Ports & Ships Maritime News

Dec 18, 2008
Author: P&S

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  • Lagos ports severely congested – 80 ships outside

  • New work barge launched in Durban

  • Piracy report – further attacks reported as UN promises land operations to curtail pirate activity

  • Kenya places territorial waters under surveillance

  • Railway news - Nacala railway reopens and boost for Rwanda link

  • TRADE NEWS – World Bank says world trade will shrink in 2009

  • Pic of the day – SIEM SASHA and MORNING GLORY III


    This is the final scheduled News Bulletin for 2008, as we hope to take a short break before resuming operations from 5 January 2009. Depending on suitable news occurring we may produce shortened versions of the News and Newsletters so remember to check out the www.ports.co.za site regularly.

    There will also be a Cruise News & Views page on Friday 19 December as usual.

    To all our readers wherever you are we wish you a very happy and blessed Christmas and a successful and happy New Year.


    No doubt a product of Stolt Tankers decision to divert its tankers round the Cape to avoid the troubled Horn of Africa/Gulf of Aden region, the products tanker STOLT EFFICIENCY (24,625-gt, built 1998) was a bunker caller at Cape Town yesterday morning. Picture by Ian Shiffman

    Lagos ports severely congested – 80 ships outside

    The Lagos ports are being severely congested far more than usual, according to reports and this week up to 80 ships were counted waiting outside.

    While experts haggle over reasons why the delays are longer than normal, some importers are abandoning their cargo as demurrage begins to exceed the value of the cargo. Up to 20,000 containers are in the port terminals awaiting collection, with additional boxes stored at bonded container depots around Lagos. A further 11,000 containers are on ships waiting to enter the various terminals.

    According to one report 45 container ships were waiting to work cargo at ENL Consortium, APM Terminals, Tin Can Island Container Terminal, Josepdam Terminal, 5-Star Logistics and Ports & Cargo Handling Company.

    The oil terminals are not spared either, although the number of tankers waiting outside has decreased from 50 to just over 30 ships.

    The President of the Association of Nigerian Exporters (ANE), Chief Jackson Udoh said he fears a boycott of Nigerian ports by shipping lines as a result of the delays being experienced.

    Chief Udoh said that some lines have already opened negotiations with ports in neighbouring countries to seek alternatives to the Nigerian ports.

    He described the situation at the Lagos terminals as one in which the exact time of berthing could no longer be forecast because of the congestion. The situation also meant that trucks delivering empties to the port can no longer offload because there is no space available, resulting in less lorries being available to carry away full cleared containers.

    Meanwhile the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) is taking the brunt of accusations of being the main cause of congestion at the Lagos ports. Port users call the 48-hour cargo clearance system an illusion and say that it takes between 28 and 35 days to clear goods from the harbour. - source Daily Trust and Vanguard

    New work barge launched in Durban

    picture by Grant Bairstow

    Durban-based Subtech launched their second new work barge in Durban yesterday (Wednesday, 17 December). The 31.5m x 10m barge has been named SUBTECH INKONKONI and will be used for marine civil works, offshore and harbour operations, says Subtech’s marine manager Grant Bairstow.

    “The SUBTECH INKONKONI joins Subtechs existing fleet to augment its ability to service both the marine civil construction, shipping and rapid response markets in Southern Africa and surrounds,” he told Ports & Ships.

    The barge was built for Subtech by South African Shipyards at their Bayhead shipyard and the launching was facilitated by the Transnet floating crane INDLOVU.

    Bairstow said that Subtech has also completed a dredging operation alongside the SA Shipyards berth to enable a Jumbo heavylift vessel to come alongside and discharge two 340 tonne diffusers, using the ship’s own gear in a tandem lift operation.

    Piracy report – further attacks reported as UN promises land operations to curtail pirate activity

    Pirate activity off the coast of Somalia and in the Gulf of Aden appears to have escalated this week, with reports of at least four ships coming under attack in the last 48 hours.

