Ports & Ships Maritime News

Aug 27, 2009
Author: Terry Hutson

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  • First View – IVS NIGHTJAR

  • Transnet annual report published

  • Gun running ship held in Philippines had South African in charge

  • Manganese ore export line not adequate, says mining boss

  • What’s in a name?

  • News from the shipping lines – MOL raises SAECS rates

  • Stowaways found dead in ship off Durban

  • News clips – Keeping it brief

  • Recommended Reads

  • Pic of the day – BOUNDARY


    First View – IVS NIGHTJAR

    Island View Shipping’s handysize bulk carrier IVS NIGHTJAR (20,283-gt, built 2004), departing from Lyttelton in New Zealand. Picture by Alan Calvert

    Transnet annual report published

    Transnet Acting Group Chief Executive Chris Wells says in the group’s annual report, which has been made public and tabled before parliament, that the investment made by Transnet to build a company that could be resilient through all economic cycles has paid off. He said all operating divisions were showing agility and were able to adapt to the economic slump experienced during the year.

    Referring to the two port divisions, Wells said, “The National Ports Authority did not escape the global drop in demand for imports and exports (including volumes handled by private terminal operators), especially for containers which recorded no significant growth compared to the previous year. Breakbulk volumes declined by 27,3% compared to the previous year's levels; and the number of vehicles also declined by 9,1% from the previous year. However, we recorded satisfactory performance in the dry bulk sector (which includes export iron ore and coal), which was at similar levels as the previous year.

    “Liquid bulk, on the other hand, showed a growth of 11,8% compared to the previous year. Most significantly, the National Ports Authority saw some far-reaching changes in its regulatory framework and the division is embedding all compliance processes to be in line with the National Ports Act which came into effect two years ago.”

    During the fiscal year ended 31 March 2009 National Ports Authority revenue increased 3.9% to R7.1 Billion. EBITDA increased by 1.2% to R5.2 Billion and capital investments went up 54.9% to R4.2 Billion. Wells reported that of the major projects underway, the Durban entrance and channel widening project was on track and was expected to be completed next year. Likewise the Cape Town Container Terminal expansion remained on track, security upgrade projects had commenced at all ports, the first vessel carrying project cargo had already called at the new port of Ngqura, all ports have been dredged to promulgated depths, and shipping delays, as measured through pilot hours, had improved from 2.24 hours average in 2008 to 1.9 hours in 2009.

    Turning to Transnet Port Terminals Wells said Port Terminals’ main priority in the short to medium term will be to preserve current business and to create sufficient capacity in anticipation of future growth.

    “Although Port Terminals has experienced consistent volume growth over the last five years (7% average growth over the last five years in containers), the division is currently facing a major challenge as a result of the global economic downturn. Container volumes increased by 6,7% year-on-year for the first six months but declined by 7,8% for the second half of the year. This has resulted in a 0,2% year-on-year decline in container volumes compared to prior year. All other sectors except the bulk sector also experienced declining volumes during the year.”

    Wells said the Port Terminals division, which operates 15 terminals across six ports, faced a challenging period due to the economic downturn. TPT experienced a decline in volumes following five years of consistent growth.

    “The decline in volumes included the container sector - which has grown by an average of 7% over the last five years - where volumes fell by 0,2 % compared to the prior year. The container business contributed 59% and 62% to Port Terminals' revenue and EBITDA, respectively.

    “The division's R3,1 billion capital investment, representing a 59,1% increase on the prior year, included the construction of the 800,000 TEU capacity Ngqura Container Terminal which is expected to be operational in October 2009 as well as the expansion of the container terminals at Durban and Cape Town.

    He said that significant strides were taken in Port Terminals' efficiency drive with average moves per gross crane hour (GCH) at the Durban container terminals (DCT and Pier 1), improving by 5% and 26% respectively, during the period.

    “DCT achieved average moves per GCH of 23, while Pier 1 achieved average moves per GCH of 24 - a significant achievement taking into account the fact that Pier 1 was only operationalised during November 2007.”

    TPT revenue increased in 2009 by 4% to R5,0 Billion while EBITDA reduced 6.5% to R1.7Bn. Capital investments had increased 59.1% to R3.1bn for the period.

    Among some of the operational highlights for 2009 were the Cape Town Container Terminal expansion programme, which is now well advanced and will double capacity from the existing 700,000 TEU.

    At the port of Saldanha dual loading operations at the Iron Ore Terminal resulted in productivity per hour being well above the contractual requirement of 5,000 tons per hour. Two shiploaders are now in service instead of one and the average loading rate for the 12 months ended 31 March 2009 improved to 5,954 tons per hour (35% above the prior year’s performance of 4,400t per hour and 19% above the contractual requirement).

