Ports & Ships Maritime News

Mar 3, 2009
Author: Terry Hutson

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  • First View – TYGERBERG

  • Transnet: Acting CEO appointed

  • Gloomy outlook forecast for world shipping

  • Diamond fleet at anchor

  • Freight rates begin to fall for World Merchant fleet

  • For technical reasons there are no additional pictures in today’s News Bulletin


    First View – TYGERBERG

    The world of shipping is not only about ocean-going ships, but also of the small harbiour craft that help ensure that ports and harbours are run efficiently and well. Such as the harbour launch TYGERBERG, seen here with the magnificent backdrop of Cape Town’s Table Mountain. Picture by Aad Noorland

    Transnet: Acting CEO appointed

    Transnet has appointed Chris Wells as the acting chief executive officer following the departure of former Transnet boss Maria Ramos, who left at the end of February to take up the chief executive’s post with Absa Bank.

    Wells joined Transnet in 2005 at the behest of Ramos to become its chief financial officer and has played a key role in the group’s turnaround policies.

    According to Transnet his appointment is for the period pending the finalisation of the process of appointing a permanent group chief executive and said a further announcement in this regard would be made in due course.

    When he announced that Maria Ramos was to leave the organisation, Transnet chairman Fred Phaswana said that her replacement would be made known and would be in place by the time she left. “In line with the Board’s succession plans and knowing of Ms Ramos’s impending departure, the Board will announce Ms Ramos’s successor at the appropriate time before she leaves,” he said on 21 November 2008.

    Gloomy outlook forecast for world shipping

    The chief executive of Thailand’s largest shipping line, Precious Shipping has told a shipping conference in Singapore that he expects a third of the global merchant fleet to be scrapped within the next two years as a result of trade collapses and the global recession along with tighter credit, reports Seatrade Asia Online.

    Khalid Hashim told the conference that although China’s stimulus plan would help revive trade, it would not be able to do so immediately.

    “The banking system is destroyed,” he added, saying that the number of vessels scrapped in 2009 may triple on a trade slump caused by China cutting imports of iron ore and on US and European consumers cutting down on spending on Asian-manufactured goods.

    In the meantime, new tonnage is entering world shipping markets as shipyards complete vessels ordered up to three years ago. source Seatrade Asia Online

    Diamond fleet at anchor

    The Port of Saldanha these days has been a sight to behold, for gathered there until mid February was arguably the world’s largest offshore diamond mining and exploration fleet, lying at anchor.

    All of the vessels belong to the De Beers group of companies and include the Grand Banks, Debmar Atlantic, Debmar Pacific, Gariep and Ya Toivo (all De Beers Marine Namibia vessels) as well as the De Beers Consolidated Mines vessel, the Peace in Africa, which operates off South African shores. The Peace in Africa put to sea mid February while Debmar Pacific has since moved to the Cape Town dry dock. De Beers Marine’s two sampling vessels, the Douglas Bay and the Coral Sea, will also be on anchor in the bay for a period that is still to be determined.

    De Beers Marine in Cape Town provides operational and technical support to all these vessels and general manager Burger Greeff tells CBN the purpose of the anchorage is to provide a production break and at the same time to undertake the required maintenance on the vessels.

    At the end of February the production and then maintenance break would have lasted 60 days.

    The vessels were positioned on a four anchor spread, with full legal manning. The exclusion zone around the vessels was 150 metres.

    Greeff says De Beers Marine Namibia and De Beers Marine are committed to ensuring full compliance with legal requirements, with the anchoring of the vessels managed within the scopes of OHSAS 18001 and ISO 14001 certified Safety and Environmental Management Systems of the respective companies.

    The vessels were serviced by a launch operated by Smit Amandla Marine. All access to and from the vessels took place from a central security point within the harbour.

    The break was in line with diamond giant De Beers Consolidated Mines’ statement that since the end of 2008 it had been evaluating the new business environment in which its mines are operating, and had taken into account the world’s economic situation and its effect on the general economy.

    Greeff says where maintenance was usually undertaken at sea, a window has now opened where maintenance requirements of the vessels can now be attended to “in one go”.

    Importantly, wherever possible, maintenance on the ships was undertaken by their own crews, although some of the Wartsilla and Caterpillar engines were overhauled by the suppliers. The most recently launched vessel, the Peace in Africa, which mines off the Namaqualand coast, received attention to hydraulic and structural problems on the crawler. The work was undertaken in-house where possible, according to Greeff.

