Ports & Ships Maritime News

May 31, 2010
Author: Terry Hutson


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  • First View - THOR HANNE

  • Strike ends - time to act on productivity

  • Indian Ocean countries to get tough on piracy

  • Durban's Island View 6 back in business

  • Breede becomes 1000th ship at Mossel Bay SPM

  • Saldanha: iron ore port on a roll

  • Likely delays as oil rig gets set to enter Cape Town harbour

  • Logwin opens subsidiary in Kenya

  • Pics of the day - CMA CGM YANTIAN


    First View - THOR HANNE

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    The general cargo ship THOR HANNE (1967-gt, built 2004) makes her way past Wilson's Wharf and into the Esplanade Channel, having undergone repairs at the Durban Bayhead. Picture by Trevor Jones

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    Strike ends - time to act on productivity

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    Durban Container Terminals - now the job of clearing the backlogs begins

    With the Transnet strike having ended effectively on Friday morning (28 May), when most workers returned to duty, the task now turns to catching up with the backlogs that have occurred at the various ports and terminals, and those of the country's freight train operations.

    Experts are already saying it could be months, even longer before all the backlog is cleared and while this may seem excessive when it comes to containers and breakbulk cargoes, the accumulation of ores and minerals waiting to be delivered will indeed take many months to reduce.

    It is probable that some of this backlog can be treated as lost exports, and terminals such as the Richards Bay Coal Terminal in particular and the Saldanha iron ore terminal may never make up the losses, considering the available rail infrastructure.

    The cost of the recent strike therefore needs to be properly evaluated, and the roleplayers, namely Transnet and the two trade unions Satawu and Utatu, should be taking close and personal looks at what happened and what could have taken place to avoid its occurrence. No doubt ordinary workers will be giving similar consideration at month end when they evaluate how to account for rent and food requirements with less than half a month's wages in their individual pay packets.

    Transnet meanwhile is congratulating itself on having successfully managed the delivery of coal to Eskom throughout the period, while the pipelines apparently kept the aviation and motor industry fueled with supplies from the refineries. Priority was given to clearing Fifa-related equipment and supplies at the ports, to the detriment of other importers it must be said - adding a further reason among those who question the cost of this extravaganza and showpiece.

    Equally importantly, Transnet managed to secure the majority of its properties and assets away from harm, therefore making them available now that the worst is over.

    In a message to customers, Transnet CEO Chris Wells said he wished to thank all Transnet clients for their understanding and support during the strike. "Whilst it will not be possible to return to normality immediately, we are striving to do so as swiftly as possible and I appeal to all our customers for patience and their continuing co-operation as we do so."

    He said that the key focus going forward was for Transnet to significantly improve productivity, safety and efficiency levels which are lagging behind world©class benchmark standards across the company. "To secure the required quantum leap improvements, we have agreed even more challenging targets with our shareholder, the Department of Public Enterprises, for the new financial year," he said.

    Having been forced to watch helplessly as management and labour secured for themselves hefty increases - bonuses that could be described as obscene for senior management and increases somewhere in excess of 11 percent - more than double the inflation rate for workers - customers of the transport giant will indeed look for an exponential increase in productivity to match. One fears it won't be quite so forthcoming as the bonuses and increases, despite the rhetoric.

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    Indian Ocean countries to get tough on piracy

    Countries bordering the piracy threat in the Indian Ocean and the Gulf of Aden will have to act together to stem the ongoing attacks. At the recent Seychelles Conference, the participants agreed that to be affective a joined-up, short, medium and long term strategy was needed. In the short term, continuing deterring and capturing pirates remained a priority. In the medium term, the capacities of the countries in the wider region needed to be strengthened to enable them to prosecute and imprison pirates.

    However, it was agreed that this strategy could only be achieved by addressing the underlying security challenges and development causes behind piracy.

    The partners also agreed to further develop and enhance their domestic action plans to fight piracy with a view to formulating a more comprehensive, coherent and sustainable regional strategy to be agreed at a further ministerial level conference to be convened in the very near future.

    At the conference, the EU reiterated its strong commitment to stand by the countries in the region together with the other international partners in order to help them to effectively address the piracy problem.

    The conference partners included the Ministers of the Djibouti Republic, Kenya, Mauritius, Mozambique, Seychelles, South Africa and high representatives of the EU, plus other international organisations. - Tanker Operator

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    Durban's Island View 6 back in business

    Ships calling at Durban harbour to load or discharge petroleum products are again able to tie up at the Island View berth 6 facility, following the official commissioning of a R70 million upgrade.

    Construction of the berth facility followed the upgrade of the civil structure by the National Ports Authority. SAPREF, which manages the operation of the berth on behalf of BP, Engen, Shell and Total, was mandated by the oil majors to design and construct the loading infrastructure.

