The Canadian Coast Guard has successfully cleared an ice jam that was stalling maritime traffic in the St. Lawrence River for several days. Located near Trois-Rivières (about 140 km northeast of Montreal), the ice jam left up to 16 ships stuck in various ports from Tuesday to Thursday of this week. Coast guard escorted two large ships to the jam, using their size to dislodge the blockage. They remain concerned another ice jam could form.
Seaspan Shipyards has awarded INDAL Technologies Inc. a contract valued at almost $20M for work on Canada’s new Joint Support Ships. INDAL is providing its Aircraft Ship Integrated Securing & Traversing System for JSS. The System is an integrated helicopter handling system for surface combatants which provides the functionality necessary to support helicopter handling, including deck securing on touchdown, on-deck manoeuvring and traversing to/from the hangar space, and helicopter launch. INDAL will also be supplying all the installation support and training, as well as the required maintenance and logistics documentation.
ACS Group, through its affiliate Dragados, has won a bid for the design and construction of $400 million container terminal extension at Centerm, operated by DP Word. This will be the group's first large-scale port project in North America. Dragados is one of the world’s biggest specialists in delivering complex offshore projects provided its broad experience from over 75 years, from executing new ports in deep-open waters to developing large container terminals. The expansion will increase capacity from the current 900.000 TEUs to 1.5 million TEUs annually. The project is expected to be completed in December 2021.
Pile driving will start the week of February 11th as construction gets underway for the new Fraser Grain Terminal Export facility located adjacent to Fraser Surrey Docks. This will be intermittent over the months of February and March and over the subsequent months various activities will take place on the site during the port authority’s approved hours of construction between 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Monday to Saturday.
The fire on board Hapag-Lloyd’s Yantian Express is still smouldering but is under control. She remains approximately 1700 kilometres southeast of Halifax. The 17 Filipino crew members taken off the ship are now safely back in the Philippines while five crew members returned to the ship after the fire was contained. The salvors have made a request to Transport Canada for a place of refuge in Halifax.
Several years ago Louis Dreyfus Commodities Canada Ltd. filed a service complaint to the Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA) against CN, saying that the company failed to provide enough rail cars to some of its grain elevators during the 2013-14 record crop year. Since then, after a series of court appearances and appeals, the Federal Court of Appeals has just upheld the ruling that the courts have jurisdiction to determine the damages CN must pay for breaching its service agreement. The tribunal did not disclose any damages to be paid by CN.
A majority of the longshoreman union members serving the Port of Montral have voted 99.49 per cent in favour of a strike if needed. Key demands include better working conditions and a change to schedules. The vote took place on Dec. 16, 2018, giving union leaders a 60-day window to call the strike, which is believed to be largely symbolic. The union is negotiating a new contract, which expired in December 2018, with the Maritime Employers Association, a group that includes ship owners, operators, agents and stevedoring companies.
In an effort to make Great Lakes-St. Lawrence and coastal shipping more competitive, the Chamber of Marine Commerce has unveiled a 2019 wish list for legislative and policymakers. Despite an unpredictable business environment of tariff wars and trade negotiations, St. Lawrence Seaway cargo volumes increased almost 7 per cent in 2018, reaching 40.9 million metric tons for the first time since 2007. The wish list seeks to build on that momentum. Items include:
The Prince Rupert Port Authority (PRPA) announced a land use decision that ensures the protection of important marine habitat within its jurisdiction. The moratorium on Flora, Agnew and Horsey Banks will prohibit any industrial development in this marine area adjacent to Lelu Island, despite the environmental assessment of the Pacific Northwest LNG project by the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency in 2016, which determined that a terminal project can be developed without significant adverse environmental effects in the area. The area was the focus of intense controversy a few years ago over a now-abandoned plan by Petronas to build a liquefied natural gas export terminal on Lelu Island, which opponents feared would destroy sensitive salmon habitat in Flora Banks. The moratorium will be formalized in PRPA’s Land Use Management Plan, as part of a review of the plan beginning later in 2019.
For the past several months, Ian Marr and Mike Davidson have served the Port of Nanaimo as Co-CEOs. The Port has now named Marr as the permanent CEO and Davidson as the COO. As CEO, Marr plans to continue with current initiatives such as the developing the vehicle processing centre, drawing more business and creating jobs while reconnecting with stakeholders, partners and other members of the community in prioritizing and planning. As COO, Davidson will oversee day-to-day business operations.
