The Alberta Government is spending $3.7-billion plans to lease 4,400 rails cars to ship Alberta crude. The cars are expected to be in service by July and will ship 120,000 barrels of crude a day. The province has signed contracts with Canadian Pacific Railway and Canadian National Railway to transport the cars. Crude rail shipments reached record levels last fall largely owing to pipeline constraints, but they have fallen since the beginning of the year. Several large producers have said the current price differential has made shipping by rail uneconomical. CP and CN have both experienced a drop in petroleum shipments by about a third since December.
The Chamber of Shipping and the US- based Pacific Merchant Shipping Association (PMSA) have issued a statement urging the federal governments to collaborate in protecting the Salish Sea. The marine transportation industry is committed to doing its part in supporting the recovery of the endangered Southern Resident Killer Whale and protecting the environment and hopes that the two nations will come together to find joint solutions that further support these efforts.
The Port of Vancouver, Canadian National Railway, and the Canadian federal government signed an agreement on Thursday, to build a second track to move more cargo and increase trade through Vancouver’s harbour. The project involves double-tracking a 4 km section of rail that links expanding import and export terminals on the south shore of the Burrard Inlet to the national rail network. A timeline has not yet been published.
As of January 1, 2019, the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority has expanded the eligibility criteria for its EcoAction Program to include more underwater noise-reducing options and emissions reduction options. Those ships that qualify will receive discounted harbour dues of up to 47 per cent. The EcoAction Program now accepts quiet ship notations from five different ship classification societies and five propeller technologies, all of which can help reduce underwater noise emissions.
Cargo coming through the Vancouver Ports has increased over the last month, pushing facilities to 85 percent utilization (compared the maximum industry standard of 80 percent). This has caused a doubling of container dwell times at rail facilities, underscoring the need for additional infrastructure to handle future growth. Last week, container dwell times at Deltaport were in excess of seven days, while Centerm’s dwell times averaged three to five days, and Vanterm’s dwell times averaged five to seven days. Main causes of the excessive dwell times include rail service issues, increasing container volumes, and the unprecedented container discharges from mega-ships.
Following the issuance of a joint notice of dispute on January 25th, the Minister of Labour has now appointed Ms. Kathy M. Peters, Regional Director – Pacific Region, Federal Mediation and Conciliation Services (FMCS) as Conciliation Officer to assist the BCMEA and the ILWU Canada in concluding a renewal collective agreement within 60 days (April 13th) unless an extension is mutually agreed upon. On the 21st day following termination of the conciliation, either party can issue 72 hours strike or lockout notice.
In advance of World Whale Day tomorrow, Saturday, February 16, the Whales in our Waters tutorial for mariners was launched today. Just as World Whale Day seeks to raise awareness on the continuing need to protect whales, this tutorial was developed for mariners to build awareness of local whale species and best practices to implement when navigating ships in their presence. It was developed by the ECHO Program and BC Ferries, in partnership with Ocean Wise. The media release is available on both the Port of Vancouver and BC Ferries websites and the tutorial itself can be accessed here.
We are sad to advise that Caroline Simister passed away on Wednesday, February 6th after a courageous battle with cancer. She was the Chamber of Shipping Office Manager from October 2000 to October 2012 when she left suddenly after being given a terminal prognosis. Her strength and determination certainly helped exceed all expectations. For those of you who remember Caroline, she was instrumental in organizing our events and supporting the Vancouver Grain Exchange secretariat over the years and earned a great deal of respect from many in the industry for her hard work, sense humour, and candid approach to everything. Our condolences go out to her family. We have been advised that a celebration of life will be held in a few months time.
Three Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd. employees are dead after a freight train lost control and plunged about 200 feet off a bridge into the Kicking Horse River between Lake Louise, AB, and Field, BC, early Monday morning. Before the crash, the crew notified the dispatching centre that the train was out of control. The train had three locomotives and 112 cars. Investigators with TSB are investigating the cause of the derailment.
The cargo ship Marathassa, which spilled 2,700 litres of fuel oil into English Bay in 2015, has been dismissed on all charges. In April 2015, a ring of oil was seen around the hull while it was anchored in the Vancouver bay. Most of the fuel was recovered or dissipated within 48 hours of the spill, however, there was an environmental impact on the shores of English Bay and four migratory birds were smeared with patches of oil. The Marathassa was accused of: discharging a pollutant into the waters; discharging a substance that was harmful to migratory birds; and, failing to implement its shipboard pollution emergency plan by failing to take samples of oil in the water and by failing to assist with the oil containment. The judge concluded that the ship did discharge the pollutant but the incident was caused by two unforeseeable shipbuilder defects in the high-level alarms and a valve on the newly built vessel. Both had been tested on a weekly basis with no concerns arising from the tests. The Marathassa had also implemented its emergency plan by taking samples of oil in the water and helping with containment.
A political dispute between China and Canada over the arrest of a Huawei executive is slowing canola shipments through Chinese ports. Shipments are taking longer to clear Chinese customs and obtain GMO permits needed to import genetically modified crops, including canola. China buys some $2.5 billion of Canadian canola per year, and the delays have caused some importers to hesitate to buy from their biggest supplier. Canola futures prices have stayed firm since the arrest, but brokers say worries about China have caused prices for canola to miss out on a boost in sales of other oils.
BC Ferries is ramping up its service on its northern routes for the Mid Coast Connector, Inside Passage and Haida Gwaii routes for the next three weeks, in preparation for the All Native Basketball Tournament. The tournament is entering its 60th year is a big draw for Indigenous communities across British Columbia. As many team and fans will use the ferry system to travel to and from Prince Rupert ferries are expected to be filled to capacity. The schedule will return to normal on Thursday, February 21.
The International Sailors' Society Canada is seeking your input on why visiting seamen are often unable to go to shore. They have put together a survey in order to assess whether the rumours they hear are in fact a reality. With your input, they will be able to establish facts and work with the various parties to ensure that all seaman have access to shore leave and obtain some relief from the stresses of life at sea. The link to the survey is: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/697JHSH.
On Monday, January 28th a gantry crane at GCT’s Vanterm was struck while the Ever Summit was berthing alongside. The collision caused the boom of the crane to drape across the vessel, crushing several containers stacked at the ship’s stern. It has been confirmed that none of the affected containers contain hazardous cargo. No one was hurt in the incident. Two floating cranes are now in place to support recovery operations and vessel operations are expected to fully resume by Sunday. Operations outside of that terminal have remained unaffected.
The response and salvage plan by GCT has been remarkable to date and it is providing a degree of confidence for ocean carriers that the incident will be resolved and/or mitigated more quickly than would have been anticipated a few days ago. Since the incident only the vessel operations have ceased, while the truck gate and rail operations have remained unaffected.
On January 25th, the British Columbia Maritime Employers Association (BCMEA) and ILWU Canada Longshore have filed a joint notice of dispute with the Minister Labour, who will now appoint a conciliation officer to assist in the negotiations of the unresolved issues between the parties to the collective agreement. Meanwhile negotiations with ILWU Ship and Dock Foremen Local 514 will continue in early February. The BCMEA’s collective agreements with the ILWU Canada and Local 514 expired March 31, 2018.
The Lummi Nation is calling for moratorium on any additional potential stressors, including additional marine vessel traffic to the Salish Sea until an environmental impact study can be completed. Other Indigenous groups in Canada and the United States, like the Tsleil-Waututh Nation in BC and the Tulalip Tribes in Washington, are supporting the call for more investigation into the environmental impacts before any new container traffic is allowed. The proposed construction of a new container terminal at Roberts Bank is currently undergoing an impartial review by the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency since November 2013.