Ports & Ships Maritime News

Apr 18, 2006
Author: P&S

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  • Richards Bay Coal Terminal handles largest ever cargo

  • Tall ship Cuauhtemoc calls at Cape Ports

  • ANGOLA: China entrenches position in booming economy

  • IMO proclaims Special Area off South African coast

  • Commissioner to International Whaling Commission appointed

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    Richards Bay Coal Terminal handles largest ever cargo

    Records are always there to be broken and those set at the giant coal terminal in Richards Bay are no exception. Richards Bay Coal Terminal (RBCT) reached a new height last week when 203,384 tons of coal was loaded into the bulker Ocean Vanguard.

    The record load exceeds that of 203, 128 tons which was set in December 2004, according RBCT’s spokesperson Di Harvey and comes in the month when both the port and the terminal are celebrating their 30 years anniversary.

    Ocean Vanguard on berth at the Richards Bay Coal Terminal where a record sized cargo was loaded last week. Picture RBCT – click to enlarge

    The 206,258-dwt Ocean Vanguard, which sailed on Thursday (13 April 2006), has a length of 311m and a beam of 50m.

    Tall Ship Cuauhtemoc calls at Cape ports

    Soon after the visit to both Cape Town and Port Elizabeth of the Swedish replica sailing ship Gotheborg comes another tall ship flying this time the flag of Mexico – the training barque Cuauhtemoc.

    The graceful sailing ship arrived off Cape Town at the weekend for a short visit, and has been berthed at the V&A Waterfront. The ship is on a training mission with a crew of 75 Mexican midshipmen on board in addition to guest sailors from a number of other countries. Her master is Captain Roberto Gonzalez Lopez.

    Cuauhtemoc pictured by Sergey Bykov and courtesy shipspotting.com, the web’s largest repository of ship photographs (see link below) – click image to enlarge

    Cuauhtemoc is on a round the world sailing cruise that will take her around the three Southern Ocean Capes – Cape Horn in southern Chile, Cape Agulhas off South Africa, and Cape Leeuwin in Australia. The barque was built at the Spanish Celaya shipyards in Bilbao and completed in 1982, since when she has completed more than 430,000 n.miles of cruising as a training ship for the Mexican Navy.

    While visiting South Africa the crew will conduct exercises with their counterparts in the South African Navy and the ship will be open to the public at the V&A Waterfront between Wednesday and Friday this week (19-21 April).

    On completion of her Cape Town visit Cuauhtemoc will sail for Port Elizabeth before heading off across the Indian Ocean to Fremantle, Western Australia. Then it is on to New Zealand and the South Pacific islands including Tahiti before heading back home to her homeport of Acapulco.

    Apart from her sail area of 25,489 square feet, the ship has an auxiliary engine of 1,125 hp. Her hull is made of steel and the ship sparred length is 270 ft or 220 ft LWL. Her beam is 39ft 4ins and the draught is 17ft 1in.

    Cuauhtemoc is named for the last emperor of the Aztecs, Cuauhtemoc who was defeated by the conquering Spaniards under Hernan Cortes. Today, almost 500 years later, Cuauhtemoc is revered and venerated in modern Mexico whereas his conqueror Cortes is almost forgotten.

    ANGOLA: China entrenches position in booming economy

    Luanda, 17 Apr 2006 (IRIN) - The announcement earlier this month that Angola had overtaken Saudi Arabia as China's premier supplier of crude oil has underlined the deepening ties between the two red-hot economies.

    Angola is sub-Saharan Africa's second largest oil producer, after Nigeria, pumping 1.3 million barrels a day (b/d) – a figure the government expects to rise to 2 million b/d by 2008. Record oil prices are ensuring double-digit growth, and the country is in the middle of a reconstruction boom after a ruinous 27-year civil war ended in 2002.

    China has a significant stake in the Angolan economy. Angola exported 456,000 barrels a day during both January and February this year - accounting for 15 percent of China's total oil imports - outstripping both Saudi Arabia and Iraq, according to figures from Switzerland-based energy analysts Petromix.

