Ports & Ships Maritime News

Mar 17, 2008
Author: P&S

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  • Mombasa port boss plays down strike threat – “things are running smoothly”

  • Coega smelter takes another twist and turn

  • Nigerian pirates seize several tugs and barges

  • Mbeki’s intervention disappoints Comoros government

  • APM Terminals reports strong growth

  • Monday briefs – news in a few lines

  • Africa, the Outside Edge – new message from Kingsley Holgate

  • Pic of the day – WILDEGANS II


    Mombasa port boss plays down strike threat – “things are running smoothly”

    Nairobi, 15 March 2008 - Abdallah Mwaruwa, Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) Managing Director is playing down media reports that strike action involving Kenyan truck loaders has impacted on port services.

    The KPA is particularly sensitive right now about conditions at the port of Mombasa, following several months of disruption from the political unrest throughout the country. Hence his fast response to suggestions that the port ‘is facing imminent cargo congestion’.

    Mwaruwa pointed out that the strike is being experienced at the private warehouses near the port premises over which the KPA has no direct control. There was as yet no indication of congestion within the port and port operations were going on smoothly, he said.

    “KPA management would like to assure its esteemed clients and the general public that despite the cited strike related unrest port operations are going on smoothly and no effect of congestion in the port has been felt so far,” he said.

    “As of yesterday (14 March 2008), the two ships mentioned in the subject article namely, Mv TOURLOTI and Mv CHOPOL 2 with a combine tonnage of 46,550 tonnes of wheat and sugar are being worked on by two sets of gangs.”

    Mwaruwa said that whereas the KPA has deployed sufficient gangs to speed up the operation, a continued lack of trucks to load bagged sugar and wheat consignments would eventually affect the poor off-take, thus causing the cargo buildup.

    “KPA would therefore wish to ask the concerned parties to amicably solve the dispute in the shortest time possible to avoid the likelihood of congesting the port,” he said.

    Coega smelter takes another twist and turn

    In yet another twist to the story of the on-off Coega aluminium smelter, Rio Tinto has indicated that while it remains determined to continue with the project, the ongoing energy crisis in South Africa is forcing a rethink of time frames and that the project could be delayed by between two and three years.

    Eskom has indicated it is unable to meet the country’s demand for electricity until it has re-commissioned several old power stations and built new units and that the energy crisis will continue for between five and eight years. The utility has requested of industry to undertake a voluntary cut in electricity demand by 10 percent until new sources of power come on stream.

    According to Rio Tinto, which ‘inherited’ the Coega smelter project when it acquired Alcan in 2007, it is committed to working closely with the South African government in mitigating the energy crisis, but wants to maintain the option of developing a smelter in the Eastern Cape.

    “Rio Tinto has operated successfully in South Africa for several decades and we look forward to continuing our mutually beneficial presence in the future,” said Dick Evans, Rio Tinto Alcan’s chief executive.

    In response to the news the Coega Development Corporation (CDC) has taken steps to reassure the developer that the smelter remains viable even if delayed. CDC’s Khwezi Tiya said its viability had been proven and that a site was available. But while the smelter had a huge developmental impact, there were other projects in the pipeline that would come on stream.

    The news coincides with an announcement by BHP Billiton that it is shutting three potlines at its Bayside smelter in Richards Bay to meet the request by Eskom for a 10 percent reduction in electricity consumption. It had chosen this route rather than affect production at all three smelters in southern Africa operated by BHP Billiton – Hillside and Bayside at Richards Bay and Mozal at Maputo, Mozambique.

    See related story in our news bulletin for 14 March, 2008 400 job losses ahead as BHP Billiton prepares to close Richards Bay smelter potlines HERE

    Nigerian pirates seize several tugs and barges

    Port Harcourt, 14 March 2008 – Pirates, probably militants operating in the Niger Delta area, have attacked and seized a number of tugs and work barges which were carrying construction materials for Julius Berger, a leading German construction company that has been active in Nigeria since 1965.

    The attack was made on the Calabar River near Okirika where militant groups are known to be based. About 12 armed men in six speedboats fired shots in the air before seizing the vessels and their crews, which consisted of both Nigerian nationals and expatriates.

    The seized tugs and barges were moved into the system of creeks and a ransom demand of N20 million has been issued. One of the men captured, a Nigerian was subsequently released with a message that if the ransom was not paid the vessels along with their crew would be blown up.

    Mbeki’s intervention disappoints Comoros government

    Johannesburg, 14 March 2008 (IRIN) - The Comoros government has expressed ‘disappointment’ with South African President Thabo Mbeki’s reported opposition to a military solution to end the standoff between the authorities on Anjouan and the other two islands in the Indian Ocean archipelago.

    The crisis has been simmering since June 2007, when national elections were held. The Union government and the African Union (AU) postponed the poll on Anjouan, citing irregularities and intimidation in the run-up to voting, but Anjouan strongman Mohamed Bacar printed his own ballot papers, held an election and claimed a landslide victory.

