Ports & Ships Maritime News

Jul 23, 2009
Author: Terry Hutson

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  • First View – THOR PIONEER

  • News from the shipping lines

  • Mailbag – No Greatest Shoal this year but what about these whales

  • Cargo ferry ready to sail Lake Victoria once again, says Rift Valley Railway

  • Nigeria loses one million barrels of oil a day

  • Hey, these things happen....

  • Pic of the day – STOLT VALOR


    First View – THOR PIONEER

    The little Maltese-flagged general cargo ship THOR PIONEER (2,815-gt, built 1993) in Cape Town harbour in early July. Picture Ian Shiffman

    News from the shipping lines

    MOL Holds joint anti-piracy drill with LNG carrier LNG Vesta

    Tokyo, 22 July 2009 - Mitsui OSK Lines, Ltd (MOL) announced yesterday that the company held a joint public-private sector anti-piracy training session with the LNG carrier LNG VESTA while the ship was underway southeast of Okidaitojima (Island), Okinawa, on Tuesday 21 July.

    Based on a scenario that pirates were pursuing and closing in on the MOL-operated LNG Vesta, the training focused on emergency telecommunication. The realistic drill included some tension-filled moments as the Japan Coast Guard’s patrol ship MIZUHO rushed to the scene, but MOL confirmed later the effectiveness of its risk management system which ensured that everyone concerned could communicate clearly and swiftly.

    Institutions that participated in the training included the Japan Coast Guard (JCG), International Criminal Investigation Division, Operations Centre, and patrol ship Mizuho; the Japanese Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Maritime Bureau, Ocean Shipping Section; the Japan Shipowners’ Association; Mitsui OSK Lines, Ltd, LNG carrier LNG Vesta (operated by MOL); and MO LNG Transport Co, Ltd. (MOL Group ship management company).

    Training began with the assumption that the LNG Vesta was being chased by a suspicious vessel, which was closing in on the LNG carrier. LNG Vesta sent out a ship security alert, reporting an encounter with pirates to its management company (MO LNG Transport) and the JCG Operations Centre. The ship management company, upon receiving the alert, immediately reported the alarm to MOL’s Safety Operation Supporting Centre*. MOL continued to exchange necessary information with the ship management company and other authorities involved.

    The JCG, in response to the report from the LNG Vesta, dispatched its patrol ship Mizuho, which has been deployed to Southeast Asia to combat piracy. The Mizuho contacted the LNG Vesta and then reported the situation to the JCG after which the JCG then conveyed information from the Mizuho to concerned parties including the ship management company.

    On arrival of the Coastguard ship the pirate vessel abandoned its attack on the LNG Vesta and departed the area. The Mizuho then inspected the LNG Vesta to determine whether pirates had actually boarded and to confirm the safety of the ship.

    * The Safety Operation Supporting Centre was formed in MOL’s Tokyo Head Office on 1 February, 2007, to prevent and effectively respond to various events and factors that may threaten the safety of vessel operation, such as the threat of global terrorism and abnormal weather phenomena, which have occurred more frequently in recent years. The centre supports safe operation by transmitting information related to voyage safety to target vessels and other concerned parties, with a 24/7, 365 monitoring structure.

    LNG VESTA and the Japanese Coast Guard vessel MIZUHO

    Maersk announces Asia to Latin America rate restoration

    21 July 2009 - Trading conditions for carriers operating in the markets between Asia and Latin America continue to be subject to unacceptable rate levels and the situation is unsustainable in the longer term, says Maersk Line in a statement issued on Tuesday.

    “In a continued effort to provide our customers with best in class service in the region, Maersk Line is announcing a rate restoration program from Asia to Latin America, as follows.

    From Asia to the West Coast of South America

    US$500 per 20' container. Effective 1 August 2009
    US$1000 per 40' container. Effective 1 August 2009
    US$1000 per 40' high cube container. Effective 1 August 2009

    CMA CGM confirms peak season surcharge on Asia-Europe trade

    Picture by Ian Shiffman

    French container carrier CMA CGM says that in view of the strong market conditions prevailing on the Asia – Europe trade, it is confirming reports of the application of a Peak Season Surcharge (PSS) of US$150 per TEU as from 1 August 2009, which will remain in force as long as market conditions justify it. CMA CGM also suggests customers should also consult it for the current Bunker Adjustment Factor (BAF), available HERE

    Award for Maersk Line for slow steaming initiative

    Maersk Line has been named ‘Sustainable Shipping Operator of the Year’ by Sustainable Shipping for challenging the shipping industry and bringing about significant reductions in energy consumption and emissions.

