Ports & Ships Maritime News

Mar 20, 2008
Author: P&S

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  • Thursday’s roundup of maritime news

  • News: Distress flare has Cape search and rescue teams scrambling

  • News: Coega crude refinery plans move ahead

  • NEWS: Uganda car terminal completed

  • BACKGROUND: New agreement maximises SA, Ethiopia trade

  • Pic of the day – WOLRAAD WOLTEMADE


    N.B. Tomorrow is the beginning of the Easter weekend during which many businesses will be closed, reopening only on Tuesday morning 25 March. PORTS & SHIPS News Bulletin will also be taking a break and the next edition of the News Bulletin and Newsletter will appear on that day. We wish all our Christian readers a very blessed Easter

    Thursday’s roundup of maritime news

    Beluga Skysails maiden voyage dubbed a success

    Fortunately no-one has to climb aloft to lower this sail

    “We can once again actually ‘sail’ with cargo ships, opening a new chapter in the history of commercial shipping,” says Captain Lutz Heldt, the master of the BELUGA SKYSAILS which has successfully completed a maiden voyage between Germany, Venezuela, the United States and Norway, a distance of almost 12,000 nautical miles. During the voyage the ship employed a revolutionary skysail – a 160m² kite flying above and ahead of the ship that acted as a towing sail.
    It is claimed the skysail substituted for 20 percent of the ship’s engine power, thus reducing fuel costs. Based on a single day’s sailing the device represented a saving in fuel of 2.5 tonnes a day.
    Skysails managing director Stephan Wrage has called the first practical trial voyage a success saying it has validated original expectations. Further practical testing at sea is now scheduled.

    Boost for Port Elizabeth reefer capacity

    A R16 million investment which increases to 810 the number of reefer (refrigerated) plug points at the Port Elizabeth container terminal is due to come on stream this month, ahead of the 2008 citrus season.
    A total of 400 new reefer points are being introduced, the largest such investment in this area for the port. In 2007 a total of 72 new plug points were introduced.
    As with the other South African ports Port Elizabeth is experiencing an increase in containerised reefer traffic, as fruit exports migrate from conventional reefer handling on pallets to containers. In the past year this growth was measured at 15 percent at Port Elizabeth and follows an international trend towards containerisation.
    “With the increased capacity we will be better placed to attract more reefer cargo through the terminal and hopefully improve the service offered to our customers. This investment shows our commitment to servicing our clients,” said Hector Danisa, Transnet Port Terminals Business Unit Executive.

    Large order of RTGs placed for Ngqura port

    A large order for 22 rubber tyre gantries (RTGs) for the fledgling port of Ngqura in the Eastern Cape has been placed with Finnish manufacturer Kalmar. The cranes will go into service at the new port’s container terminal which is nearing completion.
    The order exceeds another order of 18 that was placed by Transnet Port Terminals with Kalmar for delivery to the new Durban Pier 1 container terminal, which became the first RTGs to go into operation at a South African container terminal – the other terminals each being straddle carrier operated.
    The Ngqura RTGs are expected in South Africa by mid 2009 by which time the port is also due to go into service.

    Port of Mombasa recovers from political setbacks

    Following on from the Kenya’s recent unrest the port of Mombasa is quickly returning to normal, with ships arriving to discharge and load cargo and more importantly, importers and exporters regaining their confidence. A look at the PORTS & SHIPS for Mombasa Ships in Port section CLICK HERE
    reveals a normal list of container ships lined up for the next several weeks, indicating that shipping lines haven’t been frightened away. On several days a number of container ships have been in the outer anchorage waiting for vacant berths – always a healthy sign for a port even if not for the shipping line.
    Fortunately the position has not led to congestion at the container terminal which is reported to be operating normally with no undue build-up in the number of boxes. And when the critics are not complaining about the Rift Valley Railway’s ability to move container inland it probably mean they are coping as well.
    Meanwhile Kenya Ports Authority has re-allowing transit traffic for Dar es Salaam at Mombasa – earlier it had suspended transhipment cargo for the Tanzanian port owing to the congested situation in Mombasa.

