Ports & Ships Maritime News

Sep 22, 2008
Author: P&S

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  • Durban terminal road access heavily congested after strong winds interrupt operations

  • Piracy Report – threat to use Cape route

  • Heavy seas disrupt train operations to Port Elizabeth harbour

  • Ore traffic picks up on Maputo rail corridor

  • News from the shipping lines – MSC ups its container capacity

  • SA, Kenya seek to address import, export deficit

  • Decline in container ship orders

  • Fire closes Port Khalid

  • Boskalis ups the odds for SMIT

  • Nigeria clears another wreck from Lagos waterway

  • Pic of the day – SWISSCO SOVEREIGN


    Durban terminal road access heavily congested after strong winds interrupt operations

    A period of strong winds resulted in chaos on the roads outside Durban’s new and modern Pier 1 Container Terminal last week.

    For several days running last week the wind prevented road vehicles from being loaded with containers. A spokesperson for Transnet Port Terminals said the wind made it too dangerous to load the hundreds of trucks which backed up and began parking illegally along the entire length of Bayhead Road extending back as far as the dry dock at South Coast Road junction, a distance of several kilometres.

    Truck drivers told PORTS & SHIPS they had been unable to move for the entire morning. When they phoned the terminal to enquire the reason for the stoppage they were told it was because of the strong winds.

    Ironically the adjacent and older Durban Container Terminal, which was experiencing the same winds as Pier 1 was working normally as far as could be ascertained, with trucks entering and exiting the terminal without delay.

    The hauliers complained that they needed to complete four or five pick-ups at the terminal each day in order to cover costs of operation – many of the truck drivers are owner/operators. They said they would be lucky to complete two pick-ups in a 12-hour period at the rate being experienced.

    Piracy Report – threat to use Cape route

    In a rare success this past week the Danish frigate ABSALON captured two speed boats alleged to have been in use by pirates operating off the coast of Somalia and have taken the crew of 10 into custody.

    On board the speedboats were a supply of arms and ammunition including automatic rifles, rocket launchers and handguns. The boats also carried equipment for boarding larger ships. The Absalon’s Super Lynx helicopter kept the speedboats under observation until the frigate was able to approach. This is believed to be the first occasion when pirates have been arrested at sea by a ship of the coalition forces operating in the Gulf of Aden.

    Meanwhile a number of other merchant ships have been seized by pirates in the past week, which follows the capture of the products tanker STOLT VALOR last Monday. On Wednesday the Hong Kong flagged GREAT CREATION joined the list of ships in captivity. The vessel was en route to India at the time and has a crew of 25 on board.

    On the next day (Thursday 18 September) the Greek bulk carrier CENTAURI of 19,556-DWT became the next victim when she was highjacked some 200 n.miles offshore from the southern Somali coast opposite Mogadishu.

    The Maltese-flagged Centauri has a crew of 25 persons and was sailing for Kenya when the attack took place. No injuries have been reported. This is the first attack off southern Somalia for some time and may be a reaction to the heavy concentration of naval ships operating in the Gulf of Aden to the north.

    Meanwhile French President Nicolas Sarkozy says he will call for a debate in the United Nations to raise the profile of piracy and to bring about greater naval cooperation especially among the 27 members of the European Union. Referring to France’s response to the capture of two of its citizens with their yacht, which saw French armed forces attacking and recapturing the yacht and releasing the two hostages, the president said he had decided to act to show French determination against piracy.

    “The pirates now know they run risks. The world can't stay passive or indifferent. I ask other countries to act, as France has done twice.”

    In a further reaction to rampant Somali piracy shipping’s Round Table consisting of BIMCO, Intercargo, Intertanko, the International Chamber of Shipping and the International Shipping Federation have lodged a combined appeal to the United Nations calling for urgent action in combating piracy in Somali waters.

    The Found Table report came amidst claims that shipping lines are starting to consider making use of the longer route around Africa via the Cape of Good Hope in order to avoid the Gulf of Aden and its attendant risk of piracy. Such a move would lead to a marked increase in freight increases as a result of the longer distances involved.

    Heavy seas disrupt train operations to Port Elizabeth harbour

    Heavy seas in Nelson Mandela Bay (Algoa Bay) have resulted in substantial damage to the main Eastern Cape railway line which runs parallel with the coast immediately north of Port Elizabeth.

    Heavy seas experienced along the southern Cape coast earlier in September have resulted in train delays into and from Port Elizabeth harbour.

    A section of the railway which runs alongside the seafront to the north of Port Elizabeth was damaged by high seas which crashed over concrete dolosses and rock obstacles designed to absorb the energy of the waves, damaging the railway.

    Sections of track were torn away from their sleepers and parts of the line were covered in sand and other debris.

    A Transnet Freight Rail spokesman said it was possible to divert trains onto another route at Port Elizabeth station, which is close to the harbour entrance, but this alternative did not provide access to the main marshalling yards used by the port. Another alternative would require extensive shunting and re-marshalling of wagons leading to further delays and higher costs.

