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Ports & Ships Maritime News

November 18-19, 2010
Author: Terry Hutson

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


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First View – UMVOTI

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Named for a river in KwaZulu Natal, as with the other Durban-homeported harbour tugs, UMVOTI (295-gt, built 1983) was one of a batch of tugs built locally in Durban for the then SA Transport Services (the forerunner od Transnet) and was originally named BERTIE GROENEWALD. With a bollard pull of 40t Umvoti is propelled by twin Schottel drives. Picture by Terry Hutson

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Ships and shipping line news

Angola will ship 51 oil cargoes in December and same again in January

In a revised schedule, Angola is expecting to ship 51 oil cargoes during December followed by at least another 51 cargoes in January 2011. Africa’s second largest oil producer has meanwhile is in dispute with its OPEC quota of 1.57 million barrels a day, saying that the cap is inaccurate and should be 1.656 million b/pd.

According to Bloomberg, Angola produced 1.75 million barrels of oil a day in October, compared with 2.1 million barrels a day pumped by Nigeria.

Maersk wants to increase its market share of imports into China

Maersk Line says it intends gaining a larger share of the shipments into China as the country’s economic growth pattern translates to stronger domestic demand. Maersk will put more sales and customer service staff in the import market, Tim Smith, CEO of Maersk’s North Asia region told China daily in Beijing.

“This is very much linked to the intra-Asia market because a lot of China's imports come from different parts of Asia. China imports raw materials or partly processed goods, assembles them and sends them for export. So we are trying to combine the intra-Asia imports with exports,” he said. “We've seen a development in the import market in China that will help the overall demand. We are looking at that very closely.”

Odfjell sinks deeper in the red

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Bow Cecil in Durban during less difficult times. Picture by Terry Hutson

Norwegian tanker line Odfjell, which is a prominent visitor to Durban’s Island View berths or the Maydon Wharf area and to the port of Richards Bay, has recorded another poor trading quarter for the third quarter 2010. The company, which specialises in chemical tanker operations and tank terminals has warned that trading conditions for the remainder of 2010 and for 2011 are expected to remain a challenge. Net losses have increased to US$ 11 million as compared with losses of $ 6m for the same period of 2009.

In its report Odfjell says that charter rates have fallen 7% year-on-year for the first nine months of 2010, and fell 3% from the end of the second quarter 2010. The company has disposed of seven tankers since July this year in response to the weak market conditions. Odfjell now operates a fleet of 96 ships from between 4,000-dwt to 50,000-dwt and has eight tank terminals in operation worldwide The latter generated an EBITDA of US$ 83m compared with $82m a year ago.

Safmarine ends its India/Malaysia shuttle service

Safmarine’s India to Malaysia shuttle service known as ‘India’ has been withdrawn. The service had a port rotation of Port Klang, Tanjung Pelepas, Kolkata, Haldia and Port Klang and was operated by two Safmarine ships each with a capacity of 1,038-TEUs.

Profit-making for Hapag-Lloyd as volumes and freight rates soar

It’s been a return to profits for German carrier Hapag-Lloyd as cargo volumes and freight rates soar, while lowered costs have kicked in.

For the third quarter of 2010 the line has recorded a record operating profit of US$ 361 million, compared with a loss of $ 253m a year ago. Revenue year-on-year rose 68.5% to $ 2.47 billion in the three months ending 30 September, compared with $ 1.5bn for the same period in 2009. During the third quarter Hapag-Lloyd carried 1.27 million TEU, an increase of 7.6% on the 1.18m TEU over the equivalent period last year.

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Piracy: Deadly attack off Cameroon

Five die in attack on guard boat off Cameroon

Five persons were killed when pirates targeted a boat carrying guards heading to an offshore oil field installation in Cameroon waters, the French firm Perenco SA said yesterday (Wednesday).

The attack took place on Tuesday night in the Moudi oil field close to the Nigerian border, leading to suspicion that the attackers may have been Nigerian militants, although no-one has so far claimed responsibility. The five dead included three Cameroonian soldiers and two private Cameroonian security personnel.

“Perenco is currently lending all the support it can to the Cameroon authorities at this sad time and will provide further information as and when appropriate,” Perenco said in a statement.

Nigerian militant group MEND contacted Nigerian journalists recently to say that it intended stepping up attacks on foreign oil installations off the Nigerian Delta. Over the past week at least 14 oil workers have been taken hostage. See next report.

