Ports & Ships Maritime News

Jul 8, 2009
Author: Terry Hutson

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  • First View – BALTIC PRIDE

  • Piracy – Nigerian militants take hostages

  • PetroSA to import half a million tonnes of LNG a year

  • Government to realign Denel under Defence dept

  • Tanzania grants 30-day amnesty to help de-congest Dar es Salaam

  • Government to review defence policy

  • Pic of the day – DIANE A


    First View – BALTIC PRIDE

    One of the Baltic Reefer’s refrigerated vessels, BALTIC PRIDE arrived outside Durban last Friday prior to loading citrus fruit at the Fresh Produce Terminal. Picture by Steve McCurrach

    Piracy – Nigerian militants take hostages

    The products tanker SICHEM PEACE (5,451-gt, built 2005) has been boarded by members of the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) group of militants near Escravos in Nigeria and six members of the ship’s crew have been taken hostage.

    The six crewmembers, three Russians, two Filipinos and one Indian, were taken to the militants’ hideout ashore. According to MEND their ‘arrest’ is meant to serve as a warning to others of outstanding issues between MEND and the Nigerian Government. The remaining crew late sailed the ship further away from the coast. The Singapore-flagged Sichem Peace is managed by Eitzen Maritime Services. A Shell spokesman has revealed there have been eight attacks on Shell installations in the past four weeks, leading to the oil company declaring force majeure at a number of its installations in the region.

    On the opposite side of the continent, Yemeni marine forces prevented pirates from boarding an oil tanker sailing in the southern Red Sea. The action came two days after Yemeni coastguard forces also succeeded in preventing pirates from seizing two other tankers in the Bab el-Mandab Strait between the Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea. In the latest incident the unnamed tanker was able to continue its voyage but the pirates also escaped.

    In Yemen itself 23 suspected pirates have gone on trial in an Aden court. Eleven Somalis were charged with highjacking ships and another 12 appeared on charges of attempted highjacking.

    The case which opened last week was later adjourned until mid July to allow for an interpreter to assist as the Somalis do not understand Arabic. Eleven of the suspects were captured by Yemeni armed forces after they attacked ships, while the remainder were handed over to Yemeni authorities by international naval forces operating in the region.

    PetroSA to import half a million tonnes of LNG a year

    PetroSA announced on Monday that it intends importing 500,000 tonnes of liquefied natural gas a year to assist with extending the life of the Mossel Bay gas-to-liquid refinery in the southern Cape.

    PetroSA, South Africa’s national oil company, owns and operates some of the world's largest gas-to-liquid refineries in the world, but at its Mossel Bay refinery is threatened by limited stocks of gas produced offshore on the Agulhas Banks. On Monday the company said it was in talks with an unnamed party to import half a million tonnes of gas a year which would extend the life of the refinery beyond 2011, when local supplies of gas are expected to run out.

    A spokesman said that by importing gas the life of the refinery could be extended to beyond 2015. The company is currently exploring and drilling offshore for new reserves.

    PetroSA said last year it would spend $650m to drill and explore new offshore gas reserves to sustain the refinery. In addition production of the Ibhubesi gas field off South Africa’s west coast would begin in 2012 provided the government grants a permit. This gas field has the potential of allowing 100-million cubic feet of gas a day to be drawn in its initial stages.

    Government to realign Denel under Defence dept

    Cape Town (BuaNews) - Government is expected to realign arms manufacturer Denel and put it back under the control of the Department of Defence and Military Veterans.

    Delivering her Budget Vote in Parliament on Friday, Minister Lindiwe Sisulu said: “On the matter of Denel, we want to serve notice to honourable members that we intend to negotiate Denel back into the ambit of Defence.”

    She said that she had held discussions with the Minister of Public Enterprises Barbara Hogan regarding the latter.

    “At the very least, we need to immediately embark on a strategic re-alignment of Denel. Denel is a strategic security manufacturing asset for Defence and we would like to retain it as such,” said the minister.