    He said Transnet Freight Rail had plans to repair the damaged section of rail but could not say when this would be complete. It could take up to six weeks, he thought.

    Meanwhile traffic into the harbour including manganese ore and containers has been affected.

    Ore traffic picks up on Maputo rail corridor

    Approximately one million tonnes of magnetite (iron ore) will be transported along the Maputo rail corridor into Maputo harbour for export this year, reports Agencia de Informacao de Mocambique (AIM).

    About half this amount will be carried in the next three and a half months, the article adds, indicating a dramatic increase in ore exports through Port Maputo.

    The increase is possible following the refurbishment of the railway between the port and the border at Ressano Garcia which was undertaken and completed by CFM, the national rail company. The report said that previously Maputo handled about 400,000 tonnes of magnetite annually but between January and September this had increased already to 530,000t and with the rehabilitation now completed the line’s capacity had been substantially increased.

    Last week a train of 60 wagons hauled by four diesel-electric locomotives had hauled a 4,500 tonne load into the harbour from the South African border, which CFM said was a record load. It said that previously trains of 40 wagon length and 2,000t load represented the maximum possible, even in colonial times.

    In addition the volume of traffic on the line to South Africa could now increase from two trains a day to seven, carrying a variety of cargo or passengers. CFM anticipated that for the remainder of this year there would be at least six trains carrying magnetite each week which would result in the line carrying one million tonnes by year end.

    It expected this volume to increase to two million tonnes of iron ore in 2009.

    News from the shipping lines – MSC ups its container capacity

    MSC MESSINA under four cranes at Durban Container Terminal – one of the larger container ships on the South Africa – Europe service but soon to be eclipsed with even bigger tonnage. Picture Trevor Jones

    As SAECS (South Africa Europe Container Services) reduces its capacity on the Europe South Africa service (see News Bulletin for 14 September) with the withdrawal of three ships from its intermediate service (on account of seasonal declines, SAECS said), Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) is going in the opposite direction by increasing capacity with larger vessels.

    MSC provides about 42% of shipboard capacity on this route and is increasing the capacity of its fleet with vessels in the 5,000 – 6,000 TEU range that will replace ships of between 4,000 and 4,500-TEU size.

    In addition to filling its own vessels MSC carries containers on behalf of Evergreen and Hapag Lloyd.

    MONTE ROSA, one of the earlier Hamburg Süd Monte class container ships. Picture Terry Hutson

    German carrier Hamburg Süd has introduced the latest in its Monte class ships, the 5,560-TEU MONTE AZUL which is scheduled to enter the Far East – East Coast South America service (ECSA) via South Africa.

    Monte Azul which was built at the Daewoo Rumania shipyard is the fourth in the series of 10 intended. Six of these ships will be delivered in a stretched 5,900-TEU version however.

    SA, Kenya seek to address import, export deficit

    by Michael Appel

    Johannesburg, 19 September (BuaNews) - Trade and Industry Minister Mandisi Mphalwa told business leaders from South Africa and Kenya that strengthening bilateral relations will focus on reducing the import - export deficit that currently exists.

    "Kenya is a strategic trading partner within the East African region due to its geo-political importance.

    "We do, however, recognise the trade imbalance in favour of South Africa and the need to urgently address this imbalance," said Mr Mphalwa, Friday.

    Kenya exports about five billion Shillings (R560 million) to South Africa annually, while it imports South African goods worth 45 billion Kenyan Shillings (R5 billion) explained Kenyan High Commissioner to South Africa, Thomas Amolo.

    The high commissioner highlighted that the objective of the conference was to establish a strategic partnership between South Africa and Kenya, quell the nerves of investors after post-election violence rocked Kenya earlier this year, and address the trade imbalance.

    Minister Mphalwa explained that both South Africa and Kenya were economic and political powerhouses in their respective regions and both must work on driving development and regional integration.

    "We are engaging in bilateral relations in order to help both South Africa and Kenya address challenges facing them which include underdevelopment, skills shortages, and unemployment.

    "There is a close relationship between trade diversification and closing the trade gap.

    "As South Africa, we will encourage South African companies to invest in Kenya - so going forward we will have to work to raise the levels of investment in Kenya.

    "Looking to the future, I'd like to see Kenyan companies investing in South Africa about 10 years down the line - that would be a sign of success," said Mr Mphalwa.

    Kenya's Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Trade, Uhuru Kenyatta told the conference that the Kenyan government is committed to attracting and retaining foreign investment via certain incentives.

    "There is huge potential for increased trade evidenced in the balance of trade between South Africa and Kenya, which is in favour of South Africa.

    "Our country has emerged as a major export market for South Africa ... and we are striving to put in place policy measures friendly to investors which include implementing sound micro and macro-economic policies," said Mr Kenyatta.

    Other incentives to investors include Value Added Tax (VAT) and duty exemption on certain manufacturing machinery, exemption of VAT and duty on certain raw materials and exemption from corporate tax when investing in certain sectors, the deputy minister explained.

