Ports & Ships Maritime News

Mar 22, 2006
Author: P&S


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  • US increases naval presence in West Africa

  • Militants shut down another Nigerian installation

  • Durban drug haul

  • Angola plans Lobito refinery

  • Horn of Africa: IGAD leaders commit to emergency fund

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    US increases naval presence in West Africa

    The US says it intends beefing up its naval presence in the Gulf of Guinea to promote maritime safety in this strategic corner of Africa.

    This was the message delivered by US Navy Admiral Henry Ulrich, Commander of the Allied Joint Force Command based in Naples, Italy at the weekend when he told the Nigerian Chief of Naval Service, Vice Admiral Ganiyu Adekeye that it was necessary to increase its naval presence to help guarantee the safety of commercial maritime activity in the region.

    Admiral Ulrich said the US currently had only two ships stationed in West Africa, of which one was for training and repair purposes. He said there was a need to work closely with African naval forces in West Africa to ascertain what vessels are coming and going from the region. “A couple of thousand ships from the United States come to the Gulf of Guinea. A couple of thousand ships come and go through northern Europe and around the Cape of Good Hope. I think in this day and age all nations have a vested interest in knowing the ships that are coming into their waters, their territory and what they are carrying.”

    He said that in order to have this knowledge it was necessary for nations in the region to work together collectively and share information to increase the safety of the regional maritime industry. The US would work with local navies before sending additional ships to the region.

    “We normally ask what kind of activities would be worthwhile for navies to build their capabilities and build capacity to protect local regions.”

    A month ago Admiral Ulrich said in South Africa that the US intended increasing its presence in the Gulf of Guinea but not necessarily through additional warships in the area. “It is not my intention to bring the US Navy down here,” he said in Pretoria while on an official visit to his counterparts in the South African Navy. He said then that the US Navy would send a repair vessel to West Africa to assist the respective navies in that region by repairing vessels and equipment that had fallen into disrepair.

    “We have a common understanding of the challenges and how to make the coast of Africa more secure,” he said, adding that the first step was to create visibility beyond the shorelines. “We know that patrolling vast areas of coastline with ships is not the most effective way of doing this.”

    Ulrich said it was necessary to become part of a system that understood where ships came from, what they were carrying and generally to look at their behaviour. If a vessel behaved in a way that needs addressing then the appropriate navy should send out something more powerful to engage with it.

    Ulrich’s visit to West Africa coincides with a workshop entitled ‘Maritime Safety and Security in the Gulf of Guinea’ in Accra, Ghana this week, which finishes today.

    Militants shut down another Nigerian installation

    Yet another oil installation in Nigeria has been shut down following attacks by Delta militants from the Ijaw Movement for Emancipation of Niger Delta (MEND) – this time one belonging to the Italian company Agip.

    This follows the blowing up of a crude oil pipeline leading to the Nigeria Agip Oil Company (NAOC) installation in the Delta. Agip said on Monday night the pipeline was strategic to the company’s operations and was linked to the Brass Terminal. It would shut down all production from the affected fields to avoid spillage and contamination.

    As a result of the latest activity by MEND a combined half a million barrels of production a day has been lost, including production lost by the Shell company after several fields were closed due to militant activity.

    Meanwhile several expatriate workers captured by MEND remain in custody with no sign of their release. Earlier the militants released a number of others captured at the same time from a barge working off one of the Shell platforms.

    Durban drug haul

    Durban police raided a warehouse in Pinetown at the weekend and uncovered about R600 million worth of hashish packed in cartons and recently imported through Durban harbour.

    The hashish was hidden in dried milk cartons supposedly from China, although police said they suspected the drugs had been imported by sea from Pakistan on 15 January this year. It was possible that an international drug smuggling syndicate was involved – a police spokesman said South Africa was being used as a conduit through which drugs moved from Afghanistan, Pakistan and other Asian countries to Europe, with intermediate places like Durban used to confuse authorities.

    They said there was little market for hashish – a pure form of dagga - in South Africa which convinced them the drugs seized were intended for Europe or elsewhere.

    Several other drug halls have occurred in Durban in recent years – the last being a large quantity of Mandrax in tablet form worth more than R1 million brought in through Durban harbour and en route to northern Mozambique from where it would have been distributed into African states or even to Europe. South Africa is regarded as a large consumer of Mandrax which is mostly manufactured in India but is also locally produced in illegal laboratories.

    Angola plans Lobito refinery

    Angola and China are to jointly build an oil refinery near the southern Angola port of Lobito, it has been announced.

    Angolan press reports confirmed these reports earlier this week, quoting Angola’s Finance Ministry spokesman Bastos de Almeida as saying ‘Yes, it’s true, with China.”

    This followed reports in December by the state oil company Sonangol that it intended constructing a refinery and would commence this year, although at the time the company was still looking for investors.

    In recent weeks a top level trade and development mission from China has visited Angola. The West African country currently produces approximately 1.3 million barrels of oil a day which is expected to rise to 2 million barrels daily with the development of additional projects. The planned refinery will cost USD 3 billion and will be jointly built and operated by Sonangol and China’s Sinopec. Eighty percent of production will be for export, mainly to regional countries.

    Horn of Africa: IGAD leaders commit to emergency fund

    NAIROBI, 21 Mar 2006 (IRIN) - The leaders of seven eastern African states will set up a regional emergency fund to help their countries respond to disasters, including the drought currently threatening the lives of millions of people in the region.

    "We commit to continue mobilizing resources to provide relief supplies to the affected population and we call upon the international community to be forthcoming with sufficient resources to assist our efforts," the leaders said at the end of a summit of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, on Monday.

    According to the United Nations, more than 11 million people in eastern Africa are affected by the current drought, the worst in decades. Overall, close to 18 million people are food-insecure in the five-affected countries: Djibouti, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Kenya and Somalia. Livestock herds have been decimated, and most communities have exhausted their coping mechanisms.

    IGAD comprises Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, Sudan and Uganda. Its leaders also committed to increasing funding to agriculture in their respective countries in a bid to end persistent food insecurity in the region. At least 10 percent of national budgets should be allocated to the agriculture sector to finance projects such as water harvesting, dry land management and livestock development, they said.

    Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki, who assumed the IGAD chairmanship from Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni, called for coordinated efforts to combat the drought. "In order to address the challenges effectively, we need to detail our cooperation and develop concerted sub-regional approaches and strategies that will create an environment favourable for socioeconomic development," said Kibaki.

    On the peace process in the Sudan, the leaders encouraged the government of Sudan and the Sudan Peoples Liberation Movement (SPLM) to continue implementing, "with vigour and determination", the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) signed in Nairobi on 9 January 2005. They noted that progress in the implementation of the CPA would also spur efforts to achieve peace in the western Sudanese region of Darfur.

    "We therefore urge that assistance to the implementation of the CPA should not be made contingent on the progress in the peace process on Darfur and call for speedy commencement of projects of repatriation and resettlement of refugees, returnees and displaced persons," the IGAD leaders said. They urged the international community to quickly disburse the USD 4.5 billion that was pledged for Sudan at the Oslo donors’ conference last year.

    Elsewhere in the region, the group also said the decision to send an IGAD peace support mission to Somalia was still in effect and urged the UN to lift its arms embargo on Somalia to make the deployment of peacekeepers possible. The African leaders also urged Ethiopia and Eritrea to work towards a final resolution of their conflict that has kept relations between the two neighbours tense. "We strongly believe that there is a window of opportunity to resolving the simmering tension," said Kibaki.

    (This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations)

    - source http://www.IRINnews.org

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