    The loading facility comprises four marine loading arms coupled to back of berth fuel supply connections from the different oil companies. Each arm has the capacity to load 1950 cubic metres of product per hour. Over 60 ships a year are expected to use the new berth.

    Safety features include a self-contained bund surrounding the loading area and the ability to pump product back into the product line. The loading area is roofed and is self-draining to minimise rain water accumulation and slops generation.

    Construction commenced in November 2009 and has been completed in time to handle the increased demand for fuel as a result of the Fifa World Cup. SAPREF has recently obtained an operating license from NERSA for this loading facility, which SAPREF MD, Bart Voet said was another example of continuous investment in infrastructure by the petroleum industry which played a key role in the economy of Durban making it a true petrochemical hub for the country.

    "With the increasing need for fuel imports, the investment in the berth is a timely and responsible action by the liquid fuels sector,"  said Tseliso Maqubela, Deputy Director General at the Department of Energy. "It gives confidence that the industry is serious about investment in South Africa."

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    Breede becomes 1000th ship at Mossel Bay SPM

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    The SPM undergoing refurbishment ashore. Picture PetroSA

    Unicorn Tanker's product vessel BREEDE (16,500-dwt, built 2009) became the 1000th ship to go alongside and moor on the Single Point Mooring (SPM) outside Mossel Bay this weekend.

    PetroSA confirmed on Friday that they would be pumping to the buoy a cargo of ULP, LRP, diesel and kerosene.

    Mossel Bay is one of those ports that stays out of the limelight and most people tend to think of it as little other than a fishing harbour, so it came as something of a surprise to learn that the 1000th mooring on one of two points was taking place.

    The Single Point Mooring is situated 1.5 n.miles offshore of the harbour in waters 21 metres deep. The SPM buoy is known as a Catenary Anchor Leg Mooring, or CALM type and was developed by Imodco and Shell for use in shallow and relatively calm waters, although one example has already been installed in the North Sea in waters more than a hundred metres deep.

    A second mooring point, a Conventional Buoy Mooring (CBM) is closer inshore.

    The SPM was taken ashore last year for a complete refurbishment, which involved bringing a heavy lift crane down from Gauteng to left the 200-ton plus SPM from the water. On completion of the refit the buoy was returned to the water and towed into place offshore.

    The two Mossel Bay offshore moorings are managed and maintained by Smit Amandla Marine on behalf of PetroSA. Smit Amandla provides each visiting tanker with a team consisting of a loading master and three divers, who stay on board the tanker until all cargo operations and documentation are completed. The loading master also assists the NPA harbour pilot with berthing operations even though the operation takes place at sea and not inside Mossel Bay harbour. A close watch is kept on the sea and weather conditions throughout the discharging operations.

    Smit Amandla Marine also maintains a buoy tender vessel named Pentow Malgas to assist with these operations.

    In other news concerning Mossel Bay and PetroSA, the national oil company said last week that it would invest R80 million of the construction of a water desalination plant for the town and region. When complete the plant will produce 5 million litres of treated water a day.

    Working in cooperation with the Mossel Bay municipality, PetraSA hopes that the plant will be in service by November this year. Mossel Bay is in the midst of a drought which is having an impact on PetroSA's gas to liquids refinery nearby.

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    SPM and tanker at Mossel Bay. Picture PetroSA

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    Saldanha: iron ore port on a roll

    A remarkable transport/engineering feat happened during last year's Christmas season - on 27 December - at the Sishen railway station. It literally set the wheels in motion for far-reaching results, especially so for Saldanha's iron ore export effort.

    On that day the last of ten trains left the Northern Cape's iron export station for Saldanha, almost 1,000 km to the south. Its successful departure would determine whether the iron ore team could claim victory by reaching the one million ton per week throughput mark. And so it did, to much jubilation amongst the teams involved.

    There was purpose to this exercise - to push iron ore exports, through the Port of Saldanha, at a rate of 60 million tons a year on a continuous basis by the end of this year. Transnet Port Terminals is under continual pressure from the Northern Cape mining operations, especially Kumba and Assmang, to increase export capacity.

    During a visit to the bulk terminal in Saldanha, chief executive Karl Socikwa last month told CBN the third phase (1C) of the terminal expansion plan is now in full swing, with the aim to lift export capacity to 60 million tons per annum. This comes in at a cost of R630 million, all earmarked to improve the infrastructure at the port.

    During the past financial year, ending March 2010, the port loaded a record of 44 million tons of iron ore, almost 70 percent of it for Far East markets, more notably China.

    During 2004 Terminal Expansion Phase 1A was completed, at a cost of R950 million, lifting capacity from 28 mtpa to 36 million tons per annum. Last year Terminal Expansion Phase 1B was completed, expanding capacity to 47 mtpa.

    The current ramp-up of the corridor to 60 mtpa is reliant on the channel achieving certain milestones within certain pre-defined time frames.

