Ports & Ships Maritime News

May 14, 2008
Author: P&S

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  • The Coega clock is ticking – less than a year to go

  • Cruise Trade Prospects in Mauritius

  • MOL announces plans for 53 new ore ships by 2014

  • Sierra Leone - Iron ore mining brings new hope to port of Pepel

  • Latest Maersk container ship introduced

  • Pic of the day – TORTUGAS


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    The Coega clock is ticking – less than a year to go

    As the launch day for the new port of Ngqura outside Port Elizabeth draws ever closer – the first commercial ships are expected to arrive early in 2009 – Transnet National Ports Authority (NPA) and Transnet Port Terminals (TPT) have begun gearing up with equipment and infrastructure.

    Orders for post panamax ship-to-shore gantry cranes and rubber tyre gantries have already been placed with manufacturers (Liebherr and Kalmar respectively) and now the NPA has issued a tender notice calling for the supply of two specialised reach stackers to be supplied before the end of this year.

    The reach stackers will be used for handling out-of-spec containers and other non-standard cargo.

    The new port’s container terminal will open in two stages, with two berths in phase one expected to be in service early in 2009 and the other two following in the fourth quarter of that year. With the completion of phase two the terminal will have four berths and an annual design capacity of 1.5 million TEU.

    Ngqura will also have three berths for bulk cargo – two for dry bulk and one for liquid.

    Despite this progress a number of questions concerning the new port remain on the table - in particular about its container terminal. One of these is that of who precisely will use the terminal. Will Ngqura become the much hyped transshipment terminal or instead a gateway port for Gauteng, served perhaps by feeder services?

    Many of those well versed with trade in the Indian Ocean and the east coast of Africa region suggest that there is insufficient traffic in the region to justify Ngqura existing on transhipment cargo only. By itself the Eastern Cape region doesn’t itself generate sufficient traffic either – Port Elizabeth only 20km away already handles local traffic more than adequately and according to reports the Port Elizabeth Container Terminal is not earmarked for closure in the immediate future.

    Another alternative for which a number of shipping lines have shown a certain amount of excitement is to use Ngqura as a single gateway port of entry (and exit) for southern Africa – for example a shipping line or lines would make a single call at Ngqura, discharging all southern African cargo which would then be feedered by coastal services to Durban, Cape Town and other regional ports.

    Which raises the obvious question of costs, as the current feeder service provider, while no doubt welcoming the additional boost in traffic, will nevertheless have to be paid. Some of the shipping lines may introduce their own feeder services, regarding these costs as part of existing freight charges, balanced with a single call in South Africa and consequent improvements to their service integrity.

    Were Ngqura is to be used as a gateway port for the Gauteng traffic, as has been suggested by Transnet and government, the question of additional inland costs also becomes an issue. Ngqura is considerably further from Gauteng than is Durban and transport costs will be that much higher (existing overland transport costs are already as high as the actual ocean shipping charges). So who pays the difference – Transnet Freight Rail is unlikely to volunteer.

    Transnet in the meantime says it is upgrading the railway between Ngqura/Port Elizabeth and Gauteng to accommodate expected higher frequency and heavier container and ore trains. Who pays for this?

    Transport analysts say that road transport between Gauteng and the new port can be ruled out given the greater distances involved, and many logistics providers might agree, but has anyone asked the road hauliers? The lure of additional numbers of containers being moved between the Eastern Cape and Gauteng and an ‘iffy’ rail service may be enough for inventive road transporters to find it not so long a distance at all.

    The total cost so far of building and providing the port of Ngqura is R8.4-Billion, according to Transnet head Maria Ramos. That includes two tugs under construction at a shipyard in Durban, cargo handling equipment for the container terminal and all marine and civil engineering requirements. It doesn’t include upgrading the railway either for containers or increased ore traffic and the final bill is expected to increase. The project is now more than 10 years down the road since its was first unveiled by local port engineers, but the clock is fast ticking down with less than a year to go.

