Ports & Ships Maritime News

Mar 29, 2010
Author: Terry Hutson

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  • First View – QUEEN MARY 2

  • Transnet reacts to regulator’s ruling on pipeline tariff

  • Transnet says outlook review is no reflection on its financial strength

  • Drewry advises shippers to add a day for slow steaming

  • Why coal is the best way to power SA's growth

  • NSRI rescues trawler off Cape Point

  • Trade News – Fastlift completes refurbishment of first AWD crane

  • Pics of the day – QUEEN MARY 2


    First View – QUEEN MARY 2

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    No excuses for yet more pictures of QUEEN MARY 2 on her visit to Durban and Cape Town last week (tomorrow we’ll move on). Durban is a modern port city with many faces, including the look that comes from being in the sub-tropics along with high humidity in summer and warm winters. This scene of the passenger liner QUEEN MARY 2 in Durban harbour last week was taken from the Esplanade by John Walkden-Davis of Pretty Ancient Antiques

    Transnet reacts to regulator’s ruling on pipeline tariff

    Transnet Limited on Friday expressed concern over the decision by the National Energy Regulator of South Africa (Nersa) to grant Transnet Pipelines (TPL) a 12% revenue increase for the 2010/11 year.

    In its 2010/11 tariff application, Transnet had requested a revenue increase of 51% compared to the 2009/2010 determination of Nersa. The requested increase was largely due to new assets being commissioned in this coming financial year (2010/2011) as well as the application of sound technical and widely accepted regulatory principles.

    Transnet says it is studying the decision and assessing its implications on the business and the funding of the investment in new pipeline infrastructure. The company will comment in greater detail once it has received Nersa’s reasons for decision.

    According to Transnet, Nersa’s tariff decisions, shown below, do not factor in any claw back that has been announced by the Regulator in its decision last week. Adjusting for this, the historic tariffs would be much lower which compounds the fact that tariffs have not increased in real terms since 2007/08:

    F. Year             Tariff Determination
    2007/08                   0 %
    2008/09                   4.43%
    2009/10                   -10.89%

    “It is not possible to make proper investment decisions when such uncertainty prevails on cash flows and constantly changing parameters are used. It is in South Africa’s interest that we establish some regulatory certainty as soon as possible.

    “The Regulator compares the original ‘concept’ cost estimates for the New Multi-Product Pipeline (NMPP) with the latest budget. This is misleading as the ‘concept’ costs estimates were stated to be before Environmental Impact Assessment and engineering and design. In addition, the ‘concept’ costs specifically did not include the inland and coastal terminals amounting to some R2 billion.

    “It is an accepted fact that for greenfield projects of this complexity, like building a pipeline which has not been done in South Africa in 40 years, it is not possible to make an assessment of the costs until appropriate engineering and design work is completed.”

    Transnet says outlook review is no reflection on its financial strength

    Transnet says in a statement issued Friday that a few media houses have been reporting the ‘outlook review’ issued by rating agency Standard & Poor is mainly due to the Standard & Poor (S&P)’s government related entity methodology and is no reflection of Transnet’s financial strength.

    “S&P has down-graded the sovereign rating relating to South Africa and, consequently, all state-owned entities, including Transnet, are being downgraded. This is despite the fact that Transnet is self-funding and, since 2005, has not received a single government guarantee to back any of its borrowings. All borrowings are being made on the strength of our balance sheet.

    “Transnet Limited has met all its funding requirements for the year ending 31 March 2010 and has begun pre-funding activities for the new financial year which commences next month.

    “Investors appreciate that Transnet’s base line rating – which is the basis for our credit assessment – has not changed. Our funding strategy will not be impacted by this change and we are confident that cost-effective funding will be raised according to our funding plan. And we are pleased that Transnet is continuing to perform well and volumes have resumed a strong growth trend.

    Transnet says its fundamental financial strength – evidenced by strong cash flows and profitability – remains. “The company is still trading within all the key financial efficiency metrics agreed with rating agencies such as maintaining a cash interest cover (a measure of our ability to repay debts) of above 3 times, a gearing of less than 50% (which is uncharacteristically low for an infrastructure company in the middle of an aggressive capital investment programme) and robust profitability. Our results for the year ending on 31 March 2010 – due out on 10 June 2010 – will bear this fact out. Also read a copy of a media presentation and statement issued by Chris Wells, Transnet’s acting Group CE, last Thursday on www.transnet.net

    “Our R93 billion capital investment programme, our vote of confidence on the domestic economy, remains solidly on course.”