Maritime Alert issued as MEND gives warning of major action

AKE/GAC reports that a maritime security alert has been issued following a statement from MEND (Movement for the Emancipation of Nigeria’s Delta), Nigeria's main rebel group operating in the Niger Delta. The statement warns of a major operation simultaneously affecting oil facilities in the region.

Tensions between the group and the government are rising as the Nigerian military announced a clamp-down on militant hideouts in the Delta region. According to MEND the Nigerian military has already carried out an attack in the vicinity of one of their camps in Rivers State.

Vessel operators are reminded that militant and criminal activity on the land may spill over into the rivers and waters off the Nigerian coast. Vigilance, crew preparation, watch rotas and security measures are all recommended, particularly at a time of current political sensitivity ahead of next year's elections.

South African ship evades capture

The MUR bulker AFRICAN EAGLE (27,102-dwt, built 2003), registered in the Bahamas has escaped capture by Somali pirates thanks to the employment of self-protection measures, including surrounding the ship’s decks with razor wire and electrical fencing.

The vessel reported that it had come under attack yesterday from a skiff while sailing about 30 n.miles from Mombasa. Although the pirates opened fire on the ship, which operates between South Africa and the Middle East, and attempted to board, the security measures prevented them from doing so. As a result the pirate skiff eventually broke off the action and left the scene.

Chemical tanker fired upon in Gulf of Aden

As the sudden spike in pirate attacks continues, reports have come in of a chemical tanker, the VALERIE (19,819-dwt) coming under threat from pirates while sailing through the Gulf of Aden.

However, the pirates got more than they bargained for. As they approached the ship in their skiff security personnel on board the Gibraltar-flagged tanker fired warning shots at the attacking skiff which then made off leaving the tanker to continue her journey without further interruption.

French warship intercepts pirate skiff

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French forces from FS De Grasse intercepting pirate skiff in Gulf of Aden yesterday

The French warship FS DE GRASSE has intercepted and interrupted the activities of a skiff bearing seven suspected pirates in the Gulf of Aden, reports EU NAVFOR,

An Alouette helicopter from the French ship FS MEUSE came across the skiff yesterday morning and alerted the nearby FS DE GRASSE, which launched its own helicopter to intercept the skiff which was seen to have seven suspected pirates on board. The helicopter was forced to fire warning shots to bring the skiff to a halt, before a boarding party from De Grasse could go alongside and interrogate the occupants. On board the skiff two RPGs, two launch disposals, an AK47 rifle and 7.62mm ammunition were discovered.

Despite the weapons and arms it was considered that there was a lack of evidence sufficient to secure a prosecution and after confiscating the arms and ammunition, the suspects were returned in their skiff to Somalia. According to AU NAVFOR this action has hampered the pirate action and avoided a pirate attack on merchant shipping.

Report of pirate attack in the Maldives

According to an as yet unconfirmed report, the crude oil tanker SAMURAI (149,993-dwt, built 2009) came under attack from pirates off the Maldives in which shots were fired at the tanker, which nevertheless managed to take evasive action and make its escape.

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MSC Sinfonia function raises R385,000 for children’s home

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MSC Sinfonia in Cape Town. Picture by Ian Shiffman

A whopping R385 000 was raised in support of a Cape home for abandoned children at a charity luncheon hosted by MSC Cruises aboard the cruise ship MSC SINFONIA during a rare port of call in Cape Town earlier this month (Tuesday 9 November).

The 160 guests attending the prestigious event were generous in bidding for items auctioned at the luncheon and also opened their hearts in pledging clothing and food donations, expertise and support for the Building Blocks Foundation which has looked after over 80 babies and toddlers since opening their first home in Pinelands (Cape Town) three years ago.

In addition a guest has offered a new rent free house, worth over R150 000 a year, as accommodation for the establishment of a second Building Blocks Children’s Home in Cape Town. The offer realises a major step towards achieving the Foundation’s long term goal of establishing a total of four homes in the city and a network of similar homes around the country.

Stefano Vigoriti, managing director of MSC Cruises South Africa thanked guests for wholeheartedly supporting the initiative which marked the start of the summer cruise season in Southern Africa. Tickets for the onboard fund raising event, a first for MSC Cruises locally, were sold out weeks in advance.

“The response was way beyond our best expectations and the excitement among guests at having the opportunity to be aboard this beautiful ship was palpable. It was a huge success. We are proud to announce that we will host a second fund raising function in aid of Building Blocks when MSC Sinfonia returns for her third season in November 2011,” said Vigoriti.

