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Ports & Ships Maritime News

3 October 2011
Author: Terry Hutson

Bringing you shipping, freight, trade and transport related news of interest for Africa since 2002

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Under grey skies almost the colour of the ship’s hull, the drill ship NOBLE BULLY 1 (30,270-gt, built 2011) slips quietly into Cape Town harbour. Picture by Aad Noorland

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As the mining houses involved in extracting coal from Tete Province in central Mozambique wrestle with the challenges of delivering coal to a suitable place on the coast from where it can be shipped, attention is turning towards developing a new port capable of handling Capesize ships without recourse to lighters.

At one point the port of Nacala was under serious consideration, and may still be a coal port in the future, although Nacala is much further away than other options. The Nacala railway would also require a considerable refurbishment, while in Malawi the rail system would also have to undergo some refurbishment if it were to handle the volumes of coal that has been talked about.

In addition an extension of the line from southern Malawi would have to be built reaching into Tete Province to connect with the mines near Moatize.

Thought has also been given to barging coal down the Zambezi, although this presents other challenges and is complicated, including having to create a facility somewhere on the coast.

Now a study has identified a deepwater port to be built near the mouth of the Zambezi River, which it is being suggested, is the preferred option. It suggests that an initial capacity of 25 million tonnes a year is feasible, with capacity being expanded to 100 million tonnes a year as required. A port of this capacity would seriously challenge Richards Bay as the premier coal port on the African coast.

The project is being undertaken by Ncondezi Coal, an emerging Mozambican mining company which is part of the Mozambique Coal Export Infrastructure Initiative (MCIEI) along with Minas de Revuboe and Riversdale Mining, now owned by Rio Tinto.

The study so far undertaken has identified a site near the mouth of the Zambezi that is 500km from Tete Province, making this the closest option so far considered for the export of coal from Tete. Provided government approval is received, a detailed feasibility study will be undertaken, which could last between 12 and 24 months.

Meanwhile, the export of coal from mines in the Tete Province has commenced, with the first shipment being exported via the port of Beira in the last month. Both the port of Beira and the Sena railway connecting the port with Moatize in Tete Province are restricted in the volumes that can be handled, however.

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Safmarine says Beira and Toamasina calls will boost trade

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Safmarine Zambezi

Acknowledging the growing importance of the port of Beira, Safmarine says the addition of Beira and an eastbound Toamasina call on a weekly shipping service between Southern Africa and Asia, the Safari 3 service, will help boost trade between southern Africa and Asia.

“Until now the majority of eastbound cargo shipped from central and northern Mozambique and neighbouring countries (Zimbabwe, Zambia and Malawi) via Beira has had to move via feeder vessel to Durban, from where it was shipped on the Safari 1 service to the Far East,” said Alan Mileham, Safmarine’s Far East – South Africa Trade Manager

“By adding a direct call at Beira and an export Toamasina call on Safari 3, cargo from these regions can now move directly through local ports to the Far East, allowing for quicker access to markets and added convenience for shippers.”

Mileham says the upgraded service, which is set to benefit, in particular, the mining and agricultural commodity sectors in these regions, is being introduced in response to customer demand.

“In recent years we’ve seen volumes of cargo shipped via Beira grow by more than 30% per annum. The growth can, in part, be largely attributed to the increased demand in the Far East for southern African agricultural products and minerals, as well as infrastructural and commercial investments in countries such as Zambia.”

Mileham says all Safmarine’s Beira imports/exports will move, as of mid October this year, on the upgraded Safari 3 service, which will have the following port rotation: Tanjung Pelepas - Port Louis - Port Reunion – Toamasina - Maputo - Beira- Toamasina - Tanjung Pelepas.

A sixth vessel has been added to accommodate the extra direct port calls on the Safari 3 service, which is operated by Safmarine and sister-company Maersk Line.

