ExxonMobil and Qatar Petroleum have announced that they will proceed with development of the $10 billion Golden Pass LNG export project located in Sabine Pass, Texas. Qatar Petroleum will invest more than $8 billion and ExxonMobil more than $2 billion in the project. The decision to self-financing the project reflects Qatar Petroleum and ExxonMobil’s confidence in LNG demand growth over the longer term. The Department of Energy has authorized 23.05 billion cubic feet per day (235 billion cubic meters per year or 177 MTPA (million tons per annum) of LNG) of natural gas primarily spread across 10 large-scale export projects in Louisiana, Texas, Maryland, Georgia, and the Gulf of Mexico. Once completed, Golden Pass will be the seventh large scale LNG export project in the United States and be capable of exporting more than 2 billion cubic feet per day of U.S. LNG to any county.
The FMC has been reinvigorated by the addition of two commissioners and new laws enacted late last year. In December, President Trump signed into law the Federal Maritime Commission Authorization Act of 2017, representing the first meaningful revision to US maritime competition legislation in 20 years. These amendments were made in response to pressure from terminal and tug operators that lobbied Congress over their concerns about the bargaining power of the global alliances. While the changes are regarded as evolutionary rather than revolutionary, sending a strong message to ocean carrier vessel-sharing agreements that they must not abuse their dominant position during collective bargaining negotiations.
Republican U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, has called on the Trump administration to lift tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from Canada and Mexico before Congress begins considering legislation to implement the new U.S.-Mexico-Canada (USMCA) trade deal. He believes that before Congress considers legislation to implement USMCA, the administration should lift tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from our top two trading partners and secure the elimination of retaliatory tariffs that stand to wipe out gains our farmers have made over the past 2½ decades," Grassley said.
Mr. Louis E. Sola of Florida and Mr. Daniel B. Maffei of New York were sworn-in as Commissioners of the Federal Maritime Commission on January 23, 2019. Commissioner Sola served on the Florida Board of Pilots Commissioners and presided on the probable cause panel for maritime incidents and is also a licensed shipbroker. Commissioner Maffei has served two terms in the United States Congress representing portions of upstate New York. Both Commissioners were nominated be President Trump on November 15, 2018, confirmed by the United States Senate on January 2, 2019.
The Office of Commercial Vessel Compliance has released the "Commercial Vessel Safety during lapse in Coast Guard Appropriations" bulletin to assist vessel owners, operators, and other affected parties during a lapse in appropriations. In the absence of enacted appropriation or continuing resolution, the Coast Guard is required to execute an orderly suspension of some operations and activities. The bulletin includes details on Certificates of Financial Responsibility, Certificates of Documentation, and Merchant Mariner Credentials.
Seaspan has been slowly pre-paying its credit facilities, releasing ships and as of mid-January Seaspan's pool of unencumbered vessels increased to 32. Earlier this week TradeWinds reported that companies controlled by the Washington family have registered up to 52.81m shares for sale at a maximum price of $8.98 each - this would bring in more than $474m. The shares are owned by companies including Deep Water Holdings, the Kevin Lee Washington 2014 Trust, the Kyle Roy Washington 2014 Trust and the Kyle Roy Washington 2005 Trust. Seaspan has advised that the additional capital is earmarked for growth and debt repayment.
The US Coast Guard and Customs and Border Protection responded to a report of three stowaways on the merchant vessel, Diana J, Wednesday approximately three miles offshore of Port of Miami. The USCG watchstanders received a report from the Diana J crew stating they had located two Guatemalan adult male stowaways and one Honduran adult male stowaway during a pre-arrival stowaway search approximately 23 miles northwest of La Palma, Cuba, Tuesday. After holding the ship offshore to allow for a full search, no additional stowaways were found.
Washington State Governor Jay Inslee launched the Maritime Blue 2050 initiative, the first initiative of its kind in the US to bolster innovations in the maritime sector that create living-wage jobs, protect the environment and ensure sustainability for the industry. As part of that launch, the governor created the Maritime Innovation Advisory Council to develop a comprehensive plan for stakeholders to accelerate and support technology, innovation and best practices throughout the state’s entire maritime industry. The Advisory Council presented the governor with their report this week at the Maritime Blue Strategy roll-out in Seattle. The Washington State Department of Commerce partnered with DNV GL to develop the strategic roadmap that will be used to guide the state toward achieving this vision.