All funds raised at the luncheon will go to the Building Blocks Children’s Home which, in conjunction with local authorities, rescues babies and children and keeps them safe by providing a loving home environment. Many of the children are found in dire circumstances, including extreme poverty, abuse, neglect and disability.

Speaking at the function Building Blocks founder Kim Killeen said their experience at the home had shown how a little baby with no hope could grow into a talented young person with the promise of a great future if cared for in a loving family environment. “People often dismiss these children because they think the problem is just too big so instead of doing a little something they choose to rather not do anything at all.”

While holding a two week old baby, Thomas, abandoned at birth by a heroin addict, Killeen introduced guests to 12 year old Ricky Berger, who is fostered by Jenny Berger, house mother at Building Blocks.

Ricky bravely told guests a little of his own story: “I was an abandoned baby and met my mom Jenny at the home I was placed at when I was 2 weeks old. I now live with my family and am in Grade 6 at Pinehurst Primary School in Pinelands. My hobbies are reading, soccer, water polo, art and drama. I am interested in music and I am getting very good at rapping which I practice with my brother Dean. I would like to become a marine biologist so I’m studying hard for my exams. My headmaster has let me off today to come and talk to you but I am going to have to put in extra time this afternoon! I am proof of what love and care can do for children. I now live in a loving home and am very happy to be part of BBCH where abandoned babies are brought and are given a chance to start a new life,” said Ricky.

Killeen said Ricky was living proof of how helping even one child can make a difference and bring so much joy to everyone’s lives. Ricky has a bright future now and so will Thomas she said.

Cape Town was the first port of call in South Africa for MSC Sinfonia which has returned to the Indian Ocean for a second summer cruise season. The cruise liner will be based in Durban until May next year and enjoy a bumper schedule of cruises to Mozambique and the Indian Ocean islands of Mauritius and Reunion.

For more information about Building Blocks Children’s Home or Building Blocks Foundation Ltd please contact: Kim Killeen at info@bbch.co.za

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Rail News: Vale ships first locos to Africa for Moatize mine

Gauge-converted motive power for Mozambique exports

by John Batwell

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EMD-built DDM 45 loco no 855, one of two units that have already headed to Mozambique for export coal haulage.

Vale, Brazil, has shipped EMD-built type DDM45 locomotives nos 853 and 855 to Mozambique for use with coal exports from Moatize.

Built in the 1970s and of 3,600hp, the diesel-electric locomotives have been converted to 1,067mm gauge (Cape gauge) as Vale requires beefy motive power for the export coal project in the country using the refurbished 3' 6" gauge Beira - Tete line to haul an initial 11 million tonnes per year.

It is reported that 20 such locomotives will be deployed to Mozambique. The DDM45 is an 8-axle locomotive, a rebuild from EMD’s type SD45 for ‘narrow’ gauge (1,000mm).

Editor’s comment, (with tongue firmly in cheek): Considering that the ‘DDM’ forming the loco type description stands for D-D (i.e. 8-axles in two trucks or bogies) = wheel arrangement plus the M for metre gauge, shouldn’t the re-gauged loco’s now be reclassified as DDC’s for Cape Gauge?

Sierra Leone’s Dawnus Project railway commences

A new 200-km railway for African Minerals Limited (AML) in Sierra Leone has just got underway and after four months of construction is said to be proceeding to plan. The project involves building a railway to haul iron ore from a mine at Tonkolili to the nearest port at Pepel, a distance of 200km. In addition a considerable amount of rail refurbishment including new railway lines will be undertaken at Pepel.

The first four months of the project has focused on the logistic challenge of shipping more than US$ 15 million worth of material and equipment from Tilbury in the UK to Freetown. Total cost of building the railway is expected to be in the region of $24.5 million.

Proposed iron ore railway for Ivory Coast

A proposed iron ore mining venture in the west of Ivory Coast could see the development of a new railway extending to the port of San Pedro, commencing in 2014.

That’s the word from the state-owned mining company which claims that deposits of 510 million tonnes of iron ore can be extracted at the rate of 24 million tonnes a year. To enable the export of the iron ore the railway will have to be built first but there’s no clear indication how this will be developed or by whom.

Ethiopia plans ambitious new rail project

Ethiopia has announced ambitious new plans for a railway network to connect a number of the major cities within the African country, and to provide new links with the sea at Djibouti on the Red Sea coast.

Extending some 1,833 km in length the contracts to build the railway has been awarded to 18 different companies, with a 655-km length between Addis Ababa and Djibouti being the longest section – this being awarded to five companies in total. The railway network is intended to complement Ethiopia’s export drive, particularly affecting grains and livestock.