    In line with DBCM policy all vacant positions have been reduced and voluntary retrenchments and early retirement packages are being offered. Some 59 positions in the Cape Town operation and 225 on the Namibian operation will have been affected, Greeff says.

    Meanwhile all capital expenditure on the vessels has been postponed beyond 2009, compared to the more than R250 million that was spent in 2008.

    It is expected that the Peace in Africa, once full activities are resumed during March, will work at a production rate of around 200,000 carats annually (it has a production capacity of close to 240,000 carats a year).

    The Namibian effort too will be lowered to produce significantly less than the one million carats it produced in 2007.The company is optimistic on the long term strength of diamonds that retain their position as the most preferred gift in the key US market. A diamond not mined today remains a resource for the future when demand increases, in a world where major new mines are becoming increasingly scarce to find.

    Greeff says the emphasis has now moved from maximum production to focus on improved productivity - that is, improved profitability per carat produced.

    Emphasis will also be placed on more resource development in the different licensing areas for better use in the future once the market has turned more favourable. – source Cape Business News

    Freight rates begin to fall for World Merchant fleet

    Review of Maritime Transport suggests early 2008 marked the high point of the shipping boom but a decline in the Baltic Dry Index indicates that the financial crisis has spread to international trade, with negative implications for developing countries, especially those dependent on commodities.

    International seaborne trade in 2007, driven by emerging and transition economies, surpassed a record 8 billion tons, the Review of Maritime Transport 2008 (RMT) reports. Strong demand for shipping services helped push to unprecedented highs the cost of moving dry bulk commodities internationally, as echoed by the Baltic Dry Index (BDI) through the first quarter of 2008. (The BDI is a composite of shipping prices for various dry bulk products such as iron ore, grain, coal, bauxite/alumina and phosphate, and is a useful indicator of price movements.)

    More recently, however, the BDI has declined more than 11-fold: from 11,793 points in May 2008 to 891 as of early November. This shows that the unfolding financial crisis has spread to international trade with negative implications for developing countries, especially those dependent on commodities.

    More than 80% of international trade in goods is carried by sea, and an even higher percentage of developing-country trade is carried in ships.

    The Review, an annual publication prepared by the UNCTAD secretariat, is an important source of information on this vital sector. It closely monitors developments affecting world seaborne trade, freight markets and rates, ports, surface transport, and logistics services, as well as trends in ship ownership and control and fleet age, tonnage supply, and productivity.

    The Review contains a chapter on legal and regulatory developments and each year includes a chapter highlighting a different region. In 2008, the focus is on Latin America and the Caribbean.

    Key developments reported this year's Review include the following:

    1] In 2007, world seaborne trade (goods loaded) increased by 4.8% to surpass 8 billion tons for the first time.

    2] By the beginning of 2008, the total world merchant fleet had expanded by an impressive 7.2%, to reach 1.12 billion deadweight tons (dwt). The tonnage of oil tankers increased by 6.5% and that of bulk carriers by 6.4%. These two types of ships together represent 71.5% of total merchant fleet tonnage, a slight decrease from 72.0% in January 2007.

    3] At the beginning of 2008, the average age of the world fleet dropped marginally, to 11.8 years. Containerships made up the youngest fleet with an average of 9 years.

    4] By May 2008, the world containership fleet had reached approximately 13.3 million twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs), of which 11.3 million TEUs were on fully cellular containerships. This fleet included 54 containerships of 9,000 TEUs and above, which were operated by five companies: CMA-CGM (France), COSCON and CSCL (both from China), Maersk (Denmark) and MSC (Switzerland).

    5] World container port throughput grew by an estimated 11.7% to reach 485 million TEUs in 2007, the Review reports. Chinese ports accounted for about 28.4% of total world container port throughput.

    6] Rail freight traffic for 2007 grew by 28% in Saudi Arabia, 12.6% in Viet Nam, 9.4% in India, 7.6% in China, 7.2% in the Russian Federation, and by 1% in Europe and the United States.

    An important development in the field of security relates to the certification and mutual recognition of Authorized Economic Operators (AEOs), both at the EU level and under the World Customs Organization (WCO) Framework of Standards to Secure and Facilitate Global Trade (SAFE Framework).

    In the area of environmental regulation is the intensive and expedited work by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) on greenhouse gas emissions from ships. The aim is to develop a binding international regime for adoption in 2009. source unctad.org

    For technical reasons there are no additional pictures in today’s News Bulletin

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