    Among the ships to have been seized are a tug and barge combination under charter to French oil major Total, which was en route from Yemen to Malaysia. The barge was being towed in ballast. The tug is thought to be Malaysian-owned and was carrying a crew of eleven.

    The US Navy meanwhile has confirmed that the Turkish general cargo ship BOSPHORUS PRODIGY (3,062-gt, built 1985) has been captured by pirates while other unconfirmed reports speak of a privately owned yacht and a Bermuda-flagged container ship also being highjacked.

    The reports come as the UN Security Council approved a joint resolution authorising international land operations against pirates using Somalia for their activities. The mandate is good for one year and gives the clearance for pirates to be pursued into territorial waters and onto Somali soil.

    In another incident the Chinese heavylift ship ZHEN HUA 4 (26,650-gt, built 1974) was rescued from pirates by a naval ship and helicopters this week.

    According to reports the crew of the Chinese ship locked themselves in cabins and radioed for help, which came in the form of a warship and two helicopters. The choppers hovered overhead and engaged the pirates in a gunfight until the pirates withdrew from the ship. There were no reports of fatalities.

    So far this year there have been 124 cases of piracy in the Horn of Africa region, according to the East African Seafarers Assistance Programme, of which 60 ships were highjacked by pirates and taken for ransom. Nineteen ships are currently being held at various places along the Somali coast. These include the ULCC SIRIUS STAR and the Ukrainian Ro-Ro ship FAINA which is carrying a cargo of 33 Russian-made tanks and other weapons.

    Regional approach crucial, says UN anti-crime chief

    In New York the United Nations crime-fighting agency on Tuesday proposed a regional approach to bring pirates off the Somali coast to justice similar to one that has proved successful in fighting drug traffickers in the Caribbean.

    “Gunboats are necessary, but not sufficient,” UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) Executive Director Antonio Maria Costa said of the European, Indian and United States warships now seeking to provide protection from the rampant piracy that has seen scores of ships hijacked for ransom, including those carrying vital UN food supplies for hundreds of thousands of hungry Somalis.

    “These bandits can be defeated in the courts, the banks, the ports as well as on the high seas using the weapons of international law and multilateral cooperation,” he added, also proposing development aid to improve local administration and create job alternatives in Somalia itself as a way of going after the pirates on land and destroying their coastal bases and support networks. Strict steps must also be taken to track down their proceeds in the international finance system.

    “Pirates cannot be keel-hauled or forced to walk the plank, nor should they be dumped off the Somali coast; they need to be brought to justice,” he said.

    In the face of the collapse of Somalia’s own justice system, the unwillingness of ship-registering countries like Liberia, Panama and the Marshall Islands to deal with crimes committed thousands of miles away, and possible legal problems for trial in countries providing the warships, a more realistic option would be for the pirates to be tried in the region after being arrested by local policemen deployed on the warships.

    Under such a deal, similar to the Caribbean drug operation, an officer from Djibouti, Kenya, Tanzania or Yemen would join a warship off the coast as a ‘ship rider,’ arrest the pirates in the name of his or her country, and then have them sent to their national court for trial.

    “Regional cooperation is essential,” Mr Costa said. “A few years ago, piracy was a threat to the Straits of Malacca. By working together, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand managed to cut the number of attacks by more than half since 2004.”

    Pirates must also be fought on land by having their coastal bases in Somalia and their support networks dismantled in exchange for development aid to create jobs, he stressed.

    “Shipping and insurance companies should provide assistance to prevent further attacks instead of exacerbating the problem by paying ransoms,” he added.

    Finally Mr Costa proposed going after the financial flows. “Somali pirates are in it for the money, so we should try to capture their treasure. Unlike buccaneers of old, Somali mafias are not burying their booty in the sand. While some transactions are made in cash or the hawala (informal transfer) system, pirates are increasingly working through intermediaries in financial centres. This is where we need to hit them,” he said.

