Ports & Ships Maritime News

Jan 7, 2009
Author: Terry Hutson

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  • First View – CREST DIAMOND

  • SA port statistics for 2008

  • SA port statistics for December 2008

  • Chinese Navy carries out first escort duty off Somalia

  • Tanzanian freight forwarders angry over increasing surcharges

  • Motorists have cause to smile from today

  • Pic of the day – CAPE HATTERAS & MSC PANAMA


    First View – CREST DIAMOND

    Flying the Singapore flag, the offshore supply tug CREST DIAMOND (1,678-gt, built 2007) was one of many similar visitors at Cape Town during 2008. Picture by Aad Noorland

    SA port statistics for 2008

    The calendar year January – December 2008 saw reduced overall growth in cargo handled at the country’s seven commercial ports as compared with growth of previous years. Including container traffic by calculated weight (13.5 tonnes per average TEU) the total cargo handled by all seven ports amounted to 237.733 million tonnes (2007 – 233.441Mt), an increase of just 1.84% over the previous year.

    This trend is reflected across most of the ports, although East London coming off a low base managed a healthy 33% increase in containers handled for the year just past.

    Container volumes at all ports for 2008 topped 3.9 million TEU (2007 – 3.7m TEU), which is a 4.76% improvement on the previous year. It is doubtful that the decrease in cargo volumes overall should be attributed to the global economic downturn as this occurred late in the year. Total port volumes were affected by a decrease in coal exports through the port of Richards Bay. The latter is the result of several factors, including the inability (or unwillingness) of mines to produce coal for export due to a number of factors, including severe weather conditions (waterlogged open cast mines) and low export prices early in the year. The surge in demand for domestic coal, principally by the electricity utility Eskom, was also a key factor. To some extent recurring derailments along the Richards Bay coal line will also have affected exports.

    Once again it should be stressed that the figures reflected here are volume figures and not financial indications of earnings per port, which would reflect completely different results according to commodity types and volumes handled at each port.

    In terms of this exercise however the importance of including containers measured by weight can again be shown with the port of Cape Town. Without including containers by weight Cape Town is shown as having handled a total of 3.205 million tonnes - whereas when containers are included this reaches 13.566Mt.

    By comparison Port Elizabeth handled 5.427Mt of cargo without containers (over 2 million tonnes more than Cape Town) but when adjusted to include containers Port Elizabeth’s total volume increased to 11.150Mt, about 2.4Mt less than Cape Town.

    As a result of including containers by weight (as was done by historic port statistics until quite recently) the total volume handled by the port of Durban (general cargo including containers) approaches close to the tonnage handled by Richards Bay (mainly export coal and other minerals).

    Including the adjusted figure for containers, the respective ports handled the following:

    Cargo handled by tonnes

    Richards Bay                   84.660 million tonnes (2007 – 84.572 Mt)
    Durban                           77.072 Mt (2007 – 75.353 Mt)
    Saldanha Bay                  43.687 Mt (2007 - 43.687 Mt)
    Cape Town                     13.566 Mt (2007 – 14.396 Mt)
    Port Elizabeth                  11.150 Mt (2007 – 11.231 Mt)
    East London                      2.758 Mt (2007 – 2.400 Mt)
    Mossel Bay                       1.995 Mt (2007 – 1.802 Mt)

    Total cargo handled all ports 237.733Mt (2007 – 233.441Mt) + 1.84 %

    Containers measured by TEUs
    (TEUs include Deepsea, Coastal, Tranship and empty containers)

    Durban                            2,642,165 TEU (2007 – 2,479,232) + 6.57 %
    Cape Town                         767,501 (2007 – 764,005 + 0.45 %
    Port Elizabeth                      423,885 (2007 – 422,846) + 0.21 %
    East London                          57,418 (2007 – 42,986) + 33.57 %
    Richards Bay                           9,350 (2007 – 4,021)