Yesterday the National Energy Board (NEB) released its and recommendations for comment by the Proponent, Government Departments/Agencies, and Intervenors in the Reconsideration process for the Trans Mountain Expansion Project. Nine of the 13 recommendations are of significance to the commercial marine sector, including suggestions for:
The Chamber of Shipping is an Intervenor in the reconsideration process and will be responding to draft recommendations and statements provided by other Intervenors before the January 22nd deadline.
The Skeena River Salmon Enhancement Program has dedicated $1 million from Prince Rupert Port Authority’s Community Investment Fund to partner specifically with local organizations on projects that increase salmon stock productivity and the maintenance and rehabilitation of critical habitat in the Skeena River watershed. The fund will also seek to support innovative pilot projects that will achieve these objectives and support the health, resilience and sustainability of Skeena River salmon during this International Year of the Salmon.
Hapag-Lloyd informed that on 3 January, a fire broke out in one container on the deck of the Yantian Express about 1,200 kilometres off Canada's East Coast and spread to additional containers. Efforts were launched immediately to put out the fire. However, they had to be stopped because of a deterioration of weather conditions. A cargo ship from the Netherlands, the Happy Ranger, offered assistance and was about 32 kilometres from the Yantian Express when help was requested. A firefighting tugboat was dispatched late Friday. Fortunately the crew of 8 officers and 15 seafarers is unharmed according to Hapag-Lloyd. The 7,510 TEU vessel, which is 320 meters long and carries the German flag, was on its way from Colombo to Halifax via the Suez Canal when the fire broke.
Two barges in the Port of Vancouver broke free from their moorings in North Vancouver at about 5 a.m. on Boxing Day causing more than $1M in damages. The barges had drifted across Vancouver Harbour and collided with three structures in Coal Harbour. One barge was loaded with containers and the other was an empty gravel barge. Two local tugs, the marine unit vessel and two boats from the Port of Vancouver managed to get both barges under tow about 90 minutes later and returned them to their moorings in North Vancouver. The cause of the incident is still unknown, and there were no reports of marine pollution.
CN is well positioned to handle an anticipated volume increase in grain, potash, consumer goods, and energy products projected for 2019. CN's has invested a record $3.5 billion in 2018 to hire hundreds of train conductors, add new track, boxcars and locomotives, primarily to service Western Canada. Adding to this will be the delivery of the first 40 of 60 new General Electric locomotives in January. Record levels of capital expenditures are expected to continue in 2019.
Also of interest, in mid-December CN and the Unifor union that represents its 2,100 mechanics, electricians and apprentices in Canada reached a tentative collective agreement. Negotiations began Oct. 5 with Unifor saying that wages, benefits and the contracting out of repair and overhaul work were key issues. The new agreement is subject to ratification. The current contract expired on December 31, 2018.
Canadian National Railway Co. says it is planning to build a pilot plant worth up to $50 million next year to create pucks made of oilsands bitumen to transport by rail and ships to customers around the world. The railway is in discussions with the federal and Alberta governments, along with potential oilsands industry partners and the Heart Lake First Nation of northern Alberta, to fund the 10,000-barrel-per-day pilot plant. If the pilot succeeds, CN would build a commercial-sized plant with capacity to convert up to 50,000 barrels per day of heavy crude. The company has signed a memorandum of understanding with an unnamed Asian customer who is interested in importing the pucks to his country and separating the oil and polymer for processing and sale.
Fairview Container Terminal has reached a major milestone - handling its millionth TEU (twenty-foot equivalent unit) for the first time in a calendar year just after 10 years of operation. On December 18th, the millionth TEU was loaded onto the COSCO Africa while ILWU members and supply chain partners were on hand to celebrate the event. The 40-foot container was loaded with dimensional lumber from Canfor’s Plateau mill at CN’s Prince George Transload Facility before arriving in Prince Rupert by rail. The milesone shows solid growth when compared to the 182,523 TEUs moved in 2008, its first full year in operation. COSCO was given special mention during the ceremony as COSCO was the first and only container carrier to support the new terminal back in 2007. On the labour front, ILWU Local 505 has seen unprecedented growth with its workforce expanding by 425 percent since the terminal opened in 2007. DP World will continue to invest in increasing terminal capacity, with the next expansion project beginning in 2019, bringing the terminal’s effective capacity to 1.8M TEUs by 2022.