    Drewry advises shippers to add a day for slow steaming

    London-based consultants Drewry says it advises adding an additional 24 hours to port-to-port sailing schedules as advertised by carriers because of a decline in on-time arrivals of ships using slow steaming to reduce fuel costs.

    The advice is based on studies done over the four quarters of 2009, in which slow steaming introduced in the final quarter reflected a definite decline in on-time arrivals.

    Why coal is the best way to power SA's growth

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    By Pravin Gordhan (SA Minister of Finance)

    Cape Town - Today, the South African economy is two-thirds larger than it was in 1994, when Nelson Mandela took office as the country's first democratically elected president.

    With this growth has come strong new demand for electricity. Millions of previously marginalized South Africans are now on the grid. Unfortunately, as in other major emerging economies, supply has not kept pace.

    Reserve margins are increasingly tight -- too tight for an energy-intensive economy such as South Africa's, whose mines and factories rely on steady supplies of competitively priced power.

    South Africa has weathered the global downturn better than many richer countries, but the majority of our people remain poor and unemployment stands at an unacceptable 24 percent. To sustain the growth rates we need to create jobs, we have no choice but to build new generating capacity -- relying on what, for now, remains our most abundant and affordable energy source: coal.

    Because this is not the most auspicious time for our energy utility, Eskom, to be looking to finance a USD 50-billion capital program, we are approaching sources of funding we have hitherto left untapped, including the World Bank, the African Development Bank and the European Investment Bank.

    But our application for a USD 3.75-billion World Bank loan faces stiff opposition. A strong body of opinion holds that multilateral development banks should be discouraged from funding coal-burning power projects with carbon dioxide emissions that contribute to climate change. We share this concern but, after careful consideration, have concluded that the course we have chosen is the only responsible way forward.

    The bulk of the loan, or just over USD 3-billion, will go toward the construction of a 4,800-megawatt power station at Medupi in South Africa's Limpopo province. This plant, the first of its kind in Africa, will use some of the most efficient, lowest-emission coal-fired technology available.

    The rest of the loan, USD 745-million, will be invested in wind and concentrated solar power projects, each generating 100 megawatts, and in various efficiency improvements.
    South Africa takes climate change and the need to reduce fossil fuel emissions extremely seriously.

    Working with Brazil, India and China, we helped to craft the compromise that saved December's United Nations climate change conference in Copenhagen from ending in deadlock. In thanks, Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, called us and our partners "the four horsemen of a climate change solution."

    At home, we are taking concrete action that will push our carbon emissions 34 percent lower in 2020 than they would have been otherwise and 43 percent lower in 2025, with net reductions kicking in 10 years after that. We are using every tool at our disposal -- legislative, regulatory and fiscal -- to promote clean and renewable energy and manage demand.

    If there were any other way to meet our power needs as quickly or as affordably as our present circumstances demand, or on the required scale, we would obviously prefer technologies -- wind, solar, hydropower, nuclear -- that leave little or no carbon footprint.

    But we do not have that luxury if we are to meet our obligations both to our own people and to our broader region whose economic prospects are closely tied to our own. South Africa generates more than 60 percent of all electricity produced in sub-Saharan Africa.

    Tight supplies are not just a problem for us. Our neighbors Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, Swaziland and Zimbabwe all rely on Eskom for their electricity. They face the same growth constraints that we do. Their factories and businesses, hospitals and schools, and their ability to provide basic services all depend on Eskom-generated power.

    A question that has to be faced is whether stunting growth prospects in our region will in any way serve the goal we all share of eliminating greenhouse gas emissions over the long term.

    Whatever paths we take toward that goal, whether shifting to renewables and nuclear or finding ways to keep harmful gases out of the atmosphere once created, the journey will inevitably be costly, requiring massive investments in technology, research and re-engineering the ways in which we live and do business. It will also require a true spirit of consensus and collaboration.

    Neither of these requirements will be well served by hampering the transitional measures that developing countries like ours need to take to get themselves on sustainable growth tracks and generate the resources they need to play their part in preserving our planet.

    NSRI rescues trawler off Cape Point

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    NSRI at sea

    The National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) at Hout Bay was involved on Saturday in the rescue of a fishing vessel, SULEIMAN which had fouled a long line fishing rope around its propellers.

    At the time the long line vessel was 35 n.miles South West of Cape Point.

    “We launched our rescue craft MTU Nadine Gordimer and on arrival on-scene a tow-line was rigged and we began the effort of towing the vessel towards False Bay in 2.5 metre swells and a 35 knot South Easterly wind,” reported Brad Geyser, NSRI Hout Bay station commander.

    “Efforts by a commercial dive team to free the rope fouled around the propeller had been unsuccessful.

