Ports & Ships Maritime News

Jan 28, 2009
Author: Terry Hutson

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  • First View - ELVEN

  • Two more container lines re-route around the Cape

  • President Motlanthe to attend World Economic Forum

  • Scepticism over Pres Obama’s plans of limiting oil imports

  • Impact of global economic crisis on Africa discussed ahead of AU summit

  • Australian company to develop Cameroon’s Kribi bulk port

  • Pic of the day – JING PO HE and CARIBBEAN CHALLENGER


    First View - ELVEN

    The small French-owned oil products tanker Elven (5,412-GT, BUILT 1999) which is registered in Luxembourg, one of those landlocked registry states, sails into Durban harbour on a January day in 2003. Picture Terry Hutson

    Two more container lines re-route around the Cape

    Further to our report in the News Bulletin for 26 January CLICK HERE concerning Maersk Line’s decision to re-route some of its eastbound sailings from Europe to Asia around the Cape instead of going through the Suez Canal, two other shipping lines, French carrier CMA CGM and CSCL have announced they intend doing the same with their joint service, also over a set number of sailings.

    The first Maersk vessel, the 11,000-TEU ELLY MAERSK (170,794-gt, built 2007) is currently on her way down the western seaboard of Africa on a heading for the Cape of Good Hope. Maersk intends further eastbound sailings round the Cape over the next seven weeks.

    The savings on this longer route will be made possible due to slower sailings, meaning less fuel is burned, the avoidance of paying Suez Canal fees (approximately $ 600,000), and by avoiding insurance costs by not sailing through pirate-infested waters. With lower loadings on eastbound sailings the lines have been unable to recoup these additional insurance costs by way of the so-called ‘Aden Gulf surcharge’, which is set in the region of $ 23 per TEU.

    CMA CGM and CSCL have indicated they will follow this trend also on a temporary basis with their joint FAL-2 or AEX-7 loop. AXS-Alphaliner reports that the first eastbound sailing via the Cape is to be made with the CMA CGM NORMA (107,711-gt, built 2006). The service will continue in this fashion for a test period of eight weeks on all eastbound sailings, with ships returning westbound via the Suez.

    Unlike the Maersk service which has cut eastbound calls at Tanjung Pelepas, Hong Kong and Yantian, the CMA CGM/CSCL joint service will however continue to service all port calls as per schedule.

    It is not thought likely that the three lines will maintain the Cape of Good Hope route indefinitely and once the test period the matter is to be re-evaluated. If bunker prices remain at lower levels shipping lines may revert to sailing at higher speeds and then the Suez again becomes an option, but much will also depend on levels of cargo loadings eastwards.

    President Motlanthe to attend World Economic Forum

    by Nthambeleni Gabara (BuaNews)

    Pretoria, 27 January - President Kgalema Motlanthe will on Wednesday (today) depart for Switzerland to attend the World Economic Forum (WEF) Annual Meeting in Davos.

    This is the first WEF Summit to be attended by President Motlanthe since he took office in September 2008.

    The 2009 World Economic Forum Annual Meeting, which begins on Wednesday and ends on Sunday, is organised under the theme: “Shaping the Post-Crisis World”.

    According to the Department of Foreign Affairs, the objective of the forum is to develop a holistic and systematic approach to improve the state of the world in a manner that integrates all stakeholders of global society.

    “This session will provide a unique opportunity for leaders from industry, government and civil society to shape this transformation at an early stage for the benefit of all stakeholders,” the department said.

    Some of the issues on the agenda include promoting stability in the financial system and reviving global economic growth.

    It will also focus on ensuring effective global, regional and national governance for the long term.

    “The forum will also address the challenges of sustainability and development as well as shaping the values and leadership principles for a post-crisis world,” the department said.

    Catalysing the next wave of growth through innovation, science and technology and understanding the implications on industry business model will also be on the agenda.

    The annual meeting promises to be one of the most important events in the World Economic Forum's history.

    “More than 40 Heads of State and government have already confirmed their participation with over 2,500 participants from the business, political and cultural communities expected to address the annual event.”

    This mass participation, the department said, reflects the growing need for an interdisciplinary and systematic view of the major economic, political, societal and technological changes that lie ahead in 2009.

    President Motlanthe's delegation will include Finance Minister Trevor Manuel, Trade and Industry Minister Mandisi Mpahlwa as well as Environmental Affairs and Tourism Minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk and other senior government officials.

    President Motlanthe is expected to hold, on the margins of the forum, a series of bilateral meetings with other participating Heads of State and Government, as well as representatives from private corporations.

    Scepticism over Pres Obama’s plans of limiting oil imports

    Tanker specialists remain sceptical of US President Barack Obama’s stated intention of eliminating oil imports from the Middle East and Venezuela within the next decade.

    The newly elected US president said this week he intends breaking the US addiction on foreign oil imports by increasing domestic production and by establishing a national low-carbon fuel standard and the introduction of one million plug-in hybrid motor cars by 2015.

    Market analysts remain largely unconvinced, pointing out that the US currently depends on foreign imported oil for more than 50% of its requirements and that to effect such dramatic changes will require a greater period of time than that indicated by Obama.

    On the other hand, if the US president is to succeed it will have a significant effect on world tanker fleets, let alone world oil production. Some analysts suggest that such a development could drive the price of oil to unsustainable levels with the rest of the world having to carry the brunt.

    The US currently uses 21 million barrels of oil each day.

