Ports & Ships Maritime News

Sep 25, 2008
Author: P&S

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  • Giant FPSO named Akpo passes Southern Africa

  • Mystery over IRISL ship held by Somali pirates

  • Safmarine confirms order for four multipurpose ships

  • Pirates try to highjack US Navy ship

  • Rift Valley Railway reveals investment plan

  • Congestion looms at Lagos, says AP Moller boss

  • Canada extends WFP naval escorts to Somalia

  • Pic of the day – RFA BLACK ROVER


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    Giant FPSO named Akpo passes Southern Africa

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    A large newly built FPSO (floating, production, storage and offloading) named AKPO is currently crossing the southern African coast en route from the builder’s yard to Nigeria, on tow behind five tugs.

    The 310m long by 60m wide vessel will take up station on the oil field of the same name some 200km off Nigeria’s coast. With something in the order of 240 crew and technicians on board the FPSO will be permanently moored in position in waters up to 1.3km deep.

    Crude oil and gas will then be pumped onto the vessel from deep under the sea and will undergo some refining on board. It is expected that 225,000 barrels of oil equivalent a day will be produced on the platform which is essentially a floating refinery. The production, which will be 80% condensate will then be transferred to a floating buoy approximately 2km from the FPSO where tankers will load cargo to be exported across the world.

    Gas produced on the FPSO will be piped onto another platform some distance from AKPO and then taken to a liquefied natural gas (LNG) facility at Bonny Island on the Nigerian coast.

    On the technical side, the FPSO is equipped with six Rolls Royce RB211 industrial gas turbine power generators which will provide the 100MW of power required to operate the subsea components of the oil field. These include 22 oil and gas production wells, 20 water injection wells and two gas injection wells.

    As the convoy of tugs and FPSO approached the South African coast a number of crew were due to join the vessel off Richards Bay.

    For a visual of this unusual vessel have a look at the following site

    Mystery over IRISL ship held by Somali pirates

    Have the Somali pirates of Eyl bitten off more than they can chew with an Iranian cargo ship, the 44,468-dwt IRAN DEYANAT which was highjacked at sea on 21 August and taken to the pirates lair at Eyl, where up to 13 ships have been held pending the payment of ransom money in recent weeks.

    According to some reports the US attempted to negotiate with the pirates to have them search the cargo for illicit goods. A US bribe of USD7 million offered to the pirates has been quoted by the Iranian media but this has not been confirmed elsewhere. The ship’s manifest records the cargo as being minerals and general cargo but according to reports now starting to circulate the cargo may include small arms and chemical weapons for Eritrea.

    One report, unsubstantiated and certainly suspect it must be added, claims that some of the pirates on board the vessel became ill after tampering with the cargo.

    Officially the ship is on a voyage from China to Rotterdam and is carrying iron ore and industrial products.

    Meanwhile the US Treasury Department has slapped sanctions on IRISL, the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Line as well as all its affiliates which it says provides logistics support for Iran’s Ministry of Defence. The Treasury, saying that IRISL has previously lied about its activities, imposed the ban on all transactions between US citizens and IRISL and associated companies and intends freezing the assets of these companies in US jurisdictions.

    The US claims that IRISL has deliberately falsified documentation to shroud its involvement in what it calls illicit commerce.

    In March this year the UN Security Council called on its member states to investigate all IRISL and Iran Air Cargo freight for nuclear contraband.

    IRISL trades quite extensively with African ports.

    Safmarine confirms order for four multipurpose ships

    Safmarine has confirmed an order for four multi purpose ships placed with Chinese shipyard Wuhu Xinlian.

    The 18,000-dwt ships will be delivered from the fourth quarter of 2010 through until the second quarter 2011.

    Included with the order is an option for a further four ships, which requires taking up within a short period.

    “These vessels will be deployed on Safmarine's MPV trades to and from West Africa with specific deployment to be decided closer to the date of delivery,” says a Safmarine statement on the order.

    The company adds that it has in the meantime taken delivery of four newly built multi-purpose vessels on long-term charter.


    Port of Nacala, northern Mozambique. An Ocean Africa container ship sails from the port. Picture courtesy Loni Shott / Port Nacala

    Pirates try to highjack US Navy ship

    Pirates operating iin the Gulf of Aden received a surprise this week when they mistook a US Navy supply ship, USNS JOHN LENTHALL for a civilian commercial vessel and made as if to board her.

    Instead of an easy passage aboard they faced warning shots which landed close to the pirate craft which by then had approached within 50m of the ship. The pirates immediately broke off the action and made their escape.

    Meanwhile it has been announced that Russia is the latest nation to send warships to the Gulf of Aden. According to Russian Navy chief Vladimir Vysotsky Russia plans to participate in international efforts of protecting commercial shipping but intends doing it independently of existing coalition naval forces operating in the area which are led by the US.

    A significant number of Russian seafarers have been involved with ships that have been highjacked in the past by pirates operating from the Somali coast.

    The Russian involvement comes at a time when the US Navy is saying that it cannot defend commercial shipping operating in the Gulf because it doesn’t have the resources to provide 24-hour protection for the hundreds of commercial ships passing through the Gulf. US Vice Admiral Bill Gortney is quoted as saying that shipping companies must take their own precautions and provide their own protection.

    His statement comes despite a recent UN resolution allowing United Nation’s warships to take proactive action against piracy on the Somali coast, using “all necessary means”.

    Rift Valley Railway reveals investment plan

    The embattled Rift Valley Railway (RVR), the privatised company managing and operating the railways of Kenya and Uganda has disclosed a five-year USD206 million plan to turn around the East African railway network.

    The company’s original plan allowed for a total spend of USD25 million.

    RVR chairman Brown Ondego announced that the transformation will take the form of a three-phased programme that aims at improving service delivery levels.

