Ports & Ships Maritime News

Nov 25, 2008
Author: P&S

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  • First View – MOL DEDICATION

  • Crude oil settles below 50 dollars

  • Dispute sees dive company shut up shop after 23 years of service

  • SA Navy visits East London

  • IMO Secretary-General Mitropoulos calls for cohesive response to piracy

  • A pirate’s view of things

  • Pic of the day – DEVPRAYAG and BOW SUN


    First View – MOL DEDICATION

    Harbour tugs provide a display to welcome the container ship MOL DEDICATION on the occasion of her maiden visit to the port of Cape Town on 6 November 2008. Picture by Ian Shiffman

    Crude oil settles below 50 dollars

    New York (BuaNews-Xinhua) - Crude oil fell to its lowest level in more than three years last week as the global economic downturn pared energy consumption.

    Light, sweet crude for December delivery dropped USD4 to settle at USD49.62 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The price slid to as low as 48.64 dollars a barrel, the lowest level last seen in May 2005.

    In London, Brent crude for January delivery fell 2.17 dollars to 49.55 dollars a barrel on the ICE Futures Exchange.

    "The price of oil continues to demonstrate weakness as the commodity has decisively violated the psychologically important price level of 50 dollars per barrel," Wall Street Strategies' senior research analyst Conley Turner said.

    "At this juncture, the oil patch and oil related securities appear to present a lot of value to investors."

    With economic growth in United States, Japan and Europe contracting, global oil demand is heading for the first annual decline in 25 years. Oil prices have lost nearly 66 percent since record high of 147.27 dollars a barrel reached in mid-July.

    "However, this does not mean that it cannot get any cheaper. At this juncture, oil traders are following the stock market in the serve correction that is unfolding," Mr Turner said.

    US stocks tumbled Thursday as the Labour Department reported a highest jobless level in 16 years and Citigroup Inc's shares shed another 25 percent as investors questioned the bank's ability to withstand billions of additional loan losses in 2009.

    Libya's top oil official told press on Thursday that OPEC may decide to take an another production cut at its meeting in Cairo this week.

    But many analysts doubt if the OPEC supply cut can stable the oil price as its previous decision to reduce output had little impact.

    "Below USD49 per barrel, oil is likely to trade in the low 40 dollars in the next few weeks," Mr Turner said.

    Dispute sees dive company shut up shop after 23 years of service

    After 23 years of dedicated service to the marine industry, Durban-based Dive Solutions, a company providing a variety of diving and specialist services has decided to voluntarily dissolve its operations because of a dispute with Transnet National Ports Authority.

    The dispute centres around a decision taken by the harbourmaster at Richards Bay, to place a ban on hull cleaning within the harbour.

    On 14 November a ships agent at Richards Bay advised Dive Solutions that he had been advised by the port planners that they had instructions from the harbourmaster that they were not to berth any ships requiring underwater repairs until his return to work on the coming Monday.

    A spokesperson for Dive Solutions said that attempts to get an explanation from Transnet were fruitless. Even an urgent letter to Transnet’s chief executive Maria Ramos did not help and as a result the decision was taken to shut down operations.

    “This decision did not come easily to us, as we have formed close bonds with our personnel, suppliers and clients in the industry. Dive Solutions feels that its right to conduct its business unhampered due to unlawful and invalid administration action, has been severely prejudiced,” said Heidi Bransby, a director of the company.

    She said that the Richards Bay Harbourmaster Dennis Maqadi sent out an informal message by way of a SMS stating that hull cleaning was no longer permitted within the Port limits.

    “We remain adamant that we should have been asked to attend a meeting to discuss these concerns prior to the ban being imposed and we should have been given the scientific evidence to support the allegations being made. We also should have been given an opportunity to apply corrective or preventive action before being punished for something that remains unsubstantiated at this time.

    “The total ban is very clearly in contravention of our Constitutional rights to fair administrative action, freedom of economic activity, and the right to have a dispute aired before an impartial tribunal.

    “Dive Solutions has also been deprived of evidence to substantiate the reasons for the ban being imposed, and it has been treated with total disregard in respect of the implications that have essentially placed over 30 families in financial jeopardy.”

    As a result of this action the company had decided to voluntarily dissolve the business.

    “We would like to take this final opportunity to thank everyone we have ever known, and worked with, or for in the marine industry, for their friendship, loyalty and support. We hope that our highly qualified and talented staff all find re-employment within the industry as soon as possible.”

    She said that although no new enquiries would be accepted for business as from yesterday’s date (24 November), clients whose work has been pre-booked will be attended to on vessels which are due to be serviced prior to the beginning of December 2008.

    Debtor / creditor related inquiries should be referred to Mrs Tracy Nettmann on email tracy@divesolutionssa.com or fax 031-307 2000.

    SA Navy visits East London

    There was considerably excitement in East London last week when a number of South African Navy ships put into the harbour on an old fashioned wave-the-flag visit.

    Among the visiting ships was SAS MENDI, one of four new stealth frigates recently taken into service. Other vessels included two mine protection vessels, SAS UMKOMAAS and SAS UMZIMKULU.

    The ships were open to the public during the weekend, with a number of excited schoolchildren going on board a warship for the first time in their lives.

    The main purpose of the visit, said a navy spokesman, was to cement ties with the local business community and to act as a recruiting agent for the navy. Learners from several local school along with some teachers even got to go to sea briefly when the frigate sailed along the east coast for a short distance.

    SAS MENDI sailed for Port Elizabeth on Saturday afternoon. SAS UMKOMAAS was still in East London yesterday morning.

