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Ports & Ships Maritime News

August 26, 2010
Author: Terry Hutson

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


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First View – DENNY Z


The Bulgarian-owned general cargo ship DENNY Z (14,348-gt, built 1989) which was in Cape Town recently. Picture by Ian Shiffman


News continues below...

Zuma foresees bright future for Africa-China


Pretoria, 25 August - The economic future for China, South Africa and Africa in general is bright, says President Jacob Zuma.

“We are still at an early stage of what will be an exciting journey, a journey out of poverty, a journey to sustainable improvements in the lives of our people, here in China, and on the African continent,” said President Zuma on Wednesday at the Renmin University, Beijing.

Zuma's comments come as the debate over China's role in Africa continues to rage. Critics have raised concern about China's support for countries like Sudan and Zimbabwe, as well as its questionable worker safety rules.

Zuma defended China's surging investment in Africa, saying China was making an important contribution and helping African governments.

“Chinese assistance in infrastructure development in some of the less developed parts of Africa is certainly making an important contribution to future African development,” Zuma said.

Zuma is in China for a three-day state visit aimed at strengthening and broadening economic and commercial interaction between the two countries, and expand South-South interaction with a view to strengthening the voice of the developing world and its capacity to address the needs of its people, among other things.

South Africa is looking to China, the world's second largest economy, to increase its investment in the country to help it reach its development goals.

African countries remain an attractive destination for Chinese investment funds though Africa is seeking China to expand its investments beyond mining and resources. South Africa is strategic for China in that it is by far Africa's largest and most advanced economy. Zuma is accompanied on this trip by over 370 representatives from the business community, the largest ever contingent from South Africa.

On Tuesday, the two countries signed the Beijing Declaration after their one-hour talks in the Great Hall of the People.

The declaration outlined 38 bilateral cooperation agreements, ranging from political dialogues, trade, investment, mineral exploration and agriculture to joint efforts in the global arena, such as in the United Nations and the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation.

According to the declaration, the two sides expressed the desire to further strengthen and deepen friendly exchange and cooperation between the two nations in both political and regional affairs by establishing a comprehensive strategic partnership based on equality, mutual benefit and common development.

The declaration says an annual strategic dialogue at the ministerial level between China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and South Africa's Department of International Relations and Cooperation will be held.

In area of economics, the two sides agreed to improve the current structure of trade between the two countries, in particular by working towards more balanced trade profiles and encouraging trade in manufactured value-added products.

In this regard, the two sides agreed to increase trade and investment missions and to establish a joint work group to study statistical discrepancies in the area of bilateral trade.

"China, in this spirit, will encourage its enterprises to increase investment in South Africa's manufacturing industry and promote the creation of value-adding activities in close proximity to the source of raw materials," says the declaration.

Both sides agreed to provide mutual technical support in the areas of green economy, skills development and industrial financing.

Both sides also agreed to encourage companies from both nations to explore cooperative opportunities in infrastructure construction projects, such as roads, railways, ports, power generation, airports and housing.

The two nations will create conditions to facilitate practical cooperation between Chinese and South African energy companies while also considering third-party involvement in energy, electricity, nuclear energy, energy efficiency and energy infrastructure projects.

Meanwhile, Chinese and South African companies signed more than a dozen agreements on Tuesday involving investments in railways, power transmission, construction, mining, insurance, telecoms and nuclear power. -BuaNews-Xinhua


News continues below…

Pirates are heading south, says the navy

Ships of the SA Navy during the Presidential Review of 2008. It would be the South African Navy that would carry the burden at sea were pirates to venture further into the Mozambique Channel. Picture by Clinton Wyness

The threat of piracy to southern African countries is growing and there is an increasing trend of Somali pirates moving further south, a spokesman for the South African Navy said in Maputo this week.

Captain Jaco Theunissen was attending a marine training exercise of the SADC Standing Maritime Committee in the Mozambique capital. He said it was not yet a problem in southern African waters, unlike illegal fishing, illegal immigration and drug trafficking but the countries affected needed to be aware and to take steps of preventing the arrival of piracy in their waters. He said this was one reason why each country had entered into co-operation agreements.