Most of the financing is coming from the export Import Bank of China.

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Rotterdam port once again offers harbour dues rebates

Taking a view that the economic recovery is not yet complete, the Dutch port of Rotterdam has once again extended its support to customers by providing a ‘recovery rebate’ on sea and inland harbour dues to 2011, reports the British trade newspaper IFW.

According to Rotterdam port management, the 3% rebate was designed to support companies recovering from the recession, and it would, in turn, strengthen the competitive position of the port (that’s what it means to have competition).

The offer is valid for all customers represented by Deltalings, a group that represents the interests of logistics and industrial companies in the port. However, they will only see the tariffs reduce by 2% in 2011, because the port has already agreed to increase its prices by 1% next year.

Harbour dues are paid by shipping lines calling at Rotterdam, and cover the costs of the seaside connection and vessel traffic management, as well as the landside connection and other products and services. In 2009, the port received €274 million (US$370m) in harbour dues.

This year the port authority issued a “crisis rebate” of 7%, but prices went up by 2%, giving operators a net saving of 5%. – source IFW

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Hotseat Comment – Looking at the G20 Summit

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by JB Cronjé, a tralac researcher

The Leaders of the G20 recently had their fifth meeting since the start of the world recession in 2008. Many commentators view the outcome as neither surprising nor particularly disappointing. The Leaders built on their original commitments to support and stabilise the global economy and to lay the foundation for reform. They adopted an Action Plan which focuses on five policy areas namely: monetary and exchange rate polices, trade and development policies, fiscal policies, financial reforms, and structural reforms.

However, given the complex world that we live in, these countries will have to rely on a number of international organisations such as the WTO, World Bank and IMF to pursue these reforms.

In the area of monetary and exchange rate policies, they agreed to follow “more market-determined exchange rate systems” to reflect underlying economic fundamentals. This came in response to China’s unwillingness to allow the Yuan to appreciate and America’s push for more liquidity into its banking system. However, in reference to concerns of emerging markets with overvalued flexible exchange rates such as South Africa, countries may respond with “carefully designed macro-prudential measures”. This could be interpreted as giving these countries the go-ahead to take the necessary steps to deal with the vast capital inflows into their economies, which have driven the currency gains.

On the issue of trade and development they reaffirmed their previous commitment to refrain from protectionist trade actions and to conclude the Doha Round of multilateral trade negotiations. They also agreed to formulate medium-term fiscal consolidation plans for advanced economies in line with the Toronto commitment. This commitment must ultimately bring about the stabilisation or reduction of government debt to GDP ratios by 2016 and to at least halve deficits by 2013.

The Leaders agreed to raise international financial regulation standards and to ensure that national authorities fully implement current global standards. They endorsed the policy framework by the Financial Stability Board to address problems related to systemically important financial institutions and banks that are purported to be too-big-to- fail. This latest undertaking comes in response to the financial crisis that was caused by reckless and irresponsible risk taking by banks and other financial institutions, combined with major regulatory and supervisory failures.

These decisions came amid a related debate on the reform of international financial institutions. These organisations, originally responsible for the regulation of the international economy after the Second World War, were created for a different time and purpose. Urgent reforms were necessitated by the realities of a multi-polar global economy where developing countries are now key global players. In response to better reflect these realities, the voting powers of developing and transition countries at the World Bank were increased earlier this year. The 3.13 percentage point increase in the voting power of these countries brought their share to 47.19 percent.

Similarly, the IMF’s Executive Board also announced governance reforms earlier this month. This will bring about a 6 percent shift in the voting power of developing countries. Accordingly, the top ten shareholders of the Fund; the United States, Japan, the four largest European economies (France, Germany, Italy and the United Kingdom), and the BRICs (Brazil, China, India and the Russian Federation) will better reflect their ranking in the global economy.

One thing is clear; the balance of power is shifting from developed to emerging economies. Source www.tralac.org

Pics of the Day – SPRUCE ARROW and USNS YANO

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Gearbulk’s general cargo ship

SPRUCE ARROW (32,458-gt, built 2002) seen in the Esplanade Channel and heading for the port entrance and the open sea, after working cargo at Durban’s Maydon Wharf. Picture by Terry Hutson

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It’s some time since a South African port saw one of the impressive US Navy pre-positioning ships, but back in 2005 when this picture was taken they were frequent callers en route to or coming from the Middle East theatre of operations. This picture shows the USNS YANO being berthed at Island View 9 in Durban harbour, to take on supplies and bunkers. Picture by Terry Hutson

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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