    The electoral crisis has paralysed the Union government of Comoros and brought back the political volatility that has been a hallmark of governance since the islands achieved independence from France in 1975; the tiny archipelago has weathered 19 successful and attempted coups to date.

    A complex electoral system provides for a semi-autonomous government and president for each of the islands - Anjouan, Grand Comore and Moheli - with a rotating presidency for the over-arching Union government.

    Mbeki reportedly told an international news agency on 12 March that Bacar had informed him in a letter he was ready to hold fresh elections as early as May this year.
    “I think that this is really the way that we should go. I don't think there is any need to do anything apart or additional to that,” Mbeki told the news agency at the end of an official visit to the Indian Ocean island of Mauritius.

    In response to Mbeki's remarks, Abdourahime Said Bakar, the Union government spokesman and Minister of Education, told IRIN: “We are a bit disappointed, since the AU has decided that there is no alternative but a military solution and South Africa has now decided to retreat.”

    Military solution inevitable

    Bakar said there was international consensus that Mohamed Bacar was a rebel, so “how can you now say we can sit and talk with him ... A few weeks ago he was offered a way out [during a meeting with international negotiators], and he refused. We will restore the authority of the Union government in Anjouan and then sit and talk after elections.”

    He said 3,000 people had fled the island since Mohamed Bacar instituted his ‘dictatorship’, and there were reports of torture and the rape of both men and women on the island. Bakar also claimed that about 20 of Mohamed Bacar's French-trained paramilitary gendarmes had recently defected to the Union government forces, providing valuable intelligence.

    During a recent visit to Anjouan, Mohamed Bacar told an IRIN reporter: “The first time [1997] the army came we kicked them out. The second time [May 2007] the army came we kicked them out. That means that if they try to come a third time we will kick them out.”

    Bacar, who came to power in a 2001 coup, leads a well-armed force of gendarmes thought to number about 500 - a similar number to the Union government forces - and it has been widely accepted that any military solution to the crisis would require outside assistance.

    The AU has sanctioned military force to remove Bacar and a pan-African military force of about 2,000 soldiers comprising troops from the Comoros, Tanzania, Sudan and Senegal, with logistical support from Libya, has been gathering on Moheli, the island nearest Anjouan, for the expected sea and airborne assault.

    The United States has also offered logistical and intelligence support.

    The UN Resident Coordinator in the Comoros, Opia Kumah, told IRIN that the UN, which operates in the Comoros on a development mission, had been ‘beefing-up’ its operations since February 2008.

    Specialists from the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs have been brought in to facilitate humanitarian operations in the wake of any military action, as well as personnel from the World Food Programme, the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF), and the World Health Organisation.

    Kumah said the UN agencies were preparing for both internal and intra-island displacement of people, and tents, medicines, and supplies of food, water and sanitation equipment had been sourced.

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

    APM Terminals reports strong growth

    The Hague, The Netherlands, 14 March 2008 - APM Terminals, one of the leading global developers and operators of container terminals recorded another year of strong revenue and volume growth in 2007 and a net result of USD 111 million.

    Revenue increased by 22 percent for the year to USD 2.52 billion, whereas profits from terminals that have been operating more than a year grew by 30 percent.

    APM Terminals provides container terminal solutions, meeting the requirements of the world’s most discerning shipping lines, through a professional and customer focused organisation and an expanding global network of container terminals. APM Terminals has a large presence in the important US market, where volumes dropped by 9 percent in 2007. Volumes increased by 20 percent in the rest of the portfolio, leading to a 13 percent volume growth for APM Terminals globally. Weighted by ownership share, 31.4 million TEU were handled in 2007.

    34 percent of the volumes were handled for other customers than Maersk Line ‐ a higher ratio than in previous years. “We are currently providing service to over 60 shipping lines around the world”, commented APM Terminals’ CEO Kim Fejfer, “and whereas the commercial relationship with Maersk Line remains very strong, we are furthering our relationship with other major shipping lines as well to ensure we serve their needs best possible now and in the future”.

    The ports industry is faced with current ‐ and emerging bottlenecks in several parts of the world. APM Terminals works in partnership with relevant authorities and our main customers to alleviate these constraints by expanding existing facilities and developing new container terminals. USD 853 million was invested during 2007, with new container terminals opening in Tangier (Morocco), Portsmouth (Virginia ‐ US), Le Havre (France), Tianjin and Xiamen (China).

    In addition, APM Terminals took over the operation of the container terminals in Tema (Ghana) and Luanda (Angola). The Portsmouth terminal in Virginia represents a USD 500 million investment in a state‐of‐the‐art facility with a high degree of automation and environmental protection. Several terminal projects are under various stages of development, to ensure APM Terminals will be able to meet the growing demands and support further growth in world trade.

