Ports & Ships Maritime News

Dec 2, 2008
Author: P&S

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  • First View – BLACK EAGLE

  • Dedicated surf rescue helicopters unavailable this summer

  • PetroSA recommissions FPSO on Oribi oilfields

  • Work gets underway on Libyan railway

  • Upsurge of fighting in Somalia among heaviest in recent months, UN reports

  • Low freight rates likely for at least another year

  • Pic of the day – MAERSK DELLYS


    First View – BLACK EAGLE

    Picture by Trevor Jones

    The general cargo ship BLACK EAGLE (30,750-gt, built 1983), originally the container vessel THERESE DELMAS (1716-TEU), seen discharging American agricultural aid at Durban’s T-jetty at the recent weekend.

    It is noticeable that an increasing number of container ships are being utilised for this purpose.

    Therese Delmas was sold by the Delmas Line in 2002 and became the prepositioning ship A1C WILLIAM H PITSENBERGER (T-AK 4638) as part of the US Military Sealift Command container fleet. Currently sailing as the Black Eagle, the ship is now listed as owned by the Tuskeejee Shipholding company and operated by the Red River Shipping company.

    Black Eagle is diesel powered with a single shaft and is 189m in length with a beam of 32.3m. She has a speed of 17.5 knots and in the MSC fleet carried a 23-man civilian crew.

    Dedicated surf rescue helicopters unavailable this summer

    A three-year sponsorship between Vodacom, Netcare 911, NSRI and SA Lifesaving that saw dedicated surf rescue helicopters deployed along parts of the South African coastline over the past three years has run its course and ended amicably.

    In a statement the NSRI (National Sea Rescue Institute) said it was extremely grateful to Vodacom and Netcare 911 for their enormous financial contribution over the past 3 years which made these very successful surf rescue helicopters available to the public at no charge.

    “We are grateful to the volunteer men and women from SA Lifesaving and the NSRI who gave up their valuable time, in between normal beach and rescue station duties, to man these helicopters.

    “As always the NSRI constantly look to secure new sponsors for much needed resources but to date no sponsor or group of sponsors has stepped forward to equal or better a sponsorship for these specific surf rescue helicopter resources that were made possible by these two great companies over the past 3 years.”

    All is not doom and gloom said NSRI CEO Ian Wienburg: "We still have over 90 sponsored rescue craft on high alert around the coast and inland 24 hours a day manned by very special volunteers and ready to launch on a rescue mission at a moment’s notice.

    "SA Lifesaving still have lifeguards posted at our beaches over the festive season and we constantly encourage the public to use these beaches when and where the lifeguards are in attendance.

    "We also continue to have the ongoing support from the SA Air Force, the Metro Rescue helicopters, the Titan helicopters and a host of private individuals who volunteer their own helicopters to specific requirements in search and rescue operations at this time of the year.

    "We are also encouraging the public to find out what their local direct NSRI Emergency phone number is to avoid any kind of delay in a sea rescue emergency and we constantly encourage all water uses to exercise extreme caution.

    Ian Wienburg added that a pilot program sponsored by Discovery Health will see a dedicated rescue crew manning "rescue runners" (specialised rescue jet-ski's) at three beaches this Summer, at Strandfontein Beach, at Natures Valley on the Garden Route and at Wilderness in the Southern Cape and Ian said that he is confident the program will be a success and will grow in the future to include other beaches.

    Ian added: "We wish all water users in South Africa this summer season a healthy and safe festive time."

    PetroSA recommissions FPSO on Oribi oilfields

    Cape Town, 1 December 2008 (BuaNews) - PetroSA announced on Sunday that it had resumed crude oil production from the Oribi or Oryx oilfields following the successful recertification of the 39-year-old ORCA Floating Production Storage Offloading (FPSO) facility.

    Offshore Platform has successfully begun production of crude oil from the Oribi/Oryx oilfields.

    The ORCA offshore platform was last year towed to the Cape Town harbour for its five-yearly inspection for class re-certification as well as to complete essential repairs to its onboard crude oil storage tanks.

