Ports & Ships Maritime News

Oct 29, 2007
Author: P&S

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  • Maritime security and surveillance by satellite

  • Coega welcomes PetroSA's investment move

  • Oil workers seized from Nigerian FPSO

  • NSRI rescues yacht off Cape coast

  • Intertanko says tanker shipping is energy efficient and enviro-friendly

  • Pic of the day – BAHIA NEGRA

    Maritime security and surveillance by satellite

    image courtesy SA Weather Service

    by Ian Hunter: SA Weather Service

    The attached satellite radar image (above) comes courtesy of the German Aerospace Centre (DLR). Their TerraSAR-X satellite, launched in June, has a significantly improved resolution in comparison with existing synthetic aperture radar (SAR) systems flying on other satellites. In 'Spotlight' mode resolution is up to 1m, with a 10x10 km coverage. By comparison DigitalGlobe's WorldView-1 satellite launched last month has an imaging sensor with sub-metre resolution (visible and near-IR). However it is of no use when there is extensive cloud cover, let alone precipitation.

    One of the many uses of SAR is vessel detection at sea. The synthetic aperture radars on ESA's Envisat and ERS-2 satellites (the latter is still operating after 12 years) have long been used to deliver this service to MARISS (MARitime Security Service). High resolution, all-weather SAR imagery is integrated with the terrestrially-based AIS (Automatic ship Identification System) and the satcomms-reliant VMS (used for fishing vessel surveillance) - to get additional information on the detected vessel. For example AIS can provide vessel type/ cargo and even ship's draught.

    On the SAR image from the TerraSAR-X satellite certain features have been highlighted and the image annotated. Note that this is the lower resolution, 'Stripmode' : 3 to 6 m with a swath width of 30km. Nevertheless if you magnify it several times, the target northwest of the Spanish enclave of Ceuta could well be a large bulker, with the hatch covers faintly visible forward of the superstructure.

    One can also infer vessel characteristics from their wakes. The centerline (linear) wakes from the various vessels passing through the Straits have been displaced by the strong surface current (up to 5 knots) flowing in from the Atlantic.

    As regards the V-shaped wave patterns, centre-right on the image, it is possible that they are the result of bottom flow (westwards) interacting with the bathymetry - i.e. internal waves. Submarines exiting the Mediterranean during WWII were tempted to drift out in silent mode, using this subsurface current. However they took a risk with the complex bottom topography in the Straits - the water can be as shallow as 100m in places.

    The SAR can provide other information on marine surveillance. For example it can detect oil slicks, specifically those emanating from tankers (in ballast) illegally cleaning out their tanks offshore. This would be especially useful off the South African coast with the heavy tanker traffic rounding the Cape. Coastal air patrols have limited coverage, temporal and spatial. It is not always possible to make a positive identification of an oil slick visually, and of course this becomes impossible after dark.

    DLR very kindly switched on this new synthetic aperture radar for the South African Weather Service earlier this month. This was following a reported iceberg sighting southwest of Cape St Francis. Stripmode was used in order to get a reasonable swath width, but even at 30km it is possible that the sensor might not have had the target in view - during either overpass. Thus it is impossible to completely discount the sighting, however unlikely.

    Coega welcomes PetroSA's investment move

    Port Elizabeth (BuaNews) - PetroSA's announcement that it is investigating the possibility of building a R39 billion crude oil refinery at the Coega Industrial Development Zone (IDZ) site has been warmly received by the corporation.

    The spokesperson for the Coega Development Corporation Ongama Mtimka said the announcement "reiterates our position that the Coega IDZ is a viable business proposition. There are other potential investors who have shown interest in a crude oil refinery in the Coega IDZ," he said.

    The Coega project is a multi-billion-rand industrial development complex and deepwater port in Port Elizabeth, Eastern Cape.

    Some of the projects in the area include the construction of a R2.8 billion Coega Aluminium Smelter and a deepwater port, called Port Ngqura.

    Dubbed Project Mthombo, the proposed crude-oil refinery is expected to produce about 200,000 barrels of fuel a day and will come on stream in 2014/15.