    Beijing's imports from Angola represent a 42 percent increase on comparable figures in the same months of 2005. China is the second largest consumer of Angolan oil after the United States, and under the terms of a USD 3 billion oil-backed loan made by China's state-owned Eximbank, the country will remain a long-term importer of Angolan crude.

    Last month, a new consortium Sonangol-Sinopec International, an enterprise jointly controlled by the Angolan government-run Sonangol oil company and China's Sinopec, won a multi-billion dollar contract to build a 240,000 b/d oil refinery at the southern port of Lobito.

    Chinese companies have been at the forefront of Angola's reconstruction bonanza. A new airport is being built at Viana, just outside the capital Luanda, one-third financed by the government, the rest by Chinese interests. The war-damaged Benguela railway, which stretches from the Democratic Republic of Congo to the coast, is being rebuilt as part of a Chinese deal worth USD 200-300 million.

    The Asian powerhouse has also procured lucrative contracts to rebuild the nation's roads and a rejuvenated Angola Airlines is considering opening a direct route to Beijing.

    Although Angola still has USD 9.7 billion in external debt, finance minister Jose Pedro de Morais said that finance from foreign credit lines will rise from USD 800 million in 2005 to USD 5 billion in 2006 – most of which is earmarked for rehabilitating the country's crumbling infrastructure.

    Foreign credit and high oil prices has allowed Angola to double its budget spending in 2006 to over USD 23 billion, compared with just USD 13 billion in 2005. Alongside China, Brazil, Spain, Portugal and India are also major lenders.

    But despite bulging government coffers, most people remained mired in poverty. The United Nations estimates that 70 percent of the population live on less than USD 1 a day, and nearly half of children are severely malnourished.

    Angola's social spending is below the average for Southern Africa but, says de Morais, its increasing year on year. This year it accounts for nearly 30 percent of the budget – the largest single portion – up from 25 percent in 2004 and just over 12 percent in 2003. However, de Morais conceded that improving social indicators would take many years.

    Although much of Angola's cash is down to its business with China - in 2005 bilateral trade reportedly reached USD 6.95 billion, primarily in oil, an increase of 41.6 percent on the previous year - Beijing's involvement in the country has not been free of criticism.

    Civil society organisations have accused China of turning a blind eye to graft. International corruption watchdog Transparency International rated Angola 151st out of 158 countries reviewed in its 2005 annual corruption index.

    Eximbank's USD 3 billion loan was criticised by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and non-governmental organisation Global Witness as lacking transparency.

    Nicholas Shaxson, Africa fellow of the UK-based think-tank Chatham House explained: "Chinese lending ... has allowed Angola's government to manage on its own without IMF backing. Angola has used its huge economic potential to secure a number of oil-backed bilateral credit agreements with foreign governments - which further weaken the IMF's leverage."

    Chinese loans have allowed Angola to forego IMF lending that would subject government finance to greater scrutiny. Nevertheless, Jon Shields, Angola head at the IMF, said that even with foreign loans Angola's economic and social challenges remain formidable: "The biggest challenge is to ensure that the money goes where it needs to go."

    - source IRIN (This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations)

    IMO proclaims Special Area off South African coast

    First proclamation for Africa

    The South African proposal for the designation of parts of the southern sea area as a Special Area under Annex 1 of the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships, 1973, as modified by the Protocol of 1978 relating thereto (MARPOL 73/78 Convention) has been approved by the International Maritime Organization (IMO).

    A special area is an area of the sea, which, due to its oceanographic and ecological conditions requires special mandatory methods for the prevention of pollution from oil, noxious liquid substances or garbage generated by ships. The IMO is the United Nations agency responsible for the safety and security of shipping and the prevention of marine pollution by ships.

