Ports & Ships Maritime News

Feb 15, 2007
Author: P&S

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  • Tristan da Cunha’s oil rig goes to Davey Jones’ locker

  • Durban’s dig out port – Toyota makes its claim

  • UN joins forces with Government of Mozambique to help flood victims

  • Trafigura buys its director out of Ivory Coast custody

  • Transkei train set to roll

  • Belgian Navy ship visits Luanda

  • Pic of the day – MOL PRIDE

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    Tristan da Cunha’s oil rig goes to Davey Jones’ locker

    The oil rig platform A TURTLE, also known as PETROBAS XXI, which went aground off the South Atlantic island of Tristan da Cunha last year, has been tugged from her perch in Trypot Bay and scuttled in deep water off the island.

    The freeing up the unwanted visitor took place on Saturday, 10 February, and came about with the assistance of the Chinese tug DE HONG which took the strain and pulled her off after salvors had previously lightened the rig.

    According to local reports the first attempt on that day failed when the cable snapped but a second attempt at about 18.00, with cables re-attached, proved successful with the rig being pulled clear, after which she was towed to a pre-arranged and approved dumping site in deep water and scuttled.

    Thus ended (except for the financial aftermath) a saga of the South Atlantic that lasted almost a year. On 6 March 2006 the tug MIGHTY DELIVERER sailed from Macae in Brazil towing the semi submersible oil platform then known as PETROBAS XXI, or PXXI. They were bound for Singapore via Cape Town but in mid Atlantic amidst heavy seas the tow parted. Although the tug managed to keep the rig, measuring 104 x 103m, in sight for several weeks, it eventually became lost in the mists of the ocean, before being found again and finally lost once more.

    A second tug RUBY DELIVERER arrived to assist the first in searching for the missing rig, but to no avail. The oil platform looked set to become one of those unsolved mysteries of the sea.

    It took several Tristan da Cunha islanders, on their way to round up cattle on the south side of the island, to uncover the secret of the missing rig. Deciding to take some time off to go fishing they made for isolated Trypot Bay where they came across a strange sight – a large semi submersible oil platform resting comfortably in the bay (later it turned out the platform had gone aground).

    Subsequent to that SMIT Salvage was awarded the contract to refloat the rig, using the chartered salvage tug ZOUROS HELLAS which was then based at Cape Town. This attempt proved unsuccessful and the attempt was abandoned. Later another salvage company, US Titan Marine was appointed to remove the rig for scuttling, as its condition had deteriorated during the summer storms of the South Atlantic.

    It had been thought that the optimum time to pull the rig clear would have been on coming weekend’s high tides but with several hundred tonnes of steel having been cut away and the use of flotation bags it came off a little earlier than expected. The rig is now resting in about 3,400m of water some ten miles off the island.

    Arrangements are being made for funding to monitor the sunken rig in case of subsequent pollution, although all diesel oil and contaminants were removed prior to the scuttling.

    source – Tristan Times

    Durban’s dig out port – Toyota makes its claim

    Durban’s deputy mayor Logie Naidoo has revealed that Toyota SA is interested in the land currently occupied by the Durban International Airport (DIA) which is also mooted as a potential dig out port for a new container terminal and a tanker terminal.

    According to a report in yesterday’s Business Day, Logie said Toyota SA, South Africa’s largest motor manufacturer, has expressed an interest in acquiring the land when the Airports Company South Africa (ACSA) relocates to the new airport site at La Mercy, north of Durban. This is expected to be in 2009 or possibly 2010.

    DIA occupies strategic land in the Durban South industrial basin, barely twenty minutes from the centre city and Durban Harbour. The unpublished Port Master Plan shows that Transnet and the National Ports Authority also have an interest in the present airport site, involving the possibility of a dig-out port that can provide adequate facilities for a new container terminal or terminals, as well as deep water berthing for VLCC’s which are currently forced to use the offshore single buoy mooring opposite DIA.

    The majority of South Africa’s oil imports come in via this facility.

