Ports & Ships Maritime News

Aug 3, 2006
Author: P&S

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  • South Africa’s bunker shortage tightens

  • Salvage of oil platform Petrobas XXI off Tristan da Cunha postponed

  • Kenya announces upgrade of its port security

  • US State Department commends historic Congolese elections

  • Pact proposed to stop smuggling of migrants from Africa

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    South Africa’s bunker shortage tightens

    There has been increased reports of ships forced to divert away from South Africa to find bunker supplies as the oil refineries run low on supplies. Yesterday for example it was being claimed there were no spot fuel fixtures available at any South African port.

    The situation has arisen partly as a result of the annual shutdown at the Shell/BP refinery in Durban leaving the Engen refinery battling to keep up with demand. Adding to the problem is that Cape Town’s Caltex Refinery is reported to have also run out of stock.

    Ports and Ships was told that shipping lines and agents holding contracts were the only ones obtaining bunkers at present – “there is little or nothing available off the shelf,” was the word.

    The Shell/BP Refinery (Sapref) is expected to return to production on 14 August following its shutdown for maintenance, after which the situation with bunkers can be expected to return to normal.

    After disastrous shortages of fuel last year when four of the refineries were shut at the same time it was understood that arrangements would be made in future to import fuel requirements when necessary. While there are no shortages of petrol or diesel being reported at present it is apparent that bunker fuel, which is mainly a waste product from production is not included in this arrangement.

    As South Africa’s economy continues to expand the question arises whether production at the country’s refineries will remain capable of meeting with the equivalent demand for energy. The announcement yesterday that Drako Oil intends building a US $ 6 Billion refinery at Richards Bay by 2010 followed by two others at undisclosed locations, therefore carries added interest.

    Salvage of oil platform Petrobas XXI off Tristan da Cunha postponed

    Tristan da Cunha islanders must be asking themselves whether the oil platform Petrobas XXI will ever be refloated from its rocky/sandy perch near Trypot Bay.

    The platform was freed from its tow in mid Atlantic during severe weather conditions about three months ago and later disappeared from view, remaining ‘lost’ for weeks until islanders found the platform firmly aground in the isolated bay named Trypot, which lies on the uninhabited southeast side of the island.

    You can follow the story so far with our News Bulletins dated 23 and 29 June, and 7, 11 and 16 July.

    In these previous news reports we told of efforts to find a second tug firstly from Cape Town and then from West Africa, which would go to the assistance of Zouros Hellas, the original tug chartered by Smit Salvage of Cape Town to help refloat the platform and hopefully take it to Cape Town for repairs.

    It seems now that those efforts have proved unsuccessful and the latest news from the island is that Zouros Hellas is on its way back to Cape Town to wait until the weather improves and perhaps another more powerful tug can be found.

    As a result the unwelcome platform will remain an unwanted visitor on the island for at least another month and probably much longer.

    According to the website www.tristandc.com the insurance company involved with the salvage has advised islanders that it (the company) is trustworthy and will not abandon the platform.

    “We shall return” might well have been their cry in response to concerns that Tristan da Cunha, being an isolated sort of place that is more out of the news than in, might be left again to its own devices with such an unwanted piece of oil industry machinery cluttering up its seashore. Not so, assure the insurers, the rescue mission is simply being deferred until later in the year.

    Nevertheless, the islanders are only too aware that the anti-cyclonic weather now being experienced often continues until much later in the year, which brings added fears that the platform may not stand up to these conditions unattended for such a period of time.

    Islanders are also concerned about a penguin rookery in Trypot Bay. In August each year breeding pairs return to occupy nest sites ahead of egg-laying in September and the concern is that should the platform break up then large sections of wreckage could threaten the nearby rookery.

    Footnote: When the platform set out from Brazil on tow behind the tug Mighty Deliverer, it went under the name Petrobas XXI, or PXXI for short. Since becoming a wreck on Tristan da Cunha the Cayman Island-based owners, Catleia Oil Company, perhaps wanting to disclaim any familial ties, have decided that the platform is now named ‘A Turtle.’

