Ports & Ships Maritime News

Sep 19, 2006
Author: P&S

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  • Nigerian oil shortfall will last another six months

  • Another Dongwon fishing vessel in trouble with the law

  • Mauritius Shipping looks for expansion

  • Cote D’Ivoire: Clean-up of toxic waste begins

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    Nigerian oil shortfall will last another six months

    Nigeria’s shortfall in oil production resulting from unrest in the Niger Delta region will last another six months, says the country’s oil minister.

    Edmund Daukoru confirmed reports that Nigeria is losing more production than previously thought – about 872,000 barrels a day and not the 600,000 barrels often quoted. He was attending an OPEC conference in Vienna last week when he made the statements.

    Nigeria’s current production lies between 2.3 and 2,33 million barrels a day and according to the minister Shell alone is losing 600,000 barrels each day due to the unrest. The balance is spread among other producers including the Italian oil company Agip.

    He based his assumption of six months on the time that Shell says it needs to repair one of the damaged offshore platforms.

    Another Dongwon fishing vessel in trouble with the law

    A South Korean trawler named Dong Won 619 which has been detained in Durban was released from custody and allowed to sail after the agents paid a fine for the ship having illegally imported 53 tons of fish into South Africa.

    The vessel was arrested shortly after arrival in Durban harbour but by then its catch had been distributed to a number of local companies as far away as Cape Town. The court was told that the catch should have gone to a customs bonded warehouse and that it took a team of Marine and Coastal Management (MCM) inspectors, the KZN Wildlife and SA Police Services to track down and recover the missing catch.

    In terms of the fine the catch valued at R665,000 was forfeited and the owners of the ship fined a total of R20,000, of which half (of the R20,000) was suspended for three years – leaving environmentalists to says that yet another foreign fishing company has got away lightly.

    In 2005 another Dong Won vessel, number 630 was arrested and fined in a Port Elizabeth court after attempting to flee an approaching fisheries patrol boat Ruth First despite having a South African MCM observer on board.

    The subsequent trial and judgement brought cries of outrage both locally and internationally after the fine of R1 million (or two years imprisonment) plus a second fine of R150,000 were both suspended with the second fine reduced down to R50,000 and the ship allowed to sail. Another slap on the wrist, cried the detractors who pointed out that the MCM inspector on board had been threatened when he made it known that he intended reporting the illegal catching taking place in South African waters.

    Dr Deon Nell, manager of the WWF Marine programme claimed the trawler had broken every rule in the book. “In this case the judiciary has failed us. What more must be done before a tough sentence is passed down? Do we have to wait for a fisheries observer to be thrown overboard?”

    Nell pointed out that a single high quality tuna can sell for well over R100,000. “With this is mind, we can see that that the magistrate’s sentence of R50,000 has the deterrent value of asking the skipper for one sub-standard tuna for his Saturday afternoon braai.”

    Another Dong Won fishing vessel, number 628 came under attack from Somali pirates while the vessel was operating in Somali waters in April this year. The fishing boat was detained by the pirates despite the efforts of the US Navy which tried to come to the rescue. Dong Won 628 ended up in a Somali port but was released in July with its crew safe after a ransom demand of US $ 400,000 had been made. The Somalis making the demand called it a fine for illegal fishing, saying the vessel had been operating without permission in Somali waters. It is not known whether the ransom was actually paid.

    The Dongwon Group of companies of South Korea is one of the world’s largest and most successful fishing companies.

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    Mauritius Shipping looks for expansion

    Mauritius Shipping Company, owner and operator of two cargo passenger ships Mauritius Trochetia and Mauritius Pride, says it is looking to expand its operations into tanker and feeder cargo services and will be looking for additional ships.

    Currently the company operates a limited cargo service along with ships that provide both ferry type accommodation and first class passenger accommodation between the islands of the Mascarene Group (Mauritius, La Reunion, Rodrigues) and also to Madagascar.