    Shipping companies asked to rebuild Mombasa roads

    Shipping companies have been asked to assist with the repair of Mombasa streets in the face of government’s inability to do so. This surprising turn of events came about after the Kenya Association of Manufacturers (KAM) said industrialists and container freight stations had been encouraged to contribute towards the maintenance and repair of roads near their businesses. At least one freight station had indicated its willingness to repair the road leading to the depot but said it could not afford the whole cost.
    KAM’s executive officer Tobias Alando said that port users suffer the most when government takes a long time to carry out maintenance of roads in the industrial areas of Mombasa and it was therefore necessary for the private sector to take action and do the work itself.
    The provincial Public Works Engineer said government couldn’t afford to undertake all the repairs but was doing what it could but port users point out that unless urgent action is taken to rehabilitate the port’s roads Kenya might not reap any benefits from the proposed multi-million dollar expansion of the port.

    Zambia looks west towards Angola for trade

    Zambia will expand its trade with neighbouring Angola, as (potentially) the closest route to the sea. This was said this week by Zambia’s President Mwanawasa ahead of his four-day official visit to Angola.
    “Angola is a very important neighbour and we would like to diversify our trade. Angola is the closest route to the sea. My trip is to the extent important. We would like a railway line to be re-opened through Chingola and Lumwana,” he told journalists at the airport in Lusaka.
    Mwanawasa said the Zambian government was looking for an investor for the proposed railway.
    Ironically, Zambia has had a railway to the Atlantic in the past that reached from the port of Benguela/Lobito to the Democratic Republic of Congo border at Dilolo and from there into the DRC Copperbelt and on south into Zambia, extending even further to Zimbabwe. Much of that railway was sabotaged during the Angolan civil war and is only now being rehabilitated.
    The railway the Zambian president is talking of would branch off from this railway somewhere east of the Angolan town of Luena to cross the Zambian border en route to Lumwana and then on to Chingola in the Zambian Copperbelt, thus avoiding having to go through the DRC.

    Kenya wants stable supply of fertiliser

    Importers of fertiliser in Kenya want the government to intervene with the supply and pricing of fertilisers which have skyrocketed more than 50 percent in the last three months.
    Blaming a number of factors local analysts say the answer is for government to buy fertiliser from COMESA countries which can supply within a matter of two weeks, compared with six or more weeks from Europe, China or the United States.
    A delegation from the National Cereals and Produce Board has left for Eastern Europe seeking to negotiate better prices.

    East African region unhappy with EPA agreements

    A number of organisations are planning a demonstration to voice their dissatisfaction with the East African Community’s Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with the European Community which was signed in November 2007.
    Countries throughout Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific (ACP countries) came under strong pressure from the EU and the World Trade Organisation to sign the EPAs which replaced previous non-reciprocal preferential trade regimes. In Africa the East African block was amongst the first group of countries to sign, followed by most other states – only South Africa and Namibia held out although Namibia subsequently signed in mid December 2007.
    East African civil society organisations are concerned that the agreement is going to hurt regional economies because the young African economies lack the capacity to produce goods for the European market. They say they are worried their businesses could collapse as cheap goods from Europe floods the local market.
    The EPAs replace the long-standing trade Cotonou Agreement which expired on 31 December 2007. This accorded preferential market access by way of duty free treatment to EU markets from the ACP countries, while some individual countries had in addition private agreements over certain commodities with their former colonial countries.
    South Africa and Egypt have been accused of having other privately negotiated favourable trade links with Europe allowing them to hold out against the EPAs.

    Sources: IRIN, Skysails, The Nation, Business Daily (Nairobi), Times of Zambia, The East African Standard, EA Business Week

    NEWS: Distress flare has Cape search and rescue teams scrambling

    An all ships alert was posted on Tuesday night after a red distress flare was reported off Cape Point. The National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) reports:

    At 21.30 NSRI Hout Bay and NSRI Simonstown were activated by the National Ports Authority following reports from fishing vessels that were operating in the vicinity of a red distress flare sighted in a position approximately 15 nautical miles South West of Cape Point.

    An all ships alert was posted on VHF marine radio by Maritime Radio Services and the large number of fishing vessels in the area were requested to be on alert but no further red distress flare sightings were reported.

