Ports & Ships Maritime News

Aug 7, 2006
Author: P&S

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  • Drama off the Zululand coast

  • Trawler sinks in East London harbour

  • Lucky escape for crew as their trawler is sunk by bulker

  • Cape Town bids farewell to bright lights of FPSO Dalia

  • Madagascar: Watchdog calls for transparency as oil boom takes off

    EMAIL: jhughes@hugheship.com
    WEB SITE: www.hugheship.com

    Drama off the Zululand coast

    Saturday morning’s drama off the Zululand coast (see our Breaking News item dated 5 August) had a happy ending, with the diminutive general cargo ship Shearwater not only surviving the scare and remaining afloat but safely making it under its own ‘steam’ to Durban by Sunday morning where the ship entered port and has undergone an inspection for damage.

    The drama unfolded during the early hours of Saturday morning, with the master of the 2,550-dwt ship radioing to the Maritime Rescue Co-ordination Centre (MRCC) near Cape Town that his ship was taking water through a hatch cover and that his ship had taken on an 8 degree list in seas with swells reaching 9 metres. By all accounts he was giving serious consideration to the possibility of abandoning his ship.

    The MRCC went into action and at first light two Oryx helicopters of the South African Air Force based at Durban flew to the scene about 13 miles off Cape St Lucia, while a sea rescue boat ‘Spirit of Richards Bay’ of the NSRI base in Richards Bay also put to sea and headed through the mountainous seas for the stricken ship.

    However during the course of the next few hours the master was able to report that he and his crew of eleven had secured the hatch and were beginning to pump the water from the affected hold. As such he was confident he could now reach his destination in Durban safely and deliver his cargo of soda ash.

    Shearwater is a vessel designed to operate in the North Sea and to navigate the rivers of northern Europe and has a wheelhouse and masts that can be lowered when low bridges are approached. None of these matter very much in African waters where the shallow draughted ship has for a number of years plied its trade between Durban and the Seychelles and East African ports.

    Trawler sinks in East London harbour

    While outside the harbour entrance the ill-fated container ship Safmarine Agulhas fought bravely to resist the fury of gale-force winds, inside East London harbour another lesser drama unfolded last week when the fishing trawler Trade Winds sank at her mooring.

    At first light on Friday morning all that was visible of the trawler was a section of her bow, the little vessel having been battered against the quay wall by the strong winds during the night, which eventually punctured her side causing her to sink.

    It took divers from the NPA, the SA Police Water Wing and a salvage team about five hours to raise the eight-ton vessel to the surface using air bags which were placed against her side.

    Lucky escape for crew as their trawler is sunk by bulker

    All 24 crew members from a South African deep sea fishing trawler, the Sea Harvest Tamara were rescued from the Atlantic Ocean off Saldanha after their ship collided with the ore carrier Anangel Splendour (81,120-gt).

    Nineteen of the crew were rescued within minutes of their ship being struck while the remaining members including the trawler’s skipper spent up to an hour in the sea before being rescued. The trawler remained afloat for a short while after the collision before sinking to the bottom.

    According to the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA), which will initiate a full investigation into the accident, it is still too early to determine the cause of the collision but it was a miracle that no-one was killed. A SAMSA spokesman said the collision had occurred in darkness late on Wednesday night and it would take two or three months before a full report from the enquiry would be released

    The trawler belonged to Sea Harvest, which operates one of South Africa’s largest trawler fleets.

    Anangel Splendour had sailed from Richards Bay with a cargo of coal. After picking up the survivors with the assistance of another trawler the coal carrier put into Saldanha Bay where SAMSA could carry out an initial investigation.

    Cape Town bids farewell to bright lights of FPSO Dalia

    The FPSO Dalia which has been in residence in Cape Town harbour since early June, left harbour at the weekend on tow behind the tugs that brought her in from the shipyard in South Korea.

    FPSO Dalia is headed for Block 17 off the coast of northern Angola where she will go into production as a floating platform, storage and operating vessel capable of processing 240,000 barrels of oil a day. The vessel has storage facilities to hold 2 million barrels of oil.

    The stopover in Cape Town enabled maintenance and completion of certain work by the builders and also to await the nod that the site in Angola was ready. The giant vessel – 300m long and a massive 60m wide while standing 32m high out of the water carries 29.400 tonnes of superstructure that was brightly lit up at night while in port and attracting the attention of envious Capetonians during moments of power failure in the city. (Ports & Ships probably had more queries from readers about this vessel than any of topic.)

