INTERNATIONAL LOGISTICS PROVIDERS
ASF Logistics is a Mobile, AL based full service international logistics provider, freight forwarder, NVOCC, and custom’s house broker. ASF specializes in providing customers with solutions that provide for the optimum flow of goods, materials, and information. All business conducted as an Ocean Transport Intermediary as defined by the Federal Maritime Commission is conducted only by ASF, Inc. ASF, Inc is licensed with the Federal Maritime Commission as an Ocean Freight Forwarder and Non-Vessel Operating common carrier under Ocean Transport Intermediary License No. 020898NF.
ASF Logistics Named to 2012 Best Companies List
ASF Logistics announced that the company, which is headquartered in Mobile, Alabama, has been recognized as one of the 2012 “Best Companies to Work for in Alabama” in the small business category.
US container exports grow but far from blossoming
U.S. containerized exports rose in the first quarter of the year for the first time after declining for six successive quarters. Nevertheless, first-quarter growth of 3.2 percent is far from remarkable as it is compared to a very weak base in the first quarter of 2015. Exports for the full-year are expected to grow 1.3 percent compared with a previous forecast of a 1.5 percent decline.
Looking forward, the trade will continue to experience headwinds through the rest of the year as global demand continues to be very weak, and the adverse effects of the severe U.S. West Coast port congestion in early 2015 continue to be felt in the form of waning trust from Asian buyers.
Northeast Asia contributed the most to the first quarter's growth, adding approximately 2.06 percentage points, according JOC.com's Container Shipping Outlook. Shipments from China are now up for four consecutive quarters, year-over-year; however, there’s more trouble ahead for the trade as China’s manufacturing sector is in decline.
Another region that significantly contributed to export growth during the quarter was the Indian Subcontinent. This region contributed 1.46 percentage points to export growth, its highest contribution since 2009. The latest official data pegged India’s economic growth at 7.3 percent year-over-year during the October to December 2015 quarter, driven in part by a strong recovery in manufacturing output. Thus, it is no surprise to see increased shipments of paper and paperboard and scrap metals during the fourth quarter of 2015 and the first quarter of this year. Meanwhile, Southeast Asia added only 0.16 percentage points to first-quarter growth after two successive quarters of decline.
In the trans-Atlantic, trade to Northern Europe grew for the first time in the last six quarters driven by solid demand from Belgium and the Netherlands, and added 0.85 percentage points to export growth during the quarter. The Dutch economy has expanded for seven consecutive quarters, driven by expansion in consumption, exports and investment. Trade to the Mediterranean region declined for the seventh consecutive quarter on the back of anemic demand and the weak euro, while Africa added 0.31 percentage points to growth, its highest contribution since the third quarter of 2012.
Within the Western Hemisphere, southbound trade dropped 5.4 percent, the third consecutive quarterly decline, as a 5.6 percent gain in trade to Central America was overwhelmed by a 4.1 percent loss in shipments to the Caribbean and losses to both coasts of South America. Trade to Central America has expanded for seven consecutive quarters with Guatemala and Honduras leading the gains, a remarkable performance given the overall sluggish global economic conditions. No other regional export market has been able to display such resilience.
Trade from the United States to the east coast of South America recorded a decline of 21.6 percent and traffic to the west coast of South America was down 6.5 percent as both coasts badly underperform. East coast South America subtracted the most from export growth during the first quarter, accounting for almost almost 0.7 percentage points as Brazil and Venezuela are coping with severe economic conditions. Meanwhile, west coast South America subtracted 0.25 percentage points from first-quarter growth as demand from commodity dependent economies of Chile and Peru enervated. ... See MoreSee Less
SOLAS proposal could provide major breakthrough for US exporters
WASHINGTON — Six U.S. East and Gulf coast operating ports and 19 ocean container lines want to craft a common strategy to meet the SOLAS container weight rule that takes effect July 1.
