Port of Oakland Creates Storage for Hanjin Boxes
Hanjin Shipping’s collapse continues to cause difficulties in unusual ways – not just for shippers, BCOs, shipowners or bunker suppliers, but also for anyone in possession of a Hanjin-branded container. Some are owned by Hanjin, but some are owned by leasing companies like Seaco or Textainer. In most localities, ports do not want to accept any of them given their uncertain future and the cost of handling and storing them.
With nowhere to go, the empties have created a storage problem for trucking firms, and even worse, they have tied up chassis bearing Hanjin boxes, port officials say. A chassis shortage could pose a problem for cargo flow leaving terminals as the peak holiday season approaches, especially at high volume California ports.
The Port of Oakland announced Wednesday that it would help alleviate the Hanjin empty-container problem by opening up a storage yard adjacent to its largest terminal. Only boxes owned by Hanjin will be accepted, and trucking firms were advised to check with Hanjin to determine if a particular box is eligible.
“With this move, we can at least eliminate the worry about storage and prevent a potentially crippling chassis shortage,” said John Driscoll, the Port of Oakland’s maritime director.
The Container Owners Association issued a warning Tuesday regarding the status of containers leased to Hanjin, illustrating the legal problems that ports and others are keen to avoid. COA published a list of a dozen affected owners and called on all parties to help return empty boxes. "Please also be aware any attempt to interfere with legal rights of the container owners is unlawful and the relevant company may respond accordingly to enforce its rights," COA warned in a statement.
The uncertainty over empties also created difficulty for the vessel Hanjin Miami, which was unable to call Maher Terminal at the Port of NY/NJ for several days because her air draft would be too high after offloading. Without a backload of empty boxes, she would not be able to leave. Initially, the terminal refused to load the disputed containers, but all parties reached a satisfactory agreement and the Miami offloaded Thursday: she will be backloaded with containers as required so that she fits under the Bayonne Bridge on departure.
Separately, in Seoul, Hanjin ex-CEO Choi Eun-young faces an inquiry from regulators over whether she engaged in insider trading when she sold her shares in the embattled firm this spring.
The Wall Street Journal reports that Choi and her daughters disposed of nearly 1 million shares valued at almost $3 million in April, just before Hanjin announced that it would seek a debt restructuring. Shares fell by about 30 percent as Hanjin's circumstances worsened, and Choi appears to have saved as much as $1 million by selling early. She says that she did not have advance news of the bankruptcy and sold shares to pay down debt.
In positive news for investors, shares in Hanjin rose 30 percent Thursday on confirmation that the line will receive $50 million in funding from Korea Air and an additional $45 million from Korea Development Bank, as previously announced. The funds will be used for port fees and other costs related to offloading the billions of dollars in cargo still stuck on Hanjin's ships.