    The full annual report can be read or downloaded on the Transnet website at www.transnet.net

    Gun running ship held in Philippines had South African in charge

    An air of mystery surrounds the detention of a ship in the Philippines along with its crew of 14, including the South African who assumed the role of master of the vessel shortly before arriving in port.

    The raid on the general cargo vessel CAPTAIN UFUK (2451-gt, built 1967) was made shortly after the vessel arrived in Mariveles, a port on Bataan north of Manila. Captain Ufuk is managed by a Turkish company and listed as owned by a Manila company. The ship had previously called at Cape Town and Ghana and before that in Turkey and Georgia. When raided they authorities found on board Captain Laurence John (possibly named Laurence Burne) and 13 Georgian crew who were all taken into custody.

    On searching the ship it was found to be carrying 15 crates of weapons including Indonesian-manufactured SS1 assault rifles – similar to an Israeli Galil rifle, and 9mm pistols. The ship also carried empty crates which has given rise to the suspicion that some of the cargo has already been delivered elsewhere.

    Authorities said that neither Captain John nor the Georgian crew were in possession of valid seafarer documents. The so-called master claimed to have joined the vessel shortly before the raid. He entered Manila by air on a tourist visa and a Philippine newspaper reported that he met with another man at a yacht club and later the two went to sea in a small boat where John joined the ship now in detention.

    Captain Ufuk’s previous master meanwhile, a Briton named Bruce Jones reportedly left the country on a yacht. Police are now searching for him and a worldwide alert has been issued for him and the yacht, the Mou Man Tai.

    Manganese ore export line not adequate, says mining boss

    BHP Billiton’s Chief Executive Officer, Marius Kloppers says the existing manganese ore route which extends from the mines in the Northern Cape around Hotazel to the Eastern Cape port of Port Elizabeth, is inadequate and is preventing South Africa from gaining market share from other producers.

    The route Kloppers is referring to consists of the Eastern Cape main line from Port Elizabeth to De Aar and Kimberley and from there westward to the Kuruman district where the manganese is mined. The line is constructed for general freight, and if Transnet is correct that the port of Ngqura near Port Elizabeth will become a major container port, will also have to carry increased container traffic as well.

    But Kloppers, in an article with the publication Mining News, says a higher-capacity export route is required, one that can carry more than the 4.4 million tonnes of manganese that both the line and port can handle. “We basically have a logistical constraint,” he said. Kloppers added that the current route is also expensive but that the solution would have to be something of both lower cost and higher capacity.

    On 24 August PORTS & SHIPS reported that Transnet had allocated the Port Elizabeth ore export channel to three customers - United Manganese of Kalahari (Pty) Ltd (UMK), South African mining company Assmang and Hotazel Manganese Mines (Pty) Ltd (HMM) – the latter being owned by BHP Billiton. The allocation takes effect from 1 November 2009. You can read that report HERE

    Transnet claimed that the channel had recently been upgraded and was able to offer port and rail capacity of up to 4.4 million tonnes of manganese ore annually. This is in excess of the current export volumes of this ore.

    What’s in a name?

    What indeed. A week ago (20 August) we published a picture of the ship TITAN URANUS with the headline ‘Hell of a name for a ship’. We subsequently received an email from Bob Couttie of Maritime Accident Case Book pointing out that the picture was a hoax and was actually of another ship he identified as the Saturn which had been ‘photoshopped’ with the Uranus’ name.

    Since then we’ve received a flood of emails from readers, all pointing out that the Titan Uranus did exist in that name, although the owner Titan Ocean subsequently renamed the ship Titan Taurus – perhaps after a flood of sarcastic emails. The ship was later sold and is sailing today for her current owners as the C Cosmos.

    Thanks for all the interest, and just to keep the kettle boiling, so to speak, here is another one with one of those names, all depending on how you view it, of course. Thanks JM for this one.

    Acknowledgements to photographer BerndU and Vesseltracker

    News from the shipping lines – MOL raises SAECS rates

    Japanese container carrier Mitsui OSK Line (MOL), one of the member lines of the South Africa Europe Container Service known as SAECS, says it finds it necessary to introduce a general rate increase on the Europe – South Africa trade with effect from the following vessel voyages:

    Europe North Continent to Southern Africa – Southbound

    Effective vessel:
    LARS MAERSK Voyage 907A ETD Rotterdam 4 October 2009 – Rate increase US$200 per TEU

    Southern Africa to Europe North Continent – Northbound

    Effective vessel:
    DAL KALAHARI Voyage 907B ETD Port Elisabeth 1 October 2009 – Rate increase of US$200

    This increase will be applicable for all cargo moving under a MOL bill of lading between Europe North Continent and Southern Africa. The SAECS service involves calls at Rotterdam, Tilbury, Bremerhaven, Las Palmas, Cape Town, Port Elizabeth and Durban.

