COS Weekly Newsletter - Friday, 21 May 2021
Bid for Kansas City Southern faces uncertainty
Canadian National (CN) Rail’s deal has run into regulatory hurdles with the US Surface Transportation Board (STB) having denied its motion for approval of a voting trust earlier this week. Kansas City Southern's Board of Directors, in consultation with its financial and legal advisors, maintains CN's proposal is superior to Canadian Pacific (CP) Railway's proposal. CN is preparing to file a renewed motion for the STB to approve its proposed voting trust. Last week, the US Department of Justice said that CN’s bid for Kansas City appears to pose greater risks to competition. CP declined to counter CN's offer. Canadian National has to prove that its deal would be in the public interest, while Canadian Pacific merely has to establish that its tie-up wouldn’t hurt competition.
Woodside Petroleum looks to sell its 50 per cent stake in Kitimat LNG project
Woodside Petroleum Ltd. says it plans sell its 50 per cent stake in the proposed Kitimat LNG development in British Columbia. The Australian company says the plan includes the divestment or wind-up and restoration of assets, leases and agreements covering the 480-kilometre Pacific Trail Pipeline route and the site for the proposed LNG facility at Bish Cove. It will keep a position in the Liard Basin upstream gas resource. Chevron Canada Ltd., the operator of the project, said earlier this year that it would stop funding further feasibility work on the project. The company put its interest up for sale in December 2019, but has failed to find a buyer.
Vancouver Maritime Centre for Climate opens and launches Operation Flagship
In the wake of its official opening, the Vancouver Maritime Centre for Climate (VMCC) has announced the launch of Operation Flagship. Operation Flagship will be at the heart of VMCC’s services and will help facilitate the provision of climate solution pilots and accelerate the implementation and/or adoption of emission reduction solutions. The purpose of these pilot projects is to help ship owners, operators, ports & terminals as well as the supporting land-based infrastructure source innovative and sustainable solutions suited to their operating profile to help them to reduce their GHG emissions or to decarbonize completely. VMCC has launched Operation Flagship with funding from Environment and Climate Change Canada, in collaboration with Det Norsk Veritas (DNV), a Norwegian risk management company, as well as locally based, Foresight Canada, a clean-tech accelerator, and Brightspot Climate, a climate change, and energy consultant. Innovators are encouraged to apply online via VMCC’s website.
Port of Nanaimo partners with DP World, Westwood Shipping Lines and VIEA to highlight shipping opportunities
A webinar, hosted by the Vancouver Island Economic Alliance (VIEA) in partnership with the Port of Nanaimo, DP World and Westwood Shipping Lines, highlighted the shipping opportunities for international trade on Canada’s Vancouver Island. The webinar featured special guest speaker the Honourable Rob Fleming, B.C.'s Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure and focused on the Foreign Trade Zone Vancouver Island. Watch the video here.
Government of Canada and Ahousaht First Nation partner on new response vessel
As part of the Canadian Coast Guard’s Indigenous Community Boat Volunteer Pilot Program, Ahousaht First Nation has received and launched its new dedicated response vessel. As a founding member of the Coastal Nations Coast Guard Auxiliary (CN-CGA), Ahousaht First Nation works and trains with the Canadian Coast Guard and other first responders to support marine safety on the west coast of Vancouver Island. The new response vessel is a 29-foot vessel capable of cruising at 32 knots, which is critical in emergency situations and has an estimated range of 400 nautical miles.
The CN-CGA is Canada’s first all-Indigenous Coast Guard Auxiliary, with more than 50 members from Ahousaht, Heiltsuk, Gitxaala, Nisgaa, Kitasoo, and Quatsino First Nations. CN-CGA volunteers are trained in cold water rescue, search techniques, marine first aid, inter-agency communications protocols, and the use of specialized rescue equipment by the Canadian Coast Guard. CN-CGA members also exercise and train on the water with the Canadian Coast Guard and other first responders in their communities, and are on-call to respond to marine emergencies 24-hours-a-day, 365-days-a-year in remote areas along the BC coastline.
Canada invests $21M in railway safety
The Minister of Transport, the Honourable Omar Alghabra, announced more than $21 million in funding for new projects under the Rail Safety Improvement Program – Infrastructure, Technology and Research to enhance rail safety in Canada. The investment contributes to 135 initiatives across Canada that will support a wide range of eligible grade-crossing safety improvements, small infrastructure projects such as fencing, pedestrian crossings and overpasses, as well as implementation and research into new safety technologies. Over the past four years, more than $85 million has been invested in the form of grants and contributions to fund projects that have served to reduce risk and increase safety for Canadians.