The discussion agreement would try to work out the details of using container weights collected at marine terminals to meet existing Occupational Safety and Health Administration regulations, and has far broader implications beyond the six operating ports. The use of existing operating procedures to satisfy the SOLAS requirement of the sending of a verified gross mass declaration to shippers could also be adopted by marine terminals at landlord ports, providing the industry a rare chance to avoid potential supply chain disruptions while also expending less resources to do so.
The ports, carriers and Ocean Carrier Equipment Management Association on Thursday asked the U.S. Federal Maritime Commission for permission to enter a discussion agreement that would allow them to share information and data relating to the production, use, receipt and transmission of container weight information. That information is critical to the International Maritime Organization’s new Safety of Life at Sea, or SOLAS, rule that forbids carriers from loading containers onto ships without a verified gross mass declaration as of July 1.
“OCEMA’s members greatly appreciate the leadership shown by the six operating ports that are joining with us in this agreement. With the issuance of the U.S. Coast Guard’s recent Maritime Safety Information Bulletin’s equivalency provisions, this represents an unprecedented effort by major ports and carriers to develop a common VGM framework that will simplify procedures for shippers, carriers and terminals and promote terminal fluidity,” Frank Grossi, chairman of OCEMA and executive vice president of Cosco Container Lines America, said in a statement.
The agreement’s parties include the port authorities of Georgia, Houston, Massachusetts, North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia, as well as the 19 container line members of OCEMA, which will also be filing independently of the group. The ocean equipment group said details of the proposal are still being vetted.
Under the agreement, “any two or more of the parties are authorized to exchange information, discuss and reach voluntary, non-binding agreement upon all matters relating to rules, procedures, programs, practices, terms and conditions with respect to the organization, development, calculation, availability, transmission or use of verified gross mass data.”
The Coast Guard, which is tasked with implementing the rule, on April 29 declared an equivalency with the SOLAS rule. That allows the VGM to be determined via "any equipment currently being used to comply with Federal or State Law, including the Intermodal Safe Container Transport Act, and the container requirement" set by OSHA, according to the Coast Guard.
Five of the six operating ports that have signed on to the agreement have laid out their guidance for export shippers using their facilities. The port authorities of Georgia, Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina have all said they will admit containers to their terminals sans VGM come July.
Container terminals in Georgia, Virginia, South Carolina and North Carolina have offered to provide container weights to exporters at no cost.
The Port of Houston, on the other hand, has said it will deny access to its terminals for containers that arrive without electronic documentation of their verified gross mass after the new rule takes effect. Massport has yet to publicly disclose its VGM policy. ... See MoreSee Less
US East, Gulf ports hustling work in anticipation of bigger ships
From Boston to Brownsville, ports on the U.S. East and Gulf coasts have spent the last eight years or more prepping for one seminal event, the opening of the Panama Canal’s big new set of locks. Ports have been deepening their harbors and channels, building new terminals with post-Panamax cranes, constructing new rail lines and terminals and planning new highways.
But when the new locks finally open this June, more than two years behind the original schedule, the event may prove anti-climactic. Post-Panamax container ships that the new locks were built to handle have been calling at East Coast ports for the last three years from Asia via the Suez Canal. The ships on the Suez route began arriving at East Coast ports well before many of them had completed deepening their harbors; ships could only call some ports twice a day at high tide or after they had unloaded enough cargo to lighten their draft at ports with deeper channels before calling ports with shallower drafts.
Three East Coast ports already have 50-foot channels, enabling them to handle post-Panamax ships without tidal restrictions. Other ports are at various stages in their deepening projects.
The ports of Virginia and Baltimore are benefiting from the fact that they were once major coal-exporting ports, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers had excavated 50-foot channels more than a decade ago. The Port of Miami finished its 50-foot channel last year.
The Port of Virginia and Army Corps of Engineers signed an agreement last year to share the cost of a three-year study examining the feasibility of deepening Hampton Roads port channels to as much as 55 feet.
