Ports & Ships Maritime News

Nov 23, 2006
Author: P&S

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  • Nigerian militants grab seven hostages

  • Höegh Autoliners orders another two pure car carriers

  • Dutch delegation in Eastern Cape to assist with rail transport

  • International Avian Flu meeting to be held in Bamako, Mali

  • Picture of the day

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    Nigerian militants grab seven hostages

    Ten Nigerian gunmen went on board an Italian oil supply ship off the coast of Nigeria yesterday and took seven foreign workers hostage.

    The Italian vessel was ferrying about 85 employees of the Italian oil company Eni – 60 of them Nigerians and 25 foreigners.

    The armed militants came on board from a speedboat. The seven they selected for hostage purposes and probably for ransom were two Finns, an Italian, a Briton, a Romanian, a Pole and a Filipino. Nobody on board the vessel was harmed, according to Nigerian police who are investigating.

    At the time of the attack, the latest in a long series of similar attacks that has cost Nigeria’s oil production by as much as one quarter, the ship was about 50km from the coast off Nigeria’s Rivers State.

    According to informed sources a ransom note has already been delivered, although this has not been officially confirmed. In other cases of kidnapping it is widely believed that ransom money is paid over by the oil companies for the safe return of their employees and it is rare for a hostage to be ill-treated or injured.

    Nigeria has the capacity to produce 2.5 million barrels of oil a day but has seen this figure reduced by 25 percent since the attacks began. Militants claim they are fighting for better treatment of the impoverished coastal states where the oil is produced. Others say they are in it for the money..

    Höegh Autoliners orders another two pure car carriers

    Norwegian-based Höegh Autoliners has placed an order for a further two pure car carriers with South Korea’s Daewoo Shipbuilding.

    The latest order is a continuation of earlier contracts for nine similar ships destined to be delivered between 2007 (7 ships) and 2008 (2 ships). The carrying capacity of each ship is 6,100 vehicles.

    In the past three years Höegh Autoliners has increased its fleet with 11 new ships, to is being added a further 11 vessels all of similar capacity.

    “Our customers’ cargo projections motivate our ambitions to grow,” says Thor Jørgen Guttormsen, CEO of Höegh Autoliners. “Getting hold of new carrying capacity is a challenge today, and we are satisfied with expanding our car carrier series from Daewoo to 11 ships. We are also evaluating other growth opportunities to meet future service requirements.”

    The company says that shipyards that are building car carriers are generally well covered with orders, and access to building capacity is important. Höegh Autoliners’ is sourcing new vessels from Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering (DSME) in South Korea (5), Uljanik Shipyard in Croatia (2) and Tsuneishi Heavy Industries in the Philippines (4).

    Specifications of the new ships is as follows: Length 200m, breadth 32.2m, 20,400-DWT. 12 Decks. Speed 21.3 knots, 23 crew.

    The deck area is the size of nine football fields, and the vessel can accommodate cars equal to a queue more than 30 km long

    Dutch delegation in Eastern Cape to assist with rail transport

    by Lucky Khumalo (BuaNews)

    King Williamstown - The Eastern Cape government has welcomed a delegation from the Netherlands visiting the area on a week-long visit to help enhance the effectiveness of rail transport in the province.

    Roads and transport MEC Thobile Mhlahlo said the delegation would assist the department "on intensifying our strategy for rail transport programme."

    Mr Mhlahlo was addressing the media following the arrival of the Netherlands delegation on Tuesday.

    "The delegation will help us come up with new plans and ideas in terms of fast tracking the programme in all areas of the rail transport system," said Mr Mhlahlo.

    This is in the context of the protocol concerning bilateral cooperation in the fields of transport and infrastructure development South Africa and the Netherlands signed in 2000.

    The department had been involved in a number of planning and implementation initiatives to improve the efficiency of the existing rail infrastructure in the province

    This included the refurbishment of the railway line between East London and Mthatha, widely known as the Kei Rail Project.