    The work was started as a joint public-private initiative between the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism (DEAT), the International Fund for Animal Welfare-South Africa (IFAW-SA), the Department of Transport (DOT) and South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA). This was a collective effort to find an internationally-acceptable and recognized measure to control the impact of illegal and/or irregular operational oil discharges from international shipping. DEAT played a leading role in drafting and developing the submission through a consultative process done in close collaboration with DOT, SAMSA and IFAW-SA.

    The proposal for the designation of the identified area as a Special Area was based on the facts that, oceanographical conditions around Agulhas Bank (e.g. the prevailing winds, currents and waves) concentrate, retain and/ or carry the oil towards the coast; the ecological value of the identified area includes a significant number of endemic and endangered species such as the African penguin, Cape gannet and three cormorant species; the area has a high biodiversity and is important for fisheries; and the area has got a high socio-economic importance - the value of coastal goods and services generated from the proposed area are estimated to comprise about 35 percent of South Africa's GDP.

    Other interests include oil and gas facilities; commercial, artisan and recreational fisheries; mariculture; and recreation and eco-tourism. Measures already in place in South Africa to protect the area include the dedicated aerial surveillance aircraft (Kuswag 8) contracted to DEAT, four environment protection vessels from DEAT, and national designation of marine protected areas.

    The significance of the Special Area approval in South Africa is such that it will deter illegal discharges of oil by highlighting the status of the area, since it will be reflected on international navigational charts. For an example, if a tanker wished to sail on the 50nm offshore limit, no cargo oil residues would be allowed to be discharged for the period the tanker would be in the Special Area. For tankers engaged in the coastal trade with South Africa, the requirement would be that slops would be retained on board for discharge into an adequate waste reception facility in the Port.

    The Special Area would effectively extend the 50nm exclusion zone over the Agulhas Bank to create a larger buffer zone where the operational pumping of oil will be sufficiently far off-shore to protect the coast in this very sensitive and high risk area.

    The designated area, which is part of South Africa's continental shelf waters, extends from the Spoeg River north of St Helena Bay on the West Coast, protrudes around the Agulhas Bank southeast of Cape Town and stretches all the way to East London on the east coast.

    About 203 million tonnes of crude and bunker fuel is transported through the Special Area each year. The approval will assist South Africa in meeting its national and international obligations for environmental protection and pollution reduction as well as the conservation of biological diversity. Approximately 1400 vessels operate in the Special Area, of which about 500 call on ports in South Africa. Of these, there is an estimated 225 tankers operating in this area per month.

    However, given the MARPOL amendment procedures, IMO procedures will cause the SA designation to only come into effect in February 2008.

    - Issued jointly by the Department of Transport and the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism

    Commissioner to International Whaling Commission appointed

    The South African Government has appointed Mr Herman Oosthuizen of the Department of the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism as Commissioner to the International Whaling Commission (IWC). The next meeting will take place from 8 - 21 June this year.

    Oosthuizen has been studying marine mammals for nearly 25 years and has attended IWC meetings since 2000. He was Head of the Scientific Delegation and Alternate Commissioner at IWC between 2000 and 2004, and acted as the IWC Commissioner in 2005 at the annual IWC meeting in Korea. He is highly regarded at the IWC and is an experienced and skilled negotiator.

    The International Whaling Commission (IWC) was set up under the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling which was signed in Washington DC on 2nd December 1946. The purpose of the Convention is to provide for the proper conservation of whale stocks and thus make possible the orderly development of the whaling industry.

    The main duty of the IWC is to keep under review and revise as necessary the measures laid down in the Schedule to the Convention which govern the conduct of whaling throughout the world. These measures, among other things, provide for the complete protection of certain species; designate specified areas as whale sanctuaries; set limits on the numbers and size of whales which may be taken; prescribe open and closed seasons and areas for whaling; and prohibit the capture of suckling calves and female whales accompanied by calves. The compilation of catch reports and other statistical and biological records is also required.

    In addition, the Commission encourages, co-ordinates and funds whale research, publishes the results of scientific research and promotes studies into related matters such as the humaneness of the killing operations.

    - source Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism

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