    No announcement has been made by the other SAECS member lines – Maersk Line, Safmarine and DAL although it can probably be taken for granted that a similar increase is pending.

    MSC recently announced similar rate increases on both the Europe – South Africa and its South Africa – Far East services, for both ways.

    Moving further afield, French carrier CMA CGM, which has announced a wide ranging series of rate increases, has included the trade between Europe and Australia and New Zealand. The increase comes into effect on 15 September when southbound cargo will attract an additional US$300 per TEU. Northbound cargo from Australia and New Zealand will then cost an additional $200 per TEU.

    OT Africa Line, which is a subsidiary of French shipping giant CMA CGM, has included the Angolan enclave port of Cabinda to its West Africa feeder service. The rotation of the West Feeder service (WFE) is now Pointe Noire (Congo), Cabinda (Angola), Boma (Democratic Republic of Congo), Banana (Democratic Republic of Congo), Lobito (Angola), and Namibe (Angola). OT Africa also calls at Luanda and Soyo in Angola on other services.

    According to AP Moller-Maersk, the Danish company, despite its financial woes (Maersk Line registered a considerable loss for the first half of 2009) is ready to consider acquiring any of its competitors as a means of taking advantage of the current economic crisis. CEO Nils Andersen is quoted in several reports as saying the company is investing in its networks to grow its markets in Africa and South America.

    Stowaways found dead in ship off Durban

    In an as yet unconfirmed report we have heard of a number of stowaways being discovered on a ship at anchor outside Durban harbour. Four men were apparently discovered hiding in the rudder well outside the ship, having travelled from the last port in that position. Two of the men were found to have already died of exposure.

    PORTS & SHIPS is aware of another ship carrying containers which had up to nine stowaways who were discovered last week also hiding in the ship’s rudder well. The men were discovered after the vessel entered port by which time they had travelled for more than a week hiding in that precarious position.

    News clips – Keeping it brief

    Mozambique investments in oil and gas exploration may reach US $ 789 million for the period 2006 and 2011, says the country’s National Petroleum institute. Much of the exploration is taking place along the Rovuma Basin in the north as well as between the northern and central regions of Mozambique. Multinationals involved include Italy’s ENI, US company Anadarko Petroleum and Canadian firm Artumas Group Inc.

    The new admin building under construction earlier this year – Picture by Terry Hutson

    Construction of the new administration building and accompanying facilities at the port of Ngqura has been completed by the main contractor, Grinaker-LTA. The building has five levels and was built to a tight schedule, says the contractor, who is also busy with additional structures for Transnet consisting of a new hauler zone and associated buildings. The port of Ngqura goes ‘live’ in October when the container terminal opens for business.

    The Eastern and Southern African Africa (ESA) bloc is due to sign the controversial Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with the European Union on Saturday (29 August) at the Granda-Baie Conference Centre in Mauritius. The European Commissioner for Trade, Baroness Catherine Ashton will represent the EU while ESA will be represented by delegates from ESA members, Comoros, Madagascar, Mauritius, the Seychelles, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. A meeting of ESA officials is taking place today (27 August) in Mauritius.

    Recommended reads

    In another addition to the daily news bulletin we introduce a link connecting to what we think makes a good and worthwhile read. There is no pattern to the topics chosen – just anything we think is relevant and of interest to our maritime industry. We do not necessarily endorse or agree with what is written either.

    To go to our latest GOOD READ which contains lots of food for thought, simply click on the link HERE. As with all these highlighted links, to return to this page use your RETURN button.

    If you have any suggestions for a good read please send the link to
    info@ports.co.za and put GOOD READ in the subject line.

    Pic of the day – BOUNDARY

    The South African coastal feeder ship of Ocean Africa Container Line, BOUNDARY (10,778-gt, built 1993) operates usually on the company’s west coast service with a rotation of Durban, Cape Town, Luderitz, Walvis Bay and return by same ports. The ship is owned by the German ship owner Maria Rickmers and is managed by Rickmers Reederei of Hamburg. 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

    Did you know that Ports & Ships lists ship movements for all southern African ports between Walvis Bay on the West Coast and Mombasa on the East Coast?

    Colour photographs and slides for sale of a variety of ships.

    Thousands of items listed featuring famous passenger liners of the past to cruise ships of today, freighters, container vessels, tankers, bulkers, naval and research vessels.


    South Africa’s most comprehensive Directory of Maritime Services is now listed on this site. Please check if your company is included. To sign up for a free listing contact info@ports.co.za or register online

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