    The project's long-term vision is to develop a high speed, modern and proven state of the art railway line in this corridor to facilitate a demand responsive and cost effective alternative mode of transport in regard to freight and passenger services between East London and Mthatha.

    "We will extend commuter rail service between East London and Port Elizabeth, Port Elizabeth/ Motherwell to the Coega Industrial Development Zone and re-open the line between King Williamstown and Alice," he said.

    This is expected to have a positive impact on socio-economic growth and reduction of road trucks that cause accidents on the roads.

    Infrastructure development in the Eastern Cape is in line with the Provincial Growth and Development plan, (PGDP) which seeks to reduce poverty and attain sustainable levels of economic growth and job creation.

    Rail transport plays a vital role in economic growth and poverty reduction by enabling access to markets and economic opportunities providing job opportunities in railway construction.

    International Avian Flu meeting to be held in Bamako, Mali

    by Cheryl Pellerin (USINFO Staff Writer)

    Washington - Health and agriculture ministers from many countries around the world will gather in Bamako, Mali, 6-8 December to address issues of growing concern involving avian and pandemic influenza and international response and preparedness.

    The African Union, the government of Mali and the European Union are co-organizing the conference, and the US State Department is a co-sponsor.

    The meeting will be the fourth since September 2005, when President Bush announced before the United Nations General Assembly a new International Partnership on Avian and Pandemic Influenza that would bring together key nations and international organizations to bolster global readiness ahead of the growing threat.

    Members of the international partnership met in Washington in October 2005 and in Vienna, Austria, in June 2006, and donors from the global community met in Beijing in January 2006, pledging $ 1.9 billion to fight avian and pandemic influenza.
    Of that total, the US contribution has been $ 334 million. In September, the total US contribution rose to $ 392 million.

    "Avian influenza is expanding across the globe and remains a serious concern for all of us, including countries that are not yet affected, such as those in the Western Hemisphere," said Ambassador John Lange, special representative for avian and pandemic influenza at the State Department, at a press briefing on 16 November.

    The United States is working with many other countries, Lange added, including African nations, "because avian influenza spread to Africa in 2006 and continues to be a concern."

    Preparedness in Africa

    The 4th International Conference on Avian Influenza in Bamako aims to give new insights into avian influenza disease development worldwide and offer the latest information on strategies, vaccination and forms of compensation to citizens for poultry deaths. The assembled ministers also will work to foster integrated national strategies coordinated at regional and global levels.

    "Given the urgency and the seriousness of the situation," said African Union Chairman Alpha Konaré of Mali in a statement on the conference Web site, "I therefore invite all our partners and stakeholders to leave no stone unturned in working towards our goal of minimizing HPAI [highly pathogenic avian influenza] impact in livestock and public health domains in Africa."

    The United States is concerned about the possible decimation of the poultry population in Africa if bird flu spreads beyond the eight currently affected countries.
    "If [avian influenza] continues to spread in Africa," Lange said, "then separate from the infections that take place in humans who are very close to the chickens, you may have a loss of a primary protein source [for human diets] in some countries."

    For those interested in the economic and social development of Africa, he added, "that is a serious concern.”

    The virus now is considered endemic, or prevalent, in poultry populations in large parts of Asia, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), and time frames for controlling the disease are being measured in years.

    "We hope to avoid that in Africa," Lange said. "That's one of the reasons we're so excited about the event coming up in Bamako, to focus at the ministerial level, in African countries and other countries around the world, attention on avian and pandemic influenza" and on the importance of engaging in pandemic preparedness.

    (USINFO is produced by the Bureau of International Information Programs, US Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)

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

    Hoegh Trooper in Durban harbour. Hoegh Autoliners are regular callers in South Africa – see story above. Picture Terry Hutson

    NB Pictures submitted by readers are always welcome – email to info@ports.co.za

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