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Ports & Ships Maritime News

15 November 2011
Author: Terry Hutson


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The Greek bulk carrier TIGRIS (52,454-dwt, built 2003) which was in Cape Town harbour recently. Picture by Ian Shiffman


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Pretoria – South Africa is to attend the 11th Indian Ocean Rim Association for Regional Cooperation Council of Ministers Meeting (IOR-ARC) this week, where the formulation and implementation of projects for economic co-operation will be in the spotlight.

International Relations and Cooperation Deputy Minister Ebrahim Ebrahim will embark on a two-nation working visit to India and Sri-Lanka to attend the IOR-ARC.

The IOR-ARC is a multilateral organisation comprised of countries that share a shoreline along the Indian Ocean, launched in March 1997 in Mauritius with a view to focus on trade-related issues.

South Africa is one of the founding member states.

The Deputy Minister’s six-day visit takes place within the context of promoting a multilateral agenda with all member states to strengthen sustained growth and balanced development as well as to encourage close interaction of trade and industry, academic institutions, scholars and the peoples of the member states.

The meeting will among other things focus on the:

  • Economic co-operation which provides opportunities to develop shared interests and reap mutual benefits among member states.
  • Formulation and implementation of projects for economic co-operation relating to trade facilitation and liberalisation, promotion of foreign investment, scientific and technological exchanges, tourism, movement of natural persons and service providers on a non-discriminatory basis; and the development of infrastructure and human resources inter-alia poverty alleviation.
  • Exploring all possibilities and avenues for trade liberalisation, to remove impediments to, and lower barriers towards, freer and enhanced flow of goods, services, investment, and technology within the region; and
  • Strengthening co-operation and dialogue among Member States in international for a on global economic issues, and where desirable to develop shared strategies and take common positions in the international for a on issues of mutual interest.

    Ebrahim will be supported by senior government officials from the Department of Trade and Industry as well as the Department of Transport. – BuaNews


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    Abidjan port container terminal

    The Bollore group says it plans to invest US$37 million if the Abidjan (Cote d'Ivoire) container terminal by 2013, with the aim of turning Abidjan into West Africa’s main sea hub.

    “Our aim is to make Abidjan port the key sea gateway for the countries of the hinterland,” Dominique Lafont, Bollore’s Africa head said in an interview with Reuters.

    Beyond that date Bollore intends trebling the 550,000 TEU capacity of Abidjan’s container port, while also overhauling Cote d’Ivoire’s railway track that leads into Ouagadougou in neighbouring Burkina Faso.

    In the longer term, Bollore wants to increase the existing 550,000 TEU capacity of the container port to 1.5 million TEU.

    Abidjan has remained a strategic centre for the export of cocoa – almost half of the cocoa supplies from the world’s largest grower passes through the port.

    There were plans to expand the port’s container capacity in 2010 but this was halted with an election dispute that led to conflict and the death of 3,000 people earlier this year and brought the economy to a virtual halt. The matter was finally ended when former President Laurent Gbagbo was ousted from power in April.

    The IMF estimated that Cote d’Ivoire’s economy shrank 5.8 percent in 2011 as a result of the four-month crisis, but expects it to bounce back by 8.5 percent in 2012.

    “We think Cote d’Ivoire should be able to regain its economic and political leadership role in West Africa. We are very optimistic about its ability to bounce back, given the resolve of its leadership and the support of the international community,” Lafont said.

    He said Bollore had also earmarked funds for investment in Abidjan’s shipyard and a separate project for an electric bus service.

    Lafont said that Bollore was planning annual investments of between $272 and $408 million across Africa as a whole, which will increase in line with perceived improvements in governance and democracy on the continent.


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    Hapag-Lloyd’s Europa

    Hapag-Lloyd’s award-winning cruise ship EUROPA has reappeared from a two-week visit to the shipyard with a complete facelift of her interior design of the Lido Café, a redesign of the Penthouse Grand Suites, a fully comprehensive renovation of the bathrooms on Deck 9 and the installation of a new in-room communication system.

    EUROPA was recently chosen once again by the Berlitz ‘Complete Guide to Cruising & Cruise Ships’ as the only cruise ship afloat to be awarded the highest rating, 5- Star plus.

    Receiving attention during the refit were the two 85 square metre Penthouse Grand Suites which were fully renovated in the living and sleeping areas and bathrooms.

    Altogether 330 shipyard workers were engaged on the overhaul which saw new carpeting and furniture installed – over 2,000 sq metres of new carpeting were fitted and 5,600 litres of paint used on the outside and inside of the ship.

    The new communication system Media4Cruises by Siemens ensures state-of-the-art infotainment in all of the suites. Besides the features already available in the past such as video and music on demand, television, access to the latest news, weather forecasts as well as information on the ship and the itinerary, it boasts additional services, e.g. the posting electronic greeting cards. The system is very user-friendly and also offers guests convenient Internet access using their own smartphones and tablet PCs.


