Ports & Ships Maritime News

Jul 30, 2009
Author: Terry Hutson

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  • First View – KOALA BAY

  • Fire guts passenger ferry in Dar es Salaam

  • Saldanha soars ahead with record iron ore shipments

  • News from the shipping lines

  • Port and harbour news – Expansion of Nouakchott port

  • Walvis Bay cluster meets to reduce corridor bottlenecks

  • Suez revenues drop 7.2 percent

  • Pic of the day – IOANNIS NK SINKING


    First View – KOALA BAY

    Owned by Greek intrerests, the Liberian reefer ship KOALA BAY (9,057-gt, built 1984) called in Cape Town harbour earlier in July. Picture by Ian Shiffman

    Fire guts passenger ferry in Dar es Salaam

    A fire on board the passenger landing craft ferry MV PEMBA (499-gt, built 1981) in Dar es Salaam harbour this week is but the latest in a series of accidents and disasters affecting Tanzania’s local fleet of passenger ships and ferries.

    The MV PEMBA, owned by the Azam Marine company caught fire on Monday morning while the vessel was undergoing maintenance alongside the dock in Dar es Salaam harbour. There were fortunately no injuries but the ship has been badly gutted despite the local fire department turning out and eventually extinguishing the blaze.

    This is just the latest in a series of fires affecting the ferries operating between Dar es Salaam, Zanzibar and Pemba Island in Tanzania. In May the MV FAITH capsized while in the Zanzibar harbour, killing six passengers. The remaining 19 people on board managed to escape to safety.

    Then in March this year another fire swept across two ferries, the AZIZA I (350-gt) and the AZIZA II (400-gt) while they were undergoing maintenance at Mtoni in Zanzibar. The ferries were capable of carrying up to 1,000 passengers and helped provide a vital service between the mainland and the islands.

    The local Citizen newspaper reported this week that another, unnamed ferry lost its stern ramp while at sea, resulting in panic among the passengers on board the vessel.

    The paper quoted a senior Surface and Marine Transport Regulatory Authority official, Mr King Chiragi as saying that fires were difficult to prevent and control without proper training of the crew and passengers.

    Saldanha soars ahead with record iron ore shipments

    The port of Saldanha and the related Sishen – Saldanha iron ore railway have shown significant increases in export cargoes for the first half of 2009, statistics indicate.

    During the six months to June the port of Saldanha has exported a total of 21.869 million tonnes of cargo – consisting almost entirely of iron ore, compared with 17.237mt shipped during the same period of 2008 – a 26.87% increase year on year.

    Main beneficiary has been Kumba Iron Ore which exported a total of 17.1 million tonnes of iron ore in this period – much of it to China as traditional customer demand in Europe weakened.

    The dramatic increase in exports also reflects a significant improvement in productivity by Transnet Freight Rail, which handles the entire export of iron ore along a dedicated railway from the Northern Cape iron ore mines to the West Coast port.

    Kumba Iron Ore is the world’s fourth largest exporter of iron ore by sea, with clients in Asia and Europe.

    Two Capesize ships loading iron ore at the Saldanha iron ore terminal. Note the conveyor systems leading to the ship loader - on the right is a second conveyor (green) that was then still being installed. Picture Terry Hutson

    News from the shipping lines

    COSCO is the latest Asian shipping company to issue notice that it will be posting a loss for the first half of 2009 as compared with a profit made in the appropriate period of 2008.

    The Chinese shipping giant says the loss is mainly due to substantial losses incurred by the container division – although it said the dry bulk section of the company was also a loss maker. COSCO said however that it expected this division (dry bulk) to show an operating improvement during the third quarter.

    Belgian shipping company CMB (Compagnie Maritime Belge) in contrast has declared a consolidated profit, albeit reduced, after taxation for the first half of 2009 of €64 million (2008: €137m)

    In its statement the company says the first half of the year was characterised by extreme volatility in the dry bulk markets. The average spot market rate consequently soared from a mere USD 8,700/day at the beginning of the year to more than USD 82,000/day at the end of June.

    Average spot market earnings for the first half of the year compared to 2008 were as follows (in US dollars):

    Capesize $31,056 (2008: $135,161)
    Panamax $10,962 (2008: $ 59,285)
    Handymax $13,102 (2008: $ 55,438)

    In another effort to resolve the question of the Hapag-Lloyd takeover which would keep the container line in German hands, Hapag-Lloyd agreed on Tuesday (28 July) to sell a stake in a Hamburg container terminal to its shareholders for US$447 million as part of a $2,5 billion rescue package.

