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Ports & Ships Maritime News

Aug 12-13, 2010
Author: Terry Hutson

Shipping, freight, trade and transport related news of interest for Africa


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With the ship chandlers busy alongside revictualing the vessel, the German bulker EILHARD SCHULTE (48,913-dwt, built 1999) prepares to sail from Durban’s City Terminal later that day. Picture by Terry Hutson


News continues below...

News from the shipping lines

Seasonal South Africa-Europe loop to be withdrawn

The South Africa Europe Container Service’s (SAECS) Reefer Service between South Africa and Northern Europe, which operates on seasonally, is to be withdrawn as the season is drawing to a close. Using three Safmarine ships and one each from DAL and MOL, each of between 1,200 – 1,800-TEU capacity, the service known as the SAECS Reefer Express rotates between Cape Town, Port Elizabeth, Rotterdam, Tilbury and Cape Town. The last northbound service is due to sail from Cape Town on 20 August.

Hapag-Lloyd posts record quarterly profits


In another remarkable turnaround, German container carrier Hapag-Lloyd is reporting record second quarter profits of € 226 million. This compares with a € 193 million loss for the same period a year ago. TUI, Hapag-Lloyd’s former major shareholder says the turnaround is “considerably better than expected” and attributed it to effective cost-cutting measures and improved volumes. Container revenue increased by 28.5 percent for the period and a 29.9 percent increase in freight rates also contributed to the results, while overall volumes rose by 7.8 percent.

It’s been revealed that Hapag-Lloyd may return unused state loan guarantees worth more than USD 1.5 billion, which were provided to help bale out the company when things looked bleak a year ago. In the rescue package a Hamburg-based consortium headed by Albert Ballin acquired 56.7 percent of the line’s shares but TUI is now said to be in no hurry to dispose of the balance of its shares. Hapag-Lloyd is estimated to have made operating losses of more than USD 1 billion last year.

MACS sets new bunker surcharges

MACS (Maritime Carrier Shipping), the German/South African shipping line has announced bunker surcharges that will take effect as from 1 September 2010. On that date they become:

USD 394 / TEU For GP, OT Containers and Flatracks
USD 394 / lost slot, In case of overheight and/or overwidth
USD 515 / TEU For Refrigerated Containers
EUR 20,50 / Freight tons For Break bulk cargo
First effective sailings are: MV Red Cedar 0224 (southbound) and MV Bright Horizon 0127 (northbound).


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NDONGENI finds her way to Cape Town

The Durban-based firm of Subtech has recently acquired the offshore service tug NDONGENI (321-gt) which for a number of years was an integral part of the SBM operation (single buoy mooring) outside the Port of Durban.

During that time Ndongeni proved her versatility in towing, salvage and offshore supply roles.

Subtech has positioned the 2200BHP tug in Cape Town and reports that already there has been a considerable amount of interest shown in her capabilities. Ndongeni will be utilised in support of the Subtech salvage and construction barge AEGIR 30 which is also currently in Cape Town, but will also be available for salvage, offshore supply operations, towing and crew transfer.

Ndongeni has a 32t bollard pull and an aft deck rigged for easy offshore supply and crew change.

A spokesman for Subtech told Ports & Ships he was confident that the vessel’s versatility and manoeuvrability will ensure that she remains a firm favourite in the shipping industry.


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YESTERYEAR: Those classic ships - ELPENOR


The mid 1970s witnessed another Suez crisis and a surge in shipping that was re-routed round the Cape of Good Hope, bringing large numbers of vessels not normally seen in these waters to the ports of Durban and Cape Town for bunkering purposes. Among the many callers in this category during 1975 was the Blue Funnel Line’s (Andrew Holt) ELPENOR (7,757-gt, built 1954), which crossed into Durban to bunker. Picture by Trevor Jones


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Piracy report – Indian concern as Somalis move closer


An Indian report says that coastal security agencies are confirming that the Somali nationals caught recently near the Lakshadweep Islands were pirates and not fishermen, as they were claiming.

When the eight pirates were taken into custody in May this year they said they were fishermen who left the Somali coast in March for extennded fishing and became separated from their mother vessel. They ran out of fuel and food and were stranded when captured, they said. But according to Indian security specialists the men’s story carry the signs of piracy.

They said it was clear that Somali pirates, probably in reaction to increased naval activity close to Somalia, were gradually moving further afield even as far as the Mauritius and Seychelles coasts. “The area of operation has become quite big,” said one official.

There had been 13 incidents of piracy within 400 miles of Lakshadweep Island.

The security officials said the captured pirates were part of a larger group that had become separated from their mother ship and colleagues.

Meanwhile it is reported that four Indian Ocean island nations and the French territory of Reunion were planning to form a joint naval response in the face of increasing piracy in their respective regions. The European Union has been asked for help in funding the force which would be drawn from Madagascar, the Comoros, Mauritius, the Seychelles and Reunion.

If the force is successfully formed it will become one of the few responses by an African or Indian Ocean island country against Somali-sourced piracy.

The four nations plan to help patrol and police the seas as a counter to any advancing piracy in their directions.

Meanwhile, Intertanko has reacted to the release of the pirates that were captured while attacking the Odfjell tanker BOW SAGA last week. The attack was abandoned after the arrival of the Spanish frigate VICTORIA which took the pirates into custody before later releasing them.

“Releasing the ‘Bow Saga’ pirates back to Somalia is a bitter blow to the shipping industry (and to its seafarers) in the global fight against piracy,” said Intertanko in a statement. “This undoubtedly will also disappoint those governments that have encouraged the detention and prosecution of pirates. INTERTANKO and its members remain committed to assist in every way possible in bringing to justice those caught in the act of piracy.”


