Ports & Ships Maritime News

Aug 24, 2009
Author: Terry Hutson

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  • Transnet announces allocation of PE manganese ore export channel to three customers

  • SA, Angola to cooperate in oil sector

  • News from the shipping lines – shipping woes continue

  • SA to host a multi-national military training exercise

  • News clips – Keeping it brief

  • Pic of the day – MSC TOBA



    The general cargo Ro-Ro ship ATLANTIC NAVIGATOR (16,075-gt, built 1992) arrived in Durban last week to work cargo at Maydon Wharf. The ship, which has an interesting history with trade between South Africa and North America, was formerly named Lykes Energizer and prior to that Thorsriver (when she was in CCAL colours), and is seen here in the Esplanade Channel. Picture by Trevor Jones

    Transnet announces allocation of PE manganese ore export channel to three customers

    Transnet intends allocating port and rail manganese ore export capacity to three customers on the Port of Port Elizabeth export channel.

    In a statement on Friday Transnet says the initiative, which was overseen by auditors KPMG, is the first open and transparent process to have been conducted by the state-owned freight transport and logistics company for the allocation of export capacity for bulk commodities.

    “It is part of Transnet’s plans to attract new customers by offering them integrated port-rail services and growing the business with its existing customers.

    “The process will see the allocation of capacity initially to three customers – United Manganese of Kalahari (Pty) Ltd (UMK), Assmang and Hotazel Manganese Mines (Pty) Ltd (HMM) – from 1 November 2009. Others will be allocated capacity once they meet Transnet’s operational and strategic requirements. The process was conducted to ensure that a fair and equitable process was followed in allocating the limited capacity of the channel.

    “UMK, HMM and Assmang – all of which have significant black economic empowerment credentials – will receive their capacity from 1 November 2009 having met all the relevant strategic and operational requirements set by Transnet. Allocations to other new entrants will be made once they meet the said requirements. This is the first of the two-phase process of allocating port and rail capacity by Transnet in a fair, open and equitable manner to its customers.”

    The first phase deals with capacity allocation from 1 November 2009 to 31 March 2013 whilst the second phase will make some capacity available to miners once they meet Transnet’s operational and strategic requirements. Transnet says it is exploring expansion plans based on various feasibility studies conducted and on the most appropriate funding options.

    Parties were entitled to apply for participation in both processes. Industry input and participation in any Transnet expansion is critical as any rail or port expansion is informed by industry demand and long-term business plans.

    “We are delighted to have been able to leverage access for new players in the manganese export sector,” says Chris Wells, the Company’s acting Group Chief Executive. “Fair and equitable access to capacity allocation remains a key strategic objective for Transnet. Given the fact that, as matters stand, demand for capacity outstrips the available capacity, it is vital that aspirant clients have confidence in the fairness of the capacity allocation process. Also important in this exercise is the need to facilitate access to port and rail capacity to broad-based black economic empowerment players. And we believe this transaction reflects our commitment to promoting this goal.”

    Wells said that as it gears up to increase capacity, Transnet will continue to work with the industry to allocate capacity in a manner that is fair and transparent and seeks to engender competition and the transformation of the South African manganese industry, which controls 80% of the world’s manganese reserves to being a globally competitive one.

    “We think this transaction will be good, not only for the miners who have been allocated new capacity; but it will also be good for the economies of both the Northern Cape and the Eastern Cape in terms of the spin-offs it generates,” he says.

    The manganese export channel includes a rail service from Hotazel station, the most northerly point of most manganese mines in the Northern Cape, to the Manganese Bulk Ore Terminal in Port Elizabeth, the primary harbour for export manganese in South Africa. The channel has recently been upgraded and is able to offer port and rail capacity of up to 4.4 million tonnes of manganese ore a year.

    SA, Angola to cooperate in oil sector

    By Bathandwa Mbola (BuaNews)

    Luanda - South Africa and the oil-rich Angola signed a number of trade agreements including cooperation in the oil sector, following major bilateral talks aimed at strengthening economic relations last week.

