The Northwest Seaport Alliance has approved SSA Terminals’ plan to modernize and operate Terminal 5. Currently vacant, revitalizing the terminal will serve to consolidate international container volume in the West Waterway area of Seattle and improve cargo-handling efficiency. Terminal 5 will undergo a $300 million investment into infrastructure improvements designed to accommodate mega-ships with a capacity of 14,000 TEU and enhance intermodal rail service to Chicago and the Midwest.
The Port of Oakland is converting 13 diesel-powered yard cranes to hybrid power by equipping them with batteries and new, smaller diesel backup engines. The conversion is expected to bring a 45-ton reduction in diesel-related air pollutants annually. The first crane has already been converted and was brought into service on March 5. The rest of the cranes are expected to undergo conversion by next year.
Dalian Haibo International Freight and Liaoning Danxing International Forwarding, both based in China, have been designated by the US Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) for having helped North Korea evade sanctions. Specifically, Dalian Haibo has been designated for providing goods and services to or in support of the US-designated Paeksol Trading Corporation (Paeksol). In early 2018, Dalian Haibo shipped cargo from Dalian, China to Paeksol in Nampo, North Korea, aboard DPRK-flagged vessels. Liaoning Danxing, has been designated for operating in the transportation industry in North Korea. Liaoning Danxing routinely used deceptive practices that enabled EU-based North Korean procurement officials to operate and purchase goods for the DPRK regime, according to OFAC. As a result of the OFAC action, any property or interests in property of the designated persons in the possession or control of US persons or within or transiting the United States is blocked, and US persons generally are prohibited from dealing with the designated persons.
The Port of San Diego has released an economic impact statement that says the port generated $9.4 Billion for the local economy in 2017, a 13 percent increase over previous years, and a 22 percent increase over the previous four years. There were more than 44,300 jobs on the Port’s waterfront, including shipbuilding and cargo handling, tourism and hospitality jobs. Through a multiplier effect, approximately one in 30 San Diego County jobs were generated by the Port. The overall economic impact also measured activity in and surrounding the port, including hotel booking, conferences, processed cargo, cruise ships, etc.
The Port of Seattle has issued an RFQ to secure a partner that will develop and operate a new, single berth cruise facility at Terminal 46. This RFQ is the first step in a partnership selection process that will support the completion of a new facility for the 2022 cruise season. The Port of Seattle is said to be the most environmentally progressive cruise homeport in North America, with the first cruise homeport in the United States with two shorepower berths, and possibly the only cruise homeport in the United States with three shorepower berths when Terminal 46 is completed. Early estimates are that a cruise terminal could be constructed for around USD 200 million. A public-private-partnership approach to build the terminal will have the port contributing half that cost. Responses to the RFQ are due April 18.
The Polar Star, suffered an electrical fire on 10 February, leaving the country facing a potential shortfall in its icebreaking ability. The ship was the US’ only functioning icebreaking vessel. The fire occurred in the incinerator room, more than 10,000 miles from Seattle. The crew fought the fire for over two hours. A new icebreaker isn’t due to enter the US fleet until 2023, when Polar Star’s service life is due to end, it will be the first time a heavy icebreaker has joined the US fleet for more than 20 years. Now under repair in Seattle, concerns remain about Polar Star’s ability to survive the next four years until its eventual replacement.
Utah Senior, Michael Lee, has introduced the Open America’s Water Act of 2019, a bill which would repeal the Jones Act and allow all qualified vessels to engage in domestic trade between US ports. Currently, the Jones Act requires all goods transported by water between US ports to be carried on a vessel constructed in the US, registered in the US, owned by US citizens, and crewed primarily by US citizens. The Open America’s Water Act would allow for increased trade with foreign vessels between US ports, potentially lowering prices on imported goods to Alaska, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico.
A container arriving in Newark on the Carlotta, a container ship coming from Columbia, was found to contain 3,200 pounds of cocaine. The container was supposed to contain dried fruit. However, US CBP officers decided to investigate it after noticing that the pins holding the doors looked to have been tampered with. This was the largest drug shipment to be intercepted at Port Newark in a quarter-century, and the drugs have a street-value of $77 million. The bust comes as cocaine makes a comeback in New York City and elevates concerns that ports are a point of illegal entry for criminal activity.
Commissioner Rebecca Dye commences the final phase of her investigation of the detention, demurrage, and free time practices of ocean carriers and marine terminal operators with the launch of Innovation Teams. Hearings will be held no later than mid-April. The stated goal is to make focused, significant changes that will emphasize demurrage and detention incentives and boost freight fluidity. The Commissioner is inviting input on the following four areas:
A final report on the Innovation Teams, Commissioner Dye’s findings, and any possible recommendations she may make, is due no later than September 3, 2019.