    Cruise Trade Prospects in Mauritius

    report by Alain Malherbe (AeroShip - Port Louis)

    Port Louis, 13 May - Some 25,000 additional tourists are expected to visit Mauritius over the coming cruising season 2008-2009.

    This is thanks to the decision by Costa Cruises to choose Mauritius as its home port in the Indian Ocean, although at some stage rumors had it that La Reunion would be the home port.

    The passenger ship COSTA MARINA of Costa Cruises which called Port Louis on six occasions during the recent summer season handled approximately 12,000 passengers in Port Louis. This year Costa Cruises has decided to position a larger ship to cater for the Indian Ocean traffic: MV COSTA EUROPA.

    The ship is scheduled to perform eight calls in Port Louis between December 2008 and March 2009. On the whole some 17 cruise ship calls are envisaged in the port this year. Among others is the OCEAN ODYSSEY from Foresight Ltd UK which has a capacity of 250 passengers, which has also elected Port Louis as its home port.

    There is also a project to develop cruising on board sailing ships carrying 46 passengers at a time.

    With this rise in the cruising industry and the growing interest of other ship-owners, the project of providing a modern passenger terminal assumes greater importance.

    The new Port Louis passenger terminal should be operational by next year. However, the main difficulty facing the Mauritius Port Authority (MPA) is the investment of approximately Rs 400 million in such a new concept when revenues are not expected to counter balance the investment.

    This question was discussed on Thursday last week within the framework of the meeting of the leaders of the ports of the islands of the Indian Ocean. For Shekar Suntah, director of the MPA, Mauritius will have to become more visible on the international cruising market.

    “Aggressive marketing and the involvement of all stakeholders will be essential,” he points out.

    The new passenger terminal will be equipped with a pier for the accommodation of ships of up to 300 metres LOA. The terminal will cover a surface of 1000m² and will be equipped with parking spaces for buses, taxis and other vehicles. Construction work starts next September and the terminal will be operational in April 2009.

    Karl Mootoosamy, director of Mauritius Tourism Authority Promotion, has been personally involved at the promotional level in developing the cruising potential of Mauritius. “Behind the image of pleasure which emerges from cruising, there is much effort [still] to be deployed in creating new dynamics aimed at boosting this sector. It will be necessary to focus more particularly on three principal axis: the product, the price and perception.”

    Mootoosamy also stressed the need for the islands of the Indian Ocean to work together in developing cruising within the area.

    “The islands of the Indian Ocean have varieties of developments occurring at different intervals. However, we must recognise that one cannot develop cruising in Mauritius without taking into account the development of other surrounding islands. No island can work separately because the basis of cruising remains the coastal traffic. The future of the regional cruising industry will not depend solely on Mauritius but of our capacity to connect the islands between them,” he underlined.

    He consequently launched the idea of “Colour Islands”, a promotional concept emphasising the various cultures composing the islands of the Indian Ocean.

    “We could also feed into the imagination of passengers by evoking the colourful history of the pirates who formerly furrowed the seas of the Indian Ocean,” Mootoosamy says.

    The director of the MTPA drew attention to certain tendencies in the market, which indicate that 30 to 40 percent of cruise passengers remain on board the ships during their calls in Port Louis.

    He also underlined the fact that the Costa ships met bad weather in 2007 in several countries like Dubai, Thailand and in Latin America, against good weather within the Indian Ocean Island region which contributed certainly to play in the region’s favour and influence Costa’s choice of positioning a bigger ship with a bigger capacity to trade between the Indian Ocean Islands.

    However, Mr. Mootoosamy admitted that regional trade has to face serious handicaps such as the fact that the Indian Ocean Islands are very far from the cruise market which consists mainly of Europeans and North Europe countries.

    MOL announces plans for 53 new ore ships by 2014

    Tokyo, 13 May - Mitsui OSK Lines, Ltd (MOL) today announced plans to construct 53 new iron ore carriers to meet rising demand for iron ore transport as the world economy continues to grow.

