Port Metro Vancouver this week released official cargo statistics for 2013 with new records set in overall tonnage of cargo, as well as in container and bulk cargoes. The total tonnage handled was 135 million tons, a 9% increase of over 2012, evenly split between imports and exports. Bulk cargo exports increased by nearly 11% thanks to increased coal and grain shipments whilst container volumes grew by 4% to a record 2.83million TEU. Cruise traffic increased by 22% to 812,398 passengers spread over 29 vessels. On the down side, crude oil exports were down by 5% and auto volumes decreased by 1%.
Unfortunately the first two months of 2014 have been difficult on account of the well documented weather problems in central and eastern Canada, a surge of container imports ahead of the Chinese New Year and now disruption to trucking services spearheaded by the United Truckers Associations (UTA).
A partial judgment has now been handed down in the case of the Cape Apricot which was involved in the December 2012 incident at Westshore Terminals. A federal judge has ruled against the argument presented by the parties acting for the vessel’s owner to place full liability on the marine pilot having con of the vessel at the time. Westshore Terminals is said to be pursuing $54.4 million in claims against various entities involved in the significant damage incurred to terminal infrastructure and for consequential financial losses. The pilot involved has already admitted partial liability.
Qatargas’ Q-Flex class LNG carrier Al-Gharrafa delivers a
commissioning cargo to Tangshan Caofeidian LNG Terminal
China’s LNG imports have risen by a staggering 77% year on year to January 2014 and are now running at an annualized 2.7 million tons. One reason for this is the increase in the sheer number of LNG import terminals commissioned over the past 12 months. Most recently, PetroChina initiated its Tangshan LNG plant on December 11 and China National Offshore Oil Corp.’s Tianjin floating LNG terminal received its first cargo on January 22.
On the formal opening this week of Singapore’s first LNG terminal, the government has announced plans to build a second LNG receiving terminal as it steps on the ‘gas” to become Asia’s LNG trading hub. Singapore imported its first LNG cargo in March 2013 (picture above) and progressive expansion will raise capacity to 9 million tons a year by 2017. Spot LNG prices for Northeast Asia are currently trading near a record high at $19.60 per million British thermal units (BTU). Approximately 90% of Singapore’s electricity needs is derived from natural gas.
Patrolling of Emission Control Areas (ECAs) by so called aerial sniffer drones is being promoted by the French IT & Engineering company Explicit. The system claims to be able to calculate the exact position of the plume of a ship in real-time. This could be timely following a warning this week from the Danish Shipowners’ Association (DSA) that some European ship owners may be tempted to break the tougher ECA standards that will come into force from January 1 2015. The DSA has estimated that a commercial vessel running though the English Channel and then into the Baltic Sea through the Kiel Canal could save up to $300,000 per trip by using heavy fuel oil instead of a low-sulphur diesel.
computer image - HMS Queen Elizabeth
Her Majesty The Queen will officially name the Royal Navy's new aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth at a ceremony in Scotland this summer. The ceremony will be held on July 4 at Rosyth dockyard, in Fife, where work to assemble the vessel is being completed. The Ministry of Defence advertizes the 65,000 ton vessel as the largest vessel ever built for the Royal Navy and the most complex warship ever built in the UK. Watch for a future “Ship of the Week.”
So we had a little snow here last weekend but nowhere near the fun of the 60th Quebec City Winter Carnival which hosted the second official race of the 2014 Ice Canoe Circuit season in the waters of the St. Lawrence River. Hundreds of years ago when the trading of dead animal furs was a big deal along the banks of the St. Lawrence Seaway, the second oldest Canadian sport (after hockey) was invented namely Ice Canoe Racing. This goes back to a time when the only way to cross the Saint Lawrence River during the winter months was via a purpose built canoe capable of being carried over ice-floes and doing battle with the ice covered waterway. Just to underline that all the adventurers are not here on the west coast, 120 years after the first race, ice canoes are still at it and are now faster than ever. The 28’ foot boats are manned by five men or women depending on the class and make their way through fast moving ice and onto frozen banks to reach the finish line. Last weekend 52 teams did battle.
BC Ferries announced today that Seaspan’s Vancouver Shipyards has been awarded the $15 million contract for the construction of a new cable ferry to service its route between Buckley Bay and Denman Island. Seaspan’s contract award comes on the heels of a competitive procurement process that included three shortlisted shipyards – two in Canada and one in the United States – as well as an endorsement from the BC Ferries Board of Directors.
The 78.5 metre cable ferry, expected to be in operation by the Summer of 2015, will accommodate up to 50 vehicles and 150 passengers. Construction is scheduled to start in June, 2014, with delivery of the vessel slated for the first quarter of 2015.
Canada and the US have launched Phase II of the truck cargo pre-inspection pilot at the Peace Bridge crossing between Fort Erie, Ontario and Buffalo, New York. The pilot is a key deliverable under the Beyond the Border Action Plan and is intended to test the concept of conducting US Custom and Border Protection (CBP) primary inspection of US-bound truck cargo in Canada in order to better manage their shared border and improve economic opportunities for both countries.
