The president of maritime trade group American Maritime Partnership (AMP) has criticized a decision by the Biden administration to approve a temporary Jones Act waiver for vessels shipping oil and other essential commodities to Puerto Rico in the wake of hurricane Fiona. AMP president Ku’uhaku Park said that “Granting of this waiver rewards calculated and predatory behaviour that undermines a dedicated American supply chain for Puerto Rico, and it is a harmful precedent that invites similar cynical stunts by foreign oil traders”
On Friday September 30th chemical/oil products tanker GH Parks (IMO 9428334) docked in Puerto Rico, having been offshore for several days awaiting the waiver.
Park said that “this was a public rush to judgment fuelled by hearsay and it weakens the nation and hurts American workers and the Administration should never repeat it”.
The Jones Act dates back more than 100 years. It requires goods moved between US ports to be carried by vessels that are US built, owned, operated and crewed.
However, last Tuesday Puerto Rico Governor Pedro Pierluisi asked the White House for a waiver to increase the availability of fuel after the storm. The AMP has claimed that vessels were having no trouble making Jones-Act-compliant deliveries to the island, which had been struck by Hurricane Fiona on September 18th. The AMP claims that the fuel shortages are a result of land-based logistical difficulties.
“American Maritime has been meeting and exceeding the needs of Puerto Rican residents in the wake of Hurricane Fiona and there continues to be absolutely no justification for a waiver of the Jones Act, as the U.S. Coast Guard, FEMA, the Corps of Engineers, and the U.S. Department of Energy all have made clear that the supply of fuel to the Island is not an issue,” Park had claimed earlier in the week.
Shortly after the storm passed through the GH Parks, a Marshall Islands-flagged tanker linked by AMP to BP, made its way to Puerto Rico’s southern coast after loading 300,000 barrels of diesel from Texas, according to ship tracking data. AMP claimed that its original destination was not Puerto Rico and that it changed its destination for financial rather than humanitarian reasons.
Park said that “this stunt by a foreign oil company showing up unannounced in Puerto Rico while on its way overseas hoping to sell its fuel at a premium to Puerto Ricans in need, and thereby triggering a public and political rush to judgment, is bad precedent, a circumvention of US law, and should never be tolerated.
2009-built, Marshall Islands-flagged, 30,031 gt GH Parks is owned and managed by GY Shipco XII LLC of Majuro, Marshall Islands. ISM manager is Synergy Maritime Pvt Ltd of Chennai, India. It is entered with Gard AS on behalf of GY Shipco XII LLC. It is entered for hull with Gard AS as claims leader on behalf of Hayfin Capital Management LLP.