    Total containers handled 3,900,319 TEU (2007 – 3,723,090) + 4.76 %

    Ship Calls

    Durban:         4,608 vessels 105.713 million gt (4,608 vessels 105.713 million gt)
    Cape Town:    3,025 vessels 47.558m gt (3,025 vessels 47.558m gt)
    Port Elizabeth: 1,309 vessels 30.312m gt (1,309 vessels 30.312m gt)
    Richards Bay:  1,648 vessels 58,039m gt (1,648 vessels 58.039m gt)
    Saldanha:         470 vessels 26,517m gt (470 vessels 26.517m gt)
    East London:     307 vessels 8.435m gt (307 vessels 8.435m gt)
    Mossel Bay:    1,785 vessels 3.220m gt (1,785 vessels 3.220m gt)

    Total ship calls in 2008 12,884 vessels 288.820-million gt

    - source NPA with adjustments by Ports & Ships to include container weights

    SA port statistics for December 2008

    Port cargo figures for December 2008 are now available, courtesy of Transnet National Ports Authority.

    South Africa’s seven ports showed a considerable decrease in total cargo tonnage handled against the previous month, totalling 18.150 million tonnes compared with 21.692mt for November 2008. However this decrease was to be expected with December month being relatively quiet compared with the preceding months. This can be seen in the drop in containers handled through the country’s terminals, 278,749-TEU compared with 354,248-TEU in November.

    A more accurate picture can be made by comparing December year on year for 2008 versus 2007, which shows total volumes at all ports was roughly the same while containers handled decreased slightly in 2008 for that month. December 2007 statistics are available HERE

    As is customary the figures shown in this report reflect an adjustment on the overall tonnage to include containers by weight – this is necessary because Transnet NPA measures containers in terms of the number of TEUs and not by weight - for which PORTS & SHIPS makes an estimated weight adjustment of 13,5 tonnes per TEU to reflect estimated tonnages. This figure is considered on the conservative side with 14 tonnes or even more being a more realistic figure in view of the increasing quantity of bulk cargo which is now being handled in containers.

    Figures for the respective ports during December 2008 were (with November figures shown bracketed for comparison):

    Cargo handled by tonnes

    Richards Bay                   7.490 million tonnes (Nov 7.888Mt)
    Durban                           5.762 Mt (Nov 6.806)
    Saldanha Bay                  2.969 Mt (Nov 4.571)
    Cape Town                     0.984 Mt (Nov 1.105)
    Port Elizabeth                  0.608 Mt (Nov 0.924)
    Mossel Bay                      0.198 Mt (Nov 0.185)
    East London                    0.139 Mt (Nov 0.210)

    Total monthly cargo in December 18.150 million tonnes (Nov 21.692 Mt)

    Containers (measured by TEUs)
    (TEUs include Deepsea, Coastal, Transship and empty containers all subject to being invoiced by NPA)

    Durban                            192,594 TEU (Nov 245,048)
    Cape Town                        56,615 (Nov 62,697)
    Port Elizabeth                     26,565 (Nov 41,268)
    East London                        2,747 (Nov 5,076)
    Richards Bay                          228 (Nov 159)

    Total containers handled during December 278,749 TEU (Nov 354,248)

    Ship Calls for December

    Durban:                   347 vessels 8.766m gt (Nov 407 vessels 10.430m gt)
    Cape Town:             273 vessels 4.748m gt (Nov 217 vessels 4.106m gt)
    Port Elizabeth:          100 vessels 2.189m gt (Nov 111 vessels 2.638m gt)
    Richards Bay:           141 vessels 5.110m gt (Nov 160 vessels 6.055m gt)
    Saldanha:                 38 vessels 1.720 gt (Nov 31 vessels 1,880m gt)
    East London:             22 vessels 0.517m gt (Nov 29 vessels 0.728m gt)
    Mossel Bay:               94 vessels 0.330m gt (Nov 75 vessels 0.396m gt)

    - source TNPA, with adjustments made by Ports & Ships to include container weights

    Chinese Navy carries out first escort duty off Somalia

    The Chinese Navy fleet of three ships sent to assist national ships sailing off the coast of Somalia has undertaken its first escort duty.