At Baltimore, Ports America completed deepening the berth at its Seagirt Marine Terminal to 50 feet in 2013 and installed super-post-Panamax cranes there that can reach across ships carrying 22 rows of containers.
Miami completed deepening its channel to 50 feet last year and has installed four super-post-Panamax gantry cranes to handle the larger ships it expects when the third set of Panama Canal locks open.
Other East Coast ports are in various stages of deepening their channels and harbors, but they won’t be completed by the time the locks open to commercial traffic in June.
When the new Panama Canal locks open, they’ll be capable of handling container ships with capacities of up to 13,000 20-foot-equivalent units. Fortunately for East Coast ports that haven’t completed their deepening projects, it will probably take a year or more before ocean carriers start deploying ships of that size on the all-water route from Asia to the East Coast.
“At the very beginning, I expect 9,000- to 10,000-TEU ships, which will be the workhorse for the first, say, half a year to a year, and then we will see them going to the next level, which could be anywhere from a 12,000-TEU to a 13,000-TEU vessel,” Panama Canal Administrator Jorge Quijano said in an interview.
After more than 12 years of dredging, the Port of New York and New Jersey expects to complete a $1.6 billion project this summer to deepen to 50 feet the channels to its major container terminals in New Jersey and on Staten Island.
Still, completion of the project, which started in 2004, won’t clear the way for the biggest ships to call at those terminals. That will have to await completion, by the end of 2017, of the $1.3 billion project to raise the air draft of the Bayonne Bridge, which currently is too low to allow the largest container ships to pass under it on their way to those terminals. The project, which is about 50 percent complete, is a year behind schedule.
The Army Corps is deepening the Delaware River from 40 to 45 feet along the 102.5 miles from the ports of Philadelphia and Camden, New Jersey, to deep water in the Delaware Bay. About 75 percent of the money for initial construction is coming from the federal government, and Pennsylvania is sponsoring the rest through the Philadelphia Regional Port Authority. The project, scheduled for completion in 2017, needs about $32 million to finish the work, but the source of funding won’t be known until next February or March because of the federal budgeting process. The Army Corps isn’t dredging the river in any particular sequence, but will leave until the end the deepening at the entrance of the river so that all ports have access to the deeper channel at the same time.
After more than 15 years of study, the $706 million project to deepen the Savannah River from 42 to 47 feet along the 39 miles from its mouth up to the Port of Savannah began last September and is about 11 percent completed. The project is expected to be done by 2021 at the earliest, depending on the availability of funding.
At nearby Port of Charleston, the Army Corps approved a final feasibility study and environmental impact report last year to deepen the harbor from 45 to 52 feet to accommodate the latest and largest container ships calling at U.S. East Coast ports. The project has yet to receive congressional authorization, however, and there is no guarantee Congress will take it up this year. The Army Corps estimates the project will cost approximately $510 million. The South Carolina Ports Authority hopes the project will be completed on schedule by 2019.
Jacksonville’s harbor-deepening project is nearing the end of its design phase, and officials hope to see it finished by the end of the decade. The project would take the St. Johns River from 40 to 47 feet and has a price tag of about $711 million. Although federal funds were authorized more than a year ago, the Obama budget failed to request any money for the project.
Port Everglades received federal approval for a project last year to widen and deepen its main channels from 42 to 48 feet. The entire project is expected to cost $374 million and will be paid for through a variety of port user fees, and federal and state funding.
The North Carolina State Ports Authority has allocated up to $21.6 million to widen the Port of Wilmington’s turning basin to accommodate larger vessels. The port is awaiting results next year of a feasibility study by the Army Corps for deepening its channel to as much as 47 feet.
The Massachusetts Port Authority and the Army Corps agreed in March to start maintenance dredging, which will restore the Port of Boston’s inner harbor to 40 feet. It’s the first phase of the larger
$310 million dredging project to deepen Boston’s channel to 50 feet. The project has yet to receive funding, although President Obama specifically mentioned it when he signed the Water Resources Reform and Development Act of 2014 into law.