    Kenya places territorial waters under surveillance

    by Rose Kamau (BuaNews)

    Nairobi, 17 December - Kenya has placed its territorial waters under 24-hour military surveillance to ensure there is no spillover of pirate activities from the Somali coastline, says Chief of General Staff General Jeremiah Kianga.

    A joint Kenyan Navy and Air Force response patrol unit has been activated along the country's 600km coastline to fight against increasing piracy activities in the Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean, he said in Mombasa.

    ''We have intensified sea and air patrols in the Kenyan waters close to the troubled Somalia waters that is now firmly in the grip of piracy activities to secure and safeguard our shoreline'' said General Kianga.

    He was briefing the press on Monday at Mombasa's Moi International Airport after flagging off two F-5 patrol attack aircraft and inspecting the state of preparedness of the military to the threats posed by piracy.

    ''The Kenyan military will not hesitate to hit back at Somali pirates who attempt to venture into our side of the border and secure its waters and to this end we have deployed more sophisticated firepower to deter piracy in Kenyan waters.

    ''The aircraft and naval ships will respond to any distress call received from ships plying the ocean,'' said General Kianga, who was flanked by Navy Commandant Major General Samson Mwathethe.

    General Kianga assured shipping lines, tourists and Kenyans that the country's coastline was secure and safe. He further said that those planning on visiting Kenya's Coast Province, especially during the festive season, can do so without fear.

    The military, he said, were awaiting instructions from the government on whether to pursue pirates who attempt to extend their illegal activities to Kenya.

    Railway news - Nacala railway reopens and boost for Rwanda link

    Rail traffic has resumed along the northern Mozambique railway between the port of Nacala and the Malawi border, following a washaway last week caused when heavy rains fell in the region (see our News report for yesterday).

    The Maputo newspaper Noticias reported yesterday that the line had already been reopened by Monday, saying that emergency repairs to the damaged culvert had been carried out successfully using timbers as props. By Monday the first two trains had crossed the damaged section.

    A spokesman for the Northern Development Coridor (CDN) said the repairs were only temporary and additional work would be carried out of a more permanent nature.

    The washaway occurred near Mutivazi in the Nampula/Rapale district. He said that fears of damage to the line further west had proved groundless following a thorough inspection of the line.

    US boost for proposed Dar es Salaam – Rwanda railway

    The US government had pledged a grant of US$653,000 for an evaluation and technical feasibility study of the proposed railway link from Tanzania into Rwanda.

    The railway is part of the proposed Central Development Corridor between the port of Dar es Salaam and the landlocked Central African countries of Rwanda and Burundi.

    The proposal took effect following the political strife in Kenya early this year which saw rail connections from the Kenyan port of Mombasa to Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi interrupted for several weeks.

    TRADE NEWS – World Bank says world trade will shrink in 2009

    The world financial crisis has dimmed short-term prospects for developing countries and the volume of world trade is likely to contract for the first time since 1982, says the World Bank in a report this week. It says the sharp slowdown has caused commodity prices to plummet, ending a historic five-year boom.

    Global Economic Prospects 2009 (GEP) finds the global economy transitioning from a long period of strong developing-country led growth to one of great uncertainty as the financial crisis in developed countries has shaken markets worldwide. GEP 2009 projects that world GDP (gross domestic product) growth will be 2.5% in 2008 and 0.9% for 2009. Developing countries will likely grow by 4.5% next year, down from 7.9% in 2007, while growth in high-income countries will turn negative.

    “People in the developing world have had to deal with two major external shocks-- the upward spiral in food and fuel prices followed by the financial crisis, which has eased tensions in commodity markets but is testing banking systems and threatening job losses around the world,” said Justin Lin, World Bank Chief Economist and Senior Vice President, Development Economics. “Urgent steps are needed to help reduce fallout from the crisis on the real economy and on the poorest, including through projects that build better roads, railways, schools, and health care systems.”

    In light of the crisis, the World Bank Group is increasing its support for developing countries, including through new IBRD commitments of up to $ 100 billion over the next three years as well as via its private sector arm, the IFC, in the form of facilities for trade finance, banking recapitalization, and for privately-funded infrastructure projects facing financial distress.