    Headed by the multi-purpose missile destroyer WUHAN (Type 052B), four Chinese merchant ships were escorted by the navy ships through an area under threat of pirate action.

    China says that it has sent the ships to assist any vessel from either China, Hong Kong or Taiwan. This follows the highjacking of several Chinese ships in recent months and marks one of the few naval service deployments outside of Chinese coastal waters.

    Rear-Admiral Du Jingchen, the commanding officer of the naval force consisting of two destroyers and a supply ship, said the Chinese Navy would strictly observe UN resolutions and relevant international laws to fulfil its obligations.

    Included among the crew of 800 sailors are 70 soldiers from the People’s Liberation Army Navy Special Force.

    Tanzanian freight forwarders angry over increasing surcharges

    The Tanzanian Freight Forwarders Association has expressed opposition to government plans of doubling freight storage charges as a means of alleviating port congestion.

    The association says it is surprised at the move which will add further problems to those already being experienced by port users. It said it had expected the Tanzanian Ports Authority would instead have focused on improving its service levels to customers. “It is surprising that it is resorting to raising the tariff rates without improving its own services,” said the association’s chairman, Otieno Igogo.

    According to the freight forwarders it takes between 41 and 43 days to clear containers at the port of Dar es Salaam. As from 1 January the port has raised the charges levied against containers overstaying in the terminal, from US$ 20 a day per TEU to US$ 40 a day per TEU.

    Motorists have cause to smile from today

    by Michael Appel (BuaNews)

    Pretoria, 6 January - The combination of a strengthening Rand and weakening crude oil price is boding well for South African motorists with the price of fuel set to drop substantially at midnight on Tuesday.

    According to the Department of Minerals and Energy, the retail price of unleaded 91 octane petrol will decrease by 137 cents a litre.

    Unleaded 93 octane petrol and lead replacement petrol will decrease by 136 cents a litre, while unleaded 95 octane petrol and lead replacement petrol will decrease by 134 cents a litre, the department said.

    Between 28 November 2008 and 1 January 2009 the Rand/dollar exchange rate strengthened to R9.95 from R10.18 in the previous cycle, the department reported.

    While the price of Brent Crude Oil slumped to dismal lows of around $ 40 per barrel in mid-December 2008, the price of oil jumped to just over $ 50 per barrel on Tuesday, raised by uncertainty in the market due to ongoing conflicts in the Middle East.

    With the movement of Israeli ground forces into the Gaza strip recently and no mutually agreeable peace settlement in sight between Israel and Hamas in Palestine, the market concerns over supply has raised the price of oil.

    The change to fuel prices as of midnight takes prices back to March 2007 levels.

    The lower oil price and strengthening rand is also set to ease South Africa's inflationary outlook, giving a positive notion to the beginning of 2009.

    Many South Africans will be hoping that the economic environment will have the Reserve Bank's Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) favouring an interest rate cut when they meet again in February 2009.

    Reserve Bank Governor Tito Mboweni lowered the repo rate by 50 basis points or 0.5 percent to 11.5 percent when the MPC last met in December 2008 citing some notable improvements to the inflation outlook.

    The governor did, however, warn that risks posed by uncertainty with regard to the exchange rate, in particular, remain.

    With an unchanged monetary policy stance, inflation is expected to continue its downward trajectory to return to within the 3 - 6 percent inflation target band by the third quarter of 2009.

    Inflation is expected to average 6.2 percent and 5.6 percent in 2009 ad 2010 respectively and then average 5.3 percent in the final quarter of 2010.

    Pics of the day – CAPE HATTERAS & MSC PANAMA

    The German-owned but Cyprus managed container ship CAPE HATTERAS (10,396-gt, built 1992) has become a regular caller in South African ports during 2008. The ship is seen here at Durban. Picture by Trevor Jones

    MSC ships need little introduction but each year new names appear on the horizon as the Swiss/Italian company adjusts to market pressures, usually in the form of larger ships moving into particular services. In this picture the Liberian-flagged chartered MSC PANAMA (18,000-gt, built 1989) is seen in Cape Town harbour.    Picture by Ian Shiffman

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