Ports & Ships Maritime News

Apr 6, 2009
Author: Terry Hutson

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  • Ports Statistics for March 2009 are now available

  • Port statistics for the financial year 2008 show little growth

  • New shipping line services announced

  • Piracy update: container ship reported taken hostage

  • Pic of the day – DELMAS CAMEROUN



    The container ship SAFMARINE MAKUTU (50,686-gt, built 2007) undergoing repairs in Duncan Dock, Cape Town harbour earlier this year. The 4,900-TEU ship is deployed on the company’s Safari service between South Africa and the Far East. Picture Ian Shiffman

    Ports Statistics for March 2009 are now available

    The latest statistics for the month of March 2009 as well as those for the 2008 financial year ended 31 March 2008 are now available.

    These indicate the economic downturn is having less of an effect on port traffic than might have been feared, although the cargo volumes are dropping. Figures for March actually show a small increase in volumes handled across all ports – 17.905 million tonnes compared with 17.589mt in March 2008.

    Also of interest is that ship arrivals have increased quite markedly for the month – 1020 vessels called at all ports compared with 949 for the same period last year, a factor that is probably influenced by what is happening in the Gulf of Aden.

    The one port that showed a significant increase in volumes handled – both imports and exports is Saldanha. In March Saldanha handled 4.398mt of cargo compared with 3.111mt for the same period a year ago. This was roughly split between imports and exports, with the latter consisting mainly of iron ore while imports were presumably predominantly oil.

    For comparison purposes readers can see statistics from 12 months ago, ie March 2008 HERE

    Individual months can be misleading with single events distorting figures. Perhaps more relevant to he question of how are the ports shaping up is to compare the first quarter of this year with that of 2008, where a better picture of the effect of the global downturn may emerge. Tomorrow (Tuesday, 7 April) we will publish figures for the first quarter of 2009 as compared with the same period for 2008. In the meantime the statistics for March and for the fiscal year 2008 are listed below.

    As has become customary the figures shown in this report reflect an adjustment on the overall tonnage to include containers by weight – an adjustment 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 to be 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 March 2009 were (with February 2008 figures shown bracketed):

    Cargo handled by tonnes

    Richards Bay                      6.426mt million tonnes (Feb 6.292Mt)
    Durban                              5.168 Mt (Feb 6.396)
    Saldanha Bay                     4.398 Mt (Feb 4.716)
    Cape Town                        1.170 Mt (Feb 1.252)
    Port Elizabeth                     0.419 Mt (Feb 0.516)
    Mossel Bay                         0.108 Mt (Feb 0.183)
    East London                       0.215 Mt (Feb 0.212)

    Total monthly cargo in March 17.905 million tonnes (Feb 19.569 Mt)

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

    Durban                               178,874 TEU (Feb 196,435)
    Cape Town                           67,744 (Feb 72,012)
    Port Elizabeth                        18,145 (Feb 26,618)
    East London                            3,068 (Feb 3,494)
    Richards Bay                                38 (Feb 59)

    Total containers handled during March 267 869 TEU (Feb 298,618)

    Ship Calls for March 2009

    Durban:                412 vessels 10.466m gt (Feb 428 vessels 10.237m gt)
    Cape Town:           201 vessels 3.920m gt (Feb 254 vessels 4.751m gt)
    Port Elizabeth:         97 vessels 2.166m gt (Feb 119 vessels 2.295m gt)
    Richards Bay:         144 vessels 4.546m gt (Feb 140 vessels 4.822m gt)
    Saldanha:                31 vessels 2.192m gt (Feb 48 vessels 2.806 gt)
    East London:            24 vessels 0.581m gt (Feb 26 vessels 0.622m gt)
    Mossel Bay:            111 vessels 0.191m gt (Feb 70 vessels 0.264m gt)

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

    Port statistics for the financial year 2008 show little growth

    Annual figures for the financial year ended 31 March indicate that once again the South African ports have experienced a year with little growth – 236 million tonnes compared with 232mt in the 2007 fiscal year, a growth rate of 1.77 percent (2.57% growth for the 2007 year).

