Unitrans Newsletter | Edition 16 | March 13, 2015
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In Edition 16:
West Coast Update
Houston Ship Channel Reopens
Environmental Concerns About Nicaragua Canal Project
Prince Rupert Expansion
GRI Postponement
> Indian Dockworker Labor Update
> Links of the Week

Links of the Week

How Trade Stats Can Help US Business Expand Abroad

January 2015 Freight Transportation Services Index (TSI)

 

West Coast Update

Labor disruptions at the Port of Oakland halted terminal operations for three consecutive days earlier this week. ILWU Local 10 attempted to unilaterally impose manning requirements which were also demanded during the recent labor contract negotiations. The ILWU demands were dropped from the tentative contract agreement which was reached on February 20. Operations at Oakland marine terminals returned to normal on Thursday, March 12. Read the PMA press release regarding the Oakland work stoppages here.

On Thursday, March 12, the Marine Exchange of Southern California reported that 25 containerships were at anchor in the San Pedro Bay. Recovery from the massive container backlog at West Coast gateways is expected to continue over the next few months.

The Long Beach Board of Harbor Commissioners has agreed to extend operations at the 30-acre empty container storage depot on Pier S through the end of September. Originally, the temporary storage yard was scheduled to close on March 31. Pier S was opened last December to store containers that could not be received by the marine terminals.

Houston Ship Channel Reopens

Normal operations resumed yesterday, March 12, at the Barbours Cut Container Terminal at the Port of Houston Authority. The Houston Ship Channel was closed to vessel traffic after two vessels collided on March 9 causing a chemical leak of methyl tert-butyl ether (MTBE). The leak was contained with a temporary seal and the vessel was approved to move to the Barbours Cut turning basin on Thursday, March 12. Responders removed the liquid from the ship's tanks using high-density foam to suppress flammable vapors. The cause of the vessel collision remains under investigation.

Environmental Concerns About Nicaragua Canal Project

The HKND Group, a China-based infrastructure-development group, has commenced construction on a $50 billion Nicaragua Canal project, however, scientists are raising concerns regarding the project. The Nicaragua Canal would rival the Panama Canal, creating possible alternative shipping routes for carriers and shippers. Scientists have expressed ecological concerns as the canal would intersect Lake Nicaragua in order to connect the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. Lake Nicaragua is the main freshwater reservoir of Central America and the ninth largest tropical freshwater lake of the Americas. Environmental concerns include accidental oil spills, extinction of plants and fish due to invasive species brought by transoceanic ships, and damages to aquatic life due to dredging. Other concerns include negative effects on fresh water for drinking, irrigation and power generation. The project is expected to take up to five years to complete.

Prince Rupert Expansion

The Port of Prince Rupert and Maher Terminals Holding Corp. announced a planned $200 million port expansion project on March 10. The project is scheduled to be completed in 2017 and will increase the port's annual capacity by 500,000 TEUs. Additions to the port infrastructure include the construction of a second berth, a container yard expansion and the addition of four gantry cranes. Additionally, the sole rail provider at the port, Canadian National (CN), will extend on-track rail to serve the expanded terminal. Read the press release here.

GRI Postponement

Please be advised that carriers have once again delayed the March 9 Trans-Pacific Eastbound (TPEB) trade general rate increase. Carriers have stated the GRI in the amount of $12/CBM, $24/MT, $480/20', $600/40', $675/40'HQ and $760/45' will now be effective March 23. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact your local Unitrans International account manager.

Indian Dockworker Labor Update

Indian dockworker union leaders and labor board officials reached an agreement earlier today, March 13, in order to avoid a previously announced strike at 12 major Indian seaports. Unions withdrew the strike notice after authorities agreed to address the workers' concerns over the planned government reform of publicly owned ports. Key concerns include job security and benefits once the major ports are made independent companies. The agreement forms a joint committee to help settle several unresolved issues within two months.


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