The Port of Virginia has begun the first phase of their ship-channel expansion project, which will deepen and widen its shipping channels to accommodate larger vessels and make it the deepest port on the U.S. East Coast. The 55-foot dredging project started nearly two-and-a-half years ahead of schedule following a final approval from the federal government. When dredging is complete in 2024, the commercial channels serving the Norfolk Harbor will be able to simultaneously accommodate two ultra-large container vessels.
The US Justice Department has charged two foreign shipping companies and a first assistant engineer related to the alleged illegal dumping oily bilge water from a tanker near San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge. The FGL Moon Marshall Limited, the Unix Line, and engineer Gilbert Dela Cruz are being charged with failing to maintain an Oil Record Book and with obstruction of justice. If convicted, Dela Cruz could face up to thirty-one years in prison and fines up to $750,000. FGL Moon and Unix Line are facing criminal fines up to $1.5 million each.
St. Simons Sound Unified Command Salvors are working to stabilize the overturned Golden Ray from erosion in preparation for a potentially lengthy dismantling operation. Crews will begin to strategically place rocks next to the hull of the vessel in hopes of slowing erosion from strong tidal currents, which have already caused some erosion and movement of sediment. The rock-mixture will range in sizes from 1-to-3 inch pieces.
The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is hosting a scoping meeting on November 12th in Friday Harbour, WA to solicit public comments on whether, based on best available information, existing National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) regulations and other measures adequately protect killer whales from the impacts of vessels and noise in the inland waters of Washington State and, if not, what actions NMFS should take. Written submissions invited with a deadline of Dec. 23rd.
The US Treasury Department has issued a nearly two-month waiver for companies to wind down transactions with COSCO Tankers, after they were sanctioned last month for allegedly transporting Iranian oil. The waiver expires on Dec. 20 and allows “maintenance or wind down of transactions” including offloading non-Iranian crude oil involving COSCO Shipping Tanker Co. Ltd. The waiver applies to COSCO Shipping Tanker or any entity owned 50% or more by the company.
The California Air Resources Board (ARB) issued a bulletin announcing that a public hearing will be held in Oakland on 5 December to consider the proposed Control Measure for Ocean-Going Vessels at Berth. The proposed regulation includes adding requirements on ports and terminals, expand covered vessels to include ro-ro and tankers to further reduce GHG and black carbon emissions. Written comments must be submitted by 2 December.
In a JOC article this week the president of the Pacific Merchant Shipping Association (PMSA), John McLaurin speaks to concerns with California’s ports losing market share over the past decade due to high costs, regulatory uncertainties, and environmental restrictions. While California ports have the highest usage of shore power, the costs of complying with state regulations has eroded ports’ competitiveness in the absence of offsets and any recognition or advantage provided. Expensive terminal leases are another concern as marine terminal leases in Southern California are twice as expensive on a per-acre basis compared to terminal costs in other parts of the US.
The State of California has adopted Assembly Bill (A.B.) 912 amending the state’s Marine Invasive Species Act. The Bill requires the State Lands Commission to adopt regulations that would require an owner or operator of a vessel, as defined, carrying, or capable of carrying, ballast water that operates in the waters of the state to implement specified federal standards regulating ballast water discharges and to comply with certain federal performance standards for implementing approved ballast water management methods. The bill would also require that those regulations set a date no later than January 1, 2040, by which the final performance standard for the discharge of ballast water of zero detectable living organisms for all size classes would be required to be met, and would revise certain requirements for the submission of that report regarding ballast water discharges, as prescribed. This also delays implementation of the state’s interim ballast water discharge performance standards until 1 January 2030.
Washington Maritime Blue, the Port of Seattle and WeWork Labs have collaborated to launch Washington’s first maritime accelerator with the goal of helping budding maritime companies innovate and grow. Funded by the Port of Seattle and a grant from the Washington State Department of Commerce, the accelerator aims to advance three key strategies, including helping maritime companies innovate and grow, establishing Washington as a global leader in maritime innovation, and increasing the sustainability of maritime businesses in both Seattle and beyond. The first accelerator cohort is expected to formally begin in January 2020.
The Unified Command unit established for car carrier, Golden Ray, that ran aground and capsized in St. Simons Sound while it was leaving the Port of Brunswick, Georgia, on Sept. 8th has decided that the vessel is impossible to safely right and refloat fully intact, and will therefore be cut in place and removed.
As of Oct. 12, 225,000 gallons of fuel have been removed from the forward fuel tanks and removal of the remaining fuel and lubricant tanks continues. Around 300,000 gallons of fuel was on the ship when it overturned. The Golden Ray is operated by the South Korean shipping and logistics company Hyundai Glovis.
