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Port of Long Beach Clogged with Box Cargo

Port of Long Beach Clogged with Box Cargo

Long Beach, CA – Cargo movement through the Port of Long Beach is being delayed from three to five days because of a surge in cargo volume and a “stressed and in some cases, flawed ”supply chain infrastructure, according to port Chief Executive Jon Slangerup.

Speaking at a recent town hall meeting at the Center for International Trade & Transportation at California State University – Long Beach, Slangerup said the flaws result from a failure of the supply chain “to work as an integrated system.”

Slangerup’s comments follow his recent formation of a Congestion Relief Team (CRT) “to meet daily, seek solutions, and solicit feedback from our staff in the field.”

The port, he said, “will do everything we can bring our partners who operate and work at the terminals together to identify bottlenecks and implement solutions.”

The first target of the CRT is the shortage of chassis at the port, a situation that Slangerup has called a “mismanaged mess.” Chassis are the frame trailers used to haul cargo containers.

“There is a chassis imbalance,” said Dr. Noel Hacegaba, the Port’s chief operating officer. “This is a big part of the congestion issue and I have been facilitating discussions with the key players to find relief as soon as possible.”

Cargo numbers rose sharply for the Port of Long Beach in September as the port recorded its heaviest traffic for that month since 2007, the port’s peak cargo volume year.

Nearly 630,000 containers moved through the port last month, a 7 percent increase over the same month last year.

Imports to Long Beach rose 10 percent as retailers brought in products for the holiday shopping season. More than 339,000 containers came into the port, making it the third-highest month for imports in the port’s history. Exports, however, fell 12 percent.

Over the first nine months of the year, container traffic at the Port of Long Beach is up 1.7 percent.

Cargo numbers climbed in September largely due to the importation of products for the upcoming holiday shopping season and the increased container capacity of the newer generation of containerships calling at the port.

10/23/2014

Quebec Stevedoring to Manage Port of Ogdensburg, NY

Ogdensburg, NY – The Ogdensburg Bridge and Port Authority (OBPA) has unanimously approved an agreement to grant the management of its New York port terminal to NASCO (NY), a wholly-owned subsidiary of Quebec Stevedoring (QSL).

The northernmost port in the State of New York and one of the closest US ports to Europe, the Port of Ogdensburg is the only US port on the St. Lawrence Seaway.

The new partnership “enhances the positioning of Quebec Stevedoring in the North American cargo handling industry and is perfectly aligned with its long term growth objectives,” the OBPA said.

“We partner with the best. We build solid relations with other passionate industry players. The partnership with Ogdensburg is a perfect example of this dynamic and we foresee good prospects for both parties in the years to come,” said Bruce Graham, Great Lakes Stevedoring vice-president.

Quebec Stevedoring handles over 20 million tons of general and dry bulk cargo through its network of 29 port facilities annually.

Its terminal facilities are strategically sited along the St. Lawrence Seaway up to the Great Lakes and are located in Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Quebec, Ontario, Chicago, and now Ogdensburg.

Every year, the company’s facilities accommodate more than 1,000 inbound or outbound vessels from all corners of the world.

10/16/2014

Ports Face ‘Big Ships, Big Challenges’: White Paper

Long Beach, CA – The deployment of the latest generation of mega-containerships “presents physical, financial and operational challenges that must be met by port authorities across the country” according to the Port of Long Beach’s Acting Deputy Executive Director, Dr. Noel Hacegaba.

Even for ports that will not see the mega vessels call at their ports any time soon, the arrival of the larger ships is creating a cascading effect in which the ships being replaced by mega vessels are being deployed in the smaller trade lanes,” says Hacegaba in a new white paper, “Big Ships, Big Challenges.”

The average size of container ships, he says, has grown considerably in recent years and the trend is likely to continue for years to come.

“Although 18,000 TEU [20-foot equivalent unit] vessels are the largest in service currently, ships that carry more than 10,000 TEUs are still considered large and have limited options with regards to trade lanes and to ports that can accommodate them,” he writes.

Hacegaba said the industry is turning to the larger ships because they reduce operating costs for shipping operators, and they help meet regulatory requirements to decrease in potentially harmful emissions.

According to the white paper, ports around the country are spending $46 billion in capital improvements, including $4.5 billion invested at the Port of Long Beach. Shipping companies “are ordering larger ships to meet demand, while cutting the operational costs they would otherwise incur by sending cargo on multiple trips.”

As a result, ports of all sizes “are struggling to ready themselves to handle the larger vessels.”

Hacegaba states that regardless of a port’s size, they face a demand to handle a larger class of vessels. In the coming years it is projected that smaller vessels will be put out of services to make way for larger ones. But the largest ships will go to the biggest ports, while today’s larger ships will switch to smaller ports.