The joint navies from nine SADC countries are taking part yesterday and today (Wednesday and Thursday) in exercises aimed at providing training to improve the region’s defence capabilities. About 400 naval personnel are participating and included in the exercise are the South African Navy ships SAS DRAKENSBERG, SAS SPIOENKOP and SAS GALASHEWE which are in Maputo harbour together.


News continues below...

An end to the HECTOR saga

picture courtesy SAMSA

by Steve Shipside

The first most Capetonians heard of Hector was when the Cambodian-registered chemical tanker Hector anchored in False Bay last May. The occasional belching smoke interspersed with long periods of inactivity hinted at engine trouble and her illegal choice of anchorage was hardly going to pass unnoticed given that she lay just off the mouth of the naval harbour at Simon's Town.

As the authorities boarded for inspection they were passed a hand-written note that hinted at the human dimension to the story. Crudely written in capitals it said; “Kindly help us go home. We are two Ghanaians on this vessel. The ship is not safe and our salaries are not paid for three months. We need our salary and plane tickets to go home Ghana. You are our hope. Thank you.”

Now that episode is drawing to a close as the last of its mixed crew flies back to Iraq, Syria, and Ghana – some seemingly still unpaid for as much as eight months. “Part of the problem was that none of them had contracts, so we couldn't tell how much they were due.” explains Debbie James, assistant to Captain Dave Colly, Regional Director of SAMSA (South African Maritime Safety Authority).

It would seem that the tanker, which had previously plied its trade off the West African coast had been bought to be scrapped cheaply in the East and was sailing in ballast around the Cape before old age and neglect got the best of it and left her stranded.

Finding the engines 'inoperable and beyond the capability of her engineers to repair' and given the risk she posed to the marine reserves of False Bay SAMSA ordered the tanker towed to Quay 500 in Cape Town harbour, a task undertaken by Smit Marine. Hector also turned out to be uninsured.

Attempts to contact the owners led to six crew being repatriated (the remainder stayed apparently in the hope of getting paid) but little else. So SAMSA took control of the vessel under the terms of admiralty jurisdiction and applied to the High Court for an order to sell the ship. That sale was confirmed on 8 August 2010 and the proceeds have gone towards the intervention costs. As it turns out the price the ship fetched was not enough to cover those costs but as SAMSA points out the shortfall was still a small price to pay compared to the likely clean-up costs of the tanker going ashore.

This week SAMSA reports that Hector is under new ownership and is hoped to be repaired and under way within the next three weeks. The last handful of her original crew is being repatriated with a flight ticket and (reportedly) US$ 2000 courtesy of SAMSA stepping in as Good Samaritan. The port of Cape Town will doubtless be hoping not to hear of the Hector again.

Whilst all seems to have ended well given the possible alternative outcomes the incident does raise concerns about sharp practice amongst ship owners and the temptation that cheap scrapyards in the East will continue to pose for cutting corners when it comes to disposing of vessels. As SAMSA's Debbie James observes - “we don't really want these wrecks coming around the coast – Hector was one of the smaller ones but if we get a really big vessel what happens then?”


News continues below…

South Africa, China sign rail agreement

Pretoria, Wednesday 25 August - Transport Minister Sibusiso Ndebele today signed a ground-breaking agreement on railways and other transport-related matters with Chinese Railway Minister Liu Zhijun.

Ndebele is part of a South African delegation in China led by President Jacob Zuma during his three-day state visit.

He said through rail, South Africa could move from being a developing country to a developed country by transporting people and goods efficiently, effectively and with the least cost to the environment and economy.

“We are confident that our friends in the world including the Chinese can help us leapfrog many stages on our journey to becoming a developed country,” he said.

Zhijun said his country was willing to share its expertise in the development of railways networks.

“We are willing to share this expertise with South Africa. We operate 86,000km of railway track, 7,000km of high speed rail, and we have 13,000 high-speed projects under construction.