    The Kenyan government, said Mr Kenyatta, is committed to growing its economy to become globally competitive.

    "Despite the post-election crisis, Kenya has a bright future with numerous opportunities for investment.

    "As Africa's leading economy, South Africa is a dominant voice in Africa and Kenya has a lot it can learn from South Africa.

    "I urge you all to explore the investment opportunities in Kenya as it will only further merge our two economies," said the Deputy Primer Minister.

    As part of South Africa and Kenya's aims to further trade and bilateral economic relations, an Inter-Ministerial Symposium will be held in Nairobi, Kenya in November 2008.

    The Kenya Trade Fair and Conference will run from 19 - 21 September 2008 at the Sandton Convention Centre.

    Decline in container ship orders - Clarkson

    While most shipbuilders have full order books, enquiries for new orders are starting to look thin and have all but dried up. In the words of London-based shipbroker Clarkson, enquiries have ‘hit the floor’.

    This follows a protracted period of increasing orders for container vessels in particular until the first signs of an over supply began appearing earlier this year. Recently Taiwan’s Evergreen opted to cancel orders for eight super container ships (12,400-TEU), switching the order over to tankers instead and saying it will wait and invest in medium tonnage later because it believes the markets to be oversupplied. Germany’s NSB similarly cancelled orders for eight 4,250-TEU vessels after banks showed a reluctance to provide finance when NSB did not have charter contracts.

    According to Clarkson 179 container ships have been contracted this year up until August, which is down 49% year on year. The downturn coincides with increasing tonnage availability as larger newbuilds enter into the market, and slowing trade volumes coupled with increasing shipyard prices. The cost of a 3,500-TEU container ship at current rates is USD67 million compared with USD 63m at the end of 2007, while the same ship is currently earning USD26,000 a day compared with USD29,500 in June this year. Two years ago the same size vessel was earning an average of USD38,000 a day.

    Interestingly, the reports suggest that trade lanes from Asia to South America and Southern Africa as well as intra-Asian and Middle East routes will soak up much of the spare midsize capacity (see report about MSC increasing its capacity in NEWS FROM THE SHIPPING LINES above).

    Fire closes Port Khalid

    Port Khalid in the emirate of Sharjah has been partially closed after a devastating fire broke out during the weekend.

    The fire started at a storage facility of Emirates Oil Refining Company which produces mainly sunflower oil and has since been brought under control, with work now focusing on clearing up oil spills and other mainly water contamination. A port official said the port should be fully reopened by Wednesday this week.

    Before the fire started the facility had approximately 100,000 cartons of edible oil in storage. The facility is the major supplier of edible oils to the Emirates. A spokesman for the company said supplies would be brought in from the company’s Egyptian plant to replace those lost in the fire.

    Firefighters from the Sharjah Civil Defence successfully prevented the blaze from spreading to nearby oil storage facilities, however the port was closed as attempts were made to clear the gutted area.

    Port Khalid consists of 21 berths and caters for a range of general cargo shipping including breakbulk and containerised cargo as well as crude and other oil products. In 2007 the two Sharjah ports of Port Khalid and Khorfakken handled 2.1 million TEUs.

    Boskalis ups the odds for SMIT

    Royal Boskalis Westminster has raised the odds with its bid to take over Rotterdam-based SMIT Internationale in a move that if successful will result in the world’s largest marine salvage operator.

    On 17 September Boskalis acquired a 6.7% stake in SMIT after an unsolicited bid of €1.1 billion had been rejected. Two days later Boskalis acquired 1.87 million shares thus increasing its shareholding to 10.54%, taking it over the 10% mark required and requiring that an extraordinary shareholder meeting must now be called to discuss Boskalis’ offer of USD89.30 per share.

    Smit says the bid undervalues the company and is contrary to Smit’s proven strategy of forming integrated marine services. Boskalis’ counter is that it will retain the SMIT marine salvage and heavylift operations and will merge its terminal business with Lamnalco and sell its towing operation.

    Nigeria clears another wreck from Lagos waterway

    The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) has completed salvaging and removing another shipwreck from the Lagos waterway.

    The shipwreck was of a vessel involved in a collision which sank in the Ibafon area earlier this year.

    According to NIMASA a total of 45 wrecks have been salvaged from the Lagos area since last year. It said the process would continue to make the waterways safe to navigation and attention would shortly turn to a similar operation at Port Harcourt.

    Pic of the day – SWISSCO SOVEREIGN

    Click on image to enlarge – with some browsers click twice

    SWISSCO SOVERIEGN (499-gt), an offshore supply tug arrived in Cape Town harbour 21 September 2008 in tandem with another tug CREST DIAMOND. Both vessels are en route to Angola from the Far East Picture by Aad Noorland

    the stern view of the SWISSCO SOVEREIGN with Table Mountain making a fine backdrop. A third vessel MICLYN GLORY in the convoy was due to arrive later in the day. Picture Aad Noorland

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