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U.S. Dockworker Labor Deal Could Take Several Months, BNSF to Begin Construction on Barstow Facility in 2024, Inflation Reaches the Candy Aisle Ahead of Halloween.

Oct 27, 2022

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Seapeak to acquire Evergas. Danish gas shipping company Evergas is set to be acquired by Seapeak in a $700m cash deal. Stonepeak, which owns Seapeak (formerly Teekay LNG) will take over Greenship Gas Trust and Greenship Gas Manager from France’s Jaccar Holdings, resulting in the addition of two ethane carriers and eight multigas/LNG carriers to its fleet. Copenhagen-based Evergas also controls six LPG carriers under leases ending in 2024, according to Splash247. The deal is expected to close by the end of this year, and Evergas will be rebranded under Seapeak.


U.S. dockworker labor deal could take several months. Executive Director of the Port of Los Angeles, Gene Seroka, says that a labor deal between 22,000 dockworkers at US West Coast ports and their employers may not be reached for several months, but service disruptions while negotiations continue remain unlikely. “It’s not going to get solved in the next few weeks — it will probably take several months and there is no hard deadline on this,” Seroka said in an interview at Bloomberg’s New York headquarters early this week. GCaptain reports that the parties have said they’re committed to avoiding a repeat of the nine months of disruptions and shipping delays that occurred during the last full contract negotiation in 2014 and 2015.

Port volumes decline ahead of holiday season. Container volumes at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach fell significantly in September and experts are predicting a continued easing in volumes during what normally would have been peak season, according to Maritime Executive. “Consumers and retailers are concerned about inflation, leading to warehouses filled with inventory and fewer product orders from Asia,” said Port of Long Beach Executive Director Mario Cordero this week. “The respite is leading to increased capacity on the docks and fewer ships waiting off the coast to enter the port.”


USTR, USDA to make Section 301 decision involving seasonal produce industry. The Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) announced that it will “pursue avenues to assist the Southeast seasonal produce industry in coordination with the United States Department of Agriculture after Members of Congress requested an examination of certain issues in a September 8, 2022, Section 301 petition.” The Section 301 petition alleges that the Government of Mexico is implementing an “export targeting” scheme aimed at Florida produce. According to a press release from USTR, The 301 statute requires that USTR make a decision on whether to move forward with an investigation within 45 days. USTR will publish a formal notice in the Federal Register summarizing USTR’s response to the petition. Read the full release here.


Paccar to recall more than 76,000 trucks over digital dash issue. Paccar Inc. is recalling 76,492 late-model Peterbilt and Kenworth trucks because of an issue that could cause the digital dash to freeze, which would prevent the system from updating and increase the chance of a crash. Paccar told the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that about 1% of recalled trucks likely have the issue. Affected 2022 and 2023 models include the Kenworth T680, T880 and W990 and the Peterbilt 365, 367, 389, 567 and 579, according to FreightWaves. The truck maker has not reported any crashes or injuries related to the issue thus far, and plans to install updated software in recalled trucks within 60 days. Owner and dealer notification is planned for Dec. 16 and The NHTSA recall number is 22V-779.

FMCSA to decide on broker transparency petition in 2023. In hopes of gaining more oversight of broker transaction records, petitions by the Owner Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) and the Small Business in Trucking Coalition (SBTC) were filed in 2020 with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). In September of this year, OOIDA sent a letter to FMCSA stating that it has been over two years since the group submitted its original petition. “We believe an update is warranted on where the agency stands on our outstanding petition and related comments from motor carriers,” stated OOIDA President and CEO Todd Spencer. According to FreightWaves, FMCSA “has been considering the issues raised by OOIDA’s petition for rulemaking and based on that work is targeting early 2023 to issue a decision,” the agency stated when asked to comment on the groups’ rulemaking request. “When assessing possible broker transparency rulemaking, FMCSA’s role is to remain within the bounds of our statutory authorities and also takes into account whether and how additional rulemaking will effectively and efficiently resolve the issues identified,” FMCSA added.


BNSF to begin construction on Barstow facility in 2024. BNSF says that plans are underway to develop a $1.5 billion rail freight facility at Barstow in southern California, with construction beginning in 2024, with an end date goal of 2027. The facility will be used to decrease the use of road transport in favor of rail to move containers out of the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. According to Railway Gazette, “containers arriving by sea would be transported directly by rail to the Barstow International Gateway for processing and transfer to eastbound trains, eliminating current road transport legs.” Freight heading to the ports from the east would also be processed at the site. “The Barstow International Gateway will maximize rail and distribution efficiency regionally and across the US supply chain and reduce truck traffic and freeway congestion,” said BNSF President & CEO Katie Farmer. “This will play a critical role in improving fluidity throughout our rail network.”


Asia Pacific airlines see sharp drop in cargo volumes. Year on year international air cargo demand dropped 10.4% in September while cargo capacity expanded 5.9%, according to the Association of Asia Pacific Airlines (AAPA). As a result, the average load factor was down 11.4 percentage points, to 64%. AAPA said that “cargo markets remained under pressure due to depressed business and consumer confidence levels,” according to the Load Star. “The outlook for the cargo market remains subdued in the near term. Overall, the region’s airlines continue to face a challenging operating environment, with costs under pressure as a result of high fuel prices and weak local currencies,” said AAPA director general Subhas Menon.


China’s chip imports fell 12% YOY in September. According to official customs data published on Monday, chip imports from China fell 12.4 percent in September. China imported 47.6 billion chip units in September of this year, compared with 54.3 billion units in September 2021 according to the data. Separate data from the National Bureau of Statistics showed that domestic chip output in September fell 16.4% year-on-year to 26.1 billion units, according to Reuters. Total output fell 10.8% to 245 billion units in the first nine months of 2022.

Third strike begins at Port of Liverpool. The third strike in less than two months at the Port of Liverpool began on Monday after a potential agreement collapsed. Nearly 600 dockworkers returned to the picket lines just a week after ending their previous strike, and the current action is scheduled to run until November 7. According to Maritime Executive, the union “accused Peel Ports’ board of failing to support a pay deal that had been agreed in principle with the management on October 20 and which the workers were willing to accept to avert another strike.” The port disagrees, and says that it wanted to go to mediation whereas the union blocked the latest offers.


Inflation reaches the candy aisle ahead of Halloween. Soaring inflation has caused candy prices to jump more than 13% from a year ago, making it the largest-ever yearly jump for candy according to the Labor Department. Surging flour and sugar prices and sky-high labor costs have fueled the price increases, according to the Wall Street Journal.

WISTA survey highlights discrimination against women seafarers. Results from a public online survey conducted by the Women’s International Shipping & Trading Association (WISTA International), Anglo-Eastern, International Seafarers Welfare and Assistance Network (ISWAN) and the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) are showing the severe gender-based discrimination against women, as well as detailing onboard harassment and bullying. The survey was designed to “examine how female seafarers perceived discrimination and how it manifested onboard based on their personal experiences,” according to Splash247. The survey included answers from 1,128 women seafarers from 78 countries. Approximately 90% of respondents work on cruise ships, with 60% reporting encountering gender-based discrimination onboard and 66% responding that their male employees had turned to harassing and intimidating female co-workers. You can read the full survey results here.