Ports & Ships Maritime News

Oct 5, 2006
Author: P&S

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  • Navy task force in East Africa

  • Unicorn ship needs assistance near Antwerp

  • Five expat oil workers kidnapped in Nigeria Delta

  • Angola: Concern as Luanda pushes through Cabinda peace deal

  • Saldanha ore terminal down for another two weeks

  • Maputo coal exports on the up

  • Picture of the day

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    Navy task force in East Africa

    The South African Navy Task Group of three ships, SAS Protea, SAS Galeshewe and SAS Isaac Dyobha will visit the ports of Dar es Salaam in Tanzania and Mombasa in Kenya during their visit to East Africa. This is in addition to Maputo where the ships have already arrived to take part in joint exercises with the armed forces of the three countries.

    The Task Force is under the command of Captain Mark Blaine, Officer Commanding SAS Protea. According to the navy the purpose of the visit to East Africa is to promote regional and continental security and co-operation and the SAN is endeavouring to maintain strong ties of friendship and co-operation with the three East African countries that lie to the north of South Africa.

    On completion of this aspect of the exercise, the three ships will proceed to La Reunion Island in the Indian Ocean to take part in a multi-national Search and Rescue and Pollution Control exercise with three ships of the French Navy, which will be held between 20 October and 6 November 2006.

    Invitations have been sent to various African countries to send observers on the exercises in order to improve the competence of their personnel and to improve regional integration, says the SAN.

    During the visits to the ports, briefings and lectures will be held onboard SAS Protea for military officers of the respective countries. Various social development projects will also be conducted and social events held.

    Unicorn ship needs assistance near Antwerp

    The Unicorn-owned products tanker Stena Tiger ran into difficulties yesterday at the Westerscheldt River in the Netherlands, close to buoy 85.

    The 37,000-dwt tanker was not long alone, thanks to quick attention given by the URS tug Lieven Gevaert which managed to take her in tow.

    Soon afterwards a second tug, Schelde 20 arrived and together with Lieven Gevaert Stena Tiger was safely taken to the locks near Antwerp.

    Previously named Oliphant, Stena Tiger was built in 2004 at the Shina A shipyards in South Korea as the third of a seven ship series of handysize tankers for Unicorn Tankers of Durban, entering service in December of that year with the Dorado Pool.

    Five expat oil workers kidnapped in Nigeria Delta

    Nigerian militants are believed to have struck again after a lull in which few such abductions took place. In the latest attack they seized five oil workers – three from the UK, one Indonesian and one Rumanian (another report says there were seven men seized), from a residential compound close to the Exxon oil company offices in Eket in Rivers state, Nigeria. Two Nigerian security guards protecting the workers were killed in the attack.

    Militants who claim they are fighting for a larger share of oil revenues in the Niger Delta region to be distributed among the people of the region, and who say they want to see the oil companies cleaning up the countryside, have taken to kidnapping foreign oil workers and holding them to ransom. The kidnappers operate under the guise of several organisations, although the Federal Government says the kidnappers are often criminal gangs operating under the pretence of socio-political movements.

    Although seldom confirmed it is believed that oil companies have paid over substantial sums to have their workers released safely. During this unrest Nigeria’s oil production has suffered from production unit shutdowns.

    In other incidents five Nigerian soldiers are reported to have been killed when a group of between 60 and 70 militants attacked a convoy of barges carrying fuel in the river delta. The militants carried out the attack from speedboats and about 25 Nigerian workers were taken hostage but have since been released.

    The Nigerian Federal authorities have recently given assurances that they are getting tough with the militants but the latest incidents suggest they are still unable to do much about preventing similar attacks.

    Meanwhile US consular officials have given warning of a possible attack on Bonny Island, a major oil and gas export hub.

    Following the latest attacks more than 40 representatives of various militant groups coming from Rivers, Delta and Bayelsa states are holding talks this week with Federal Government officials to find ways of ending hostage taking in the troubled region.

    Angola: Concern as Luanda pushes through Cabinda peace deal

    map courtesy IRIN

    Johannesburg, 3 Oct 2006 (IRIN) - Human rights organisations have become increasingly concerned that Angolan government pressure to enforce a peace deal it brokered with oil-rich Cabinda's splintered secessionist movement may stoke political tensions.

    According to Vegard Bye, Head of the UN Human Rights Office (OHCHR) in the capital, Luanda, "the government has made it clear that it would crack down on those who don't accept the peace deal."

    The Angolan government said it had been in discussions with Cabinda's secessionist movements since March, and in August signed a peace treaty with António Bento Bembe, a former leader of the Front for the Liberation of the enclave of Cabinda - Armed Forces of Cabinda (FLEC-FAC). Bembe claims to represent the Cabinda Forum for Dialogue (FDC) - the representative body of the enclave's secessionist movements that include civil society groups, Catholic Church representatives and FLEC.

    According to Virgilio Fontes Pereira, minister for territorial administration and co-signator of the agreement, "We have sealed the end of hostitliies in the last territory still in war ... antagonism, political conspiracy and military confrontation now give place to frank and open dialogue." The president of Angola's national assembly, Roberto de Almeida, added: "Cabinda had a conflict that has been overcome by patriotism and dialogue between all parties involved."