Alaska cruise season will skip BC ports
Yesterday the US House of Representatives passed H.R. 1318, the Alaska Tourism Restoration Act
(ATRA), enabling the transport of passengers between the State of Washington and the State of Alaska under the Passenger Vessel Services Act
(PVSA) without fines, penalties, duties, or tariffs applicable only to coastwise voyages. The legislation, led by US Senators Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan, and Congressman Don Young, all (R-AK), passed unanimously and strictly addresses the Canadian interim order that bans the entry of large passenger vessels through to February 2022. Three of the largest cruise lines -- Carnival Cruise Line, Holland America Line, and Princess Cruises -- each immediately announced plans to operate one cruise ship to Alaska this summer. Holland America will be first with cruises starting on July 24 aboard its Nieuw Amsterdam
, followed by Princess the next day with its Majestic Princess
. Carnival Cruise Line will start sailing on July 27 with its Carnival Miracle
. The cruise lines, however, still need to gain the approval of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
U.S. Coast Guard could triple base size on Seattle waterfront as U.S. ramps up Artic presence
The US Coast Guard (USCG) has issued three proposals for expanding its Seattle facilities in anticipation of homeporting new vessels that will increasingly sail in the Arctic. The USCG has worked out of the 23-acre Pier 36 site since 1966, which is home to the service’s only heavy icebreaker, the Polar Star
, but more room will be required after Congress approved the construction of six new icebreakers, three of which will operate out of Seattle, with the first expected to arrive in 2024. As a result, the USCG is proposing to take over between 21 and 53 acres of commercial shipping waterfront adjacent to its current base to accommodate the new vessels, and while private shippers have generally expressed support for a greater USCG presence, there is some concern that the USCG takeover will scrap planned bulk cargo expansion plans. The USCG has paid more attention to the Arctic in recent years as regional ice melts and routes become more regularly accessible, with the 2019 strategy
having argued for greater awareness and presence in the region.
FMC to create National Shipper Advisory Committee
The US Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) has voted to establish a National Shipper Advisory Committee, made up equally of importers and exporters, to “advise the Federal Maritime Commission on policies relating to the competitiveness, reliability, integrity, and fairness of the international ocean freight delivery system.” Shippers interested in providing their expertise to the Federal Maritime Commission will soon be able to apply to serve on the agency’s new National Shipper Advisory Committee that will consist of 24 members.
Disney Cruise Lines cancels July 2021 sailings from U.S. ports
Disney Cruise Line guests with sailings booked in July 2021 aboard the Disney Dream
and Disney Fantasy
have been informed that all July sailings from the United States have been cancelled. In correspondence to those who had booked, Disney Cruise Line cites discussions with the Centers for Disease Control as the reason for the cancellation. Guests who had paid in full are offered a 125-per cent future cruise credit or a full refund. Those who prefer the credit will see it automatically applied to their account. Disney Cruise Line urges guests to contact their travel agent to make new reservations. Guests that made partial payments will receive a refund equal to what they have paid. July “Magic at Sea” sailings aboard the Disney Magic
have not been addressed in this notice, and appear to still be bookable for guests residing in the U.K.
Cyclone Tauktae further devastates India
India's army and navy continue to search for 26 people still missing more than three days after a powerful cyclone sank a barge off the country's west coast, killing 49 people on board. Cyclone Tauktae, the most powerful storm to barrel into the west coast in two decades, has killed at least 46 others after wreaking havoc in the states of Gujarat, Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka and Kerala. Around 186 people have been rescued out of 261 on board the barge, which sent an SOS on Monday after its anchors gave away, leaving it adrift. The barge, carrying mostly construction workers, sank near oilfields around 70 km (45 miles) southwest of Mumbai. The Mumbai Police on Friday registered a first information report against the captain of the barge on the complaint of the barge’s chief engineer, who had alleged that the captain did not take weather warnings seriously. The captain is one of the missing.
Samoa to scrap China-backed port project under new leader
Incoming Samoan Prime Minister Fiame Naomi Mataafa said that she plans to scrap a USD $100 million China-funded plan to build a wharf at Vaiusu Bay, just west of the capital, Apia. Mataafa said that Samoa’s existing port infrastructure is sufficient for her country, and expressed concern about taking on additional Chinese debt (about 40 per cent of Samoa’s total external debt, or $160m, is held by China) for a potentially unnecessary project, in part because the nearby Apia Port, which handles almost all of Samoa’s cargo, was recently expanded and upgraded with a $28m grant from Japan. While Mataafa said that she plans to balance relations with China, her announcement is a strong break from the previous government under Tuilaepa Alono Sailele Malielegaoi, who cultivated support from China over his 23 years in power.
China's navy in live-fire drills across three theatre commands, hinting at moves to counter U.S.
China’s People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) has reportedly carried out another series of live-fire drills across three of its theatre commands. This is said to be the second round of drills in just over a month for forces attached to the Northern, Eastern, and Southern Theatre Commands after a similar exercise in mid-April, and a similar three-command exercise held last July. Though touted as a “a comprehensive test of the overall operational capability of a naval formation in the context of actual combat,” reports suggested that only a handful of vessels were involved in each given command but the height of activity occurred in the Eastern Command – which is responsible for the East China Sea and Taiwan – where two Type 052D destroyer were joined by a Type 054A frigate. Chinese domestic commentators suggest that the pace of such exercises will increase in response to the United States’ apparent hardening stance towards China, though such drills also serve to signal Japan and Southeast Asia of the power that the PLAN can bring to bear in enforcing China’s regional claims.
Ship of the Week
May 21 - Marco Polo
The largest container ship to ever call on North America's east coast arrived in Halifax on Monday. The Marco Polo
cruised into the Port of Halifax after travelling from South Asia. PSA Halifax is the only terminal that can accommodate vessels of this size on Canada's east coast. With a capacity to carry more than 16,000 shipping containers stretching about three and a half football fields long, the Marco Polo
carries everything from clothing to household goods and electronics. Roughly 60 per cent of the cargo will be loaded onto rail, destined for places like Quebec, Ontario, and the American Midwest.
Photo credit: AeroVision