    The award was presented at a function held in London last week and came in recognition of the efforts made by Maersk in reducing the environmental impact of its business operations. Maersk Line proved that two-stroke engines on its container vessels are able to run continuously at low speeds ensuring a more flexible and energy-efficient vessel operation.

    In 2007, Maersk Line initiated a comprehensive study on 110 vessels, which shows that despite traditional policy on 40-60% as minimum engine load, it is safe to go as low as 10%. This makes it possible for containerships to sail at half speed, thereby reducing not only fuel costs significantly, but also co2 emissions.

    “We are dedicated to minimising our environmental footprint and conducting our business in a sustainable fashion. Therefore we are very pleased to win the award as Sustainable Shipping Operator. We have challenged the myths in the industry and with research documented that the savings potential of slow steaming is a lot bigger than previously thought,” says Søren Stig Nielsen, Senior Director and Head of Sustainability in Maersk Line, who received the award on behalf of the company.

    Being able to select any given speed down to 10% engine load enables a more flexible voyage and schedule planning as well as vessel savings amounting to 10-30% fuel and co2. For a post-Panamax container ship it amounts to saving US $ 1 million equal to 3,500 tonnes fuel and 10,000 tonnes co2 per year.

    Maersk Line has collaborated with leading engine manufacturers, which have changed their recommendations accordingly. More than 100 Maersk Line vessels have utilised super slow steaming since 2007, and the entire fleet is now capable of sailing at this new low speed.

    “Whenever we are able to cut fuel consumption we achieve two things at the same time: We lower our emissions of greenhouse gases and we save costs. Super slow steaming enables us to reduce costs with the additional advantage of benefiting the climate and without diminishing our service. This really has a lot of potential for us,” says Robert Kledal, Vice President and Head of Products in Maersk Line.

    Mailbag – No Greatest Shoal this year but what about these whales

    From the Mailbag:

    Durban has missed “the greatest shoal on earth”* this year for various reasons. But what not many people realise is that in its place is something far bigger than the imagination can stretch.

    As the skipper of the African Queen (sailing vessel), I am some 8 to 10 miles offshore of Durban on a daily basis with tourists on board. This is now what I call Whale Country. Everyday I see whales, alone, in groups of two or three, with and without their young as a daily endless stream going North at the side of the Agulhas current.

    Can any of your readers enlighten me as to what is happening as I, for one, have certainly never seen this phenomenon at this magnitude before.

    PS anybody wanting to experience this, is welcome to join me aboard.
    Peter van Oers
    Cell 082 500 8833 or e-mail peterva@axxess.co.za.

    Mr van Oers adds that he has noticed that the 300-metre exclusion zone surrounding migrating whales is not being observed by some of the motor craft and this is actually upsetting the whales and making them angry. He says the African Queen, as a sailing vessel is ideal to watch this phenomena.

    * The Greatest Shoal on Earth refers to the name given by a National Geographic documentary of the annual migration each June or July of millions of pilchards – the Natal sardine – northeastwards from the Agulhas Banks until they disappear north of Durban. For generations the migration has aroused great excitement, known as Sardine Fever, among locals who rush down to the beaches whenever the fish beach themselves. Anglers follow the migration for the many varieties of predatory fish that accompany the shoals. This year the little fish failed to arrive once again – this happens periodically over the years for unknown reasons – although some people ascribe it to the inshore seawater conditions being not cold enough.

    Cargo ferry ready to sail Lake Victoria once again, says Rift Valley Railway

    MV KAAWA after the collision with MV KABALEGA

    Rift Valley Railway (RVR), the privatised railway of Kenya and Uganda says it is planning to reintroduce the 1,000-tonne rail ferry MV UHURU into service on Lake Victoria.

    UHURU has been out of commission at Kisumu for about three years but repairs are nearing completion, says Brown Ondego, RVR’s executive chairman. The vessel is currently in the dry dock at the Kenyan lake port and should be available to return to service early in August.

    When back in service the ship is expected to sail between Kisumu, Port Bell (in Uganda) and Mwanza (Tanzania), bringing much needed relief to traders, importers and exporters. The vessel was previously owned by the Kenya Railways Corporation and was among several similar ships divided up on the dissolution of the East African Railways.