    In phase 1 RVR will focus on upgrading infrastructure on the Mombasa – Nairobi – Kampala main line. This will include improving the availability of the existing fleet of class 93 and 94 diesel-electric locomotives. In addition a further six locos will be acquired along with new rail wagons. Attention will be given to decreasing the incidents of accidents and derailments while improving general safety on the railway. There will also be a strong focus on personnel training and development.

    As the mainline is refurbished it will be possible to increase the average speed of trains up form the present average of 16 km/h to 50 km/h

    Congestion looms at Lagos, says AP Moller boss

    Congestion at the port of Lagos is inevitable, according to the managing director of APM Terminals in Lagos, Mr Michael Hansen.

    Quoted in This Day newspaper he said importers are having to wait 28 days to clear their containers after all previous efforts at speeding up the process had proved a failure.

    He told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos earlier this week that the "current dwell time of imported containers at the ports is unacceptable".

    Hansen said his company had now acquired the necessary container handling equipment and as a result containers can be positioned for examination within 12 hours. Electronic connectivity with the Nigeria Customs service had also been achieved.

    "Despite all these initiatives, we remain far from the goal of 48-hour clearance and today we are at an average of 28-day cargo dwell time," said Hansen, adding that new measures were necessary in order to effectively reduce cargo dwell time at the ports.

    One of these measures is the introduction of a progressive storage penalty which will become affective from 1 October 2008. Consignees will enjoy free storage for the first three days after arrival of their containers. Existing storage costs for the next seven days will continue.

    "We have no interest in people leaving their containers for a long time and returning to pay high storage charges. We are not interested in getting any income from storage. What we want is for people to get their containers out fast," Hansen said. source This Day

    Canada extends WFP naval escorts to Somalia

    New York, 25 September – The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) today welcomed the decision by Canada to extend its naval mission protecting ships carrying humanitarian aid to Somalia for a further month. Ships operating off the coast of Somalia have been targeted by pirates, jeopardising a vital humanitarian lifeline to the country where more than 3 million face hunger as a result of drought, conflict and high food prices.

    "Millions of hungry people face a total break in their humanitarian food supply due to the scourge of pirates attacking ships," said WFP's Executive Director, Josette Sheeran. "Make no mistake - Canada's generous act of extending naval protection will allow us to get food in and will save lives. We urgently call on other nations to step up to the plate."

    Sheeran called for a comprehensive approach by the international community to provide naval escorts as part of on-going anti-piracy operations off Somalia. The UN Security Council in August commended those governments that had provided military escorts for humanitarian vessels and called on other member states to continue naval escorts providing crucial assistance for the safe delivery of humanitarian assistance.

    The HMCS Ville de Québec, which took over escorting ships loaded with WFP food to Somalia in August, was scheduled to end its escort mission on 27 September -- its final journey was to be the escort of two vessels carrying nearly 20,000 metric tons of food WFP to the port of Mogadishu.

    Before the Canadian announcement to extend its escorts until 23 October, some ship-owners had already started cancelling contracts with WFP out of fear of pirate attacks -- a move that threatened to cut off the delivery of more than 100,000 tons of food to Somalia over the coming months.

    Since November last year, a succession of Canadian, Dutch, Danish and French frigates have been escorting WFP ships without incident, delivering a total 136,500 metric tons of food – enough to feed 2.6 million people for three months.

    “WFP is very grateful to Canada for generously extending the mission of HMCS Ville de Québec at WFP’s request at this very critical time for the Somali people,” said WFP Somalia Deputy Country Director Denise Brown. “It is essential that we can line up the ships to feed Somalia without breaks in protection because we run out of escort vessels.”

    Naval escorts have proved to be a very effective deterrent against pirates, who have launched more than 60 attacks on shipping so far this year off Somalia’s coast, making 2008 the worst year for piracy off Somalia.

    Ship-owners report that the very presence of a naval escort vessel appears to deter pirates from attacking other ships in the same area.

    Ninety percent of WFP food assistance for Somalia arrives by sea. WFP needs to ship up to 150,000 metric tons to Somalia from the Kenyan port of Mombasa and ports in South Africa in the coming months to feed an average of 2.4 million people each month.

    Insecurity, drought, a succession of poor or failed harvests, the weakness of the Somali shilling against the dollar, coupled with high food and fuel prices, have increased the number of people in need of humanitarian assistance in Somalia this year by 77 percent to more than 3 million.

    Canada has given USD15.7 million to WFP operations in Somalia since August 2006 including USD5.4 million in 2008, making it the third largest donor to WFP’s operations in Somalia, as well as worldwide.

    Pic of the day – RFA BLACK ROVER

    Hot off the press: The departure of the British Royal Navy Fleet Tanker A273 “Black Rover” from Simon’s Town at 10h18 hrs yesterday morning, Thursday 25 September 2008. She had been in harbour for just over a week, with some inspection/repair/maintenance work carried out.

    “Black Rover” is something of a veteran – she was launched at the now closed Swan Hunter shipyard at Wallsend on Tyne, UK, in 1973 and is scheduled to be decommissioned by 2010. She is designed to replenish ships underway at sea with fuel, fresh water, and stores in all weather conditions. She has a helicopter deck served by a stores lift and is capable of conducting helicopter replenishment. Displacing 11,500 tonnes, she is powered by twin diesels and has a ship's company of 56.

    Also in the picture are:

    SA Navy Tug ZTAG “Umalusi” (alongside “Black Rover” in readiness for her to drop the pilot once she has cleared the harbour entrance);
    SA Navy Tug ZTTS “Tshukudu”;
    SA Navy Type 209 Heroine Class Submarine SAS S102 “Charlotte Maxeke”.
    Picture David Erickson

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