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Vol. 13, No. 48 Week of November 30, 2008
Providing coverage of Alaska and northern Canada's oil and gas industry

AK-WA Connection 2008: Foss Maritime earns environmental honors

Coast Guard, EPA, others recognize Seattle-based company’s outstanding efforts; unique northwest Alaska operation nears 20th year

Rose Ragsdale

For Alaska-Washington Connection

Foss Maritime is earning an impressive collection of accolades for its outstanding corporate commitment to protecting the environment.

The Seattle-based transportation company, which touts its longtime dedication to serving the Alaska-Washington trade, has already distinguished itself in Alaska as operator of a unique port loading system in the Arctic for zinc and lead concentrates produced at the Red Dog Mine in northwest Alaska.

This year, Foss has won recognition from at least four organizations for outstanding environmental and safety accomplishments.

The U.S. Coast Guard in July bestowed on Foss its most prestigious environmental honor, the 2008 William M. Benkert ‘gold’ award for marine environmental protection.

The distinction followed recognition a month earlier from the Environmental Protection Agency, which awarded Foss its Clean Air Excellence Award for development of the low-emission “Green Dolphin” hybrid tug. It was the first time a maritime operating company has received the EPA’s honor.

Foss also received a Commendation — Environmental Award from BP Shipping, and an honorable mention from the Port of Seattle for its 2008 Marine Environmental Business of the Year award.

“Foss is committed to the principles of sustainability and safety in all its operations,” said Foss Maritime President Gary Faber. “This is part of our company’s culture. By leading our industry, we at Foss believe we can do best by the environment.

Faber, who traveled to San Diego with other Foss officials to accept the Coast Guard award, said the sort of innovation that the award recognizes is what the public, our customers and the maritime industry itself have long expected from Foss.

Foss’ environmental initiatives also include voluntarily switching its entire fleet to ultra-low sulfur diesel, minimizing waste streams on harbor tugs by using a vacuum truck service for oily waste removal, completing an energy audit and developing an energy management plan to manage Foss vessels.

What makes Green Dolphin different?

Unlike other tugs, the Green Dolphin hybrid tug, which is being built in Foss’ Rainier, Ore. shipyard and scheduled to begin operation in Southern California this fall, will rely on batteries and an active power management system to minimize engine use. When the engines are used, they will run at power levels that maximize efficiency, reversing the trend of harbor tugs to spend about 60 percent of their time at less efficient low power levels. Main engine emissions reductions from using the hybrid tug are expected to be in the order of 44 percent for particle emissions and nitrous oxide. Fuel consumption is expected to decrease by 20 to 30 percent with a commensurate reduction in sulphur dioxide and carbon emissions.

The Green Dolphin hybrid tug also will help lower some costs. Primary financial benefits of the design come through fuel and lube savings and reduced life cycle and maintenance costs of the major equipment components.

Additionally, the Green Dolphin hybrid tug’s modular design can be applied as a retrofit technology for existing tugboats. It will be able to incorporate future energy storage improvements in battery technology and hydrogen fuel cells.

“We are grateful for EPA’s recognition of the Green Dolphin hybrid tug,” said Susan Hayman, vice president of environmental and corporate development Foss Maritime.

“Any time you introduce cutting edge technologies there are barriers that you must overcome. We’ve done that. Our company’s commitment to the ‘Green Dolphin’ project has been unwavering. And we have developed a tremendous partnership with the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles in the process.”

Collaborations with EPA

The Green Dolphin hybrid tug is just one of several ways Foss is moving aggressively to improve the global environment, including new initiatives seeking to improve energy efficiency and air quality.

In October 2007 the company announced its vessels were switching to ultralow sulfur diesel fuel, a move aimed at producing a significant reduction in emissions of particulate matter and carbon monoxide. Port officials in Seattle and Portland lauded Foss for taking an important step toward reducing the carbon footprint in Elliott Bay, Puget Sound and the Columbia and Snake rivers.

In August 2007 Foss said it had joined the SmartWay Transport® Partnership, a voluntary collaboration between EPA and the freight industry designed to increase energy efficiency, while significantly reducing greenhouse gases and air pollution.

Foss was the first carrier accepted into the program for its marine transportation services.

Foss has pledged to contribute to the partnership’s goal to reduce 33 million to 66 million metric tons of carbon dioxide and up to 200,000 tons of nitrogen oxide per year by 2012 by improving the environmental performance of its marine operations. Carbon dioxide is the most common greenhouse gas, and nitrogen oxide is an air pollutant that contributes to smog.

Other SmartWay partners involved in Alaska-Washington trade include Horizon Lines Inc., Lynden Transport Inc. and, Carlisle Carrier Corp.

Foss also excels in safety

Foss also earned the Chamber of Shipping of America’s recognition for 59 of its vessels with outstanding environmental and safety records in 2007. That distinction includes Jones F. Devlin Awards to self-propelled merchant vessels that have operated for two full years or more without a crew member losing a full turn at watch because of an occupational injury. Altogether, the winning Foss ships have achieved the equivalent total of 82 years without a lost-time injury.

Foss innovates by setting higher-than-industry standards, according to Hayman.

Founded in 1889, the Seattle-based company offers a complete range of maritime services and project management to customers across the Pacific Rim, Europe, South America and around the globe.

Foss’ worldwide network reaches beyond the water. Drawing on its extensive network of sister companies and experienced partners around the world, Foss aligns marine transportation, air cargo, marine engineering, and heavy lift operations to support large project developments in remote, often severe and unpredictable environments.

With one of the largest fleets of tugs and barges on the West Coast, Foss operates two shipyards and offers worldwide marine transportation.

Nearly two decades serving Teck at Red Dog

In Alaska, Foss developed and built a fleet of self-loading barges to lighter 1.4 million tons of concentrated zinc and lead ore annually from a remote shallow-draft port near the Red Dog Mine to ships anchored five miles offshore in open water. Teck, the mine’s operator, trucks the ore across a specially built 52-mile road to the Red Dog Port, where it is stored in a massive building that is 500 yards long and 11 stories high.

Harsh weather conditions and ice limit the mine’s annual shipping season to 90-100 days, demanding an extremely efficient system, with no allowance for error. For this project, Foss also developed the world’s first — and still the only — open-roadstead loading of dry bulk cargo in an unprotected environment.

Foss crews also manage the terminal and marine operations for the open-ocean lighterage for Teck. 2008 marks the 18th year of the partnership.

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