Ports & Ships Maritime News

Oct 24, 2007
Author: P&S

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  • Is this the biggest?

  • BHP Billiton in bid for large DRC smelter

  • Oil can become Africa’s lifeblood

  • Mossel Bay gets a breath of new life

  • Piracy continues to threaten humanitarian aid to Somalia

  • Pic of the day – KUISEB

    Is this the biggest?

    South Korea’s Samsung Heavy Industries says it has developed the world’s largest container ship, confident that orders will follow and that the mega ship will set new standards (maybe there’s already a mystery buyer in the wings).

    The container ship will have an official capacity for 16,000 TEU, considerably larger than the present largest ship under construction which has a stated or official capacity of 13,500-TEU. With a length of over 400m Samsung’s mega ship will carry 180,000 tonnes of cargo.
    With a ship of this size there is obviously a certain amount of new design involved, with the pilot house (bridge) situated in the middle of the ship and the engine room at the rear, thus differing considerably from most modern container ships. According to Samsung this design doubles the solidity of the ship while optimising loading space and efficiency by a factor of over 10 percent.

    Samsung built its first 12,000-TEU ship in 2005 (note the size… then keep reading). Samsung also says it has orders for 120 such ships, making this the ‘norm’ for container vessels of the future.

    The ramifications for such increases in super ships on regions such as Africa and the southern hemisphere lies with the cascading down of other recently built ships of 5,000, 6,000 and 8,000-TEU capacity that will be displaced from the main East-West routes. Will our ports be ready for them?

    But why this emphasis on ‘official’ capacities? Well, all is not what meets the eye in this arena. There’s long been speculation, if not a conviction, that shipping companies are avoiding disclosing the true capacities of their newbuilds, partly, so it is thought, to discourage shippers from thinking there can be an over-capacity in the near future. That way rates can be kept under some form of control, or so the theory goes.

    For instance the container ships on the SAECS service between Europe and South Africa are said to be in the 3,500 to 4,900-TEU range although few now believe this. The four Danish-built ships (LARS MAERSK, DAL KALAHARI, SAFMARINE NOKWANDA and SAFMARINE NOMAZWE) each have a rated capacity of 3,950-TEU compared with 4,900-TEU for the two former P&O Nedlloyd ships, now in MOL service (MOL CALEDON and MOL CULLINAN). Why the seeming discrepancy on ships on the same service? Most analysts remain convinced the four Danish-built ships carry much more than is rated, even up to 4,900 or 5,000-TEU.

    AXS Marine recently undertook a study on the subject and has deduced from careful analysis that the so-called largest container ship now in service, EMMA MAERSK (and her sisters), has a container capacity of 15,212-TEU, way above the 11,000-TEU that Maersk Line says it can carry. That’s almost 40 percent larger than stated.

    Which puts into some light Samsung’s latest announcement, to which we should perhaps be saying … (yawn).. “oh, is that all.”

    Meanwhile the same South Korean shipyard has also won an order worth a cool US$1.37 Billion for eight 12,000-TEU container ships for Israeli carrier Zim Line. Or will they turn out to be 16,000-TEUs?

    BHP Billiton in bid for large DRC smelter

    BHP Billiton which has considerable interests in aluminium smelters in southern Africa and is the world’s largest mining and resource company, said this week it is looking at developing a US$3 Billion smelter in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), to be situated in the Bas Congo region.

    For those unfamiliar with the terrain of that vast country, Bas Congo is the small finger pointing left on your atlas and giving the DRC its only piece of coastline, with the port city of Matadi as its capital.

    The smelter would draw electricity from the proposed Inga 3 hydropwer station at Inga on the Congo River. The agreement reached on Monday is to jointly investigate the development of the smelter with the DRC government, with BHP Billiton funding the study.

    The new smelter would produce about 800,000 tonnes of aluminium pa in its first phase, using up to 2,000MW of electricity in the process.

    BHP Billiton says the development of a smelter in the Congo would have immense sustainable benefit for the local economy, as has been demonstrated with BHP’s Mozal smelter near Maputo in Mozambique and in other countries where the company operates.

    "We want to build the world’s most modern aluminium smelter in the DRC and operate it according to international best practice. We commit to being good corporate citizens of your country, and to work with all of you to grow the DRC and benefit her people. We aim to be a business that creates a positive legacy for your country. We are proud to be part of the DRC’s future," said the chairman of BHP Billiton Southern Africa, Dr Vincent Maphai.

    The statement coincides with another that an Indian producer, National Aluminium is interested in building a US$3.8 Billion aluminium smelter somewhere in South Africa. The project is said to be dependent on a guarantee of electricity supply from South Africa’s Eskom. The Indian company is also looking at other potential sites in Indonesia and the Middle East.

    Oil can become Africa’s lifeblood

    South African companies can more than double the estimated R4-billion they are currently earning from the African oil and gas industry if they explore the opportunities thoroughly, says Steve Hrabar, chairman of the South African Oil and Gas Alliance (SAOGA), in an article in Cape Business News.

