.

According to the same source, as of March 2017, the average number of Neo-Panamax vessels transiting the new lane per day is 5.9. In February, the Panama Canal set a new daily tonnage record of 1.18 million tons after welcoming a total of 1,180 vessels through both the expanded and original locks. The previous records were established in December 2016 and January 2017, when the waterway set monthly tonnage records for transiting 35.4 million tons and 36.1 million tons, respectively.

AAPA Launches Port Infrastructure Advocacy Campaign

By Mark Edward Nero

The American Association of Port Authorities has launched a campaign that will advocate for transportation infrastructure investment on behalf of the nation’s manufacturers, farmers and other workers who count on modern and efficient seaports to move American products to vital overseas markets.

Called the “America: Keep It Moving” campaign, AAPA’s US members in the coming months plan to coordinate actions to inform policymakers, and those who influence policy, about the job-creating power of US ports as the Trump Administration and Congress consider plans for national infrastructure improvements and funding.

“The nation’s seaports serve a vital role in US job creation, economic prosperity and international competitiveness,” AAPA President and CEO Kurt Nagle said in a statement. “To help American businesses compete in overseas markets, the Administration and Congress must make investments today to build a 21st century seaport infrastructure.”

Port activity supports 23 million American jobs and generates $321 billion in federal, state and local tax revenue each year, according to the AAPA, while the total value of economic activity related to America’s ports is $4.6 trillion. “Ports send products made in America’s cities, towns and rural communities to markets around the world,” Nagle said. “This activity is critical to the workers and management of US manufacturers, service companies, farmers and nearly every other kind of business across the nation.”

One of every three acres on American farmland is planted for export markets, according to the US Chamber of Commerce, and nearly 12 million jobs are supported by exports nationwide, including a quarter of all manufacturing jobs. Infrastructure investment impacts how efficiently US goods are transported to port facilities for export. Among the highways that take US goods to market, some 1,200 miles of the nation’s road, bridges and tunnels serve as vital freight connections to ports, much of which is in dire need of investment.

According to the American Society of Civil Engineers, the cost of deficient highways could cost US businesses and households up to $575 billion by 2025, reaching a $3.2 trillion loss by 2040.

The volume of freight in the US is projected to grow more than 40 percent by 2045, while the value of that same freight is projected to increase about 92 percent, according to the US Department of Transportation. By 2037, the US is expected to export over 52 million shipping containers through US seaports annually.

“We must prepare the nation’s infrastructure to meet a growing demand for the safe, efficient movement of freight,” Nagle said. “To keep America moving, the time to invest in port infrastructure is now.”

Port of Portland Hires O’Hollaren As Maritime Marketing Head

By Mark Edward Nero

Ken O’Hollaren, the ex-CEO of the Port of Longview and former executive director of the Port of Port Angeles, is on the move again. He has been hired to lead the Port of Portland’s marine marketing efforts, the port announced March 20.

“We are excited to have Ken’s ideas and expertise as we look to grow our strong position as an auto and bulk gateway and set a new vision for business activity at Terminal 6,” the Port of Portland’s chief commercial officer, Keith Leavitt, said in a statement. “Ken is a highly-regarded leader in the Pacific Northwest marine port sector.”

O’Hollaren was the executive director of the Port of Longview until retiring at the end of 2012 after nearly 25 years in the position. He was brought on at the Port of Port Angeles as interim executive director in July 2013 and was later named to the position permanently. He resigned after two years, citing a desire to spend more time with family.

O’Hollaren also previously served as chair of the Interstate Columbia River Improvement Project, the plan to deepen the Columbia River shipping channel, and is a past chairman of the American Association of Port Authorities.