Phase I tested the feasibility of using certain technologies and jointly-developed procedures in order to conduct CBP primary truck processing in Canada at the Pacific Highway crosssing. Secondary inspections, when required, were conducted in the US port of entry.
Phase II will test the ability of the pre-inspection process to reduce wait times and border congestion.
Seaspan’s new 300-tonne Gantry Crane this week at Vancouver Shipyards.
Once erected, this colossal crane will be the largest Gantry Crane in Canada, towering 80 metres high and spanning 76 metres wide, and mark a significant milestone in Vancouver Shipyard’s Modernization Project. The two-year, $200 million project, which began construction in October 2012 and is scheduled for completion in the fall of 2014, will provide a new state-of-the-art facility, allowing Seaspan to efficiently deliver Non-Combat Vessels for the Royal Canadian Navy and Canadian Coast Guard.
Due to its massive size, the crane was shipped in three large pieces – the fixed leg, hinged leg and main girder – along with thousands of smaller components from China via a deep sea ship to Fraser Surrey Docks, before being offloaded and transported to Seaspan’s North Vancouver location.
Assembly, hook-up, testing and commissioning of the crane is estimated to take place over the next several months, with completion targeted for this summer.
Earlier this week, the Panama Canal Authority (ACP) set Wednesday Feb. 19 as the deadline to reach an agreement over US$1.6 billion in cost overruns related to construction of the new locks. Sure enough, an announcement on Wednesday confirmed that construction would resume on Thursday following an agreement by ACP to pay the construction consortium GUPC $36.8 million to cover outstanding invoices incurred in December. The two sides will continue with discussions on a long list of other unresolved issues.
Following on from a story last week, Lloyd’s Register has warned that the fire damaged chemical tanker Maritime Maisie is in danger of breaking up as her maximum bending moments are now estimated to far exceed damage strength limitations. The vessel was carrying an estimated 30,000 tons of acrylonitrile when she was involved in a collision with the car carrier Gravity Highway 55 days ago near the port of Busan resulting in her catching fire. The ship has spent almost eight weeks held at sea by tugs with both Japan and South Korea unwilling to provide refuge and avoid almost certain disaster. It seems that Maritime Maisie may soon join the now infamous list of vessels Stolt Valor, MSC Flaminia , Prestige, Erika and Castor that were refused a port of refuge in an hour of need.
Two US security officers attached to the infamous container ship Maersk Alabama were found dead in Port Victoria, Seychelles, this week. The two were discovered in a cabin. Maersk Alabama gained notoriety when she was hijacked by Somali pirates in 2009 resulting in a five-day standoff with the U.S. Navy. A post-mortem examination has been scheduled to determine cause of death and the US Coast Guard has reportedly opened an investigation.
A Saudi national being held at Guantanamo Bay since 2002 pleaded guilty this week to involvement in the suicide bombing of the French flagged VLCC Limburg in 2002 off the coast of Yemen in which one crewmember was killed and 12 injured. Although not directly involved in the actual bombing, the accused was convicted of helping to plan the bombing, including buying the boats involved even though at the time of the attack he was already in US custody.
Given the state of the market, the large number of containerships being offered for demolition is starting to put pressure on the scrap market. Around20 Panamax containerships are believed to be on the chopping block already with many more available at the right price as owners focus on modern and more fuel efficient tonnage. As can be seen from the graphs, rates other than in China are at the healthy $450-500 per light deadweight ton (ldt) level, however should it be sustained the tsunami of scrapping that is currently underway is sure to put downward pressure on rates.
Ever desperate to milk the cow that feeds it, and most of the population for that matter, the Suez Canal Authority has announced new tolls for tankers with increases of up to 2.6% effective May 1. Last year, fees for tankers rose between 2.5% and 5%. On a more positive note and following completion of a dredging program the Canal has decided to allow containerships of up to 13,000 TEU to join the second southbound convoy of the day, a move which could reduce eastbound transit times by half a day. Qualifying vessels will have a maximum LOA of up to 370m, beam 50m and a draft of 14.6 meters, larger vessels have to pay a surcharge. The similarity with maximum dimensions for container ships transiting the Panama Canal once the lock expansion program is complete are unmistakable.
A newly formed IMO subcommittee focusing on the human element at sea has been in session this week. On the agenda was the Polar Code, reviewing maritime distress systems and developing what will eventually become the gas-as-fuel code for vessels running off low-flashpoint fuels such as natural gas and methanol. The Human Element, Training and Watchkeeping subcommittee was formed in 2013 in response to significant disagreements on such issues as standards of vessels and qualifications of crew operating vessels in polar regions including the ability to understand the risks of operating in or near ice if they have no prior experience. IMO Secretary General Mr. Koji Sekimizu wants the mandatory polar code to be completed this year and to come into force in 2016.