Ports & Ships Maritime News

Nov 22, 2006
Author: P&S

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  • $ 2.7 Billion aluminium smelter at Coega ready for signing on Friday

  • East London reveals ambitious port plans

  • MCLI speaks out against scanning charges

  • Tugela Basin opens up for oil exploration

  • SA and Namibia consolidate economic relations

  • Picture of the day

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    $ 2.7 Billion aluminium smelter at Coega ready for signing on Friday

    The Coega Development Corporation (CDC) has confirmed that the signing of the contract between the corporation and Canadian aluminium manufacturer Alcan for the building of a US $ 2.7 Billion aluminium smelter at Coega will go ahead this Friday (24 November) in Port Elizabeth.

    The decision to go ahead follows the successful conclusion of talks held between Alcan and electricity supply company Eskom, in which Eskom agreed to provide sufficient electrical energy to the aluminium smelter.

    The signing will take place in Port Elizabeth this Friday, 24 November and will be regarded by all stakeholders as one of the most significant developments involved with the building of the new port and industrial development zone in the Eastern Cape.

    It has taken approximately five years to reach this milestone during which several smelter projects rose and fell. A deal was all but signed and sealed with French aluminium manufacturer Pechiney when that company was bought by Alcan, placing all negotiations back in the melting pot for several years.

    Alcan will also sign several other agreements with the CDC and with the South African Department of Trade & Industry.

    East London reveals ambitious port plans

    Ambitious plans for the port of East London have been revealed. The proposals – the Port Expansion Business Case - have been put together by a consortium of stakeholders in the city and port and coordinated by the Eastern Cape Development Corporation acting on behalf of the East London Industrial Development Corporation, Safmarine, DaimlerChrysler SA and KPMG. The plans were presented to the Buffalo City Municipality (East London) on Monday.

    According to the proposers, the expansion of the harbour has the potential of raising further development worth R15 Billion and leading to the creation of 60,000 new jobs. However, should the planned expansion not go ahead East London is likely to lose R7 Billion in existing investments while about 16,500 jobs will be placed at risk.

    Among the proposals are a deepening of the harbour channels and an expansion of the existing container terminals plus equipping them with container handling equipment such as ship to shore gantry cranes. The port’s turning basin, which was dug in the 1950s would also be widened.

    Recognising that East London is not high on the agenda of Transnet planning, the proposal calls for an upgrade of the existing railway between East London and Cookhouse, where it could connect with the proposed upgrade of the Port Elizabeth/Coega – Gauteng railway network.

    MCLI speaks out against scanning charges

    The Maputo Corridor Liaison Initiative (MCLI) says it will continue to focus attention on the controversial scanning charges being introduced in Mozambique. It has described the measures recently introduced as having a catastrophic effect on further private investment in Mozambique and on the economy and employment within both South Africa and Mozambique.

    The controversy arose when the Mozambique government installed non intrusive scanners at the port and other border crossings, awarding the contract to operate the scanners to a recently registered Mozambique company named Kudumba.

    “What is happening in Maputo is that Kudumba with official approval of the Government of Mozambique is imposing what is referred to as a service charge on all cargo passing through the Port of Maputo whether it is scanned or not and whether the customer wants his cargo to be scanned or not. This includes not only all containers but also all other cargo including, bagged cargo and bulk cargo such as coal, ferrochrome, citrus fruit, sugar and granite,” says the MCLI.

    Describing the measures as unprecedented anywhere in the world, the MCLI says the charges will amount to a tax in excess of $ 6 million (R44 million) per annum on businesses using the Maputo Corridor.

    Non-intrusive cargo scanners are used worldwide in ports by Customs authorities to detect goods on which customs duty would otherwise not have been paid and therefore they are welcome in Mozambique, says the marketing organisation. “Their principle objective is detection of contraband cargo and the duty recovered pays for the scanner and its operation. In only a very small percentage of ports are charges imposed on customers and then only for containers which have been actually scanned.”

    It points out that the secondary use of scanners is for security purposes where scanners amongst other methods of detection may be used in Ports’ container operations to detect WMD’s, small arms, narcotics etc.

    “The normal international Port operators interpretation of this is that a random selection of containers which are scanned generally on pre advice from police or customs authorities.”

    “In the Port of Durban which is a direct competitor of Maputo a scanner is used in the container terminal to scan 10 – 15 percent of the container throughput. This service is provided free of charge to customers by SARS – South African Revenue Service. In Richards Bay, the nearest South African competing Port to Maputo no scanners are used because the Port only handles bulk cargo which is not required to be scanned as it is in transit and therefore not dutiable and is not considered to be a security risk.”

    The MCLI says it is concerned that already South African and Swaziland customers have reacted by transferring their business back to Durban and Richards Bay where there are no charges for scanning imposed.