    Having the FPSO at Cape Town also provided a fillip for the local ship repair industry and for other suppliers.

    On her delivery voyage to South Africa the FPSO managed to get free of her tow behind two Fairmount tugs and it took another 24 hours before the tow was taken up again.

    The tow is expected to arrive on station off Angola within the next week.

    Madagascar: Watchdog calls for transparency as oil boom takes off

    Johannesburg, 3 Aug 2006 (IRIN) - Madagascar is becoming the next staging post of Africa's energy boom as oil conglomerates descend on the poverty stricken island to contend for a share of the recent discovery, but a global watchdog cautions that the windfall could challenge the island's fledgling democracy.

    At current prices, industry estimates were that the oil could translate into annual revenue of one billion dollars for the Indian Ocean island. Energy analysts are predicting an oil price of US $ 100 in the short term, caused by a combination of geopolitical tensions, diminishing world reserves and high demand that has sent oil prices soaring.

    Gavin Hayman, spokesperson for the anti-corruption watchdog Global Witness, warned that oil revenue did not automatically lead to poverty alleviation.

    "President Marc Ravalomanana has taken a strong public stand against corruption, but the problem remains with members of the government. Our fear is that oil revenues will be squandered easily unless the international community steps in to guarantee transparency and accountability of oil revenues."

    The threat of a privileged elite benefiting from huge oil wealth, while the majority remained excluded has been played out in other oil-producing nations. Oil revenue in Angola, the continent's second largest producer, has not benefited the poor. Britain's Department for International Development noted that "although growing revenues from oil and diamonds have boosted the country's economy, extreme poverty is still a daily reality for 68 percent of Angolans".

    Hayman said some of the smaller oil companies rushing to secure concessions in Madagascar had been "soiled by corruption and bribery in Africa and Asia in the past. Government officials in Madagascar may be tempted into murky deals that may never benefit the millions of poor people."

    Among the global oil giants scrambling for a share of Madagascar's oil resources are US-based Exxon-Mobil and Chevron Texaco; British-based Madagascar Oil and British Petroleum; Total, a French company; Royal Dutch Shell, Stat-Oil of Norway, China's National Offshore Oil Corporation and South Korea's SK Corporation.

    Initial projections were that Madagascar could produce 60,000 barrels per day in three to four years, which would quickly make the oil industry the main contributor to the country's gross domestic product (GDP). In 2003 Madagascar's GDP was $ 5.5 billion dollars, or $ 240 per person annually.

    Hayman said it was imperative that Madagascar join the international Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, a forum of oil producers and consumers seeking to promote accountability in oil revenues.

    Under the transparency initiative, governments, civil society and oil producers are required to make public details of financial deals, exploration rights and profits.

    "Such open records enable civil society organisations to play their watchdog roles in judging if state revenue is indeed spent according to developmental needs. Madagascar needs to put such accountability measures in place before it can begin full production," said Hayman.

    The promise of billions of petrodollars for a country the World Bank ranks at 146 out of the world's 177 poorest countries could place immense pressure on the fragile democracy.

    In 2001 Madagascar was on the cusp of a civil war after the former president Didier Ratsiraka refused to accept Ravalomanana's presidential victory. The island was cut in half, with two capitals, two governments and a divided army. It was not until the following year that the crisis was defused, after Ratsiraka fled to France.

    The next presidential polls are scheduled for December this year. Among the 10 declared candidates so far is Phillipe Tsiranana, son of the country's first post-colonial president. Talks between Ravalomanana and opposition parties to defuse rising political tensions ahead of the December elections fizzled out in June, and Ravalomanana has yet to announce whether he will contest the poll.

    The government has already begun auctioning oil-drilling rights. Hugues Rajaoson, head of the energy ministry, told the media recently that "the potential for production is very, very high. The sector could contribute up to 15 percent of GDP within five years." Official estimates put offshore reserves as high as five billion barrels of oil, but the exact size remains unknown.

    According to the World Food Programme (WFP), 70 percent of the population live on less than a dollar a day and the country has to contend with regular occurrences of natural disasters such as drought, cyclones and floods. WFP information officer Patricia Lucas said 300,000 people could need food aid before the end of the year because of a drought.

    This week, the International Monetary Fund injected more than million into the country's Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility, the fund's concessional facility for debt support to low-income countries. Under the facility, beneficiaries can repay the loan over 10 years at an interest rate of 0.5 percent.

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

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