    With world trade volumes projected to contract 2.1% in 2009, developing countries will see a big drop in their exports. Tighter credit conditions and increased uncertainty are expected to see investment growth in both developing and high-income countries slow in 2009 - actually falling 1.3% in developed countries and rising by only 3.5% in developing countries versus 13% in 2007.

    “Policymakers in developing countries should monitor their banking sectors carefully and be prepared to enlist external support to shore up currencies and banking systems.” said Uri Dadush, Director of the World Bank’s Development Prospects Group, “Given the expected decline in global trade, both developed and developing countries need to resist the temptation to resort to protectionism, which would only prolong and deepen the crisis.”

    The collapse in global growth has reversed the surge in commodity prices that characterised the first half of the year, with prices of virtually all commodities falling sharply since July. While real food and fuel prices in developing countries have dropped considerably, they remain high relative to the 1990s and the social turmoil and human crises they triggered are still reverberating. Overall, higher food and fuel prices have cost consumers in developing countries about $680 billion in extra spending in 2008 and pushed an additional 130-155 million people into poverty

    According to the GEP, next year oil prices are expected to average about $75 a barrel and food prices worldwide are expected to decline by 23% compared with their average in 2008.

    Looking forward to the longer term, and despite concerns that recent price spikes might signal future supply shortages, the report finds that supply should more than meet demand over the next 20 years.

    “Over the longer term, the supply shortages that contributed to the sharp rise in commodity prices are expected to ease.” said Andrew Burns, Lead Author of the report. “Demand for energy, metals, and food should slow due to weaker population growth and an expected reversal in China’s high demand for metals as investment rates there decline.,”

    However, policies will need to support investment in additional supply capacity and encourage greater conservation and efficiency measures to keep commodity supply and demand in balance. Efficiency gains in the transport sector (including hybrid, electric and possibly hydrogen powered cars) will be especially important, because developing-country demand for new cars and trucks is expected to drive three-quarters of the additional energy demand between now and 2030. Climate change and other green policies may also reduce demand for hydrocarbons and lead to long run productivity improvements in the agriculture sector.

    Although ample food supply is projected globally, food production in countries with fast growing populations (notably in Africa) may not keep pace with demand. To avoid becoming overly dependent on imported food these countries need programs to boost agricultural productivity, such as those that expand rural roads, increase agricultural research and development, and intensify outreach efforts.

    The heightened sensitivity of food prices to oil prices that resulted from increased biofuel production from food crops is likely to persist, unless new technologies -- including the development of non-food sources for biofuel production and other energy alternatives – make food-crop based biofuels uneconomic.

    A key finding from the GEP is that commodity exports can promote growth if the right policies are in place. The authors find that resource-rich countries have managed the windfall revenues of the recent boom more prudently than in the past, which should allow them to better withstand the decline in prices. However, countries with new-found resources and those heavily reliant on bank-lending may be at risk. This is because with lower commodity prices, the profits of many companies are down, while at the same time interest rates are higher -- exposing them to sharply higher costs when loans come due.

    Most consuming countries responded to higher food and fuel prices by expanding existing social safety networks to stave off malnutrition and its long term consequences. Governments spent as much as 2% of GDP ramping up programs, although because of poor targeting, as little as 20% of the additional spending reached the poorest.

    GEP recommends several measures that could reduce the chance of another food price crisis. These include discouraging export bans, providing more stable funding for food-aid agencies, and improving the coordination and information about global food stocks.

    Pics of the day – SIEM SASHA and MORNING GLORY III

    The Norwegian offshore supply vessel SIEM SASHA (2,465-gt, built 2005) which called at Cape Town yesterday. Although the ship flies the flag of the Cayman Islands she is Norwegian owned and operated. Picture by Ian Shiffman

    The Liberian-registered, Japanese-owned products tanker MORNING GLORY III (57,145-gt, built 1996) was another tanker to call at the Mother City yesterday. Picture Ian Shiffman

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