    The fishing vessel AGULHAS voluntarily engaged to investigate the red distress flare sightings in calm sea conditions with a light wind and despite the calm sea conditions and indications that no vessel in distress appeared evident, NSRI Simonstown launched the rescue craft Spirit of Safmarine III and NSRI Hout Bay launched the rescue craft MTU Nadine Gordimer and on arrival in the area of the red distress flare sighting an extensive grid box pattern search commenced.

    NSRI Hout Bay Station Commander Brad Geyser said that the grid box pattern search covered an extensive area in excess of 40 nautical miles comprised out of the two rescue craft in attendance on the scene covering adjacent areas to maximise the range of the search, which has been aided by calm seas and a bright three quarter moon. The assistance of the moon was lost at around 04.30.

    Geyser added that as a precautionary measure he requested MRCC (Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre) to place an SA Air Force Dakota fixed wing aircraft on stand-by to assist with the search at first light.

    NSRI Simonstown Station Commander Darren Zimmerman said that during the search his crew came across a piece of unidentified debris floating in the water and both rescue craft honed in on that area and NSRI Table Bays rescue craft Spirit of Vodacom was requested to join the search while MRCC activated the SA Air Force Dakota to be in the search area before sunrise to commence an aerial search from first light.

    The search took rescue vessels into the path of the shipping lanes and while the rescue vessels initially dodged a few large ships while engaged in the search Maritime Radio Services broadcasted, via VHF marine radio, a request to ships to steer around the search area while keeping a close watch.

    The search has thus far, despite three rescue craft and the Air Force Dakota engaged in the search, revealed no sign of a vessel in distress and no reports of any overdue vessel have been made.

    The piece of debris sighted by the rescuers appears to be unrelated to this search.

    The NSRI request anyone that can assist with information leading to determining the origin of the red distress flare activation or anyone suspecting a vessel to be overdue to contact the National Ports Authority Sea Rescue Emergency number at 021 4493500.

    News: Coega crude refinery plans moves ahead

    by Luyanda Makapela (BuaNews)

    Port Elizabeth, 19 March - The Petroleum, Oil and Gas Corporation of South Africa (PetroSA) has completed the pre-feasibility study into the planned multi-billion Rand crude oil refinery in Coega.

    The refinery is expected to enable South Africa to generate high quality fuels.

    “Planning for the new refinery is now well under way,” PetroSA Chief Executive Officer Sipho Mkhize said on Tuesday.

    The study, which was completed by a leading United States-based refinery specialist, in conjunction with local project engineering company Ilitha, was presented to PetroSA at its head office in Cape Town on Monday.

    “Configuration design is advanced and we have now begun discussions with several international and local parties regarding potential financial and operating partnerships,” said Mkhize.

    He said the refinery was part of a holistic strategy to ensure that the current urgent national fuels supply scenario was reversed, because the country could not afford a liquid fuels crisis.

    The economics for the project looked encouraging following the World Bank's indication that it supports the concept.

    Mkhize said production has been planned for a product mix of up to 70 percent distillates, diesel and aviation fuel, and 30 percent high octane gasoline.

    These fuels will meet the highest Clean Fuels (Euro V) Specifications, in line with anticipated legislation with bio-fuels and petrochemicals opportunities also included in the design parameters.

    “With the high quality of fuels produced, a world class configuration ready to process challenging cheaper crudes, export opportunities will also be economically attractive,” said Mkhize.

    Early this year, Coega Development Corporation has selected PetroSA as a preferred investor for a refinery in the Coega Industrial Development Zone (IDZ).

    The decision to locate the refinery at Coega was based on commercial drivers, but national interest factors such as unlocking growth potential in a region were also considered, said the Chief Executive Officer.

    Department of Minerals and Energy, on the other hand, has recently gazetted the Energy Master Plan which will support an additional crude refinery to address the rapidly increasing shortfall of locally refined products for the country's economy.

    Such a crude oil refinery, according to Mkhize, would also assist in reducing the balance of payment pressures that resulted from South Africa's growing dependence on refined products and imports.

    “This crude refinery will be the lowest cost, high quality fuels producer in the African continent.

