Ports & Ships Maritime News

Dec 9, 2008
Author: P&S

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  • First View – RIO NEGRO

  • Dry bulk rates hit 22-year low

  • Cops kept busy with contraband cargo

  • New barge goes into the water

  • Ghana plans major development for Port of Takoradi

  • Piracy update – Somali pirates turn south in search of ships

  • Pic of the day – Progress at the Durban Point


    First View – RIO NEGRO

    One of Hamburg Süd’s newbuild Rio class container ships, RIO NEGRO (73,899-gt, built 2008, 5,900-TEU) in the port of Durban in the past week. Picture by Trevor Jones

    Dry bulk rates hit 22-year low

    As the economic crisis continues, the dry bulk index has plunged a further 7% during the week to 663 points, making this its lowest point since 2 June 1986, and analysts say they fear further lows will continue this week.

    According to the Hellenic Shipping News demand for Capesize dry bulkers posted modest gains of 4% on the week but the bottom dropped out of the Panamax index shedding 19% or 118 points while the Supramax index lost 12% or 74 points.

    A report by Weberseas said that up to 25% of all ships currently on order with shipyards face cancellations, despite the Chinese banks having injected billions to support selective shipyards to prevent defaults on orders that have already been secured.

    According to a leading Greek broker time charter rates have gone down by between 92% - 97% and rates of USD 170,000 and USD 200,000 a day are now being replaced by rates of USD 5,000 and USD 6,500 a day.

    The effect of plunging rates is turning the regular supply chain upside down, as farmers in the USA turn away from home-grown and import wheat from Britain and Japan turns to the Ukraine for its corn supplies instead of the USA. The drop in rates means it can be cheaper to ship grain thousands of kilometres than move it across the USA on barges or by train.

    According to one trader it would be cheaper for Indian buyers in the south of the sub-continent to import Russian wheat than buy from the north of India. However the general feeling is that rates which have fallen more than 90% in a matter of weeks may not remain so low for more than 12 months before trading patterns return to normal. But for now the only thing that matters to traders is the cost of the grain with freight rates hardly a consequence.

    In a related matter, BHP Billiton says it may have to cut iron ore production by 25% or 30 million tonnes because of a global slump in steel output. Brazil’s CVRD and the Rio Tinto Group have already cut their output.

    Cops kept busy with contraband cargo

    Acting on information received, South African Police Services intercepted 26 containers of chrome ore that had been stolen from a mine in Rustenburg and was about to be shipped out from Durban to China.

    According to the SAPS the containers carried a total of 650 tonnes of the ore with a value of R7.8 million. After being smuggled from the mine the ore had been taken to a distribution depot in Johannesburg and packed into containers for shipment to China. No arrests have as yet been made.

    In another swoop this time by members of the South African Revenue Service (SARS), 60 tonnes of clothing imported illegally from China and shipped via Botswana has been intercepted and impounded.

    The clothing was being stored in a warehouse in Sasolburg and was intended for distribution to three of the country’s largest retail clothing outlets. SARS declined to give the value of the seized goods or the names of the retailers.

    In the past year SARS statistics indicate that R15.3 billion of textiles and clothing apparel was imported from China, whereas invoices reflected only R6.1bn, showing a shortfall of 60% on invoicing, which SARS says is indicative of massive and systematic fraud involving clothing imports from China by means of masking the original country of origin by relabeling and rerouting goods through a third country.

    New barge goes into the water

    Picture by Grant Bairstow

    A new work barge entered the water for the first time in Durban last week at the Subtech berth at Bayhead.

    The 16.5m long barge of 71 tonnes, which is owner designed and built will be utilised to place the beams on the piles for the new chemical berth under construction at Richards Bay. The barge has been named SUBTECH INYATHI.

    The barge will be followed by a second newbuild, this time of 31.6m length which is due to be launched this week. SUBTECH INKONKONI has been built at the adjacent SA Shipyards and will be used predominantly in the marine civil industry but can also be utilised for various port operations work.

    Ghana plans major development for Port of Takoradi

    As Ghana prepares to pump crude oil ashore from a new offshore oilfield, preparations have been announced to turn the port of Takoradi into an oil service hub.

    According to Ben Owusu-Mensah, Director-General of Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority, the approaching deadline is 2010, by which time the oilfield will be in production which means that preparations have to be put in hand. The oilfield is expected to produce 120,000 barrels of oil a day by late 2010 with output increasing to 250,000 barrels a day by the end of 2012.

    Ghana has decided to concentrate on oil services in Takoradi, the D-G said, adding that container handling at the country’s main port of Tema will be doubled in response to the growing transshipment of containers from neighbouring landlocked Burkino Faso, Mali and Niger.

    The port of Takoradi handles the majority of Ghana’s bulk commodities including bauxite, manganese ore and loose cocoa beans. A dry dock and slipway has been built and the Ghana Ports & Harbours Authority has begun talks with interested parties in ship repair and related oil services.

    Ghanaian politicians involved in forthcoming presidential elections have used the issue of Takoradi’s oil production to garner support in the region with promises of a huge upgrade of the port facilities. One of the contenders, Nana Afuko-Addo, the New Patriotic Party candidate said last month that it was essential that oil exploited in the region was exported through Takoradi rather than through the Ivory Coast or another neighbouring country.

    Piracy update – Somali pirates turn south in search of ships

    A Dutch container ship came under attack from pirates off the coast of Tanzania on Saturday, according to the International Maritime Bureau as quoted by Agence France-Presse.

    The report says the unnamed ship with a crew of 19 was attacked on 6 December while sailing 450 n.miles off Dar es Salaam. The assault using rocket grenade launchers caused a fire on board the vessel which was quickly extinguished and the container ship successfully outran the pirates’ boat. The IMB said it believed the pirates were operating from Somalia. If so then this is the furthest south that Somali pirates have been recorded.

    In another report the Danish Navy vessel HDMS ABSALON has come to the rescue of seven suspected Somali pirates, whose small boat had run out of water in the Gulf of Aden, forcing the men to make an appeal for help.

    While responding the crew of the Danish warship noticed a number of rocket launchers and other firearms in the boat and took the men into custody. The boat was later destroyed and the suspected pirates have been taken to a Yemeni port for questioning.

    Pic of the day – Progress at the Durban Point

    Dredging and land clearance across the entrance to the port of Durban is moving ahead quickly and will ultimately result in an entrance channel 220m wide and with a depth of -16m. The picture above shows progress as at 5 November 2008.

    A more recent picture taken on 29 November shows the extent to which a sizeable chunk of the old Point has given way to the relentless work of the dredgers. We hope to feature more pictures showing further progress in the near future.
    Both pictures: Russell Cleaver, email cleaver@iafrica.com

    Don’t forget to send us your news and press releases for inclusion in the News Bulletins. Shipping related pictures submitted by readers are always welcome – please email to info@ports.co.za

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