    IMO Secretary-General Mitropoulos calls for cohesive response to piracy

    IMO Secretary-General Efthimios E. Mitropoulos has issued a call at the highest level for a coordinated and cohesive response, both internationally and nationally, to combat the scourge of piracy off the coast of Somalia.

    Yesterday (20 November), in a personal briefing to the UN Security Council in the context of the latter's consideration of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's report on the situation in Somalia, Secretary-General Mitropoulos told Security Council members about the scope and extent of the problem which, he said, was a matter of grave concern. He also outlined a series of actions the Security Council might consider taking to address the situation. In particular, he requested that the Security Council take appropriate action:

  • to extend the validity of the mandate in paragraph 7 of resolution 1816
  • to call upon States interested in the safety and environmentally sound function of shipping activities, that have the capacity to do so, to take part actively in the fight against piracy and armed robbery against ships (including "mother ships") off the coast of Somalia and in the Gulf of Aden
  • to strengthen and enhance the provisions of resolutions 1816 and 1838, particularly with respect to having clear rules of engagement for participating units to facilitate the disruption of pirate operations
  • to urge States, with due regard to their obligations under international law, to establish an effective legal jurisdiction to bring alleged offenders to justice.

    Mr Mitropoulos told the Security Council of IMO's threefold concern to:

  • protect seafarers, fishermen and passengers on ships sailing off the
    coast of Somalia and in the Gulf of Aden
  • ensure the safe delivery of humanitarian aid to Somalia effected by ships chartered by the World Food Programme
  • preserve the integrity of the shipping lane through the Gulf of Aden, given its strategic importance and significance to shipping and trade east and west of the Suez Canal.

    He added that, notwithstanding IMO's prime concern for the safety of seafarers, the volume of trade transported through the Gulf of Aden makes it imperative that this shipping lane is adequately protected against any acts that might disrupt the flow of traffic through it.

    He said that, with more than 12% of the total volume of oil transported by sea using that route - not to mention commodities carried by bulk carriers and finished goods transported by containerships - widespread diversions around the Cape of Good Hope, to avoid the trouble spot, would bring about a series of negative repercussions. Such diversions would almost double the length of a typical voyage from the Gulf to Europe thereby increasing fuel consumption, emissions and transport costs, which would have to be passed on eventually to consumers everywhere.

    IMO first brought the matter of piracy off Somalia to the attention of the Security Council in 2005. Subsequently, the Security Council issued a Presidential Statement on the subject in March 2006 and adopted resolutions 1816 and 1838, in June and October 2008 respectively.

    From Somalia it is being reported that the VLCC SIRIUS STAR is on the move following threats from the Islamist militias to use force to free the ship.

    Islamist militias began moving into the port town of Haradhere, off which the ship has been anchored, late last week. The local Islamist leader, Abdulaahi said that because Saudi is a Muslim country it was a crime for Muslims to have seized Muslim property. “If they don’t free the ship we will rescue it by force,” he said before the pirates on board decided to sail away further up the coast.

    Although Liberian-flagged, Sirius Star is Saudi-owned.

    A pirate’s view of things

    In an article published by the Guardian newspaper, a Somali pirate gave an interesting perspective of piracy on the Somali coast. He was interviewed by Xan Rixe and Abdiquani Hassan

    “We consider ourselves heroes, the interview started. Asad Booyah Abdulahi describes himself as a pirate boss and says his job is capturing ships off the Somali coast.

    “I am 42 years old and have nine children. I am a boss with boats operating in the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean.

    I finished high school and wanted to go to university but there was no money. So I became a fisherman in Eyl in Puntland like my father, even though I still dreamed of working for a company. That never happened as the Somali government was destroyed [in 1991] and the country became unstable.

    At sea foreign fishing vessels often confronted us. Some had no licence, others had permission from the Puntland authorities but did not want us there to compete. They would destroy our boats and force us to flee for our lives.

    I started to hijack these fishing boats in 1998. I did not have any special training but was not afraid. For our first captured ship we got 300,000 US dollars. With the money we bought AK-47s and small speedboats. I don't know exactly how many ships I have captured since then but I think it is about 60. Sometimes when we are going to hijack a ship we face rough winds, and some of us get sick and some die.

    We give priority to ships from Europe because we get bigger ransoms. To get their attention we shoot near the ship. If it does not stop we use a rope ladder to get on board. We count the crew and find out their nationalities. After checking the cargo we ask the captain to phone the owner and say that have seized the ship and will keep it until the ransom is paid.

    We make friends with the hostages, telling them that we only want money, not to kill them. Sometimes we even eat rice, fish, pasta with them. When the money is delivered to our ship we count the dollars and let the hostages go.

    Then our friends come to welcome us back in Eyl and we go to Garowe in Land Cruisers. We split the money. For example, if we get USD1.8m, we would send 380,000 dollars to the investment man who gives us cash to fund the missions, and then divide the rest between us.

    Our community thinks we are pirates getting illegal money. But we consider ourselves heroes running away from poverty. We don't see the hijacking as a criminal act but as a road tax because we have no central government to control our sea. With foreign warships now on patrol we have difficulties.

    But we are getting new boats and weapons. We will not stop until we have a central government that can control our sea.

    Source http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/nov/22/piracy-somalia/print

    Pic of the day – DEVPRAYAG and BOW SUN

    The Indian bulker DEVPRAYAG (28,739-gt, built 1986) sailing from Durban. Picture Terry Hutson

    The Odfjell products tanker BOW SUN (29.974-gt, built 2003) moves away from her Maydon Wharf berth and heads out for the high seas, assisted by a Durban harbour tug with a second tug just out of view. Picture Terry Hutson

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