    The work is required by the American Bureau of Shipping (ABS), the world's leading authority for the design, construction and operational maintenance of marine-related facilities. PetroSA is a member of ABS.

    The ORCA was originally a drilling rig that underwent conversion into a floating production platform in 1997. At the time of conversion the expectation was that the ORCA would only be able to sustain operations for three years.

    The facility has now been in commission for eleven years.

    Michael Nene, PetroSA's acting Vice-President for Operations said the facility was pivotal to the company's strategy of ensuring security of supply of fuels for South Africa.

    "The importance of having a state-of-the-art ORCA facility, positions PetroSA to maximise its profits and to ensure that we are well on our way to be the leading energy company on the continent," Mr Nene said.

    The floating facility spent about 12-months at Cape Town harbour to ensure that she was successfully re-classed as a Floating Production Storage Offloading facility. It began steady production of crude oil at the beginning of November.

    Some of the work performed on the ORCA included the steel replacement and strengthening of her crude oil and ballast tanks. The ORCA's tanks also had to be pressure tested to ensure that there were no leaks.

    "The ORCA is integral to PetroSA's growth strategy and vision. We want to be the leading provider of hydrocarbons and other quality products. Owning a state-of-the-art facility, like the ORCA provides us with an opportunity to maximise our strengths and also ensures we are well ahead of our competitors," Mr Nene said.

    At the time of ceasing production on 30 April 2007, the ORCA was producing an average of 3,200 barrels of crude per day.

    With the additional work to be done on its sub-sea flow-lines, the production rate was expected to further increase.

    This was indeed the case, at present production is well in excess of the April 2007 figures.

    The current average is 4,000 barrels of crude per day.

    Work gets underway on Libyan railway

    Construction has commenced on a Libyan railway costing USD 1.7 billion. The work is being undertaken by China Railway Construction Corp.

    The section being undertaken by the Chinese company is from Sirte to Al Khums – in August a Russian company commenced work on a 554-km section of doubletrack railway between between Sirte and Banghazi.

    Libya aims at having a railway network extending along the coast linking its neighbouring North African states of Tunisia and Egypt.

    From Al Khums the line will be extended west to the capital Tripoli. The Chinese-built section is due for completion in 2013 while the new line further west being built by the Russians is scheduled for completion in four years time.

    The Chinese contractors have also been awarded a contract to build an 800km railway from the iron ore deposits at Wadi Shati near the desert town of Sabha to the port of Misratah

    Libya is one of China's largest trading partners in Africa, with two-way trade estimated by at more than USD 2 billion in 2007.

    Upsurge of fighting in Somalia among heaviest in recent months, UN reports

    28 November 2008 (UN News Services) – The past week has seen some of the heaviest fighting in Mogadishu, Somalia’s capital, in recent months, with at least 55 civilians estimated to have been killed and more than 80 others wounded, according to local hospital records cited by United Nations humanitarian officials.

    The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) estimates that more than 100,000 additional people have been forced to flee Mogadishu since 1 September in an upsurge of fighting in a country that has been riven by factional conflicts and has not had a functioning central government since 1991.

    Some 45,000 of those recently displaced moved to relatively safer areas in Mogadishu itself, while others sought safety along the Afgooye corridor, adding to a population of more than 360,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) who live in appalling conditions there, UNHCR said. An estimated 250,000 people have been displaced from Mogadishu this year alone.

    During the past week, NATO and Dutch naval frigates successfully escorted three vessels through pirate-infested waters with 18,730 metric tons of UN World Food Programme (WFP) shipments to Mogadishu and the coastal town of Marka. WFP distributed food to nearly 360,000 people in various parts of the Horn of Africa country.

    The agency has found that large areas of cultivated farms in the Lower and Middle Juba regions have been flooded and crops damaged. Food reserves stored in underground pits were also destroyed.

    But the outlook for the ongoing short rainy season (September-December) is promising and expected to be normal throughout Somalia, according to a UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) analysis. Grazing and water availability has improved countrywide and the cereal crop harvest is expected to be good in the main producing areas of the south.