    Tourism group TUI and the Hamburg-based Albert Ballim consortium will establish a company that will take over Hapag-Lloyd’s 25.2% stake in Container Terminal Altenwerder, with TUI agreeing to contribute $305m towards the purchase. This comes in response to an appeal by Hapag-Lloyd for an immediate infusion of $426m to avoid a liquidity crisis.

    Port and harbour news – Expansion of Nouakchott port

    The Chinese State Construction Engineering Corp (CSCEC) says it is in discussion with the Mauritanian government concerning the construction of an additional two berths, numbers 4 and 5, in the port of Nouakchott.

    Described as the ‘Friendship Harbour’ Nouakchott (which means ‘windy place’), which is also the capital city of Mauritania has been receiving developmental aid from China since 1979 and was officially inaugurated as a deep water port in 1986. Nouakchott currently has three berths with an annual capacity of 1.5 million tonnes.

    In Europe Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said at the weekend that the Russian Federation is keen to invest further in the port of Rotterdam to facilitate Russian imports and exports.

    President Medvedev was meeting with Dutch officials in Amsterdam. His statement was welcomed by Rotterdam Port Authority CEO Hans Smits who said a larger presence of Russian companies in the Rotterdam Rijnmond area was to be encouraged. He said the Second Maasvlakte had several hundred hectares of industrial space available in addition to the areas set aside for container handling.

    Smits said that having Russian companies combine their oil exports via Rotterdam with investments would be much appreciated because this would secure cargo flows. He said he could envisage Russian companies having an interest in acquiring stakes in one or two of the LNG terminals or in existing refineries.

    Rotterdam is developing into the prime Western European entry point of LNG and is a hub of the Dutch gas carousel.

    Walvis Bay cluster meets to reduce corridor bottlenecks

    The Trans Caprivi Corridor Cluster (TCC) met this week in Walvis Bay and among key issues discussed was the reduction of bottlenecks along the corridor, particularly at borders.

    The cluster also covered issues of reviewing and discussing a joint TCC Cluster action plan that aims at addressing other non-tariff barriers and to share information on recent developments along the corridor.

    In a statement issued after the meeting the TCC said the discussions were targeted at ensuring that as little time as possible was spent especially at the borders in clearing cargo. The meeting also focused on immigration and customs issues and road infrastructure.

    “Since the inception of the TCC Cluster, various achievements have been reached along the TCC through the Port of Walvis Bay which was the purpose of establishing a TCC Cluster to address these issues. Among the achievements are harmonization of axle loads between Namibia and Zamibia; the customs documentation between the Namibian and Zambian cars have been simplified whereby both countries are using the ASYCUDA system; 28km of the Kafue/Mazabuka road has been rehabilitated which is now in good condition.

    “The TCC through the Port of Walvis Bay has shown a substantial increase in trade, from 6,000 to 12,000 tonnes per month, which includes an increase in the amount of used vehicles imported through the Port of Walvis Bay. In 2004, prior to the construction of the bridge across the Zambezi River, cargo was recorded at approximately 400 tonnes per month. Furthermore, with effect from April 2008, the mines of Zambia and the DRC have commenced with the utilization of the TCC. It has become clear that the TCC is increasingly becoming the preferred trade route to import and export.”

    Suez revenues drop 7.2 percent

    As a result of the economic downturn and piracy in the Gulf of Aden region, revenues from Egypt’s Suez Canal have decreased 7.2% to US $ 4.71 billion this year, the canal authority announced at the weekend.

    Chief executive Admiral Ahmed Fadel said the 53rd anniversary of the canal’s nationalisation came at a time of ‘new challenges’ with the number of ships crossing the 120-mile long canal decreasing.

    The Suez Canal is one of Egypt’s main income earners along with tourism.

    Fadel said the financial crisis and the activities of pirates around the Horn of Africa region were affecting the number of ships going through the canal as well as the volume of cargo. In the appropriate period this year 19,354 ships have used the canal compared with 21,080 for the same period in 2008.

    He acknowledged that many ships were using the longer way around the Cape of Good Hope despite this being what he called a costlier route.

    Pic of the day –IOANNIS NK SINKING

    The bulker IOANNIS NK sank in deep water 98 n.miles off Cape Columbine last Thursday (23 July 2009), shortly after crew reported that the vessel was taking on water in one of the holds. The crew of 20 was lifted off the ship by South African Air Force helicopters not long before she went down and transported ashore. Here are a series of images showing the final moments of the vessel.

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