The US Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) will retain the requirement for ocean container carriers to file service contracts in response to a petition from the World Shipping Council (WSC) to exempt carriers from publication requirements in the Shipping Act. The FMC agreed that continued publication of essential terms no longer serves a purpose but rejected the WSC's call to eliminate the ocean carrier confidential service contract filing requirements of the Shipping Act, reports American Shipper. "I would point out that we have three very large alliances that carry something north of 80 per cent of the cargo in the US east-west trades," said FMC chairman Michael Khouri. "One thing we're making sure is that there is competitive pricing among the members in each alliance."Mr Khouri also said eliminating the service contract filing requirement at this time would impact the FMC's "effectiveness and necessity for tools to look into areas of anti-competitive behaviours."
China plans to ask the US to lift sanctions against the Dalian units of China COSCO Shipping Corp. during trade negotiations that started earlier today in Washington. Four other Chinese entities were also sanctioned last month along with COSCO but it is unclear if the Chinese delegation plans to seek relief for those companies.
Nearly 300 oil tankers globally have been placed off limits as companies fear violating US sanctions against Iran and Venezuela, driving freight rates to new highs. Day rates for VLCC’s are rising rapidly toward the $200,000 per day threshold and some have already fixed at a much higher level. The Tankers International pool reported on Oct. 11 that the 2012-built VLCC Ingrid has just been booked at the equivalent of $301,219 per day (on the basis of 45.4 days). The percentage of the VLCC transport cost to cargo value is now quadruple what it was one year ago – but there still appears to be plenty more room for rates to run. US-listed tanker stocks are now surging upward in response.
The US Surface Transportation Board (STB) is urging railroads to work closely with shippers to address concerns about demurrage practices shippers consider unreasonable and nothing more than revenue generators for the railroads. The federal agency issued a proposed rule on two of three petitions it considered but declined to go beyond a policy statement on the main topic of demurrage and accessorial policies. The statement, however, was clear that railroads must meet certain standards when imposing penalties. Although the decision applies only to non-containerized cargo, the general standards are relevant to the Federal Maritime Commission’s (FMC's) proposed interpretive rule on port demurrage, which remains open for comment through Oct. 31. The STB’s decision on the three petitions is open for comment through Nov. 6. The same questions are at the heart of both inquiries. What are reasonable business practices? What is the line between shippers taking too long to turn assets (containers, boxcars, gondolas, or hopper cars) and unreasonably short periods placing an undue burden on shippers?
The rail demurrage policy statement comes after two days of testimony in May when shippers argued Class I railroads will deliver large bunches of railcars while providing only 24 hours to unload the cargo before assessing penalties. Although the testimony was about commodities, precision scheduled railroading emphasizes longer train sets and can also cause bunching of containers. Class I railroads consider demurrage vital to maintaining network fluidity.
The federal government proposed a new rule today to designate 302,961 square nautical miles in the Pacific Ocean as critical habitat for three populations of endangered humpback whales. The proposal is to help protect migrating whales from ship strikes, entanglement in fishing gear, and oil spills.
The rule designates 48,459 square miles of critical habitat off the coast of California, Oregon and Washington for the humpback population that winters in Central America. The Mexico population got 175,812 square miles in the North Pacific Ocean, including Bristol Bay, Bering Sea and Gulf of Alaska — regions that also made up the 78,690 square miles listed for the Western North Pacific humpback population. Eliminating the overlap among the three populations, a total of 175,812 square miles are proposed for protection (proposed maps available here).
The US Department of Agriculture has confirmed that private exporters sold 464,000 tonnes of U.S. soybeans to China for shipment in the 2019/20 marketing year that began Sept. 1.This announcement was part of a flurry of activity resulting from a tariff-free quota awarded to some importers causing soybean prices to rally ahead of trade talks nexxt week. Chinese buyers purchased more than 1.5 million metric tons of U.S. soybeans last week alone, according to data from the US Agriculture Department, and have purchased at least 716,000 tons this week.
Senator Edward J. Markey, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and Senate author of the Green New Deal, has introduced the Block all New (BAN) Oil Exports Act (S. 2527) to amend the Energy Policy and Conservation Act to reinstate the four-decade ban on the export of crude oil and natural gas produced in the United States. This move follows Senator Markey’s concerns with the US dependence on foreign oil following the Saudi Oil Field Attack. The Green New Deal seeks to transition to 100 percent clean, renewable, zero-emitting energy and put an end to America’s dependence on fossil fuels that put the US economy and national security at risk.
United Parcel Service Inc. (UPS) is the first US company to be given government approval by the Federal Aviation Administration to run a drone airline. UPS plans to expand deliveries on hospital campuses and eventually other industries. Its subsidiary, UPS Flight Forward, has operated more than 1,000 flights at Wake Forest University’s medical centre in Raleigh, North Carolina. The designation removes limits on the size of the company’s potential drone operation. Flight Forward can fly an unlimited number of drones, and fly drones at night installing the necessary colored warning lights on each drone.