    One of these critical milestones was for the channel to move from an average of 920,000 tons per week to around a million tons per week in the first quarter of 2010. Breaking through this psychological barrier early was necessary to set the tone for this year. Now it's all about sustainability at these levels.

    The bulk terminal at the Port of Saldanha, which is the last link in the iron ore corridor supply chain, is where all the action happens in terms of offloading, stacking and stockpiling, reclaiming and loading the ore onto bulk carrier ships.

    It is estimated that well in excess of R5 billion has so far been spent to increase iron ore exports from the deep-water port to meet the growing demand for South Africa's high-quality iron ore. Although volumes have been down of recent months, all seems set to sustain the one million ton target to create capacity ahead of demand.

    Currently the infrastructure at the port comprises two rotary tipplers, four stacker reclaimers, two shiploaders and 25 conveying systems, providing the terminal with a capacity to off-load 10,000 tons per hour onto a ship.

    But much money will still be spent to expand infrastructure as the port is gearing up to increase capacity to more than 80 million tons per annum in the not too distant future. Environmental impact studies are needed for the establishment of new infrastructure on some 141 hectares of land. This part of the proposed project could have the biggest impact on the sensitive environment of the bay and lagoon.

    The plan is to reclaim an additional 50 hectares of land within Saldanha Bay. This will be done by dredger. The shipping channel will be deepened and the material recovered will be used for the construction of new shipping berths.

    Another footprint area which could be impacted is 35 hectares of land in the undisturbed dune area on the coast between the iron ore quay and the Saldanha Mittal Steel Plant. The intention is also to fill in the so called 'Oyster Dam' to create more space for stockpiling iron ore within the confines of Saldanha Bay.

    The size of trains and the number of ships calling at Saldanha's port will also increase when the facilities are enlarged to handle more iron ore. Ships calling at the port of Saldanha will also increase in size and number. Two ships a week, being about a hundred a year, called at Saldanha in 2007 to load iron ore. Even though bigger ships will be loading, it's anticipated that shipping volume will now increase to more than 200 vessels a year. - CBN

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    Saldanha iron ore terminal loading quay with two Capesizes on berth. Picture Terry Hutson

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    Likely delays as oil rig gets set to enter Cape Town harbour

    The Cape Town Acting Harbour Master, Captain Eddie Bremner has advised that the oil rig PRIDE SOUTH SEAS is scheduled to enter harbour this morning (Monday), weather permitting.

    He has given the assurance that TNPA will do everything to keep shipping delays to a minimum.

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    Pride South Seas. Picture Aad Noolrand

    Logwin opens subsidiary in Kenya

    Logwin, the international logistics company has established its own national subsidiary in Kenya. The first office opened in the Kenyan capital of Nairobi in April this year, with a second office to be established around 500 km away in the port of Mombasa during June.

    "Consequently expanding our network of branches is and will remain a significant cornerstone of our strategy", said Helmut Kaspers, COO of the business segment Air + Ocean at Logwin AG. "We are placing increasing importance on local entrepreneurial commitment, as evidenced by the current establishment of our national subsidiary in Kenya and in India last year."

    UK-born Darren Brown is the country director of Logwin Air and Ocean Kenya Ltd. The 40-year-old has extensive experience in the African logistics market. In addition to managing air and ocean freight consignments, the company also specialises in cross-border transportation to the neighbouring East African countries, including the delivery of aid supplies. Project management, supply chain management, warehousing, distribution and customs clearance round off the product range.

    With its own offices in Nairobi and Mombasa, Logwin has a presence in two major logistics centres in Kenya. The capital of Nairobi is one of the most significant economic centres in the country. The majority of Kenya's imports and exports transported by air - around 200,000 tonnes of goods annually - pass through Jomo Kenyatta International Airport. The harbour city of Mombasa, Kenya's second largest city, is the major hub for Uganda.

    "A lot is happening in Kenya in terms of logistics infrastructure at the moment," declares Patrick Federle, Managing Director Region Africa, Logwin business segment Air + Ocean. "For example, current projects include the modernisation of the port facilities in Mombasa and upgrading of the highway to Nairobi. As logistics service provider we profit directly from this."

    Kenya imports primarily petroleum and petroleum products, chemicals, white goods, machines and vehicles. Its main exports are tea, coffee, vegetables and fruit, as well as cut flowers and garments.

    Logwin has had a presence on the African continent since 1976 and operates five offices in South Africa. "Establishing our Kenyan national subsidiary is the springboard for expanding our activities in Africa," explains Kaspers. "This market offers great potential and we want to support our customers on the ground with reliable logistics services."

    Contact airocean.ke@logwin-logistics.com for more details

    Pics of the day - CMA CGM YANTIAN

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    The French container company's CMA CGM YANTIAN (39,941-gt, built 2003) was a recent visitor in the Mother City of Cape Town. Picture by Ian Shiffman

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