For the vessel operators, “the major investments in larger ships is straining their resources. So ocean carrier alliances and consolidations are also being forged as a result,” he says.

While this is not new to the maritime industry, Hacegaba points out that they are “providing financial uncertainty for port authorities.”

The newly aligned or consolidated vessel operators may move to different ports, while a smaller port may spend millions on fixing its infrastructure, and then lose a major tenant. In addition, smaller ports that don’t upgrade infrastructure because of their struggle for funding may face losing business as small-sized fleets are phased out.

The maritime industry “is ever evolving as technologies improve,” he concludes, with port authorities “playing a primary role” in educating both the industry and the public in potential changes.

“Ports must be built to handle larger ships and be prepared when shipping alliances do not go in their favor. As the maritime industry and how goods are moved change, so must ports if they are to be ready to handle the next generation of larger ships.”

0919/2014

New Orleans Plans Improvements at Intermodal Terminal

New Orleans, LA – The Port of New Orleans awarded a $13.3 million contract to Metairie-based Hardrock Construction for improvements to the Mississippi River Intermodal Terminal.

The 12-acre project is intended to upgrade the terminal, improving the movement of marine and rail cargo at the port while also reducing its carbon footprint.

The current project includes constructing a rail yard with 10,000 linear feet of track and five-acres of heavy-duty paving to be used for the efficient transfer of containers. The scope of the contract includes electrical, drainage and utility work, along with the installation of new water feeds to additional hydrants.

Existing rail lines currently moving cargo will be removed upon completion of the new tracks so intermodal service at the Napoleon Avenue Container Terminal will not be interrupted.

The port received a $16.7 million Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant for the project in 2012, after state and city politicians expressed their support for it to the US Department of Transportation.

The total cost of the project, with the addition of new terminal equipment and engineering services, is expected to reach $21 million.

Port officials expect the project to be completed by February 2016.

08/25/2014

Secrecy of ILWU, PMA Contract Talks Blasted

Los Angeles, CA – The Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) and the International Longshore & Warehouse Union (ILWU) should “part the curtain of secrecy surrounding their contract negotiations,” according to Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Gary Toebben.

The deadline for reaching agreement on a new labor contract governing America’s 29 West Coast ports passed at 5 p.m. PST this afternoon “and the scant amount of insight or information on the future status of a new contract worries many,” he said.

Toebben made his comments in an editorial for the Los Angeles Daily News published on the paper’s website  just a few hours before the contract deadline expired.

The last public statement on the progress of the talks was made on June 4 when the negotiations were described as “positive” by the leadership of both the PMA and the ILWU.

“About 12.5 percent of the US GDP currently flows through the ports, and 9.2 million jobs across America — including 3.7 million in California alone — depend on the efficient flow of goods on and off the docks,” he wrote.

“Industries spanning agriculture to manufacturing, from autos to electronics, and across all sectors of retail are currently scampering to implement contingency plans given that neither a new contract nor a contract extension has been announced, he said.”

Both the PMA, which represents the terminal operators and shipping companies, and the ILWU, which represents the 20,000 dock workers at the ports in California, Oregon and Washington, he said “are staying tight-lipped about the talks that have been ongoing for two months.”

It has been widely reported, Toebben added, “that rising health care costs are a major sticking point, given that the longshoremen, retirees and their families enjoy one of the most envied health care plans available in America today, with unlimited coverage at little or no cost.”

Also, he said, “it’s also understood that West Coast ports have been leaking market share for the past decade or more, as competing ports on America’s East and Gulf coasts have been lowering costs, improving performance and building infrastructure to attract greater shipping volumes. Global manufacturing patterns too are shifting, putting more origination points closer to East and Gulf coast destinations.”

Decrying the loss of cargo marketshare, Toebben said, “Suddenly, the West Coast is not the monopoly it used to be — and current lack of an agreement or extension only hastens shippers’ efforts to further diversify their transportation networks. In Southern California, the information ‘blackout’ by PMA and ILWU only fuels the worries of employees, families, politicians, communities and businesses small and large, who together wonder if we’ll see a repeat of 2002’s billion-dollar-per-day coast-wide shut down.”

Information, he charges, “is limited, but the questions aren’t – how close are the parties to reaching a new contract?; what issues have already been fully resolved, and which still remain?; will an extension be formalized to assuage concerns while talks continue?; will the union engage in work slowdowns if an extension can’t be signed?; and, can the ports continue to operate efficiently, with everyday issues and grievances resolved amicably, without an extension?

“Given the critical importance of the ports in today’s local and regional economies, and for the sake of the millions of people who depend on the uninterrupted flow of goods in and out of America,” Toebben concluded. “Such transparency is essential, especially given what is at stake now — and for years to come.”

07/01/2014