    Depending on the outcome of the cereal harvest and prices in areas of good crop production, the number of people in need of humanitarian assistance could decline over the coming six months.

    On the political front, UN officials have welcomed the signing of a power-sharing decision in neighbouring Djibouti between the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) and one of its Islamist opponents, the Alliance for the Re-Liberation of Somalia (ARS), to set up an inclusive and enlarged government and Unity Government.

    “We are pleased to be supporting this initiative,” Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s Special Representative for Somalia Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah said. The UN Political Office for Somalia (UNPOS) is facilitating a three-day workshop in Djibouti ending today to flesh out the decision.

    “This is the first of many dialogues on a long journey gathering various stakeholders in the complex process of bringing peace and stability to Somalia, UN Development Programme (UNDP) country director Bruno Lenmarquis said.

    The Independent Expert on human rights in Somalia Shamsul Bari also welcomed the power-sharing decision as well as one on the establishment of a commission of inquiry and an international court to address gross human rights and international humanitarian law violations.

    Low freight rates likely for at least another year

    Analysts attending the Global Shipping Summit in China agree that freight rates are likely to remain low for at least into 2010.

    Although no consensus could be reached various speakers at the summit said they thought it unlikely that freight rates would improve before then.

    According to Liu Bin, director of the World Economic Research Institute of Dalian Maritime University, "The general feeling is that the shipping slump will stagger into 2010."

    Analysts said that the way forward included greater co-operation and alliances between ports and shipping companies, restructuring and consolidation, better cost and fund control and increased use of e-commerce facilities and systems.

    Qian Yunchang, president of the China Transport and Communications Association, said that in tough times the industry needed to establish a low-cost e-commerce logistics network in order to boost efficiency and services.

    Other specialists pointed the way for the ports to increase and improve co-ordination of technology, capital and resources instead of simply competing for more cargo. Shipping lines should also restructure routes to boost efficiencies.

    Following the sharp decline in freight rates particularly on the Asia-Europe and Asia-US routes several lines have begun rationalising services and cutting capacity by merging routes (see our News Bulletin CMA CGM and Maersk Line launch common services for yesterday). The New World Alliance, comprising MOL, APL and Hyundai Merchant Marine have announced a significant capacity reduction by the end of this year and plan further cuts. China’s state-owned shipping companies are also reported to be undergoing restructuring.

    As the downturn extends its effect on world markets shipyards are also feeling the strain. One Rumanian shipyard said at the summit that it has already lost an order for eight 4,250-TEU container ships and 48 other general cargo and liquid bulk vessels so far this year.

    "One of the priorities for shipping companies is to control their fund flow by reducing investment and postponing delivery of new vessels," Liu Bin said.

    But it wasn’t all doom and gloom. Some analysts believe that the container industry will be the first to recover. Shi Yanqiu, secretary-general of the China Container Industry Association said it was likely that container shipping would be the first to recover in two years time.

    "The slide that became obvious in August will last till at least next summer," she said, "and unless the global economic situation improves, the weakness will persist for some time."

    Among the reasons for the sector to recover, Shi cited low pressure from limited supply as shipowners are ordering fewer vessels due to decreasing profit margins.

    "Just like it was the first to be victimised by the global downturn, the shipping sector will be the first to recover. We believe that the economic globalisation will develop further after painful adjustment, and the recovery of trade and ocean shipping will bring about a new round of growth for the container market," she said.

    Hopes Jin, senior partner at the accounting firm Deloitte said that the USD 73.21 billion package announced by Beijing to stimulate the Chinese economy will benefit ports and shipping lines to some extent.

    The package includes funds for upgrading infrastructure - ports, airports, railways and roads and Jin urged companies to seize this opportunity to prepare themselves for the future. "It is possible there might be some kind of breakthrough for the transport sector," he said. – source Cargo News Asia

    Pic of the day – MAERSK DELLYS

    The container ship MAERSK DELLYS (54,193-gt, built 2006) seen in Durban harbour with a good load of containers on board. The 5,060-TEU, 294m long ship is owned by Wehr Container Carriers GMBH of Hamburg, Germany.
    Picture Trevor Jones

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