“We operate the largest network of high-speed rail in the world. The Shanghai to Beijing railway line is the largest in the world, but in addition we are specialists in the development of highland rail, high speed rail, upgrading of networks and their maintenance,” he said.

The agreement recognises the need to find new approaches for consolidating, expanding and deepening the rapid developments in the transport sector between South and China.

It takes into consideration the framework of the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) and the Forum on China-Africa Co-operation (FOCAC).

It seeks to promote investments, industry, trade and co-operation between South Africa and China in the area of rail.

The railways agreement will foster close co-operation in rail infrastructure maintenance and development, financing, network safety and regulation, technology transfer, harmonisation of technical standards and human resource development.

The agreement includes identifying research institutions and private organisations such as universities and private companies that have the technical and financial capacity to implement the specific projects in the transport sector.

The two countries agreed that there will be an exchange of engineers and related professionals and broad cooperation in the areas of intelligent transport systems, environmentally sustainable and labour-intensive best practices. – BuaNews


News continues below…

African economic blocs set rules for free trade areas

by Allan Odhiambo (Business Daily, Nairobi)

Three African regional economic blocs have created a draft agreement which paves the way for the setting up of a US$ 624 billion free trade area (FTA).

The draft includes 14 annexes that deal with rules of origin, intellectual property rights, and dispute settlement, among other provisions.

“The draft contains proposals on common rules that would govern the trade regimes and bring them together into a seamless platform,” Mr Sindiso Ngwenya, the secretary-general of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), told delegates at the bloc’s ongoing annual summit in Swaziland.

“But the economic blocs will not be dissolved and only the rules governing key areas such as common external tariffs will be adjusted to make things level across the fabric.”

The East African Community (EAC), the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC), and COMESA agreed two years ago to form the FTA covering more than 527 million people.

“The integration would address the practical reality of overlapping memberships in our region,” Ngwenya said, adding that the respective secretariats had drawn up a roadmap to guide the process.

Mr David Nalo, the permanent secretary at the EAC Affairs Ministry, said individual countries had made proposals for consideration in the ongoing grand FTA talks.

All EAC states are members of COMESA, which has also attained the second level of integration which is a customs union status.

Kenya is among countries that have already floated new proposals that could help defray the threats posed by the disparities of economies that will be covered in the planned inter-connectivity of Africa’s three regional market blocs.

The relative higher ranking nature of the economies of Kenya, South Africa, and Egypt has been cited as a potential drawback to a grand FTA dream.

In February, Trade permanent secretary Adbulrazaq Ali admitted that the superior nature of the three economies could jeopardise the merger plans but pointed out that the danger could be addressed.

Key among the proposals by Kenya is that the regional blocs adopt a flexible framework that accommodates the needs of the individual countries participating in the grand FTA negotiations.

It also proposes the creation of transitional measures that would be supported by programmes to help disadvantaged countries adjust to adversity that may come with the shift.

“The measures may also include taking into account existing market access conditions, including economic partnership agreements (EPAs),” Ali said in Nairobi while addressing a meeting of CEOs of business organisations from eastern and southern Africa (ESA). - source Business Daily News continues below…

News from the world of ships and shipping

Hapag-Lloyd jacks up freight rates


German carrier Hapag-Lloyd, which earlier this month announced a return to profitability with record second quarter earnings of €226 million - Ports & Ships 12 August - has announced a general increase in freight rates on trades between Europe, Africa and Oceania, effective on 1 October 2010.

The increases by trades become:


  • From America to Southern and West Africa, US$ 150 per 20-foot container and $ 300 per 40-foot container
  • From North Europe to Southern Africa, $ 100 per 20-foot container and $ 200 per 40-footer
  • From North Europe to Oceania - Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific Islands - € 175 per 20-foot container and € 350 per 40-footer
  • From the Mediterranean to Oceania, $ 250 per 20-foot container and $ 500 per 40-footer
  • From Oceania to North Europe or Mediterranean, $ 100 per 20-foot container and $ 200 per 40-footer


Maersk will continue with slow steaming


Maersk Line, which is another container carrier to have announced a strong return to profitability, says it will continue with the economy drive of slow steaming even as the economy improves. Writing in the company’s house magazine, Morten Engelstoft, Maersk’s COO says, “Maersk will continue slow steaming even as market conditions turn to the better – slow steaming is here to stay.”

