Ports & Ships Maritime News

Sep 10, 2009
Author: Terry Hutson

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  • First View – PREM PUTLI

  • SA port statistics for August now available

  • SELI 1 aground - latest update

  • Kenya to push ahead with plans for a standard gauge railway

  • Rough seas off Port Elizabeth

  • New head for Sierra Leone ports

  • News clips – Keeping it brief

  • Today’s Good Read – Uganda's oil bonanza is overshadowed by a tribal land dispute

  • Pics of the day – RAINBOW


    First View – PREM PUTLI

    The bulk ore carrier PREM PUTLI (155,041-gt, built 1993), owned by Mercator Lines of India and managed from their Singapore office, made a bunker call at Cape Town last week. The picture is by Ian Shiffman

    SA port statistics for August now available

    South African port statistics for the month of August 2009 are now available.

    As is customary the figures shown in this report reflect an adjustment on the overall tonnage to include containers by weight – an adjustment necessary because Transnet NPA measures containers in terms of the number of TEUs and no longer by weight - for which PORTS & SHIPS estimates an adjustment of 13,5 tonnes per TEU to reflect tonnages. This figure is on the conservative side with 14 tonnes or even more being a more realistic figure, particularly in view of the increasing quantity of bulk cargo which is now being handled in containers.

    For comparative purposes readers can see statistics from 12 months ago by clicking for August 2008 figures HERE

    Figures for the respective ports during August 2009 are (with July 2009 figures shown bracketed):

    Cargo handled by tonnes

    Richards Bay                7.347 Mt million tonnes (July 6.717Mt)
    Durban                        5.973 Mt (July 5.499
    Saldanha Bay               4.663 Mt (July 5.099)
    Cape Town                  0.899 Mt (July 1.200)
    Port Elizabeth               0.877 Mt (July 0.888)
    Mossel Bay                   0.163Mt (July 0.150)
    East London                 0.222 Mt (July 0.205)

    Total monthly cargo in August 20.144 million tonnes (July 19.758 Mt)

    Containers (measured by TEUs)
    (TEUs include Deepsea, Coastal, Tranship and empty containers all subject to being invoiced by NPA)

    Durban                       205,434 TEU (July 184,975)
    Cape Town                   52,335 (July 64,255)
    Port Elizabeth                25,981 (July 25,199)
    East London                  3,896 (July 3,285)
    Richards Bay                    112 (July 6)

    Total containers handled during August 287,758-TEU (July 277,720)

    Ship Calls for August 2009

    Durban:            413 vessels 10.490m gt (July 382 vessels 9.553m gt)
    Cape Town:       252 vessels 4.733m gt (July 290 vessels 5.417m gt)
    Port Elizabeth:   114 vessels 2.830m gt (July 139 vessels 2.960m gt)
    Richards Bay:     175 vessels 5.534m gt (July 148 vessels 4.470m gt)
    Saldanha:           49 vessels 2.813m gt (July 47 vessels 2.742 gt)
    East London:      22 vessels 0.526m gt (July 26 vessels 0.684 gt)
    Mossel Bay:        56 vessels 0.258m gt (July 119 vessels 0.221m gt)

    Total ship calls for August 2009 1,081 ships for 27,185,629-gt (July 1,151 ships for 26,046,943-gt)

    - source TNPA, with adjustments made by Ports & Ships to include container weights

    SELI 1 aground - latest update

    Seli 1 aground in Table Bay - picture by Steve McCurrach

    Salvors got down to evaluating the situation on board the grounded Turkish bulker SELI 1 (19,031-gt, built 1980) as weather conditions moderated yesterday (Wednesday). Late on Monday night the ship lost engine power and snapped her anchor chains before going aground off Sunset Beach in Table Bay.

    All 25 crew were safely evacuated by the NSRI and a Smit Salvage team is now on board the vessel determining how best to remove the 660 tonnes of fuel oil that is the priority at this stage. According to a Smit spokesperson relevant authorities have activated contingency plans to minimise any impact should oil be spilled from the ship.

    A Coastwatch aircraft is continuing with overflights to monitor the situation from the air and has reported a light sheen on the water, which confirms the onboard salvage team’s reports that no significant amounts of oil are leaking from the ship. A small quantity of oil did however wash up on the beach near the casualty on Tuesday and will be cleaned up by the City of Cape Town.

    According to Smit Salvage, the SELI 1’s engine room remains tidal and is open to the sea, indicating that structural damage was sustained probably when the vessel ran aground. Surveys were being undertaken yesterday to assess the extent of this damage. The ship’s fuel tanks remain intact and the removal of the fuel onboard the vessel is a priority.

    “To this end a fuel removal plan is being finalised in consultation with relevant authorities and preparations for this phase of the salvage operation continue, including the identification of suitable vessels to receive the fuel pumped off of the casualty and the mobilisation of equipment and personnel. In addition, a hydrographic survey is in progress in the immediate vicinity of the casualty to assess the depth and nature of the sea bottom.”

    Of concern is that a low intensity cold front is expected later this week which may delay or interfere with the fuel removal operation which is contingent on good weather and sea conditions.

    Kenya to push ahead with plans for a standard gauge railway

    Kenya appears determined to push ahead with building a new standard gauge railway from the port of Mombasa to connect with Uganda and other neighbouring states.

    According to Kenya Railways Managing Director Nduva Muli, the new railway will reduce the cost of transport. Speaking to a news conference this week he said that the line from Mombasa to Malaba and a possible extension to Kampala had the ability to reduce transport costs from the present 45% to 15 percent.