    “Nigeria is supplying 2,2-million barrels of oil a day and Angola will soon top this,” Hrabar points out. “The USA has stated that it expects 28 per cent of its crude oil to come from West Africa. Several other Southern African countries are now producing oil on- and off-shore, including Gabon and the Democratic Republic of Congo, with discoveries in Uganda and Madagascar.”

    South Africa has by far the best technological base in Africa to supply this industry with everything from foodstuffs to consulting services to fabricated components.

    Content localisation is still a long way off in all the sub-Saharan oil producing countries. Nigeria, for example, managed 14 per cent of the 50 per cent local content required in 2006.

    The 3rd Oil Africa Expo and Conference for the sub-Saharan oil, gas and petrochemical industries, to take place in Cape Town in March next year, will be the ideal forum for South African suppliers to network in this exciting industry. The conference theme, Managing Change in African Oil and Gas Supply, refers to changing upstream technology, changing customs requirements and changes in South Africa’s ability to service the industry.

    Hrabar points out that the conference will not only educate South African service providers, but also the oil and gas operators world wide who need to be aware of major strides in South Africa’s readiness to serve the industry.

    The dedicated Saldanha fabrication facility, announced at the last Oil Africa Conference in 2006, is close to completion. This site, developed by MAN Ferrostaal together with the IDC, will be operated by Grinaker - LTA and has been lauded as one of the world’s best fabrication facilities by a leading oil company.

    SAOGA has several other initiatives in the feasibility stages, including construction of a logistics base in the Western Cape dedicated to the African oil and gas industry and a dry dock to accommodate offshore oil rigs in the Cape Town harbour. Only five dry docks exist in the world for this purpose, none of them convenient to service rigs in Atlantic rim countries.

    A deal with SARS is also being finalised to enable SAOGA to streamline the process involved in landing items in South Africa for repair. This will aid both operators by speeding up repairs and local service providers by expediting the complicated customs process.

    source - Cape Business News www.cbn.co.za

    Mossel Bay gets a breath of new life

    Five new wells off South Africa’s southern Cape coast began pumping gas earlier this month and have added a further four years to the lifespan of the Mossel Bay gas-to-liquids refinery at Mossel Bay, reports yesterday’s EP Herald.

    The Mossgas refinery produces over 11 million barrels of liquid fuels annually but there have been fears of the gas off the southern Cape coast running dry. But according to PetroSA CEO Sipho Mkhize further developments off the coast could see the Mossel Bay refinery remaining in business until at least 2012.

    One of the projects under study by PetroSA is the importation of gas to keep the refinery in operation. Another study is examining the possibility of piping methane gas to Mossel Bay from the coal fields in South Africa’s interior.

    In the meantime the five new wells will provide PetroSA with some valuable breathing space.

    Piracy continues to threaten humanitarian aid to Somalia

    22 October 2007 – The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has condemned an attempted pirate attack off the coast of Somalia, the latest incident in an already tense and insecure environment which witnessed the detention of one of the agency’s officials last week.

    Early on Sunday morning, WFP received a distress call from a Somali contractor who came under attack from pirates in two speed boats some 60 miles off the Somali port of Brava, south of Mogadishu. The ship had just unloaded some 7,000 tons of food and was sailing back to Mombasa, Kenya.

    Although the vessel and its crew escaped unhurt, the agency said it remains very concerned about piracy off the Somali coast and appealed to the international community to help secure the waters off Somalia and protect humanitarian deliveries.

    Some 80 per cent of WFP food assistance for Somalia moves by sea, and pirate attacks threaten to cut the main supply route, jeopardizing rations for the 1.2 million people WFP expects to be feeding by the end of 2007 as drought, floods and factional fighting take their toll.

    Arrangements are now being made for a French naval vessel to escort WFP cargos next month.

    Meanwhile… the head of the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) yesterday welcomed the release in Mogadishu of its officer Idris Osman, who had been detained by authorities in the Somali capital since 17 October.

    “We welcome the release of Idris Osman, and are pleased that he will be reunited with his family,” said WFP Executive Director Josette Sheeran at WFP headquarters in Rome.

    The agency had condemned the seizure and detention of Mr Osman, officer-in-charge of WFP's Mogadishu office, and called for his immediate and unconditional release. Osman was seized by the Somali National Security Service at a UN compound in the capital.

    source – UN News

    Pic of the day – KUISEB

    Click on image to enlarge – with some browsers click twice

    Unicorn's bulk carrier recently spent just over 24 hours in Durban, presumably to discharge a small part of her cargo before sailing to Maputo. She is a much renamed vessel having been launched from Austin & Pickersgill's yard on 2 February 1983 as FAYROUZ I, thereafter she has borne the following names TIGER ISLAND, ADRIATIC BULKER, GRIFFIN ELARA, FORTUNA AFRICA, MILLENIUM AFRICA, ENTERPRISE and CLAIRE, before being renamed KUISEB in July 2005. She thus revived a name of a vessel that operated on the salt trade between Walvis Bay and Durban between 1987 and 1995 while being operated by Swakop Lines. Photograph copyright SHIPHOTO INTERNATIONAL (Email:

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