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Old June 24th, 2005, 06:39 PM   #1
hkskyline
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UNITED STATES | Port Of Portland OR

UNITED STATES | Port Of Portland OR

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Port of Portland by Sekkle, on Flickr


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Port Of Portland Confident It Can Regain Lost Business
By Paula L. Stepankowsky
22 June 2005

LONGVIEW, Wash. (Dow Jones)--When the Port of Portland, Ore., saw two of its three major container customers pull out last year, it was faced with layoffs and a scramble to replace the lost revenue.

While it is still courting potential Asia-Pacific container candidates, the Port's executive director is confident he will land another carrier within the next 12 months.

"It's a challenge, but if it were easy, someone else would do it," said Bill Wyatt in an interview.

In addition, the Port is moving ahead on other fronts, including expanding its auto-import business and spending $151 million on capital improvements to its airport, marine and rail operations in the 2005-2006 fiscal year beginning July 1. The port's total 2005-2006 budget is $882.1 million, up about 12% from $784.8 million last year.

The Port is also reviewing all its costs - from docking costs to river pilots' fees - to be as competitive as possible, said Tom Potiowsky, head of the State of Oregon's Office of Economic Analysis and the state's chief economist.

"When you hit a bit of a crisis, that's a great stimulus to try to reinvent yourself, and I think they are doing all they can to try to get back into that market," Potiowsky said.

The Port saw its container revenue slide by 19% in 2004 as freight haulers Hyundai Merchant Marine Co. (011200.SE) and K-Line America Inc., the U.S. subsidiary of Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha Ltd. (9107.TO), pulled out, leaving Hanjin Shipping Co. (000700.SE) the only major container shipper calling in Portland.

But over the long term, overcrowding at the Los Angeles and Long Beach, Calif., ports, combined with a shipbuilding boom going on in China and other parts of Asia, will increase demand for port space on the West Coast, Wyatt said.

The late summer and early autumn are the busiest times of the year for West Coast ports as retailers stock up with autumn and holiday merchandise coming from Asia. But last year, ships were anchored off Los Angeles for days waiting for a berth.

And the congestion just isn't on the waterfront - it's also in the rail yards and freeways surrounding Los Angeles, Wyatt said.

"It's fine to have these huge vessels and modern maritime technology, but if you can't get the cargo off the dock, it doesn't do much good," Wyatt said.

Cargo Struggles To Get To Midwest, East Coast

While much of the cargo that goes into Los Angeles is distributed in the California market, much of it is also destined for the Midwest and the East Coast, said Glenn Vanselow, executive director of the Pacific Northwest Waterways Association, a regional shipping group.

Portland is investing in upgrades to its intermodal infrastructure, which will help speed cargo processing, Vanselow said.

"Portland by itself isn't a large enough market to attract a huge volume of imports - but neither is Seattle or Tacoma (Wash.)," Vanselow said. "The majority of their business heads to the Midwest and East.

A court ruling two weeks ago that will allow three additional feet to be dredged from the bottom of the Columbia River will also help the Port recruit new business, Wyatt said.

With the new 43-foot depth, companies will be able to increase their ships' loads by about 20% and still clear the bottom of the river.

"It means the cost of transportation is going to be a little bit less and, in a market where profit is determined by pennies, that makes an enormous difference," Wyatt said.

The Port of Portland is 106 miles up the Columbia River from the ocean, but to make a fair comparison, you have to consider total sailing time from port to port, not how far a port is from the ocean, Vanselow said.

"With that total distance, the river is a factor, but not as significant a factor as some people perceive," Vanselow said.

While the Port works to shore up its container business, it wants to further develop its niche as an auto importer. Honda Motor Co. (HMC), Toyota Motor Corp. (TM) and Hyundai Motor Co. are its big customers now, but Wyatt is keeping his eyes open for the time when autos will be imported to the U.S. from China.

Some might consider Portland's inland position a drawback in that race, but auto importers like the fact that their new cars can be processed and stored outside in a non-salty atmosphere, Potiowsky said.

"So the car business is pretty secure and, if anything, that expanded a little bit," Potiowsky said.

Upgrades On Tap For Airport

At the airport, which saw its passenger count increase by 5.1% to about 13 million in 2004, the Port is adding a secure pedestrian concourse between its two main concourses so passengers don't have to go through security to get from one to the other when changing planes.

The airport is also benefiting from its renewed international business, with direct flights to Tokyo, Frankfurt and Mexico, Wyatt said.

"They are very significant from a revenue perspective because they tend to generate more local economic activity that a single flight would portend," Wyatt said.

The Port's agriculture and bulk business was strong in 2004, and looks promising for 2005, with wheat, soda ash and potash exports accelerating - particularly to China, Wyatt said.

Overall, freight volumes through the Port's marine terminals grew 5.2% from 2004, 500,000 tons more than in 1999, which was a record year.

So while the Port is experiencing some near-term struggles as it replaces lost container business, the broader trend toward rapid growth in Asia remains on track, Vanselow said.

"When you combine that with congestion and inland distribution - and the geographic advantages Portland has - there is no question in my mind that Portland is poised for growth," Vanselow said.
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Old July 17th, 2009, 10:20 PM   #2
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Itochu, Others To Build Grain Export Facility On U.S. West Coast
2 June 2009

TOKYO (Nikkei)--Itochu Corp. (8001) will join with a major U.S. agribusiness and a South Korean shipping firm to construct one of the world's largest grain export facilities on the U.S. West Coast, The Nikkei learned Monday.

The overall cost of the project is estimated at just over 200 million dollars, or about 19 billion yen. The firms aim to boost procurement of such grains as wheat and soybeans in the U.S. to meet the sharp growth in demand in China and other parts of Asia.

The major Japanese trading house is partnering with third-ranked American grain giant Bunge Ltd., which has annual sales of about 52.6 billion dollars, and South Korea's largest shipping company, STX Pan Ocean Co.

The trio plans to establish a joint venture in Portland, Oregon, sometime this month. This firm is to be 51%-owned by Bunge, while Itochu takes a 29% stake and STX the remaining 20%.

Construction of the grain export facility is to start this month in Longview, Washington. It is expected to have an annual processing capacity of 8 million tons when it starts operations in the fall of 2011.

Itochu's move to secure a means for supplying grains to Asia is part of its food strategy for China that includes the creation of a network that will cover food processing, distribution and restaurants.
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