Governors to Intervene in Port Labor Disputes

By MarEx 2015-06-08 00:37:22

Legislation that would amend the federal Taft-Hartley Act to allow governors to intervene in port labor disputes rather than being required to ask the White House to do so was introduced in the U.S. Congress last week by Senator Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), a member of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee.

The legislation has been welcomed by the National Retail Federation, the world’s largest retail trade association.

“The nation’s ports and the cargo that flows through them are the lifeblood of our economy,” NRF Senior Vice President for Government Relations David French said. “Our ports need to function and operate before, during and after any port labor contract negotiation, and this bill would make it easier to be sure that remains the case. The supply chain needs predictability to work and should remain free from any man-made disasters — be it delays, disruptions, slowdowns, shutdown or strikes.”

The Protecting Orderly and Responsible Transit of Shipments or PORTS Act, introduced by Gardner, would grant states new powers under Taft-Hartley so governors could examine the economic harm of port disruptions and petition federal courts to intervene. Under current law, that request could only come from the president.

The bill has the support of over 100 business and trade associations including the Agricultural Transportation Coalition, Consumer Electronics Association, National Association of Manufacturers and U.S. Chamber of Commerce. These organizations representing farmers, retailers, transportation providers, wholesalers and other supply chain stakeholders signed a coalition letter organized by NRF.

“This bill is critical to ensure that port disruptions resulting from labor contract negotiations do not negatively impact the U.S. economy,” the letter said. “We believe this is a tool that will help provide certainty to future negotiations.”


Libyan Oil Exports Settle into New Routine

By Reuters 2015-06-07 21:00:13

Eastern Libyan state oil firm AGOCO is producing 250,000 to 290,000 barrels per day (bpd), a company spokesman said on Sunday, unchanged from recent weeks.

On Monday, a tanker will lift one million barrels of crude at the port of Hariga, the spokesman said. He said the Nafoura field remained closed due to a protest by locals demanding jobs.

The Bayda field also remained shut due to a shortage of power, he said.

AGOCO produces the bulk of Libya’s total oil output which ranges from 400,000 to 500,000 bpd. More than a dozen fields in central and western Libya have closed due to protests and fighting, including Islamic State attacks.

Another tanker would lift 500,000 barrels of crude from the eastern Brega port, another oil official said. The port mainly supplies the western Zawiya refinery.

There was no tanker activity at the eastern port of Zueitina as crude flows remain disrupted due to the protest that has halted work at the Nafoura field, said a port official.

The southwestern El Sharara oilfield will remain closed, said Ibrahim al-Tebawi, a member of a security force from the western region of Zintan blocking a pipeline from the field. A rival force must leave El Sharara before pumping can resume.

El Sharara closed in November when a force allied with a self-declared government in Tripoli took over and Zintan guards, who had previously controlled the field, shut down a related pipeline.

The nearby El Feel field also remained shut due to a strike by guards, a field engineer said.

Libya is caught in a struggle between forces backing the internationally recognized government based in the east and a rival administration that has taken control of Tripoli, as former rebels who helped oust veteran ruler Muammar Gaddafi in 2011 have fallen out along political, regional and tribal lines.

In a bid to show its impartiality, Tripoli-based state oil firm NOC said it had begun delivering petrol to the western mountains, to which Zintan belongs, which had been cut off from fuel supplies.

Zintan is allied to the eastern government fighting the Tripoli government on a frontline west of the capital.

But Zintan’s mayor, Mustafa al-Barouni, said he expected a Tripoli force to block the deliveries.

“I, the mayor of Zintan, think that Zintan will not receive fuel shipments because the troops of Libya Dawn have been preventing it for more than eight months,” he told Reuters, referring to the faction which seized Tripoli last August.


Korea and China Battle for Shipbuilding Lead

By Wendy Laursen 2015-06-07 20:47:49

South Korean shipbuilders failed to strike a single deal selling offshore support vessels in the January-April period, reports the Korea Herald, a sign that they are at risk of losing the market to increasingly confident Chinese competitors.

Around three quarters of the OSVs sold worldwide during the period were sold by Chinese shipbuilders.

Companies such as Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering and Hyundai Heavy Industries have not been focusing on the vessel type, although the nation leads in drilling and production platforms, says an analyst cited by the news agency.

STX Offshore & Shipbuilding made a start in the market but instead sold STX OSV to Fincantieri in 2012. Hyundai Heavy Industry stated its intention to invest in OSV production in 2013, but is yet to demonstrate action.

“We do not have good projections for the market. It is illogical to think the OSV market would be good when the shipbuilding industry on the whole is doing badly,” Hyundai Heavy spokesman Hong Jang-gwan told the Korea Herald.

Clarksons Research indicates that China’s OSV order book jumped nearly fivefold over the last five years and now accounts for over 50 percent of the global market.

Tankers and Container Ships

However, the Financial Times reports that demand for tankers and ultra-large container ships is helping South Korean yards cope during the current shipbuilding slump. For example Maersk signed a $1.8 billion order with Daewoo Shipbuilding this month.

Tankers and container ships are a key market for South Korean shipbuilders. Chinese shipyards, by contrast, are struggling with slowing demand for dry bulk carriers, their flagship product, says the Financial Times.

As a result, South Korean shipyards have recaptured lead in new orders, with a market share of 41 percent, compared with Japan’s 28.9 per cent and China’s 24 per cent, according to Clarksons.

The BRS Group Annual Review released this year states that, with around 36 million dwt in new orders in 2014 versus 46 million in 2013, South Korea’s shipbuilders secured 28 percent of all contracts last year. These orders were mainly for tankers (18.1 million dwt, a decline), container ships (4.6 million dwt, a decline), bulk carriers (6.2 million dwt, also a decline) and LNG carriers (a rise at 4.4 million dwt, compared to 2.2m dwt in 2013).

China held a 47 percent share of the market at end 2014, with an orderbook at the end of 2014 valued at 145 million dwt (86.5 million gross tons or about 1,914 ships).