The National Maritime Center (NMC) posted updated information on Jan. 8, 2019 for merchant mariners impacted by the lapse in appropriation.
Adidas and the National Hockey League created new hockey jerseys in partnership with Parley for the Ocean using repurposed and upcycled materials. NHL players are expected to don the new jerseys for All-Star Games this month in San Jose. The special edition Adizero Authentic Pro x are made from Parley Ocean Plastic, i.e. materials made from plastic bottles and other plastic waste intercepted in marine environments. Adidas has committed to eliminate the use of virgin plastic for manufacturing by 2024.
The Port of Virginia celebrated the arrival of the Zhen Hua 27 to Virginia International Gateway in Portsmouth. The ship finished its voyage from China with four fully-assembled, 170-foot-tall gantry cranes aboard, which are now the largest shipping cranes ever in the United States. The Port of Virginia now has 30 ship-to-shore cranes and new are among the final pieces of the $320 million expansion project to increase capacity and efficiency at VIG.
The US Maritime Advisory System will initiate a new type of US Maritime Alert to relay urgent maritime related information from other USG sources or international regional maritime security reporting centers (i.e. United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations, Maritime Domain Awareness for Trade Gulf of Guinea, Regional Cooperation Agreement on combating Piracy and Armed Robbery, International Maritime Bureau Piracy Reporting Center), when warranted. To subscribe to the alerts visit the Maritime Security Communications with Industry (MSCI) Portal at www.marad.dot.gov/MSCI. Maritime industry professionals (civilian or military) may also register to receive additional Company Security Officer related information. Although housed on MARAD’s website.
The Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) issued a news release stating that the agency is closed due to the partial federal government shutdown and will resume operation upon enactment of appropriations legislation. The shutdown has also affected the US Coast Guard Academy, NOAA and the Maritime Administration, which prepared to cease all activities in the Committee on Marine Transportation Systems, the Office of Policy and Plans, and the Office of Maritime Education and Training, among others.
The Office of Commercial Vessel Compliance has published the 2017 Domestic Vessel Annual Report, highlighting for the first time U.S. domestic fleet deficiencies, inspections, and marine casualty statistics. The data will serve as a baseline to study trends, identify key performance indicators, and bring attention to issues in the fleet. A few key findings discussed in the report are:
The US Coast Guard has issued type approval certificates to Panasia Co., Ltd. for its GloEn-Patrol BWMS and to De Nora Water Technologies Texas, LLC for its BALPURE BWMS after a detailed under 46 CFR 162.060. The GloEn-Patrol BWMS consists of filtration with UV treatment at uptake and discharge whereas the BALPURE BWMS consists of filtration with electrolysis during uptake and neutralization during discharge. For the latest updates on approved systems and those in progress, visit the US Coast Guard's website, Marine Safety Center.
Washington State Governor, Jay Inslee,wants $1.1 billion to help save Puget Sound’s critically endangered Southern Resident Killer Whales. The recommendations in his plan closely track those of the governor’s task force for orca recovery, the result of months of work by more than 40 members. Tax increases will be needed to pay for the recovery efforts, as well as other initiatives in Inslee’s proposed biennial budget. His proposals include:
The United States (US) House of Representatives and Senate passed the US Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2017, which includes the Vessel Incident Discharge Act (VIDA). Once this legislation is signed into law by the President, it will change how ballast water, and other incidental discharges, are regulated in the United States. VIDA provides for a uniform, national standard to govern discharges that are incidental to vessel operations, such as ballast water discharges. The EPA has a two-year period to promulgate the regulation. The USCG may review and has a 60-day window to concur with the regulation. Until the final regulations are promulgated, the 2013 Vessel General Permit (VGP) shall remain in force and effective. The new regulations being promulgated cannot be less stringent that the 2013 VGP or USCG BWM regulations.