    The company is seeking the advice of a consultant as to the exact nature of any new expanded service including routes and ships.

    In recent years Port Louis has taken on a role as a leading container transhipment hub in the Indian Ocean and a number of major shipping lines including Mediterranean Shipping Company now makes use of the port for this purpose. Mauritius Shipping no doubt considers there is a potential to feeder some of this traffic around the region and in particular to the east coast of Africa.

    Cote D’Ivoire: Clean-up of toxic waste begins

    Abidjan, 18 Sep 2006 (IRIN) - International waste removal experts in protective suits and masks have begun cleaning up toxic waste that was dumped in several areas of Abidjan in a scandal that has further raised tension in the city as the end of the president’s term approaches.

    Seven deaths have been attributed to the waste, although autopsies have yet to confirm the cause. Ivorian emergency medical service officials said more than 44,000 people have gone to hospitals and clinics for evaluation, but it was unclear how many of them were seeking treatment for exposure to the toxic sludge or for unrelated ailments to take advantage of a government offer of free medical treatment.

    Sixty-six people have been referred for further medical evaluation, medical service officials said.

    Living conditions in Cote d’Ivoire have deteriorated since civil war erupted in September 2002, leaving the country divided between a rebel-held north and government-held south. A United Nations-brokered peace agreement is under threat as President Laurent Gbagbo’s term expires at the end of October with no clear indication who will lead the country thereafter.

    The clean-up team, from the France-based Seche group, early Sunday began pumping the hazardous black sludge from Abidjan’s main garbage dump. It was among the most contaminated of at least 10 dumpsites across the city.

    The operation was expected to take several weeks, officials said.

    “This is dangerous stuff,” said Henri Petitgand, a spokesman for the Seche group. “People should not get near it without protective gear.”

    The chemical waste arrived in Abidjan, a port city, last month on a ship chartered by the Netherlands-based commodities company Trafigura Beheer and apparently dumped in residential neighbourhoods by a local contractor. The substance contains the potentially lethal hydrogen sulfide, according to a UN report.

    The waste scandal added to an already politically charged atmosphere in Abidjan. Residents on Saturday attacked the transport minister and set fire to the home of the general manager of the Abidjan port, accusing them of being involved in the waste dumping.

    The government resigned nearly two weeks ago after the waste scandal broke. A new, larger Cabinet was announced on Saturday, but there were effectively few changes. All ministers were reappointed to their same posts, except for the ministers of transport and environment. The interior ministry was split into security and territorial portfolios, and two new secretaries of state for human rights and good governance were added.

    Prime Minister Charles Konan Banny told IRIN that the transport minister had been replaced because he had delivered permits - or permits had been delivered under him - “which are connected to this affair”.

    The environment minister was withdrawn by his own party, Banny said.

    Banny said it was possible that bribes had been paid to dump the toxic waste.

    "I don't think that these operations are done without money changing hands. There is probably a corruptor and someone who has been corrupted somewhere," he said.

    The government has begun an investigation into the waste scandal and suspended a number of high-ranking officials, including the general manager of the Abidjan port and the head of customs.

    The waste was discovered by residents who began complaining of a nauseating stench and persistent health problems such as vomiting, breathing difficulties and headaches.

    "There is a lot of fear and that’s normal. The population has a good reason to be angry because people are suffering,” Banny said. “At the same time, people should not be too worried because we now know what the nature of the waste is and because we have taken measures to help them.”

    The waste is being pumped into vats and will be shipped back in secured containers to a European country for destruction. Donor countries are helping pay the Cote d’Ivoire government for the clean-up operation but Banny said whoever was found responsible for the dumping was expected to reimburse the costs.

    “The Basel convention stipulates that the polluter must pay,” he said.

    The international Basel agreement was signed in 1989 to protect poor countries from the dumping of hazardous waste and stipulates that the source country for any waste illegally discharged must pay for its removal.

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

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