    However, the deal has not been recognised by the majority of FDC and FLEC members. "There has been no understanding with the major part neither of FLEC, nor of the civilian dialogue movement [FDC]. The peace process did not make a serious effort to get everyone on board," the UN's Bye told IRIN.

    In a reaction to the peace agreement, UNITA, Angola's main opposition party, released a statement saying: "To find a durable solution, the talks should include all [active] forces in Cabinda, including [FLEC's veteran] leader, Nzita Tiago, [excluded from the current process]. The option of excluding some sectors and leaders of Cabinda, and calling on convenient [negotiating partners] may not contribute to the solution desired by everyone."

    Raul Danda, a member of the FDC and head of Cabinda's only human rights group, Mpalabanda, was arrested on Friday while on medical leave from his employer, international oil conglomerate Total-Fina-Elf. He remains in custody and "on Monday was interrogated for 10 and a half hours - he has a health problem, and that is a concern," Bye said.

    In an interview with IRIN last month, Danda maintained that Tiago [currently in exile in Paris], was unaware of a peace deal with Luanda, and said Bembe had no authority to negotiate on behalf of FLEC. "Mr Tiago is the only one who could get the soldiers to stop fighting, and even the soldiers themselves have said they do not recognise the agreement," he commented.

    Shortly after Mpalabanda was officially banned in July - it is appealing the decision - the Angolan military raided the NGO's headquarters and the home of its president, Agostinho Chicaia.

    A demonstration by about 30 people against Bento Bembe and the detention of Danda, at which police fired into the air to disperse the protestors, were reported on Friday.

    The peace accord was "denounced by all Cabindan factions," said Jonathan Levy, an international lawyer representing FLEC-FAC and "the Republic of Cabinda's government in exile".

    On Monday Levy filed "an urgent request for intervention" on behalf of FLEC-FAC with the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights (ACHPR), an African Union (AU) body responsible for promoting and protecting human rights throughout the continent, citing "an Angolan grab for disputed oil and mineral resources, and the growing threat of an all-out war."

    According to Robert Eno, officer-in-charge at the ACHPR secretariat, "This is a very rare case because it concerns the right to resources, but these are rights that are covered in the AU's charter."

    Eno said the request would be presented at the next ACHPR meeting in November, but warned that any outcome would not be legally binding. "We can make recommendations, request the [Angolan] government to investigate, and to engage in dialogue. This will depend on the goodwill of the government."

    Levy said that since the agreement "Angola has assured foreign companies that the untapped mineral and oil-rich onshore regions of Cabinda are now safe for exploitation", but that "firms have been warned [by the rebels] not to enter [FLEC held] territory, which has essentially remained untouched since the Cabindan conflict began in 1975."

    Cabinda, a sliver of land sandwiched between Congo Brazzaville and the Democratic Republic of Congo, produces 60 percent of Angola's oil.

    Separatists claim the enclave has its own distinct and separate history and culture, and was illegally occupied by the ruling MPLA government at independence in 1975. Cabinda is internationally recognised as part of Angola.

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

    Saldanha ore terminal down for another two weeks

    There will be no iron ore loaded at the Saldanha ore terminal until 19 October at the earliest, following last week’s major breakdown of one of the terminal’s two shiploaders.

    The breakdown occurred while the second shiploader is out of commission for routine maintenance, preventing any loading operations at the terminal. While repairs to the damaged shiploader have begun, SA Port Operations which operates the terminal is concentrating on returning the loader receiving maintenance back into service as soon as possible. However this will take another two weeks said SA Port Operation business executive Leon Broom, “weather permitting.”

    In the meantime operations at the mines in the Northern Cape as well as delivery along the 800km railway are continuing normally and ore is being stockpiled at Saldanha – the stockpile was at a fairly low level prior to the breakdown and is therefore capable of absorbing the incoming supplies.

    According to a spokesman for Kumba Resources, the full effect on the company’s export programme will only be known once the shiploader is back up and running. “No iron ore is being loaded at all,” he confirmed.

    In the six months to June Kumba exported a total of 11.2 million tons of iron ore through Saldanha.

    Maputo coal exports on the up

    Coal exports from the Matola coal terminal at Maputo rose 135 percent during September, compared with the same month in 2005.

    The terminal, which is owned and operated by Grindrod, handled 94,000 tonnes of export coal in September, compared with just over 40,000t the previous year.

    In Richards Bay the coal terminal (RBCT) also experienced a record high of 7.17 million tonnes, a welcome increase of 23 percent on September 2005. Despite the surge in exports RBCT, on an annualised basis will still come short of its target for 2006 of over 70mt. At current rates the terminal will achieve just short of 63mt.

    Picture of the day
    Click on image to enlarge – with some browsers click twice

    USNS Mendonca (T-AKR 303) in Cape Town harbour early October 2006. Picture Ian Shiffman. See more of Mr Shiffman’s pictures at Table Bay Underway Shipping Photographers – see block advert below

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