Gulf Coast ports never entered the race to deepen their harbors as much as East Coast ports, but they, too, are completing projects that will enable them to handle some of the bigger ships coming through the new Panama Canal locks.
Maersk Line and Mediterranean Shipping Co., partners in the 2M Alliance, in May will add a weekly Panama Canal service linking Asia with the U.S. Gulf ports of Houston and Mobile. The service, designated the TP18 by Maersk and the Lone Star Express by MSC, will deploy 4,500-TEU vessels, according to Maersk.
For Houston and Mobile, the new service is a big development. Both ports have been expanding container facilities in a bid to attract container services through the Panama Canal.
Houston plans to invest $1.6 billion through 2021 to expand capacity at its Barbours Cut and Bayport container terminals. It has dredged the channel leading to the terminals to 45 feet and already has replaced four cranes at Barbours Cut with new super-post-Panamax cranes; three more are on order.
Mobile, Alabama, is also gearing up for new Asian services using the new Panama locks. APM Terminals in Mobile has ordered two new cranes that can handle ships with containers up to 21 containers across. The new cranes will join two current cranes, which can handle up to 18 containers across, typical of 8,000-TEU ships. The new cranes will be able to handle ships up to 14,000 TEUs. The port widened its turning basin a few years ago to handle ships up to 1,300 feet in length.
The APM terminal is expanding its annual container capacity under Phase 2 to 500,000 to 600,000 TEUs from the current 350,000 TEUs. When demand builds, it plans to launch Phase 3, which will bring capacity up to 750,000 TEUs.
Mobile will open a new intermodal container transfer facility in June near the APM terminal, which will operate it. APMT is importing secondhand gantry cranes from its overseas terminals for use at the rail ramp. The port plans to build a connector bridge that will make it an on-dock rail terminal at some point when demand warrants.
The Port of Tampa, which has an operational depth of 43 feet, doesn’t plan further deepening. “We are suited to serve the 8,600- to 9,000-TEU ships that will be coming through the canal,” said Raul Alfonso, executive vice president and chief commercial officer of the Tampa Port Authority. “We’re not targeting the 10,000- to 13,000-TEU ships.”
The port has acquired two new post-Panamax cranes that will be installed at Ports America’s Hookers Point container terminal this month. The new cranes will be able to handle ships with 22 containers across.
The port is building an $11 million on-dock rail ramp at Hookers Point that will be operated by CSX Transportation. It’s also building a cold storage facility at Hookers Point that will handle refrigerated imports of fresh fruit from Central America and exports.
Smaller ports in Texas are gearing up to handle the increase in breakbulk cargo they see coming their way. Corpus Christi is in the second phase of a 10-year project to deepen the La Quinta Ship Channel to 52 feet from 45 feet. It’s working with the Army Corps to get the $360 million project in the Obama administration’s budget for 2017.
“If we don’t get in next year’s budget, we’ll be making the push for 2018,” said John LaRue, the port’s executive director. “That will help us with oil exports, which we think will be important for the future.”
The Port of Brownsville plans to deepen its ship channel to 52 feet from its current 42 feet. The Army Corps recommended that depth last year, but the project wasn’t authorized for funding under the 2015 Water Resources Development Act. The port is working with the corps on design and engineering of the project so it can get it going quickly once it receives federal approval and funding.
The port, which recorded a 21 percent increase in the tonnage of bulk, liquid bulk and breakbulk cargoes moving by water, rail and truck last year, stands to become a major port for export of liquefied natural gas if the Federal Energy Commission approves construction of three LNG plants proposed for construction around the port.
The plants, which involve investment of $12 billion in their first phase alone, would be built to liquefy natural gas from the Eagle Ford shale fields for export to Asia in huge LNG tankers that would transit the new locks at the Panama Canal.
“We see that as a huge opportunity for us and it would obviously benefit Panama as well,” said Eduardo Campirano, port director and CEO of the Port of Brownsville. ... See MoreSee Less
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