    The Sapref refinery of Shell and BP occupies land on the immediate southeast of the airport, between the airport and the sea, while Durban’s third refinery, Engen is a short distance away to the east.

    Toyota is known to be looking to expand its operation to meet with an expanding market including the export of several motor vehicle models. In addition there are plans to expand other component manufacturing plants nearby and to facilitate Durban’s growth as the leading import and export portal. In the past year Durban harbour handled in excess of 400,000 motor units and SA Port Operations business unit manager Hector Danisa said recently he expects this number to increase significantly this year.

    UN joins forces with Government of Mozambique to help flood victims

    Maputo, 13th February 2007 – The United Nations is stepping up its emergency response in central Mozambique as the number of people seeking refuge in temporary accommodation centres along the Zambezi River Valley is increasing due to severe flooding. More than 26,000 people are currently sheltered in 53 accommodation centres across four provinces. Mozambique's disaster management agency (INGC) estimates that 142,000 people could require humanitarian assistance over the next few weeks.

    The United Nations has deployed an emergency team to evaluate the flood's impact on various key sectors – water and sanitation, food security, health, education and child protection. The multi-agency team will carry out a rapid assessment of the affected area and formulate an appropriate response under the coordination of the government.

    "The UN is working closely with the government to ensure emergency needs of those affected by the flooding are met expeditiously," said Ndolamb Ngokwey, UN Resident Coordinator in Mozambique.

    The flooding has been caused by persistent heavy rains in neighbouring countries and in some provinces of Mozambique over the past weeks. This has led the national water authorities in Mozambique to gradually increase the flow of water from the Cahora Bassa dam, from about 2,500 cubic meters per second in January to over 8,000 last week.

    The increased volume of water being discharged from the Cahora Bassa dam into the Zambezi River, combined with heavy rains in some areas, has resulted in severe flooding downstream. Water levels in the main tributaries of the Zambezi River passed alert level several days ago, threatening close to 285,000 people living in 16 districts along the river valley in the provinces of Tete, Manica, Sofala and Zambezia.

    The central region of Mozambique has also been hardest hit by the AIDS pandemic, which has made families and communities less able to cope with the blow of natural disasters such as this one. The provinces of Sofala and Manica have the highest prevalence rates in the country and the largest number of orphaned and vulnerable children.

    The whole UN country team is mobilised to respond to the emergency situation. The UN has been working closely with INGC, the Ministry of Health, and the National Water Board to put in place contingency plans to ensure that some 285,000 people in the Zambezi River valley can be evacuated in time should the situation deteriorate.

    "The situation is evolving very quickly," said the Head of UNICEF in Mozambique, Leila Pakkala. "Children and women are hit the hardest in this type of disaster and our first priority is to save lives. UNICEF's main concern at this point is the spread of waterborne diseases – cholera and diarrhea – which can kill very quickly in these precarious conditions."

    UNICEF sent an initial shipment of emergency supplies last week – water bladders, buckets, jerry cans, blankets and plastic sheeting – to the disaster management authorities working out of Caia District (province of Sofala), the operational hub for national disaster preparedness and response efforts.

    A second shipment of emergency supplies is expected to arrive this week to help fill gaps in national water authority stocks. The supplies include additional water purification supplies, chlorine and water bladders for up to 50,000 people, or 10,000 families, as well as tents, mosquito nets and supplementary food for children.

    The tents will be used primarily as temporary schools for children who have been displaced and for setting up health posts and cholera treatment centers in the event of an outbreak.

    WFP has deployed 25 people to the worst-affected areas and has a helicopter based in Caia to ferry food stocks and other humanitarian aid as well as contribute to rescue efforts if required. So far, WFP has started distributing 300 tons of pre-positioned food to people who have already been evacuated from low-lying areas.

    "Victims of natural disasters always need food, shelter and clean water," said Ken Davies, WFP Country Director in Mozambique. "We are lucky to have a small amount of food available in stock but it's not going to be enough for all those who will need help over the coming weeks."