Ottawa’s ambassador to the United States, David MacNaughton, has expressed confidence that the Trump administration will lift tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminum in the coming weeks. The US imposed a 25 percent tariff on steel and a 10 percent tariff on aluminum for both Canada and Mexico in June of last year. However, sources in the US and Mexico are not as confident as feel the tariffs may remain until Congress ratifies the new USMCA trade deal. Ontario Premier Doug Ford has expressed that the tariffs are hurting both countries and has called on Ottawa to lift retaliatory tariffs as a goodwill gesture, though the Trudeau government has argued that doing so would rob Canada of its leverage in the negotiations.
Yesterday, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) approved Venture Global’s Calcasieu Pass LNG export project in Cameron Parish, Louisiana by applying a new approach for consideration of direct greenhouse gas emissions from LNG facilities, a move that the US DOE strongly supports. The new approach was developed to streamline, expedite, and improve the LNG terminal application review process, and the Department supports the utilization of this framework by FERC to evaluate additional LNG terminal applications pending before the Commission.
A coalition of US farmers expressed concerns that the country’s logistics infrastructure is outdated and inadequate, leading to domestic business losing out to imports. Consistent bottlenecks and delays within the system caused by surging imports have led to a slow and unreliable supply chain. They believe that a lack of equipment and a failure of port authorities to redevelop and update terminals have been causing major congestion at rail terminals. The issue of scalability, i.e. the ability to handle the larger containerships at existing terminals, was identified as a key challenge.
A two-year investigation by the US Department of Justice into collusion among the world’s top liners has closed, without bringing charges or imposing penalties. Several container shipping companies were attending meetings of the Box Club and World Shipping Council in San Francisco two years ago when they were served with subpoenas. The investigation lasted 18-months longer than originally forecasted.
Concerns have been raised over the availability of low sulphur fuel, once we reach the IMO’s January 1, 2020 deadline. IHS Markit energy analysts warn that the refining and shipping industries are not ready for the mandate, which will result in significant price fluctuations of up to a few years when a new equilibrium of supply and demand will be determined by refiners and shipowners. In addition, finding the right ‘recipe’ for the fuel may be a challenging necessity. Though scrubbers or switching to LNG fuel are options, these are costly and availability it limited, respectively, so it is estimated that 95 percent of the global liner fleet will be switched to 0.5 percent fuel.
US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) published a rule on April 12, 2018 (effective May 14, 2018) which expanded the definition of Importer Security Filing (ISF) Importer for certain types of shipments. The changes were necessary to ensure that the ISF Importer included parties that have a commercial interest in the cargo and have best access to the required data. CBP is ending its delayed enforcement period for ISF-5 violations and will begin issuing liquidated damages claims for violations of the ISF-5 requirements on March 15, 2019.
APM Terminals is planning to use unmanned straddle carriers at Los Angeles, a pilot project on a 100-acre parcel at its Pier 400 terminal. The unmanned straddle carriers will bring lower upfront costs because they don’t require extensive modifications to existing terminals. This is a sign that US West Coast terminals are embracing automation in order to handle the calls from mega ships. If the auto-strad model proves to work efficiently in this pilot project, it could be scaled for the demands of other terminals on the West Coast. On the East and Gulf coasts, opposition from labour organizations has reduced the amount of automation, with the International Longshoremen’s Association not allowing the use of automated horizontal transportation such as auto-strads or automated guided vehicles. However, the semi-automated terminals in New York-New Jersey and Virginia have incorporated efficient automated stacking cranes in the yards.
Congestion at the Los Angeles-Long Beach port complex is now affecting the entire supply chain, with issues unlikely to be relieved before March. The port handles close to 40 percent of US imports and movement has been backed up since August, due to a busy peak season for holiday merchandise, followed by an increase in imports as retailers and manufacturers attempted to get ahead of threatened 25 percent tariffs on more than $200 billion of imports from China. Many of those goods are still at the port, taking up valuable real estate. Currently, it is taking 15 days on average for containers to move from the ports to inland destinations. The backlog of containers at the marine terminals because imports can't be drayed to distribution warehouses in a timely manner is now being compounded by service issues at the western railroads, BNSF and Union Pacific. The railroads are not departing trains on schedule, especially to secondary locations outside of the major hubs such as Chicago and Dallas Fort-Worth, so intermodal containers that should be moved from the marine terminals within 24 hours are sitting there for days.