    “NSRI Simon’s Town were activated at 15h45 and they launched their rescue craft Spirit of Safmarine III to rendezvous with the tow effort and to take over the tow nearer to Cape Point and to tow the vessel the final stretch to her home port at Kalk Bay Harbour (this will allow our Hout Bay NSRI rescue craft to be relieved from the tow to return to our rescue base in Hout Bay harbour).

    “At 20h39 the Hout Bay NSRI rescue craft released her tow from the casualty vessel 10 nautical miles off Cape Point after we rendezvoused with the NSRI Simon’s Town’s rescue craft and the tow-line was taken up by the NSRI Simon’s Town rescue craft and they were expected to bring the casualty vessel into Kalk Bay harbour at around midnight.”

    In another case on Saturday involving this time the Durban NSRI base, Sean Serfontein, NSRI Durban duty controller reported: “At 14h41 NSRI Durban were activated by the Transnet National Ports Authority following a request for assistance from the yacht Sovereign with 7 crew on-board reporting engine failure and unable to get into port with no power in a 20 knot South Westerly wind and requesting a tow from the NSRI to her berth.

    “We launched our rescue craft Eikos Rescuer II and while we were en-route to assist the yacht the Port Control requested us to divert our rescue craft to catch the yacht HisWay which was unmanned and dragging her anchor at her berth.

    “We towed HisWay to her berth and secured her safely and her Johannesburg owner will be informed of the incident.

    “We then continued out of the harbour entrance to assist the yacht and crew of Sovereign and after rigging a tow-line we towed her safely to the International moorings in the Port of Durban and once safely berthed they required no further assistance.

    “Then at 19h15 we responded to Zimbali Lodge (KZN North Coast) following reports of a single red distress flare sighted in that vicinity and after all slip-ways and launching sites were investigated and after finding no signs of vessels overdue or unaccounted for a search was suspended and the situation will continue to be monitored and reassessed if any further red distress flares are reported in the vicinity.”

    Trade News – Fastlift completes refurbishment of first AWD crane

    Fastlift, through its specialised ‘cranes and services’ division, has just completed the refurbishment of the first of three 4-ton A.W.D. wharf cranes for fishing company I & J at Cape Town harbour.

    Work began on 15 November last year and, with a two week break over Christmas, the first crane was successfully completed at the end of February. The firm has already begun work on the refurbishment of the second of I & J’s three cranes.

    The cranes were originally manufactured back in 1960 by AWD. In all 60 cranes were manufactured, and sold to Transnet (then known as SAR&H) for use at various places throughout the country. However Fastlift managed to locate and purchase the original OEM drawings. These included the complete crane specifications, which were critically important for the success of the refurbishment project.

    The refurbishment process costs some R1.35 million, as against the R6m to R7m required to buy a new crane. Fastlift’s contract involved dismantling, rigging, lifting and removing the boom, which weighed 19 tons. It was then sent for various metallurgical and NDT tests.

    Because the cranes operate on the quayside, the danger of undue corrosion needs constant watching, particularly as it is not always visible to the naked eye. The cranes have regular three-monthly maintenance checks, and load-testing is warranted at least once a year. In the present case complete sandblasting was carried out, followed by a scrupulous inspection, with action to refurbish or replace affected parts.

    The gearboxes, motors, hoist ropes and other parts were thoroughly examined, removed, replaced and re-installed. The mast and the structure itself, as well as handrails and the main frame, were similarly treated.

    The work was carried out by a highly skilled team, operating with a rigging loft which comes on site, fully equipped for the task, and is parked in a specially demarcated area.

    The team is already hard at work on the second of the three I & J cranes, and Fastlift has already had an enquiry from Walvis Bay for the refurbishment of a further 7 AWD cranes.

    Pics of the day –QUEEN MARY 2

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    After QUEEN MARY 2’s successful visit to Durban the ship sailed along the South African coast to Cape Town, arriving on Thursday 25 March. These two aerial pictures show the ship arriving in Table Bay. Pictures by Ian Shiffman

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    Image and video hosting by TinyPic

    Another aerial picture of the ship taken while still in Durban shows the ship alongside O berth on the T-Jetty, next to the large citrus fruit terminal. Beyond that is the Ocean Terminal Building while to the right (blue roof) is Durban’s N-Shed Passenger Terminal. On the water side of Queen Mary 2 is the Unical bunker barge busy delivering diesel fuel for the ship’s next leg of her journey. Picture by Hylton Spencer

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    On arrival in Durban on Tuesday, 23 March Queen Mary 2 sailed past the ‘still under development’ Point Waterfront development, from where Hylke Wierenga took this picture.

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