CMA CGM chosen ‘Company of the Year’ by Lloyd’s List

French shipping line CMA CGM was chosen ‘Company of the Year’ at a ceremony held in London towards the end of September.

The citation said the company received the award based on its ability and willingness to innovate and adapt to the rapidly changing nature of the shipping markets over the past 12 months.

“CMA CGM impressed the panel with its capability to overcome the odds and an impressive display of resilience,” said Richard Meade, editor of Lloyd’s List. “CMA CGM confounded expectations by swinging back into the black with such vigour that it has outpaced rivals in terms of operating margins during the first half of this year. It was one of only four container lines that could claim to in the black during the period. Amid challenging market conditions, poor economic prospects and rampant overcapacity, this company has become well known for its ability to innovative and challenge expectations.”

MOL reverses forecast and now predicts losses

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MOL Delight in Cape Town earlier this year. Picture by Ian Shiffman

Mitsui OSK Lines, Ltd (MOL) announced on Friday a revision of its consolidated business outlook for the first half of the 2011 financial year (1 April 2011 to 30 September 2011).

The company said it expects losses this year of ¥17Bn ($221M), reversing its previous prediction of ¥1Bn in profits.

“The Company revised the consolidated outlook for the first half of FY2011 because it anticipates a significant deterioration in profits due to about \8 billion in extraordinary losses stemming from a write-down of investment securities that form part of its owned shares because of the decline in stock market prices, and such factors as falling container freight rates in the Asia-Europe and Asia-North America routes, a downturn in the tanker market, and the appreciation of the yen.”

It said the company is now reviewing the consolidated business outlook for FY2011, ending 31 March 2012 (1 April 2011-31 March 2012), and plans to issue an updated outlook when announcing the consolidated financial results for the first half of FY2011 (scheduled for 31 October 2011).

BELUGA FAMILY arrested in Bremen

The former Beluga Chartering’s multipurpose vessel BELUGA FAMILY (12,782-dwt), the only remaining ship of the bankrupt operator, has been arrested in the port of Bremen on instruction of a Bremen court.

The ship was arrested on arrival in the port and according to local legal sources the ship will be offered for sale to recover the mortgage debt on the ship. Beluga Chartering went into liquidation in June this year. Most of her owned ships were pledged to US investor Oaktree as collateral on a 2010 loan.

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Chauncy Maples at Monkey Bay

The project to renovate and operate Chauncy Maples, Africa’s oldest floating ship, as a mobile clinic on Lake Malawi has received a €2,000,000 boost.

In October 2010, Malawi Shipping Services, owned by Mota-Engil, was granted a 30 year concession to take over shipping services on Lake Malawi and the shipyard in Monkey Bay.

The Manuel Antonio da Mota Foundation, the charitable arm of the Portuguese international civil engineering company Mota-Engil, has joined the partnership between Malawi’s Ministry of Health, The Chauncy Maples Malawi Trust and Thomas Miller. This joint venture will renovate and provide technical ship management services for Chauncy Maples.

The Mota Foundation will finance €2million of the running costs during the next ten years.

See our earlier report on this project ‘Thomas Miller helps renovate Africa’s oldest ship’.

Explaining Mota-Engil’s enthusiasm for the project, Gilberto Rodrigues, Mota-Engil Director responsible for Africa, said, “This project fits with our corporate responsibility goals and in particular helps Malawian people in areas where we run shipping services.”

Work on the ship’s hull has started in Monkey Bay yard, with the replacement of some of the original 1899 hull plates.

“Mota-Engil has already improved the shipyard’s performance and the project will bring new skills to the Malawi shipping industry.” said Janie Hampton, Executive Director of The Chauncy Maples Malawi Trust.

Since June 2010, the Chauncy Maples Malawi Trust has raised more than €1million, half the amount needed for the ship’s renovation. Much of this has come from marine and insurance businesses who were invited to participate by the Trust’s corporate sponsor, Thomas Miller.