    Obama’s move is nothing new to American politics and economics. In 2005 President George W Bush said in his annual State of the Union address that the US government was committed to cutting US oil imports from the Middle East within 20 years.

    “We have a serious problem. America is addicted to oil, which is often imported from unstable parts of the world,” Bush said. Even earlier President Jimmy Carter was making similar sweeping statements in 1979. But in the interim the US has continued its dependence on oil imports from ‘unstable countries’ around the world while also continuing with local production and the importing of large volumes from its immediate neighours Canada and Mexico.

    Tanker operators probably feel justified in thinking they can continue sleeping soundly at night, a least for another next decade or so.

    Impact of global economic crisis on Africa discussed ahead of AU summit

    by Bathandwa Mbola (BuaNews)

    Addis Ababa, 27 January - The impact of the global economic crisis on Africa has come under the spotlight at a meeting of the African Union (AU) Permanent Representatives Committee (PRC), ahead of the African Union Summit to take place later this week.

    The 17th Ordinary Session of the PRC kicked off at the African Union headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

    The PRC has the responsibility of preparing the work of the Executive Council and acts on the Executive Council's instructions. It is allowed to set up such sub-committees or working groups as and when is necessary.

    Chairman of the PRC and Tanzania's Ambassador to Ethiopia, Mohammed Maundi, who opened the meeting by speaking about the challenges that lie ahead for the AU, said poverty and underdevelopment had continued to pose a serious challenge for the African continent, particularly in light of the recent global financial crisis.

    He said though the economic crisis began in the world's richest country, its spill over effects have been most tangible in the developing world, including cuts in foreign-aid and investment. The credit crunch has also had major effects on remittances.

    The fuel crisis last year caused prices for oil and petroleum to rocket. The food crisis, triggered by a combination of climatic shocks (mainly droughts) and local food inflation, has driven millions of people into poverty and famine, especially in the African continent.

    “Due to the global economic recession that is ensuing, we are expecting declines in commodity prices, remittances, investments and the inflow of international tourists. Luckily though, there are encouraging developments in relation to the food and fuel prices which undermined our economies in the last year.”

    The chairperson said that despite the major progress that had been made in peace and security on the continent, “civil unrest caused by natural and man-made factors continued to pull back our efforts to prosperity in the continent.”

    Since their last meeting, the continent has seen conflicts in some parts of the continent like Darfur, Somalia, Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, Zimbabwe, Eritrea and Djibouti, and other potential election-related conflict in Mauritania, Angola and Cote D’Ivoire.

    According to UNICEF, if current trends continue, the Millennium Development Goals target of halving the proportion of underweight children will be missed by 30 million children, largely because of slow progress.

    African nations typically fall toward the bottom of any list measuring small size economic activity, such as income Gross Domestic Product (GDP), despite a wealth of natural resources.

    The bottom 25 spots of the United Nations (UN) quality of life index are regularly filled by African nations. In 2006, 34 of the 50 nations on the UN list of least developed countries are in Africa.

    It indicated that in many African nations, the GDP per capita income is less than US $ 200 per year, with the vast majority of the population living on much less. In addition, Africa’s share of income has been consistently dropping over the past century by any measure.

    However, Mr Maundi said the PRC was determined to navigate the difficult challenges confronting the continent and urged the committee not to despair and lose hope.

    “I firmly believe that our unity of purpose will sail us though the distress and difficulties ahead. We have shared responsibilities to ensure that the union achieves its noble objectives,” he said, adding that the meeting will positively contribute to the success of the AU.

    The PRC will deliberate and make recommendations on these and other matters, and forward them to the Executive Council of Foreign Ministers who will meet on 29 to 30 January for their 14th Ordinary Session.

    The Executive Council will in turn, make their own assessments and forward them to the AU Heads of State, who are to meet from 1 to 3 February.

    Meanwhile, African Union Commission chairperson Jean Ping has urged African nations to devote more effort to integration.

    The issue has been on the agenda for the past few years between AU member states.

    Mr Ping told the PRC meeting that much discussion was still needed to realize African integration, and asked the ambassadors to work hard to realise this and other continental projects.

    Australian company to develop Cameroon’s Kribi bulk port

    An Australian company, Sundance Resources has won a $ 160 million contract to develop a new bulk port facility at Kribi, which lies to the south of Douala in Cameroon. See our related report dated 3 August 2008 HERE

    The new bulk port at Kribi is intended as the Cameroon’s major multi-user shipping hub to service the Mbalam iron ore project as well as other emerging industries in the region. Other parties involved in developing the multi-purpose port include CamIron SA, Rio Tinto Alcan, the Bollore Group, Petredec/Camship, Vinci/Sogea/Satom/Boskalis International, and Angelkique/SCDP.

    The iron ore terminal project won by CamIron SA, the Cameroonian subsidiary of Sundance Resources, is a stand alone project and will be situated close to Kribi. Cameroon will have a 15% stake in the project

    Pic of the day – JING PO HE and CARIBBEAN CHALLENGER

    The COSCO container ship JING PO HE (36,772-gt, built 1997) has been calling at South African ports for many years on the Chinese company’s Far East – South Africa service. Here the ship is seen sailing from Durban harbour in January 2003. Picture Terry Hutson

    Another container ship, MOL’s CARIBBEAN CHALLENGER (18,451-gt, built 1994) was by comparison on the South Africa trades for a relatively short period before being replaced with larger tonnage. The ship currently sails as the Hong Kong-registered TASMAN ENDEAVOUR. Picture Terry Hutson

    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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