    They may be isolated but they still pack a sense of humour and it wasn’t long before bemused islanders began talking about the oil platform that had ‘turned turtle’ in more ways than one.

    Catleia Oil Co is a subsidiary of Brazil’s Petrobras Company.

    Kenya announces upgrade of its port security

    Kenya’s Nation newspaper reports that Kenya Ports Authority is to spend Ksh 800 million (US $ 10.98m) on upgrading security at the country’s ports.

    The project is being funded by the World Bank and involves an automatic perimeter surveillance system (CCTV) which brings it in line with the IMO’s International Ship and Port Security (ISPS) code.

    The recently announced Mombasa Port Search and Rescue Centre which monitors the Kenya, Somalia and Tanzania coasts and which is linked to similar centres in South Africa and West Africa, will be linked to the project.

    Kenya’s port security agencies are to be trained in maritime safety and counter-terrorism with courses including the handling of dangerous cargo and explosives being conducted by the US Coastguard.

    - source The Nation

    US State Department commends historic Congolese elections

    By Stephen Kaufman (Washington File Staff Writer)

    Washington -- The Bush administration commended the Congolese people for the conduct of the country’s July 30 presidential and parliamentary elections, saying the vote is “a testament to the will of the Congolese people to develop their democratic institutions.”

    In a statement released 31 July, State Department spokesman Sean McCormack described the elections in the Democratic Republic of Congo as “historic,” being the “first open national elections held since 1960” when the country’s former dictator, Mobuto Sese Seko, came to power.

    “Despite enormous logistical challenges and threats of intimidation in parts of the country, initial reports were that the voting process was peaceful with few reported problems,” he said, adding that voter turnout was even higher than for the 18 December, 2005, referendum in which the country approved a new constitution.

    “The United States congratulates the Democratic Republic of Congo on this important step towards building a prosperous and peaceful democracy,” McCormack said.

    A team of US officials led by Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Jendayi Frazer participated as observers in an election that included 33 presidential candidates and 9,000 parliamentary candidates, and represented more than 200 registered political parties.

    Despite some reports of isolated violence, European Union election observers said on 31 July that the elections were proceeding in a free and democratic manner. The United Nations reported that 80 percent of the country’s 25 million registered voters participated.

    Final results to declare the country’s next president and the 500-member parliament are not expected for weeks, according to press reports.

    (The Washington File is a product of the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)

    Pact proposed to stop smuggling of migrants from Africa

    Rabat - The Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Antonio Maria Costa, has urged participants of the Euro-African Ministerial Conference on Migration and Development, which took place in Rabat during July. to create a Pact to combat the smuggling of irregular migrants from Africa.

    UNODC estimates that approximately 200,000 Africans attempt to enter Europe clandestinely every year. Recent high profile incidents include irregular migrants coming ashore in the Canary Islands, Malta and the Pelagi Islands in the Mediterranean, or trying to enter Europe via the Spanish enclaves of Ceuta and Mellila in Morocco.

    They are usually aided by smugglers "who are exploiting some of the world's poorest and most vulnerable people", said Mr. Costa. "For every person who reaches Europe, several others have never made it. Europe will never see the untold numbers who die in the Sahara, who are left penniless in transit countries far from home, who drown when their dilapidated boats capsize, or who waste their lives in North African prisons," he warned.

    To stem the flow of irregular migrants from Africa to Europe, Mr. Costa underlined the need to address some of the root causes of why people are risking this exodus in the first place - factors like underdevelopment, crime and corruption.

    To combat the criminal activity of smuggling, he urged states to ratify and implement the United Nations Protocol Against Smuggling of Migrants by Land, Sea and Air.
    As a follow-up to the Rabat Conference and the Action Plan agreed at the meeting, Mr. Costa proposed an Irregular Migration Pact (or IM-PACT Initiative) to expose and block smuggling routes, improve information sharing among law enforcement officials, raise awareness of the dangers of migrant smuggling, as well as providing legal and technical assistance.

    "Irregular migration is mostly profiting criminals at the expense of people's lives and dreams, and giving legal migration a bad name" said Mr. Costa.

    - source UNODC

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