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US focusing on high-end to boost export trade with Africa

The US is moving higher up the products advancement ladder to keep its share of trade with Africa where competition for the low-end market has intensified with availability of cheap goods from emerging economies such as China and India.

US assistant Secretary of State for Africa Johnnie Carson says America is tightening its grip of the high-tech segment of the market to secure its top position in global commerce that has come under serious attack from the industrialising economies commonly known as BRICs.

“America will not compete at the low-end of Africa’s consumer goods market with Brazil, Russia, India or China (BRIC),” he said on the sidelines of the 2010 Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (Agoa) in Kansas City.

Production and export of cheap toys, mobile phones, radios, television sets and clothes has fuelled China’s booming economy in the past decade, propelling it to the world’s second largest and sparking debate over how best America should respond.

While China’s cheap goods have flooded the streets and supermarkets of all major cities and small towns in Africa, America has deepened its presence in the high-tech goods market such as aircraft, medicine and medical equipment.

Mr Carson, who is President Barack Obama’s chief advisor on US policies in Africa, shed light on a question that has lingered since the 2000 China-Africa Forum that set in motion “a new era of economic co-operation” between the continent and the Asian nation.

Over the last 10 years, the sales of Chinese goods in sub-Saharan Africa rose more than eight times and Chinese firms have won major construction deals in the region.

China’s main interest in Kenya, East Africa’s largest economy, has been in infrastructure that also helps open untapped markets and vast natural resources tucked away in neighbouring Uganda, Sudan, and parts of the DRC.

Africa-China trade rose nearly tenfold in eight years to $93 billion in 2008, according to the 2010 UNCTAD report.

The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development’s June 2010 report says China now accounts for 11 per cent of Africa’s external trade - and is the continent’s largest source of imports.

The EU is still Africa’s biggest trading partner — as a result of past colonial ties — but has ceded significant ground to the Chinese. EU’s share of African trade reduced to below 40 per cent as per 2008 figures from about 55 per cent in the mid 1980s.

The United States’ share of Africa’s trade has hovered between 10 and 14 per cent in that period, says the report.

But even though you are not likely to find cheap American motorbikes on display the next time you walk into a supermarket, Carson promises one thing: “America will continue to be a major seller of aircraft and engineering products, we know where our competitiveness is.

In May 2000, when Carson was still on diplomatic duty in Nairobi, former US president Bill Clinton signed into law the African Growth and Opportunity Act. The AGOA trade policy was a popular legislation that won bi-partisan support of both Republicans and Democrats in America’s legislature.

It offered an unprecedented chance to boost Africa’s economy by allowing more than 6,500 goods into the US market without charging any taxes on them.

AGOA Agreement

Ten years later, trade between US and Africa under the AGOA agreement has flourished, putting to work thousands of people across the continent employed in the agro-processing and apparel manufacturing industry.

AGOA exports to America soared to USD 86 billion in 2008 from USD 50.3 billion in 2005, according to latest numbers from the US Department of Commerce.

But the sweetheart deal is set to expire in 2015, unless the US Congress votes to extend its life.

Mr Carson, who talks passionately about the trade policy, fears the window could close before achieving its core objective of putting African goods on the global trade map.

“Unfortunately African countries are not doing enough to take advantage of this provision, it was meant to improve their competitiveness in the global markets,” says Carson. Source AGOA - source AGOA


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Transport infrastructure key to Africa’s growth

The key issues involved in the development of Africa's transport infrastructure as a major factor in the continent's economic growth will be identified for discussion and action at the second annual NEPAD Transport and Infrastructure Summit 2010 and Africa Expo on 13-15 October at the Gallagher international convention centre in Midrand, north of Johannesburg. Other infrastructure sectors will also be under the spotlight, including energy, water and ICT.

“The need for economic growth to match Africa's population growth is putting pressure on all forms of commercial transport, on roads, railways, air and on the sea ports,” said summit director Tanitha Jolly.

The summit, which is endorsed by the African Union, is a major effort to prioritise and promote infrastructure development across the continent against the backdrop of a recently published World Bank report which blames poor infrastructure for inefficiencies and wastage costing Africa billions of dollars a year.

Government leaders, policymakers and experts from Africa and overseas will come together with top executives from the private sector, industry decision-makers, investment bankers and other stakeholders to discuss the continent's most pressing infrastructure needs.

“Road and rail construction in the cross-border trade corridors as well as operation and ongoing maintenance are of major concern for the representatives of the regional economic communities,” said Jolly. “And the development of facilities at the main harbours affect everybody.

“The need for investment and the opportunities for investment are enormous and will be carefully scrutinised at the summit by executives from the donor agencies and investment banks ,” she said.

Presentations on possible solutions to immediate and long-term infrastructure needs will be made by international experts, leading the way for discussions at sector-specific parallel sessions where delegates can debate and seek consensus, exchange ideas and experiences.

The summit will also include the NEPAD Transport Infrastructure Projects of Excellence Awards 2010 where projects are recognised and honoured for their contribution to the future of the continent in line with the objectives of NEPAD and the African Union.

Delegates at the summit regard it as a ‘must’ to visit the showcase Africa Transport, Trade and Infrastructure Exhibition (ATTIEX), where Africa's latest technologies, products and services are all on display.

A special business networking service for delegates, Meetings Direct, which was introduced with great success at the 2009 summit will be available once again. Meetings Direct sets up one-on-one meetings for delegates with similar business interests, enabling them to start immediate discussions without the usual effort of conference networking.

Further details of the summit are available HERE




The Niledutch container ship NILEDUTCH SHENZHEN (25,361-gt, built 1998, ex Hansa Papenburg) making an entrance at Cape Town this week. Picture by Ian Shiffman


The offshore supply tug FAIRMOUNT FUJI (998-gt, built 1997, ex Shin Maru) at Cape Town this week. Picture 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


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?