    The agreement will allow South Africa's state oil company PetroSA and Angola's Sonangol to work together in oil projects, as well as in the areas of exploration, refining and distribution of oil.

    Angola, which is Africa's biggest oil producer, has only one refinery in Luanda. It currently imports a great deal of its refined gasoline.

    President Jacob Zuma met with Angolan President Jose Eduardo dos Santos during a state visit in the country between Wednesday and Friday. He was accompanied by 11 ministers and more than 150 business leaders, making it the biggest delegation South Africa has sent outside the country since 1994.

    Mr Zuma said was an indication of the seriousness of the relations South Africa's aimed to forge. President Dos Santos hailed the visit as the start of a new era of co-operation between Africa's biggest economy and its biggest oil producer.

    Pres Dos Santos said Angola needed more qualified labour from South Africa, which in turn could help rebuild infrastructure destroyed by Angola's 27-year civil war that ended in 2002 and tap into its oil industry.

    “We want to create a strategic partnership between our two countries,” he said.

    The pair also discussed the supply and distribution of electricity from the Democratic Republic of Congo's Inga hydroelectric plant and other regional infrastructure projects to facilitate business. They signed air services and diplomatic consultation agreements, as well as other memorandums on trade, industry, commerce, housing, and sport and recreation.

    It was further agreed that a Bi-National Commission would be established to upgrade and coordinate all relations between the two countries political, economic and social.

    Both leaders said they would also discuss ways to bolster cooperation and peacekeeping efforts in Africa through the Southern African Development Community (SADC).

    Angola and South Africa, which have two of the biggest military forces in Africa, will discuss peacekeeping efforts in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and assess progress in the Zimbabwean unity government

    Mr Zuma said the agreements would change the economic landscape of Southern Africa. He encouraged business people from both countries to take advantage of the opportunities presented by the revival of the economic relations between the two countries.

    “I urge business leaders of both our countries to explore these avenues of collaboration and turn potential into profit,” said Mr Zuma, adding that they had committed to conducting fair business practices.

    News from the shipping lines – shipping woes continue

    Maersk loses US$540 million in six months

    Troubling times! Maersk Dresden in Cape Town harbour. Picture by Ian Shiffman

    Danish shipping giant Maersk Line has declared a first half loss of US$540 million for 2009 compared to a profit of $2,456 million in the same period of 2008. During the recent period revenue fell 25% to $22.752 Billion (2008 $30.436Bn). The company says the result for the second half of 2009 is expected to be at a similar level to the first half.

    “The outlook for the remainder of 2009 is subject to considerable uncertainty, not least due to the development of the global economy. Specific uncertainties relate to the development in container freight rates, transported volumes, the US dollar exchange rate and oil prices.”

    “The AP Moller - Maersk Group is still financially strong despite the fact that the economic crisis has developed worse than we anticipated,” said Nils S Andersen, Group CEO of the AP Moller – Maersk Group. He said the financing of Maersk Line’s newbuilding programme is essentially in place and the company has engaged in a number of saving initiatives and postponed investments.

    “But even more importantly, most of our business units are doing better than the market. We therefore have a strengthened belief that we will emerge as a stronger company on the other side of the crisis.”

    Grindrod earnings drop 56%

    South African shipping and logistics company Grindrod Limited announced last week that its earnings for the first half of 2009 ending June had decreased by 56% to R483.8 million [US$62.111](2008 first half R1,104.5m - $140.691) Headline earnings per share also dropped 56% to 105.7 cents.

    The company said these results should be seen against a backdrop of a worldwide recession, leading to substantially reduced economic activity, lower trade volumes, declining commodity prices and a continued lack of credit, with increased counterparty risk and significantly impacted shipping markets.

    In a statement Grindrod says the fortunes of its Shipping division have changed substantially since the fourth quarter of 2008, when shipping markets experienced the sharpest decline in history. The company’s trading division however has grown its earnings considerably on the back of operational improvement, increased margins and the buy-in of marine fuel and industrial raw materials trading businesses.

    It says that although there has been recent improvement in international business activity, particularly in the demand for and price of commodities, a recovery in shipping will be countered by the delivery of a large number of new ships in the short term.