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    Japanese container lines may merge

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    MOL Solution. Picture by Ian Shiffman

    Faced with huge losses and little indication that the fortunes will turn soon, the head of Japan’s largest shipping company – Mitsui OSK Line (MOL) – says that one option for the three major Japanese container carriers is to merge their interests into one group, a super ‘Japan Line’.

    Koichi Muto, president of MOL bemoaned the actions of the bigger container lines as demonstrating a ‘lack of self control’ in the way they have continued chasing too few containers on the major trades by lowering rates to unprofitable levels.

    He stressed that the merger was just an option and the shipping companies involved, MOL, NYK and ‘K’ Line have not been in discussion on the matter.

    MOL stands to lose about US$51 million this year, as freight rates plummet and volumes dry up. ‘K’ Line which did not go the route of chartering ultra-large ships will be this year’s big loser, and is forecast to end the year with losses of $384 million. The third of the Japanese container carrier big three’s, NYK expects to lose $5 million by year end.

    NYK and MOL currently operate several service alliances which could pose an obstacle to any idea of a merger. The three lines could however opt to go the route of additional service alliances on their respective services.

    Analysts suggest that the idea of the three companies looking to merge is not so far-fetched and that a ‘Japan Lines’ would move them into the top echelon of container carriers, leaving them better able to compete with the likes of Maersk, MSC and CMA CGM which collectively control 46% of the trades. source - IFW

    CMA CGM to make cuts of US$400 million

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    CMA CGM Africa Three. Picture by Trevor Jones

    French container carrier CMA CGM is reported to be preparing to sell some of its assets while making US$400 million in cuts as it attempts to correct severe overcapacity and low freight rates on the Asia/Europe trades.

    The French shipping paper Le Marin quotes CMA CGM CEO Rodolphe Saadé as saying that the cost cutting will affect all subsidiaries and that some line closures may be necessary while other services will face rationalisation.

    The selling of assets could include selling ships on the basis of chartering them back to continue the service levels. Elsewhere it is being reported that the sale of the yachting/cruise company du Ponant has been finalised with the Merit Group taking effective control.

    Container carrier fleets losing billions in value

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    Maersk Brownsville. Picture by Trevor Jones

    As trade levels dwindle and freight rates plummet, particularly on the once lucrative East/West trades, container line owners are watching billions of dollars being wiped off the value of their fleets.

    The UK trade paper IFW writes that AP Moller-Maersk, the largest of the container carriers, has watched the value of its fleet fall by 24% over the past 12 months, with its 222 vessels currently in service now worth US$9.1 billion, compared with $12 billion in November 2010.

    The 202 container ships in service with the second biggest container carrier, MSC, are worth $6.9 billion, compared with $8.4 billion a year ago.

    This information is drawn from VesselsValue.com which was launched this year by Seasure Shipping, a London-based sale and purchase broker. Source – IFW


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    If the container lines are experiencing tough times with low freight rates and fierce competition, the terminals which are the first receivers of the containers on land are enjoying healthy times. APM Terminals, the terminal operating division of AP Moller-Maersk has reported a 24% increase in profits for the third quarter of 2011 of US$174 million and has recorded an 11% growth in container trade.

    During the third quarter the group recorded volumes of 8.8 million TEU handled and posted a revenue of $1.2 billion – an increase of 15%.

    AP Moller-Maersk CEO Nils Andersen described the result as exciting news especially for a company that is only seven years old. He said that the African, Chinese and South East Asian operated terminals had performed particularly well.

    ICTSI reports 39% increase in earnings for 9 months

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    Port of Toamasina, operated by ICTSI

    Philippines-based global port operator International Container Terminal Services Inc. (ICTSI) reports a 39% increase in earnings during the first nine months of the year, arising out of higher revenues and asset sales.

    In its financial statement issued this week ICTSI said it had recorded gains from the sale of its 16,79% stake in Portek International Ltd earlier this year. Revenues from port operations were up by 29% on the same period of last year to reach US$490.9 million ($380.6m in 2010).

    The ICTSI group of container terminals which includes the container terminal in Toamasina, Madagascar handled 3,844,040 TEUs in the first nine months of this year, up 25% on the same period of 2010.

    “The increase in volume was mainly due to the continued upturn in international trade, particularly in markets where ICTSI's ports are located, and the consolidation of the company's new ports,” it said.

    ICTSI's key terminal operations are in Manila, Brazil, Poland, Ecuador, Madagascar and China. Its new ports are located in Portland, Oregon, USA and Rijeka, and Croatia.

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    Mobile crane at ICTSI terminal, Toamasina



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    The Dutch offshore supply and anchor handling vessel FAIRMOUNT GLACIER (3239-gt, built 2006), escorted by four Port of Cape Town harbour tugs, brought the semi submersible drilling rig SCARABEO 7 into Cape Town harbour during 2009 for maintenance and repair. The rig was built in Turkey in 1999 and is owned by Saipem. In the lower picture taken last week the Fairmount Glacier makes her way to a berth in Cape Town, shortly after arriving off the port. Pictures by Frank Vennard / Videographics

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