    Containers grew slightly from 3.734 million TEUs in 2007 to 3.796m TEU in the 2008 year, a growth rate of just 1,66 percent.

    The figures shown below include a calculation made for the number of containers handled, based on an average weight per container of 13.5 tonnes.

    Including containers the respective ports handled the following tonnages:

    Cargo handled by tonnes during 2008 financial year

    Richards Bay                         82.734 million tonnes (2007 85.280Mt)
    Durban                                 74.683 Mt (2007 76.451)
    Saldanha Bay                        50.283 Mt (2007 40.338)
    Cape Town                           13.422 Mt (2007 14.400)
    Port Elizabeth                        10.068 Mt (2007 11.129)
    East London                            2.683 Mt (2007 2.440)
    Mossel Bay                              2.014 Mt (2007 1.736)

    Total cargo handled at all ports in 2008 (financial year) was 235.888 million tonnes (2007 was 231.779Mt)

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

    Durban                                    2,560,366 TEU (2007 2,511,704)
    Cape Town                                 774,238 (2007 759,481)
    Port Elizabeth                              398,638 (2007 415,879)
    East London                                  55,413 (2007 42,148)
    Richards Bay                                   8,323 (2007 4,953)

    Total TEU handled during 2008 was 3,796,978 TEU (2007 3,734,165)

    Ship Calls for 2008

    Durban:             4554 vessels 114.723m gt (2007 4567 vessels 107.352m gt)
    Cape Town:       3163 vessels 53.610m gt (2007 3057 vessels 49.453m gt)
    Port Elizabeth:    1258 vessels 30.579m gt (2007 1261 vessels 29.792m gt)
    Richards Bay:     1750 vessels 59.576m gt (2007 1639 vessels 57.173m gt)
    Saldanha:            452 vessels 25,423m gt (2007 452 vessels 24,920m gt)
    East London:        333 vessels 8.822m gt (2007 319 vessels 8.687m gt)
    Mossel Bay:        1567 vessels 3.317m gt (2007 1534 vessels 3.122m gt)*
    * includes large number of fishing vessels

    Total vessel calls at SA ports:

    13,077 vessel calls for 2008 financial year - total of 296,050,936-gt
    (2007 12,829 vessel calls - total of 280,499,298-gt)

    - source NPA but using Ports & Ships calculations to include container weights

    New shipping line services announced

    French shipping group OT Africa Line has announced the launching of a new weekly service between the West African port of Cotonou in Benin and Europe by way of transshipping at Tangier.

    Transshipment into Europe will be available at Tangier for containers, reefer and hazardous cargo shipments. The service will link at the North African port with OT Africa’s current EPIC service which calls at Southampton, Rotterdam, Hamburg, Antwerp and Le Havre, and the company’s DIAMS service in the Mediterranean calling at Barcelona, Marseille and Valencia

    Japan’s Mitsui OSK Lines (MOL) has announced the restructuring of its Asia – West Africa service with a new mainline service and two feeder services.
    MOL will change the current Asia - West Africa service from the West Africa Super Express service (WA1) to a New Asia - West Africa service via Suez using a new Europe / West Africa feeder service. At the same time, MOL will introduce a new service, the Indian Ocean Islands, South Africa, West Africa dedicated container service (ISW), which is aimed at improving Asia - IOI and South Africa - West Africa trades.

    For the Asia - West Africa trade via Suez, MOL will have two feeder loops between Europe and West Africa, one of which is dedicated for Lagos, which suffers heavy port congestion. The other feeder service will cover Dakar (Senegal) and Cotonou (Benin), two new West African ports of call. MOL will use the China / Europe service (SCX) as the trunk line connecting to the Europe / Lagos feeder (North loop) via Zeebrugge (Belgium). For the Europe / West Africa feeder (South loop), MOL will use the Japan / China / Europe service (JEX) as the trunk line connecting at Tangier (Morocco).

