Ports & Ships Maritime News

Sep 13, 2007
Author: P&S

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  • Southern African Shipyards to expand into ship repair

  • Cunard’s Queen Victoria to enter service from December

  • Singapore port company wins Gabon port concessions

  • Several companies interested in producing steel in South Africa

  • Motor industry faces crippling strike

  • Pic of the day – OCEANA GARNET

    Southern African Shipyards to expand into ship repair

    Southern African Shipyards, which announced yesterday that it has been awarded a contract to build five Voith Schneider propelled tugs for Transnet National Ports Authority (see PORTS & SHIPS News Bulletin dated 12 September
    http://ports.co.za/news/article_2007_09_11_4111.html#one), also intends expanding into ship repair and conversion as from 1 January 2008.

    1 January marks the expiry of a restriction of trade agreement which the shipyard entered into when the present shareholders took over the yard in January 2006. Southern African Shipyards has its own waterfront and quayside rendering it ideal for ship repair and conversion.

    Chief Operating Officer Louis Gontier said that the shipyard was ready to expand in this direction, as this could make a considerable difference to the yard’s viability.

    Cunard’s Queen Victoria to enter service from December

    Picture courtesy Cunard / White Star Cruise & Travel

    The latest ‘Queen’ in the Cunard fleet is to enter service from Southampton on 11 December 2007, Cunard has announced.

    That’s the date when the 90,000-gt liner QUEEN VICTORIA sets off on her maiden voyage, having spent four days in the south of England port during which over 7,000 guests from around the world will visit the ship.

    On the day previous to her maiden voyage, and in the company of about 2,000 invited guests, the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall will attend a ceremony in which Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Cornwall will perform the naming of the ship.

    This remains in keeping with a tradition that each of the Cunard ‘Queens’ has been named by a member of the British Royal Family. It will also mark the first time in Cunard’s 168 year history that the line has three ‘Queens’ in service at the same time.

    Singapore port company wins Gabon port concessions

    Portek International Ltd has become the first Singapore-based company to secure a concession to operate a port or terminal in West Africa. On Tuesday (11 September) the company which has developed a reputation as a successful operator of small and medium size ports, announced that it has secured a 25-year management concession in Gabon.

    The concession is for the two multipurpose ports of Port Owendo in Libreville, Gabon’s capital city, and Port Gentil which is about 160km south of Libreville and in the centre of Gabon’s oil exploration and production activity.

    The successful tender has been awarded in the name of Gabon Port Management SA (GPM), Portek’s Gabon-based subsidiary and was won in the face of competition from several other port management companies. The paid up capital is expected to be S$6 million with initial investments of another S$3 million at the start of operations. The company says it expects to finance further investments from internal cashflows. Under the terms of the concession agreement, GPM will derive its income through fees charged on cargo handled at the two ports and on other services rendered to port users.

    GPM will be responsible for the management, maintenance and investment in infrastructure of both ports. The company will also employ an appropriate IT system for the various aspects of port operation and will have to install security systems, institute best practices and generally improve overall efficiency.

    Much of Gabon’s GDP is derived from oil, timber and mineral exports and because of its relative stability in the region a number of international companies use Gabon as a base for conducting business in the West and Central African region.

    The ports of Port Owendo and Port Gentil both play a crucial role in the economy of the country, and are expected to assume even greater importance as the country further develops its considerable natural resources and industries in the near future. Gabon, which is situated on the Equator, has an area of 267,700 square kilometres and a population of about 1.5 million. Its GDP in 2006 was approximately US$8.1 billion.

    Portek said in a statement that with this latest concession in Gabon, the company has now built up a growing network of ports in the Western Hemisphere including Algeria, and Malta, and will look to expand this network further in the near future.

    Several companies interested in producing steel in South Africa

    Tata Steel, India’s largest steel producer and the sixth-largest worldwide, was widely reported yesterday as being interested in developing its own steel production plant in South Africa.

    The reports suggested Tata Steel would be looking at setting up a plant to manufacture up to five million tonnes of steel annually. However this ambition apparently remains dependent on Tata Steel securing access to iron ore and coal mines in South Africa.

    Earlier this year Tata commenced construction of a R650 million high-carbon ferrochrome plant at Richards Bay, in close proximity to the port. The plant, with a planned production capacity of 135,000 tonnes a year had been delayed due to objections about its location in Richards Bay. The Richards Bay plant will come into production in October.

    The company has also acquired a substantial interest in coal mining developments in neighbouring Mozambique.

    In other news a number of steel producers, thought to be mainly from Japan, have also shown an interest in steel production in South Africa. The proposals are said to be dependent on additional discoveries of iron ore deposits of at least one billion tonnes.

    Exploration is continuing in Limpopo Province and at Sishen in the Northern Cape, where Kumba Iron Ore and Assmang collectively mine and export about 30 million tonnes annually at present. This figure is due to be ramped up to 41mt annually with the completion of upgrades on the Sishen – Saldanha iron ore railway.

    Motor industry faces crippling strike

    A strike among automotive component suppliers is placing the entire South African motor industry under threat.

    Up to 50,000 employees are expected to go out on strike following the failure of negotiations over a wage dispute between the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) and the Motor Retail Industry (RMI) last week. On Friday NUMSA issued the required 48-hour notice of a protected strike in support of their demand for a minimum percentage increase in wages.

    Union members want a minimum wage of R2,200 per month but are being offered increases of between seven and nine percent based on minimum prescribed rates for different grades.

    The sectors joining the strike include the motor component suppliers, retail and body repair workshops, car cleaning, auto engineering workshops, auto spare assembly and car dealerships.

    Some manufacturers have warned that they will be forced to stop production because of the anticipated non-availability of components.

    According to the union, picketing of plants and factory premises will commence today (Thursday) along with marches to highlight the grievance. A Union spokesperson said the planned strike would cripple all car manufacturers.

    Pic of the day – OCEANA GARNET

    The fishing vessel OCEANA GARNET, fully laden and waiting to unload, having returned to Hout Bay from fishing for pelagics in November 2004. This vessel is based in Hout Bay, owned by SA Sea Products and was built by Farocean in Cape Town. Picture by Max Ozinsky

    Send us your news and press releases for inclusion in the News Bulletins. Shipping related pictures submitted by readers are always welcome – please email to info@ports.co.za

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