Slow steaming was introduced by Maersk and a number of other large container lines at the height of the economic crisis of 2007/08, when the instruction was given to run ships designed to operate at speeds well in excess of 20 knots, at much lower, more fuel efficient speeds. According to Maersk it was able to maintain a good record of on-time arrivals (Drewry ranked it as No.1 in this respect) by also tightening up on schedule reliability.

Maersk says that slow steaming also assisted with reducing carbon dioxide emissions per container by 12.5% between 2007 and 2009 and says the company is aiming at a total reduction of 25% by 2020. This will be achieved by a combination of more efficient fuels and slow steaming.

Russian gas tanker undertakes Arctic passage to China

The 114,564-tonne Russian gas tanker BALTICA is currently en route to China via the North East Passage across Arctic waters, with the assistance of two of the world’s most powerful nuclear ice breakers.

The trio left Murmansk on 14 August and it is hoped the tanker will reach China in the first weeks of September to deliver its cargo of gas condensate. “Never before has a ship of this size passed via the Northeast sea passage,” said Captain Alexander Nikiforov, master of the Baltica in an interview with Russian channel NTV.

In a statement the state-owned shipping company Sovcomflot said the aim was to determine the feasibility of delivering energy on a regular, economically viable and safe basis along the Northern Sea Route from the Barents and Kara Seas to the markets of Southeast Asia.


Dormac announces expansion into African oil and gas market

Dormac, Durban from the air. Picture by Gary Pulford

Durban, 25 August - Dormac (Pty) Ltd, the well-established, multi-national ship repair company, announced today (Wednesday) that it is establishing a new division within its ranks in order to expand its facilities and service capabilities into the oil and gas markets.

In its statement Dormac says that this will enable it to better engage the major role players in the oil and gas industry with a dedicated division to better service their clients' individual requirements. Dormac has strategically placed workshop facilities around Southern Africa.

“We have invested in new facilities and expanded our service capacity on the African continent. These investments will allow Dormac (Pty) Ltd to become a major service partner for our existing and new clients, as well as enabling Dormac to competitively tender on larger upgrade and fabrication projects that might take place at any one of our five yards,” said Chris Sparg, Managing Director.

“The five yards are all equipped with the necessary workshop facilities one would expect from a major ship repair yard, serving all, in port requirements. We have also created various alliances on the continent and we are thus able to offer our technical expertise and travelling squads to all the major African ports. We are very pleased to be able to offer our customers this expanded service element,” added Craig Samuel, Financial Director.

Dormac has been involved in major ship repair since 1903. The company is known for its strong safety culture coupled with a high degree of competence in all ship repair disciplines.

“Dormac is in a great position to expand competitively into the oil and gas markets. We are definitely on our way to achieving our set goals of having the best repair facilities in Africa,” said Sparg.

The company is actively involved in the concessioning of government repair facilities and has also built new workshop premises in the Cape Town port, which is in the process of being brought up to operational capability. This is in addition to the facilities acquired in Walvis Bay last year, which have been further expanded.


Pics of the Day – BATTLEAXE and FLOATING DOCK at Walvis Bay


The Svitzer salvage and towing tug BATTLEAXE which is presently engaged with towing a second section of the ASABA floating dock intended for Malabo in Equatorial Guinea.


Readers will recall the story of how the dock broke in two sections while in the Mozambique Channel. We later incorrectly reported that the two sections had been rejoined in Cape Town, but am now informed this was not so. Each section in turn was given temporary repairs in the Cape and then left separately for Malabo.


The second, shorter section arrived in Walvis Bay on Friday, 20 August behind the tug Battleaxe for bunkers and supplies before continuing the voyage later the same day. From Malabo it is thought the two sections may be taken to Portugal where there is a dry dock long enough to undertake the repairs. These pictures by Paul van der Merwe


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