    - APM Terminals press statement

    Monday briefs – news in a few lines

    Cape Town Bunkerline back in service

    The Joint Bunkering Services (JBS) in Cape Town has advised that repairs to 60 metres of the MFO bunker line on the Eastern Mole has gone better than expected and the facility has now been returned to service.

    Durban bunker barge having ‘sea trials’

    The launching of the new SMIT LiPuma bunker barge has been delayed slightly with ongoing ‘sea trials’ in Durban harbour but according to off the record reports the barge should enter service in the port shortly. SMIT LiPuma, which has a capacity of 5,000 tonnes making her the largest in service in South Africa, was built for SMIT Amandla Marine at the Durban Dormac Shipyards.

    Delays for Lobito oilfield

    Angola’s state owned oil company Sonangol says that the first production from the Lobito oilfields is now not expected until 2013. It was originally anticipated that the oilfield would come into production by 2009.

    Cocoa exports hits by Ivory Coast strike

    A week-long dock strike in the Ivory Coast port of Abidjan has cut into exports of cocoa, the West African country’s major export commodity. Ivory Coast is also the world’s largest exporter of cocoa. The strike is over a wage dispute and has extended also to the smaller port of San Pedro to the west of Abidjan.

    Africa does Smit International proud

    Smit International, which now has diverse interests throughout Africa, reports that new African contracts during 2007 contributed to a good overall performance and a profit increase of 40 percent. Company profit increased from €75 million to €105,6m for the financial year.
    Among African contracts are one in Angola which began in mid 2007, plus another in Gabon that comes on stream this year. During 2007 a contract began in Equatorial Guinea involving the deployment of two tugs for a LNG terminal. As has been previously reported in PORTS & SHIPS Smit International also acquired a 50 percent stake in Ocean Marine Services in Egypt, in which the company operates large multipurpose vessels for the oil and gas industry on long term contracts.

    Maputo Corridor announces holiday opening hours

    Transport operators crossing the South Africa / Mozambique border are reminded that they require permits issued by the Cross Border Road Transport Agency (C-BRTA) – enquiries to tel 012 362 1864. The Maputo Corridor Logistics Initiative (MCLI) also advises that a 24-hour operation will be effective at the Lebombo / Ressano Garcia border between South Africa and Mozambique from 06h00 on Wednesday 19 March until 24h00 on Tuesday 25 March 2008 to accommodate the expected large numbers of people crossing during the Easter holidays. Duties will be performed at the old airport at Komatipoort and at KM4, with officials from the various departments on duty to direct traffic.
    According to the MCLI the border will remain open for 24 hours a day from 06h00 during the long weekend of 25 April until 28 April but duties will only be available at the Lebombo / Ressano Garcia border post.

    Piracy ruled out over REZZAK mystery

    India’s Directorate General of Shipping (DGS) has ruled out piracy as a factor in the sinking or loss of the freighter REZZAK in the Black Sea, which went missing on 18 February 2008. The DG says it is now believed that bad weather probably caused the ship to sink. Despite there being no firm evidence, the size of the vessel and material found on the surface of the sea plus the weather conditions at the time provides reason to believe that the vessel has sunk, the DGS said.
    Controversy continues to surround the loss of the vessel, which has been compared with the loss of another Indian vessel, the tug JUPITER 6 off the South African coast in 2005. Both vessels were managed by the same company (Pelican Marine) but in the case of the Rezzak there is some dispute about who the real owners are, with both Pelican Marine and the DGS’ office saying they don’t know.
    As with the disappearance of Jupiter 6, relatives of the crew on board the Rezzak are reluctant to accept the official line and want a full investigation.

    PIL drops Dar es Salaam

    Another shipping line has announced it has dropped Dar es Salaam from its regular service on account of congestion delays at the Tanzanian port. Singapore-based Pacific International Line (PIL) now has a rotation of Ningbo - Shanghai - Singapore – Port Louis – Reunion – Toamasina – Mombasa using seven ships of between 1,300 and 1,800-TEU. However PIL has introduced a shuttle service operating between Singapore and Dar es Salaam, using two ships of 1,080-TEU on a fortnightly cycle.
    Earlier Safmarine and Maersk Line announced they had dropped Dar es Salaam from their regular East African service because of delays affecting the service integrity.

    Sources: TNPA, MCLI, Corridor.net, BuaNews, Shiptalk, AXSAlphaliner

    Africa, the Outside Edge – new message from Kingsley Holgate

    The latest blog from Kingsley Holgate, now in North Africa and reaching beyond the halfway point of his epic journey round the edge of Africa, has been received and is available to read

    Pic of the day – WILDEGANS II

    Click on image to enlarge – with some browsers click twice

    The fishing vessel WILDEGANS II seen in Gansbaai during December 2007. Wildegans was built last year by Tallie Marine of St Helena Bay in GRP to replace the original wooden fishing boat of the same name which sank at sea. Picture and background by Max Ozinsky

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