    Cargo services on Lake Victoria have been severely depleted in recent years following the laying up of the Uhuru along with several other large lake ferries such as MV KABALEGA, which sank after colliding with the MV KAAWA.

    Uganda says it intends returning the Kaawa to service.

    Nigeria loses one million barrels of oil a day

    Nigeria is losing one million barrels of oil a day, says the Federal Minister of Petroleum Resources, Dr Rilwanu Lukman.

    The losses are a result of militant attacks on oil installations, shipping and other facilities in the oil rich Delta region of the West African country. It helps explain how Nigeria has managed to slip behind Angola as Africa’s largest producer of oil.

    The minister said the Niger Delta crisis was proving to be a major challenge to his ministry and that oil production had dropped to between 1.4mbpd and 1.5mbpd against a benchmark figure of 2.2mbpd. This has resulted in several states having to reduce expenditure while having to source additional funds from the capital market. As a result Nigeria’s projected GDP of 7.5% is under serious threat from the crisis. – source This Day

    Hey, these things happen….

    False Alarm

    Walvis Bay - The Maersk container vessel MAERSK JEFFERSON (32,901-gt, built 2008) caused something of a stir alongside berth number 1 at the port of Walvis Bay this week, attracting the unwanted attention of emergency services. Seven short blasts followed by one long blast on the ship’s horn shattered the dawn quiet of Walvis Bay, indicating to crew to assemble at the allocated muster points on the ship. It was quickly established that this had been a false alarm, and everyone was allowed to stand down, although there should have been one or two red faces. – source Namib Times

    Shipyards Agree to Massive Delays

    One-third of all container ships either under construction or on order will be delivered late after shipowners and ocean carriers persuaded shipyards to defer deliveries amid a growing glut of capacity, reports JOC online, quoting Alphaliner, the Paris-based consultant.

    Ships of more than 4,000-TEU capacity account for the bulk of the deferrals, and the average delay is eight months, the report says.

    Deferred deliveries and slippage total 1.8 million TEUs, of which 168 vessels of more than 4,000-TEU capacity account for 1.6 million TEUs.

    In some extreme cases, delivery has been extended by up to two years, according to Alphaliner.

    “Further delivery delays are expected as many of the deferrals are negotiated privately between owners and the shipyards and some negotiations are still ongoing while the outcomes are usually not publicly disclosed,” Alphaliner said.

    Shipowners have been less successful in getting shipyards to cancel orders with only 170,000 TEUs of contracts terminated, including 150,000 TEUs since the market slump began in October 2008.

    The deferrals, slippage and cancellations have already pushed at least 340,000 TEUs of new ships originally due for delivery in 2009 into subsequent years. Net deferrals are lower in 2010 and 2011.

    Danaos, one of the biggest container ship charter owners, said last week that it had postponed the delivery of five 6,500-TEU vessels, due to be delivered by a South Korean yard in the second half of 2009, by two to six months. The NYSE-listed Greek owner has now delayed the delivery of 25 of the 28 ships it has on order.

    There have been no new contracts for container ships since September 2008, the first time no orders have been placed for three consecutive quarters since deals were first recorded in 1965. – story by Bruce Barnard, Journal of Commerce Online

    Namibian oil search comes up dry

    Windhoek, 22 July 2009 – A year ago everyone was optimistic that a minimum yield of one hundred million tonnes of light crude oil would be discovered in Block 1711, off the Namibian coast. This week the Russian company drilling for oil, Sintezneftegaz, has been forced to announce disappointing results.

    Petroleum Commissioner Immanuel Mulunga in the Ministry of Mines and Energy said yesterday that drilling results reveal that the gas and condensates found in the well are not of commercial interest.

    He told New Era that the findings are not encouraging to the Russian company. Nonetheless, Namibia is excited as the findings could mean there is potential for gas resources at that part of the coast.

    Sintezneftegaz sunk its first exploration well in Block 1711 of the Namib Basin in April 2008 in partnership with Energulf Namibia Ltd, the Namibian Petroleum Cooperation, Petro SA, and Kunene Energy. – source New Era

    Pic of the day – STOLT VALOR

    The Hong Kong-flagged by Norwegian-owned chemical tanker STOLT VALOR (15,732-gt, built 2004) which was in Cape Town harbour earlier this month. Picture Ian Shiffman

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