    Comparing Kenya’s railway network to that of other nations, he pointed out that in India or China railway transport accounted for 90% of long distance freight movements while in Kenya the figure was a mere 5%. By building a new standard gauge railway he claimed that Kenya could become an investment hub.

    The railway would cost Kenya Sh320 Billion (US$4.216Bn), he maintained. The MD said that trains on a standard gauge railway would be able to haul a minimum of 4,000 tonnes at speeds of 120km/h, whereas a train of the metre gauge of the existing Kenya railway system is only capable of hauling 800t at a maximum speed of 45km/h.

    He pointed out that by 2030 the port of Mombasa would be handling 30mt of cargo, compared with the 17mt that he said was currently passing through the port annually. The new railway would be more attractive to passengers as well, he added, with double-decked trains running at 160km/h.

    He claimed the Mombasa – Nairobi section would be complete by 2013. In the meantime the matter of the existing concession awarded to Rift Valley Railway was in the courts, he said.

    Rough Seas off Port Elizabeth

    Serving as a reminder that winter hasn’t quite relinquished her influence on the weather, the seas and coastal conditions around South Africa, this past week’s cold front has brought one ship ashore in Table Bay while others have had to contend with strong gale force winds and heaving seas. Port working has been affected and ships are again queueing outside Durban harbour.

    The refrigerated cargo vessel (reefer) GREEN COOLER (5.085-gt, built 1990) was one of those encountering heavy seas while sailing along the coast opposite Schoenmakerskop (shoemaker’s head) near Port Elizabeth recently.

    Pictures taken from the shore by Luc Hosten

    New head for Sierra Leone ports

    News reports in Sierra Leone are saying that the former Minister for Lands and Country Planning Captain Benjamin O Davies has been given the top job at the Sierra Leone Ports Authority (SLPA).

    Davies, who was dismissed from his ministerial post, has received the nod from President Ernest Bai Koroma, according to these reports. His deputy will be a former acting general manager of the SLPA, Captain Hubert Bloomer. A government source is said to have confirmed the appointment ‘off the record’ and said it was just a matter of time before the president made the announcement.

    Davies was fired from his cabinet position by the same president soon after he came into office in 2007.

    There have been reports of unrest among workers and staff at the ports company, with some siding with Captain Bloomer, the acting GM, while others took the part of a former deputy general manager and contestant for the position, Captain Sawyer, resulting in claims that the ports authority is being run by two general managers. The appointment of Capt Davies is seen as a measure of easing the tension by choosing a neutral person for the post.

    In a related development, officials at the SLPA have been told to embrace the country’s president’s call for a change of attitude.

    “The Ports can only generate more when workers change their attitude towards their work. The Ports should not be seen as a place to talk politics; it should serve as a center to preach attitudinal change,” said Philip Conteh, the executive director of attitudinal and behavioral change with the port company. He said the issue of change was more pertinent to workers at the quay as they were the bedrock of the country’s economy. Politicking should be left out of the office, Conteh said. – source Concord Times

    News clips – Keeping it brief

    Maersk Baltimore - picture by Ian Shiffman

    Maersk Line has announced rate increase on its northern Europe and Western Mediterranean to West Africa trades, with effect 1 October. On that date rates for containers will increase €150 per 20ft container or 20ft reefer and €270 per 40ft box or reefer.

    From the United Kingdom to West Africa rates go up £130 per 20ft and £240 per 40ft container or reefer. Maersk said in its statement that trading conditions for the carriers operating in these markets remain subject to unacceptable rate levels and the situation is unsustainable in the longer term.

    With effect from Tuesday (8 September 2009) the Ramatlabama Border Post has been closed for Customs activities, with all customs related activities being redirected to Skilpadshek Border Post. SARS reports that nationally there has been an increased number of staff at the various SARS offices and where offices have a high trade impact staff have been re-deployed there to address operational demands. The strike action involving some SARS personnel is meanwhile continuing.

    Pride South Seas in Cape Town harbour - picture by Aad Noorland

    The Harbour Master at the port of Cape Town, Captain DD Naicker advises that the oil rig PRIDE SOUTH SEAS is scheduled to sail this Friday, 11 September, weather permitting. Shipping delays will be kept to a minimum, he advises.

    Nigeria’s Federal Minister of Transport says that more than 75% of Nigeria’s railway locomotives have outlived their operational lifespan of 25 years and are unfit to continue in service. He said the majority of locos were around 35 years old. The government has earmarked N25 Billion of this year’s budget for the replacement of some of these locomotives, he said, with 25 new locos already ordered and due for delivery by the end of 2010. The minister said the administration is determined to restore the railway network to its old glory.

    Today’s Good Read – Uganda's oil bonanza is overshadowed by a tribal land dispute

    Uganda is looking to become one of Africa’s leading oil producers, which will alter the political and economic structure of east and central Africa both politically and economically. But as with sudden wealth anywhere else, almost everyone in the vicinity wants a piece of the action. Bill Oketch of the Institute of War and Peace Reporting in London writes that Uganda’s oil bonanza is overshadowed by a tribal land dispute Read his report here.

    If you have any suggestions for a good or informative read please send the link to info@ports.co.za and put GOOD READ in the subject line. There is no pattern to what topic is chosen – just anything we think is relevant and of interest to our maritime industry. For example, the above story refers to oil discoveries in a landlocked east African country which will have to be shipped from somewhere to someplace else.

    PORTS & SHIPS does not necessarily endorse or agree with what is written in these reports.

    Pics of the day – RAINBOW

    The South African handysize products tanker RAINBOW (built 1995), owned by Unicorn Tankers and previously operated on behalf of local oil company interests to deliver oil and chemicals along the Southern African coast, was seen recently in Cape Town harbour. Pictures by Ian Shiffman

    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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