    The New ISW service will in future call at Reunion (France), Walvis Bay (Namibia), and Lobito (Angola), which are main ports in these areas, but are currently not covered by the existing West Africa Super Express service (WA1) which will be suspended.

    “We investigated the current and likely future trade movements, and considered what would be the most beneficial for our clients,” said MOL General Manager, Liner Division TK Konishi. “With these changes, we can provide many service routes between West Africa and several areas in the world. We are very confident we will continue to offer a competitive and efficient service to our clients, and continue our longstanding role as a major supporter of trade growth in the region through our West Africa trade services.”

    Details and port rotations of the new services are as follows:

    Europe / West Africa feeder (ARN): Port rotation Zeebrugge – Felixtowe – Abidjan – Lagos – Zeebrugge. Frequency is fortnightly, service commences with MOL TRIUMPH sailing on 6 June from Zeebrugge. Commencement of the Trunk line (SCX) is with APL FINLAND sailing on 27 April from Ningbo, China.

    Europe / West Africa feeder (ARS): Port rotation Tangier – Lisbon – Dakar – Abidjan – Tema – Cotonou – Lome – Tangier. Frequency is fortnightly, service commences with MOL SYMPHONY sailing on 2 June from Tangier. Trunk line (JEX) commences with MOL PACE sailing on 27 April from Kobe, Japan.

    Indian Ocean Islands, South Africa, West Africa dedicated container service (ISW): Rotation Singapore – Port Louis – Reunion – Tamatave – Maputo – Durban – Cape Town – Walvis Bay – Abidjan – Tema – Lome – Lobito – Durban – Singapore. Frequency is 10 days, service commences with sailing of MOL VOLTA on 8 May from Singapore.

    Piracy update: Container ship reported taken hostage

    News just to hand is that a 20,000 tonne German container ship with 24 crew on board has been highjacked about 400 miles off the southern Somali port of Kismayu. The name of the ship has not yet been identified.

    Other recent news indicates that two Greek-owned fishing vessels were seized in Puntland territorial waters on 2 April. The seizure involved Puntland security forces and a gun battle occurred. According to the reports Puntland security forces approached the fishing vessels on a routine check when gunfire was exchanged. The crew of the two fishing boats were arrested and escorted to the port of Bosasso.

    The incident follows accusations by Somalis that foreign fishing fleets continue to fish illegally within Somali waters. Puntland authorities have gone on record saying they intended cracking down on these fishermen and that new laws to regulate the industry will be introduced.

    March marked a sudden increase in incidents involving Somali pirates with 33 attacks reported for the month out of 77 attacks this year. During the month four of the ships attacked were captured with 72 crew members taken hostage. One ship was released after a ransom was paid, along with its crew of 32, leaving another 12 ships remaining in custody along with 216 crew members.

    Equally worrying is an increase in attacks taking place about 400 miles off the southern coast of Somalia, suggesting that pirates are responding to the presence of naval ships and convoys in the Gulf of Aden by moving deeper into the ocean further away from the Gulf itself. One ship has reported coming under attack while 900 miles from the Somali coast.

    Meanwhile, in a related matter Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) has announced an increase in its Suez Canal surcharge of US $ 50 per TEU as from 15 April.

    “Considering the persisting economic recession and the significant reduction of the trade, with lower vessels utilisations, MSC regrets to inform customers that it is necessary to partially turn to the cargo the onerous charges for transiting the Suez Canal,” the Swiss-Italian company said in a statement.

    Pic of the day – DELMAS CAMEROUN

    The French-operated but German-owned container ship DELMAS CAMEROUN (19,131-gt, built 1999) was in Cape Town late in March. Picture is by Ian Shiffman

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