    “The group has a low-cost fleet of ships, a high level of contract cover, considerable cash resources and continues to anticipate earnings growth from Trading, Freight Services and Financial Services businesses for the full year,” the company statement continues. “This positions it favourably for a recovery in world markets in the medium-term. The group will have lower earnings for the full year compared with the extraordinary levels achieved in 2008.”

    Grindrod, in the happy position of having good liquidity, has indicated that the current weak markets presents opportunities of making further acquisitions particularly within the shipping industry.

    SA to host a multi-national military training exercise

    by Edwin Tshivhidzo (BuNews)

    Pretoria - The Department of Defence and Military Veterans will be hosting Exercise Golfinho, a multi-national military training exercise involving more than ten Southern African Development Community (SADC) countries.

    Exercise Golfinho will take place from 1 to 29 September at the South African Army Combat Training Centre at Lohatlha in the Northern Cape. The event will be co-hosted by Namibia. The event is aimed at exercising the readiness of its forces in accordance with the African Union roadmap towards establishing the SADC Brigade.

    It is also aimed at testing the SADC Brigade's capability to handle conflict situations in line with the evolving international peace keeping framework.

    Briefing the media on the forthcoming event, Rear Admiral Philip Schoultz said about 5,000 personnel from the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) would be participating in the exercise.

    “The SANDF and the participating countries will demonstrate commitment to participation in regional peace support training,” said Admiral Schoultz, adding that all spheres of the defence force will be participating.

    During the exercise, some of the recently acquired land, sea and air force military equipments will be used.

    According to Schoultz, the need for Exercise Golfinho was identified at a SADC Interstate Defence and Security Committee meeting in Angola in February last year.

    News clips – Keeping it brief

    Hell of a name for a ship…. whoops - Our photo story last week (20 August) showing a ship purportedly named Titan Uranus turns out to be a hoax. Apologies for those similarly taken for the ride, and thanks to Bob Couttie of Maritime Accident Case Book for pointing out our boo-boo. We’d still like to hear from readers of odd-named ships though, preferably accompanied by a picture (not Photoshopped!).

    Beluga Recommendation in Richards Bay – always setting the trend. Picture courtesy Mainport Ships Agents

    German shipping line Beluga remains something of a trendsetter and its latest adventure into less-chartered waters is to send three company ships, the BELUGA FRATERNITY, BELUGA FORESIGHT and BELUGA FAMILY through Russia’s Northeast Passage across the Arctic Ocean. The sea is supposedly almost ice-free for just a few weeks at this time and the ships have on board Russian ice pilots to assist and advice the masters and will be making use of incoming data from the Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute in St Petersburg and the University of Bremen. Two of the ships entered the Arctic Sea from Vladivostok and are sailing to Europe with project cargo while the third, the Beluga Family entered at Murmansk and is already discharging her cargo or power plant materials at Yamburg. She will return to Rotterdam via Murmansk on completion of her cargo working.

    Singapore’s Pacific International Lines (PIL) has just taken delivery of the 8th in a series of 1,800-TEU container ships, the KOTA NAZAR from the Dalian shipyard. The vessel is to join PIL’s service between East Asia and South and West Africa which is shared with MOL.

    Rift Valley Railways has earned some breathing space in its battle to remain in possession of the concession to operate the Kenya and Uganda railway network. This followed a court order instructing the management of Kenya Railways Corporation to respond to RVR’s application in one week. The court also extended orders granted a week earlier preventing the Kenya government and Kenya Railways from terminating the contract until the case has been fully heard and a judgement given. RVR said in papers before the court that ending the concession would bring a halt to all railway operations and stranding cargo at the port of Mombasa and points along the railway into Uganda. About 3,000 employees would also face sudden likely dismissal.

    Pic of the day – MSC TOBA

    A stern view of the container ship MSC TOBA (43,325-gt, built 1985) in Durban harbour one day in June 2008. Picture by Trevor Jones

    Don’t forget to send us your news and press releases for inclusion in the News Bulletins. Shipping related pictures submitted by readers are always welcome – please email to info@ports.co.za

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