    She further said that the defence industry required an exhaustive interrogation.

    “Both Armscor and Denel should be part of such an enquiry, which must also extend to every sector of the industry. This should be conducted in a way that will subsequently produce effective command and control measures and effective turnaround,” said Ms Sisulu.

    Both Armscor and Denel have not had outstanding performances.

    The Portfolio Committee on Defence submitted a report on the matter of Armscor to the minister last year with “some very strong recommendations”.

    “I would like to be given time to deal with the matters raised in the said report. I have had occasion to meet with the Chairperson of the Board of Armscor and we have agreed that we need to deal decisively with several outstanding matters,” said Ms Sisulu.

    Note: Denel is one of South Africa’s principal military supply initiators and producers – P&S

    Tanzania grants 30-day amnesty to help de-congest Dar es Salaam

    Importers of overdue containers at the port of Dar es Salaam have been given a 30-day amnesty valued at US$14 million to encourage them to remove their cargo.

    The amnesty, which commences on 1 August, is being offered in another attempt to rid the port of overstays that have contributed to massive terminal congestion. It applies to boxes that were over 120 days due as at 15 June 2009.

    “The full list of containers is at our website http://www.ticts.com/amnesty and importers are encouraged to confirm whether their containers are eligible for the amnesty,” said Neville Bissett, Tanzania International Container Services Limited (TCTS) CEO, the company which operates the port’s container terminal.

    The initiative has the support of the Tanzanian Revenue Authority and shipping companies have pledged their support by assisting shippers to clear cargo within the deadline.

    However, on 1 September all remaining containers will be handed over to the Tanzania Revenue Authority for auctioning.

    The port of Dar es Salaam is being promoted heavily in Uganda as a viable and affordable alternative to Mombasa, partly to reduce Uganda’s reliance on neighbouring Kenya for its imports and exports. Twice in the past 12-15 months political unrest in Kenya has interrupted the movement of cargo to and from Mombasa, leaving Uganda stranded without fuel on one occasion.

    In a further step new regulations aimed at reducing theft from transit cargo through the port of Dar es Salaam have been introduced. Importers are now required to label all cargo directed to inland container depots with details of the final destination. Manifests of cargo delivered to the Dar es Salaam terminal must now indicate ‘Dar es Salaam’ as the destination while containers going to inland container depots must indicate ‘Port of Dar es Salaam/ICD (name of the depot)’ as the destination.

    Tanzania’s Commissioner for Customs and Excise said the new guidelines are intended to enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of the port in loading, offloading and delivery of cargo as one of Custom's contribution towards trade facilitation. – source East African

    Government to review defence policy

    Cape Town (BuaNews) - The Department of Defence and Military Veterans is to embark on a policy review to include South Africa's obligations to peace and security and humanitarian assistances outside its borders.

    Addressing Parliament during her Budget Vote on Friday (3 July), Department of Defence and Military Veterans Minister Lindiwe Sisiulu said that one of the department's challenges was its outdated policy on defence.

    “A new policy review would consider the logic that underpins the necessity of a Force Design of the South African National Defence Force that must be able to contribute appropriately to disaster relief, peacekeeping and humanitarian assistance.”

    She said this was part of the South Africa's obligation to consolidate democracy in countries that have recently emerged from conflict. This has become part of foreign policy.

    “We are embarking on a Policy Review. We want to take on board what we have become and take into account new challenges facing us as a country and as a continent,” she said.

    She said that the department was developing a review document which would be distributed for comment once consolidated.

    “The strategy focuses on the achievement of the mandate by having the required capabilities, as opposed to being a financially driven strategy,” said Ms Sisulu.

    She added that the defence environment changed over the past 15 years and this required a new approach and new thinking.

    The minister’s statement in parliament could have significant implications for the South African Navy – P&S

    Pic of the day – DIANE A

    The Turkish container ship DIANE A (17,867-gt, built 2008) making its first visit to Cape Town last week. Picture Ian Shiffman

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