AUGUST 4, 2016



Northwest Seaport Alliance approves easements for Tideflats LNG plant

Kate Martin, August 2, 2016, The News Tribune

The Northwest Seaport Alliance, which is comprised of port commissioners from Tacoma and Seattle, approved two easements Tuesday for a proposed liquified natural gas filling station for ocean-going vessels.

Puget Sound Energy asked for two easements: one for a pipeline along a small strip of land leading from the 30-acre project across the peninsula to a proposed maritime dock on the Blair Waterway, and another for a loading platform on the Blair Waterway to fuel TOTE Maritime Alaska’s two ocean-going cargo vessels.

Commissioners on both ports said the project is a step toward cleaner air for the Puget Sound region, especially in Pierce County.

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Port of Tacoma LNG Bunkering Station gets easement approval from NW Seaport Alliance

August 4, 2016, Ship & Bunker

Commissioners of the U.S. ports of Tacoma and Seattle, through the Northwest Seaport Alliance, approved two easements Tuesday for Puget Sound Energy’s (PSE’s) proposed liquefied natural gas (LNG) bunkering station, local media reports.

PSE is reported to have requested two easements, including one to accommodate pipeline on a section of land leading from the company’s proposed LNG plant across the peninsula to a proposed Blair Waterway dock, and a second for a loading platform on the Blair Waterway that will be used to bunker two LNG-powered TOTE Maritime (TOTE) vessels.

“This is a critical step forward,” said Tom Albro, commissioner for the Port of Seattle, adding: “LNG is a great transitional fuel.”

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Niche ports are pushing for growth

Ian Putzger, Global Trade, August 2, 2016

A lot of nerves were frayed in February and March last year, as cargo piled up at West Coast ports owing to the standoff between labor and terminal operators that nearly paralyzed loading and unloading activities. While electronics and garments produced in Asia were stuck on vessels moored in sight of the ports, California oranges and Washington apples were rotting on the docks at some of the nation’s most active ports. Farther inland, auto workers found themselves forced to slow down as car parts were waiting to be unloaded at the ports.

According to the North American Meat Institute, U.S. meat and poultry shippers were losing $85 million every week their shipments were stuck at the ports.

Shippers, importers and forwarders were increasingly resorting to emergency measures, in some cases diverting cargo from ocean to air. California citrus growers trucked their cargo to the Port of Houston to ship it to Asia via the Panama Canal.

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Here’s a way to ensure that ports stay open for business

Yakima-Herald Republic Editorial Board, August 2, 2016

Yakima Valley growers — and many other Washington state businesses — need a strong year in 2016 to offset a labor dispute that disrupted goods passing through West Coast ports in 2014-15. In February of this year, the Washington Council on International Trade released a study that found state businesses lost $769.5 million, with $555.8 million of those losses coming from unshipped and delayed exports.

The slowdown up and down the coast ran from October 2014 to March 2015 after the July 2014 expiration of a contract between the Pacific Maritime Association and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union. The association represents 29 ports from Bellingham to San Diego, and the union represents about 13,600 workers. Among the ports affected were Seattle and Tacoma, key conduits for Valley products sent overseas. The state’s agricultural industry endured much of the share of those losses; keep in mind that about 30 percent of the state’s apple crop is exported.

The trade council report noted that its loss figure included spoilage, lost sales and lost market share to overseas competition. It doesn’t include long-term losses, such as trade that is rerouted through Canada or U.S. ports outside the West Coast, and the threat of those losses is very real, with competition from the south and north.

An expanded Panama Canal can handle larger ships that travel from Asia to American ports on the Gulf Coast and East Coast. And officials at Puget Sound ports are especially worried about the seemingly unlikely port of Prince Rupert, British Columbia, Canada, a small town that poses a big challenge to the Northwest. The provincial and federal investments have invested millions into Prince Rupert’s port, which markets itself as a day closer to Asian ports — and doesn’t endure the Puget Sound area’s traffic congestion.

So it’s clear that shippers have options, and further disruptions on the West Coast would tip them toward those options. The potentially good news is that a key party involved in the slowdown could take a major step toward making West Coast ports more attractive.

The Press-Telegram of Long Beach, Calif., has reported that ILWU delegates representing port workers will meet next week in San Francisco to discuss an extension of the current five-year contract, which expires in 2019. The newspaper reported that Pacific Maritime President James McKenna asked the union to consider talks on an extension.

This step has precedent. The ILWU already has begun talks at East Coast ports on a contract that expires in September 2018. The shipping industry also has noted that smooth labor relations at the Prince Rupert port have encouraged investment and traffic north of the border.

Agreeing to early talks would go a long way toward easing concerns not only by shippers, but also by companies and employees who depend on the smooth transport of goods. Businesses would welcome the certainty of knowing their products would reliably flow through the ports, and employees of companies in places like the Yakima Valley wouldn’t endure lost pay and benefits — which in 2014 hit many of them during the Christmas holiday season.

Early bargaining would give both parties more time to flesh out issues and work out conflicts. It would also send a strong signal to the world that all parties understand the competitive challenges facing the West Coast and the Puget Sound ports that are critical to the Yakima Valley’s economy.

  • Members of the Yakima Herald-Republic editorial board are Bob Crider, Frank Purdy and Karen Troianello.


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