    The move is part of the growth strategies in the company’s midterm management plan MOL ADVANCE ― which focuses management resources on growing fields in ocean shipping.

    Between April 2008 and early 2014 MOL will introduce the following:

    Type 300 (300,000-ton class) 4 vessels
    Type 250 (250,000-ton class) 2 vessels
    Type 230 (230,000-ton class) 7 vessels
    Type 200 (200,000-ton class) 1 vessel
    Type 170 (170,000-ton class) 27 vessels
    Type 110 (110,000-ton class) 10 vessels
    Type 80 ( 80,000-ton class) 2 vessels

    According to MOL, worldwide demand for iron and steel is expected to show stable growth, with countries such as China continuing to produce more crude steel. Increased steel production will naturally boost demand for efficient, reliable transport of raw materials.
    It says the company has already concluded mid- and long-term contracts for 40 percent of the 53 new building vessels, and eventually 60 percent of the new ships will sail under mid- or long-term arrangements.

    MOL’s operated iron ore carrier fleet totals 125 vessels including Cape-size and Panamax types (as of 31 March, 2008). The fleet will total around 160 by the end of March 2014, including about 135 Cape-size vessels and about 25 Panamax ships.

    Sierra Leone - Iron ore mining brings new hope to port of Pepel

    abandoned iron ore wagons on the line between Marampa and the port of Pepel

    A memorandum of understanding has been signed between the government of Sierra Leone and African Minerals Ltd for the construction, management and operation of a railway extension between the Port of Pepel and Marampa to the company’s flagship iron ore project at Tonkolili.

    African Minerals will also undertake an engineering study to upgrade the deepwater port of Pepel with an intention of the port handling up to 25 million tonnes annually of import and export cargo.

    The study will also appoint consultants to look into the feasibility of regauging the existing but disused railway network between the port and Marampa to (European) standard gauge (1435mm).

    The port and island of Pepel lies northeast of Freetown near the mouth of the Sierra Leone River, an estuary formed by the Rokel River and Port Loko Creek. The port was built in 1933 to handle iron ore exports brought in by rail from the Sierra Leone Development Company’s (DELCO) mines at Marampa, which are about 80 km inland. Prior to the closure of iron ore mining at Marampa in 1975 Pepel was the country’s only iron ore port.

    After the line and mine’s closure sections of the railway were pulled up and sold for scrap, as were derelict railway wagons and other equipment until the government was forced to step in with a ban on the export of scrap metal.

    Recently there have been reports of several companies becoming involved in reopening the mines, including claims of a London Mining Company (LMC). - Concord Times and other sources

    Latest Maersk container ship introduced

    On Saturday 10 May 2008 Odense Steel Shipyard introduced its latest newbuilding, a 7,000 TEU container ship for the AP Moller - Maersk Group.

    Mrs Ingrid Steenstrøm Nielsen, married to Mr Finn Buus Nielsen, Managing Director, Odense Steel Shipyard, named the newbuilding MARCHEN MAERSK. More than 500 employees and companions from AP Moller - Maersk and the Yard were invited to celebrate the event.

    Marchen Maersk is the second ship in a series of six container ships. The ship is designed and built to meet the highest demands for safe, precise, environmentally friendly and economic transportation of goods all over the globe. Among other things, a waste heat recovery system is installed to optimise the use of the energy produced.

    The vessel is a rational and highly automated ship thoroughly monitored by advanced computer systems.

    With her 12-cylinder Wärtsilä RT-flex diesel engine which develops 93,000 BHP, Marchen Maersk will enter Maersk Line's worldwide liner service. The ship is registered in Dragør and will be commanded by Captain Hans Pauli Henryson with Michael Skov Refslund as Chief Engineer.

    Pic of the day – TORTUGAS

    Click on image to enlarge – with some browsers click twice

    The Wallenius Wilhelmsen car carrier TORTUGAS in Cape Town on 29 April 2008. Picture by Ian Shiffman

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