    “In support of the planned refinery and national supply network as laid out in the DME's Energy Master Plan, PetroSA's planning includes the provision of new oil terminal facilities and upgrades at Cape Town, Mossel Bay, Port Elizabeth, Durban and Gauteng,” Mkhize said.

    NEWS: Uganda car terminal completed

    A Ugandan car terminal near the port of Mombasa is nearing completion. Intended to speed up the clearing of imported vehicles the terminal will be able to address a number of logistical problems facing importers using the Kenyan port.

    But first there is a little matter of appointing someone to run the terminal and Uganda Property Holdings Ltd, which manages properties on behalf of the Ugandan government, is calling for bids from management companies to run the facility for a minimum period of five years.

    The successful bidder will be responsible for all operational licensing for the terminal as well its marketing and security aspects.

    The new terminal will be able to hold up to 3,000 motor cars per day – according to industry sources Uganda imports about 40,000 motor vehicles annually through Mombasa.

    The terminal, which is situated near the Makupa Causeway in Mombasa, has been welcomed by Kenya Ports Authority which says it will help decongest the port.

    Other neighbouring countries are reported to be interested in opening transit terminals in Mombasa to facilitate cargo movements to their countries.

    source – Business Daily

    BACKGROUND: New agreement maximises SA, Ethiopia trade

    by Michael Appel (BuaNEws)

    Pretoria, 19 March - South Africa and Ethiopia are to maximise trade and capacity between the two countries through the Investment Protection and Promotion Agreement which was signed on Tuesday.

    Trade and Industry Minister Mandisi Mpahlwa and Ethiopia's Foreign Minister Seyoum Mesfin signed the agreement at the Diplomatic Guest House in Pretoria.

    The minister said the agreement would unlock potential between the two countries. “We should always see the trade and investment issues as interrelated,” said Mr Mpahlwa.

    The agreement must be seen in its totality, he said, as South Africa cooperating in ensuring we produce the conditions that will ensure trade goes beyond its current levels.

    Ethiopia, with a population of about 80 million, is home to Africa's largest livestock population with more than 80 percent of Ethiopians involved in the agricultural sector.

    “Ethiopia is a country that has huge strength in the area of agriculture; both in terms of its contribution to Gross Domestic Product, and in employment capacity with 80 percent of the people employed through agriculture.

    “We have to work to make sure that Ethiopia can also [diversify its exports and produce] processed goods.

    “The most immediate thing at the moment is to maximise on the trade taking place between the two countries, and the agreement will assist us to encourage South African companies to invest in Ethiopia to strengthen that capacity to produce goods that then feed into raising the level of trade between the two countries.”

    Mr Mesfin told reporters the newly signed trade agreement will create a framework of encouraging the respective business community members to fully utilise the opportunities that exist between the two countries in terms of trade and investment.

    “We feel as the two governments that we have put the correct legal framework in place but at the same time we will work closely to encourage our business community ... as the potential that exists between the countries is numerous and huge,” said Mesfin.

    The Ethiopian Foreign Minister highlighted that his country's economy, mainly agrarian driven, has been doing very well with GDP growth of 10 percent or more in the last five years.

    Also, Minister of Foreign Affairs Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma signed a number Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with her counterpart on Industrial and Technical Co-operation.

    Ms Dlamini-Zuma said core areas of discussion focussed on a number of areas including trade and investment, agriculture, defence, arts and culture, tourism, human resource development and health.

    She highlighted that the Joint Ministerial Committee was created to drive and monitor decisions and agreements taken by the two countries.

    South Africa and Ethiopia established official diplomatic relations in 1994, and Ethiopia is the new chair of the New Partnership for Africa's Development.

    Pic of the day – WOLRAAD WOLTEMADE

    Click on image to enlarge – with some browsers click twice

    The SMIT salvage tug WOLRAAD WOLTEMADE which arrived ‘back home’ in Cape Town recently, towing the self erecting barge AL BARAKA 1 which has been in operation in Cabinda, Angola. Wolraad Woltemade is the sister tug of the South African–based SMIT AMANDLA, the former John Ross. Picture Aad Noorland

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