    “The longer it takes the Government of Mozambique to suspend or remove these charges the more damage it will do in the South African Business community where credibility in Mozambique is rapidly being lost. Future investments in the Port by South African and Mozambican industry such as a car terminal, transit sheds for rice, steel, fertilizers and sulphur, the extension of the ferrochrome terminal, bulk liquids terminal, citrus terminal and upgrade of the coal terminal amounting to $ 171 million dollars have all been put on hold pending the removal of scanning charges on transit cargo.”

    ‘The impact of these unprecedented scanning charges on the future of the Maputo Corridor, on further private investment in Mozambique, and on the economy and employment within both South Africa and Mozambique can only be described as catastrophic.

    Tugela Basin opens up for oil exploration

    A US oil company has lost a protracted legal battle for the rights to explore for oil in the Tugela Basin off the KwaZulu-Natal north coast, opening up the way for oil companies to apply for licenses to explore the area.

    Global Offshore Oil Exploration, a subsidiary of the Colorado-based Global Energy Holdings, took the South African Agency for the Promotion of Petroleum Exploration all the way to the Constitutional Court in its efforts to win the rights to explore the block.

    Although the case was dismissed by the Cape High Court in May, and the Supreme Court in Bloemfontein in August, Global Offshore Oil Exploration, also took it to the Constitutional Court. Earlier this month, on 7 November, Global lost there too, with the case being dismissed with costs.

    Now the playing field has been levelled for South African and international companies to apply for the sought-after licenses, and once the Agency advertises for tenders, all applicants will be free to submit applications.

    Vusi Matikinca, a director of strb Smith Tabata Buchanan Boyes who represented the State in the case, said it was clear from the rigorous efforts taken by Global that 'there is a lot at stake'.

    'Global did not want to give up until they reached the highest court in the land and spent an enormous amount of money on the proceedings,' Matikinca said.

    'Studies have shown that the Tugela Basin, and in particular the acreage that Global so desperately wanted to work on alone…. does have the existence of natural oil. It is therefore not surprising that Global left no stone unturned in their quest for the license,' he added.

    The case involved the awarding of technical co-operation permits and leases to explore oil and natural gas resources in the Tugela Basin off the KwaZulu-Natal north coast. The area has aroused the interest of several international and local oil companies.

    The trouble started when the board of the state-owned South African Agency for the Promotion of Petroleum Exploration and Exploitation threw out Global Offshore Oil Exploration's application for a permit to explore a block in the Tugela Basin that is believed to be a location for 'commercially viable natural oil and gas exploration'.

    Two other applicants also expressed an interest in the block: Pan African Energy (Pty) Ltd (a South African company) and Jebco Seismic (United Kingdom).

    SA and Namibia consolidate economic relations

    Pretoria, 21 November (BuaNews): President Thabo Mbeki paid a working visit to the Namibian capital Windhoek yesterday to discuss the consolidation of economic relations between the countries.

    He also co-chaired the sixth session of the SA-Namibia Heads of State Economic Bilateral Forum with his Namibian counterpart Hifikepunye Pohamba.

    President Mbeki's delegation was expected to include Trade and Industry Minister Mandisi Mphalwa, Environmental Affairs and Tourism Minister Martinus van Schalkwyk and Public Enterprises Minister Alec Erwin.

    Issues on the agenda included spatial development initiatives (SDIs) between the two countries including the Trans-Kalahari Highway, Walvis Bay SDI, Okavango-Upper Zambezi International Tourism and the Ais-Ais-Richtersveld Transfrontier Park.

    They were also expected to discuss trade and industry Issues including the Southern African Customs Union (SACU) and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Protocols.

    Also on the agenda were marine and coastal management issues; civil aviation and Namibia's support during the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

    The Department of Foreign Affairs said bilateral trade between South Africa and Namibia accounted for two thirds of Namibia's total foreign trade.

    South Africa is the source of about 84 percent of Namibia's imports by value, including virtually all commodities except for petroleum products.

    Food, beverages and increasingly machinery and transport equipment as well as other manufactured goods are the biggest import categories.

    On the other hand, that country's exports to South Africa are estimated at 27.8 percent of the country's total exports and consist mainly of live animals, meat, fish and mineral products.

    Spokesperson Ronnie Mamoepa said South Africa was Namibia's most important economic partner as this country was the source of 84 percent of Namibia's imports.

    In addition, South Africa held approximately 80 percent of investments in key industries in Namibia such as mining, retail, banking and insurance.

    Total investments by South Africa in Namibia currently amount to US $ 1,637.5 million.

    President Mbeki was due expected to return to South Africa later in the day.

    Picture of the day
    Click on image to enlarge – with some browsers click twice

    SD14 type freighter Safmarine Congo, which was at the time (2005) deployed on the Durban – Luanda service, seen sailing from Durban. Picture Terry Hutson

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