“The Mota Foundation support answers the primary concern of donors, namely how the operation of the ship will be funded once the renovation is complete,” says Fundraising Director of the Trust and Thomas Miller director, Mark Holford. “This wonderful pledge provides an excellent springboard, which will enable us to raise enough money to run the ship as a clinic for at least 20 years. First we need to raise the €1million worth of parts needed for the renovation.”

Chauncy Maples was built in Glasgow in 1899 as a floating mobile clinic for the poorest communities on Lake Malawi. She is now being renovated to provide ante-natal care, immunisation, under-fives clinic, family planning, treatment for TB, HIV/AIDS, malaria, and common diseases.

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Maritime alerts have been issued following several attacks by pirates on ships in the western Indian Ocean and Red Sea regions since our last reports.

One of these involved two chemical tankers being attacked in the same area of the southern Red Sea in quick succession, reports GAC World.

The Hong Kong-registered products tanker LIME GALAXY (19,992-dwt, built 2008) was reportedly attacked by a single skiff carrying three or four armed men off the north east coast of the island of Jabal Zuqar at 11h45 local time on 28 September. Another products tanker, the Japanese-owned, Panama-flagged GINGA BOBCAT (26,073-dwt, built 2010) came under RPG fire from a lone skiff around 45 minutes later in the same vicinity.

Both ships reportedly carried out evasive manoeuvres and employed vessel hardening measures, rendering both attacks unsuccessful.

Due to the proximity in location and time, it is likely the attacks were carried out by the same group.

Ships transiting the southern Red Sea are advised to remain vigilant, especially around Jabal Zuqar as the group is likely to attempt further attacks on passing vessels.

Piracy is expected to spread into the wider Indian Ocean as the monsoon season subsides, but the southern Red Sea and Gulf of Aden remain high risk areas due to their favourable operating conditions for small skiffs.

Another maritime security alert has been issued after an aborted attack was reported around 500 n.miles east of Socotra on 29 September.

The vessel, a chemical tanker, came under small arms fire from armed men aboard a skiff at around 12h15 local time. The skiff retreated after warning shots were fired by the tanker's onboard security detachment.

The presence of a skiff so far out in the Arabian Sea indicates an improvement of weather conditions as the monsoon subsides and could mark the start of piracy operations returning to the wider Indian Ocean. Vessel operators in the area are advised that an increase in piracy attacks is forecast over the coming weeks and should ensure watch rotas and security measures are in place to reduce the risk of a successful attack.

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by Sheila Hutson

At a function last week to mark the commissioning of two of the new, more energy efficient Terex straddle carriers – another two have already been in use to train operators – stakeholders were informed of strategies to streamline operations and to introduce efficiencies in the running of the Durban Container Terminal. By January 2012 the number of new machines that will be in operation is expected to number 113.

Newly appointed Container Terminal Executive, Hector Danisa said that the streamlining of staff has been introduced. John Hyde has been brought in as Assistant Terminal executive in charge of planning and the engineering department has been split into five separate entities.

Acting Chief Operating Officer Velile Dube said that this was a big business but was not operating as such. He said that accountability was highly diluted and now was the time to admit to shortcomings and to focus on introducing strategies for future growth and the introduction of efficiencies in the system.

The spotlight fell on the current delays experienced in the handling of containers at DCT since the introduction of the Navis system. The Navis Implementation Team was recalled last week to identify problem areas with the intention of restoring container handling levels to those of the Cosmos system within the current quarter. The aim is to focus on growth from month 4.

Congestion on the roads surrounding the port continues. With three days of free storage only 50% of containers are collected during the first two days with a resultant stampede on the third day to remove containers. This is particularly bad on Fridays. An appointment system is to be introduced initially, to spread collection evenly over the three day period.

Refinements will be made to allow for specific timeslots for collection on the specified day.


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The LNG carrier WILENERGY (102,390-gt, built 1983) arriving in Cape Town harbour on 14 September this year. Pictures by Ian Shiffman

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