    UNDP has provided support to hire a helicopter used for the assessment missions of the government in the flooded areas. This agency is also supporting the INGC with the planning and preparation of an emergency appeal in case the situation should deteriorate.

    source - WFP

    Trafigura buys its director out of Ivory Coast custody

    Abidjan 14 February 2007 - Global commodity trader Trafigura has paid a reported €150 million to Ivory Coast to secure the release of its director and founder Claude Dauphin plus two colleagues.

    The trio were detained last year when they visited Ivory Coast to assist in the cleanup of toxic chemicals dumped in the city of Abidjan off the ship PROBO KOALA which was on charter to Trafigura Beheer (see PORTS & SHIPS News reports dated 7, 11, 14, 18, 19 September, 30 October and 10 December, all 2006).

    Dauphin was arrested on 18 September and later charged with having brought about mass poisonings – ten people in the city died and tens of thousands became ill and required treatment after they were exposed to toxic chemicals imported into the West African country as ship slops.

    The charter party of the vessel had turned down an offer to treat the slops in a Dutch port on account of the high cost and alternative arrangements were made with an Ivorian company to accept the chemical in Abidjan. Instead of treating the slops it appears the company set about dumping the slops in the city’s sewers and lakes, resulting in mass illness among the population.

    Trafigura says the payment of €150m is for the future health of Ivorian citizens and does not constitute an admission of liability. Trafigura is facing a £100 million class action in a London court brought against the company on behalf of Ivorian victims of the poisoning. The trial is set to begin in 2008.

    Transkei train set to roll

    Almost 20 years after the last train ran, the railway between the port of East London and the former Transkei capital of Mthatha (Umtata in previous years) is set to reopen next month with initially a passenger service.

    Later however a goods (freight) service will be reintroduced which the provincial government, which has spearheaded the reopening of the branch line, hopes will lead to increased exports of timber and other commodities from the Eastern Cape north of the Kei River (we’re not supposed to use the name Transkei any more!).

    When first mooted as a provincial project some years ago the Eastern Cape government issued some rather far-fetched statements about high speed trains operating between Mthatha and East London, notwithstanding the severe curvature and gradients along the way. At least some reality appears to have set in since then and talk is now of encouraging the use of the train as an alternative to taxis on the road and to introduce a freight service early in 2008.

    When the line last carried freight it averaged 400,000 tons a year.

    The provincial government acknowledges that the train service will remain slower than road transport but claims it will be more comfortable than crowded taxis.

    In a statement announcing the reopening transport MEC Thobile Mhlalo added that a passenger service is to be introduced on the railway between Alice and East London which is aimed at students – Alice is a leading university centre housing the University of Fort Hare.

    Both the Mthatha branch and the Alice services will commence on 29 March 2007. The trains will be diesel hauled and will be operated by Metrorail.

    There is some significance to the reopening of both lines, which as far as PORTS & SHIPS is aware marks the first branch lines to be reopened in South Africa since the mass abandonment commenced in the late 1980s.

    Belgian Navy ship visits Luanda

    The Belgian Navy minecraft logistics support ship BNS GODETIA (A960) arrived in Luanda Harbour yesterday (Wednesday) of an official visit to the Angolan capital.

    The 2,500-ton, 92m ship, the largest in Belgium’s small navy, is on a two-month visit to six African countries that has already seen her visiting South Africa (Cape Town), Benin (West Africa) and the DRC.

    After visiting Luanda the ship will proceed to Gabon and later to Morocco before returning home.

    This is the third visit of the ship to Angola. She is expected to sail on Friday.

    Pic of the day – MOL PRIDE

    Click on image to enlarge – with some browsers click twice

    the container ship MOL PRIDE, which is deployed on the company’s Asia – South Africa - East Coast South America service, seen at Port Elizabeth harbour recently. MOL Pride was built in 1988 and is 41,126-gt. Picture by Alvin McCloughlin

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