    "The fact that PetroSA considered Coega as the prime location is a massive vote of confidence in the Coega IDZ. We welcome the announcement and will continue to negotiate with potential investors," said Mr Mtimka.

    Once the various aspects of the project had been confirmed, the final investment decision would be made around 2010.

    According to PetroSA, the Coega IDZ offers world-class infrastructure, is ideally located near growing centres of demand in the Eastern and Western Cape, and has sufficient land available for secondary industries to develop around the refinery.

    Meanwhile PetroSA has revealed that four other possible sites were investigated before the decision was made in favour of Coega. The others were Saldanha, Richards Bay Newcastle and Durban, with Saldanha emerging as the next closest to having been chosen.

    Oil workers seized from Nigerian FPSO

    Six workers on board the Italian-owned FPSO MYSTRAS were taken hostage by Nigerian militants on Friday when the bandits raided the offshore vessel about 85 km from the Nigerian coast.

    The six men include Nigerian, Philippine and Polish nationals, according to Eni SpA, the Italian oil major. The raiders came on board the FPSO in the early hours of the morning, shortly before sunrise. In the attack one Nigerian oil worker was injured but not seriously.

    This was the second time in succession that Mystras, which has a production capacity of 80,000 barrels of oil a day, came under attack – the first having occurred last year when a number of workers were similarly abducted. In that incident one of the hostages, a British national was killed by gunfire from a Nigerian navy patrol as the militants escaped with their hostages.

    The attack last year led to Eni declaring force majeure.

    NSRI rescues yacht off Cape coast

    Cape Town, 28 October 2007 – The past weekend proved a busy one for the National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI), which was involved in a number of rescues and incidents.

    In Cape Town the Institute was called to help rescue a yacht taking part in the Double Cape Yacht Race from Cape Town to Simon’s Town and return.

    According to Pat van Eyssen, NSRI Table Bay Station Commander, the rescue craft SPIRIT OF SAFMARINE III was launched after receiving a request for assistance at 01.06 on Sunday, 28 October.

    The call for help came from the 46ft racing yacht HIGH FIDELITY, which was taking part in the Double Cape Yacht Race, consisting of boats from the Royal Cape Yacht Club and False Bay Yacht Club.

    The yacht in difficulty reported rudder steering failure two nautical miles offshore of Bakoven with a crew of 14 on board.

    “Sea conditions of 30 to 35 knot South Easterly winds and 1 metre swells prevailed with patches of no wind along the Atlantic Sea-Board in the shelter of Lions Head and Signal Hill,” van Eyssen reported.

    “Skipper Mark Sadler reported that they were in no imminent danger but required assistance to be towed. NSRI Table Bay volunteers launched our rescue craft Spirit of Safmarine III and on arrival on-scene a tow-line was rigged and the yacht was safely towed into port and moored at her mooring at the Royal Cape Yacht Club, no further assistance being required.”

    Van Eyssen said that according to High Fidelity skipper Mark Sadler the yacht’s Carbon Shaft Rudder broke off and sank off-shore of Bakoven at the time High Fidelity was on the return leg of the race and lying first.

    “The cause of the Rudder Shaft breaking off has not been determined.”

    In a separate report, this time from the Durban NSRI, Alec McNamara, NSRO Durban duty coxswain reports on two incidents off Durban that also occurred yesterday (Sunday).

    “At 08.20 NSRI Durban were activated by the National Ports Authority following a report from the ship MSC SELIN which had happened upon a life-raft drifting at sea approximately 6 nautical miles off-shore of the Bluff. MSC Selin was standing by alongside the life-raft.

    “NSRI Durban volunteers launched our rescue craft MEGAN II and on arrival the life-raft was found unoccupied drifting at sea and her markings show she belongs to the Singapore registered ship Anjusmore which is currently lying at anchorage off-shore of Durban.

    “The 16 man life-raft was recovered onto Megan II and brought back to our rescue base and port authorities will get hold of the owners and the ship. It has not been determined how the life-raft was separated from her ship.

    “En-route back into port, at approximately 11h25, with the life-raft on-board Megan II, our NSRI crew were flagged down by a local 7 metre dive charter boat.

    “On-board the dive charter boat was a male diver, part of a Gauteng Dive Charter, suffering a head laceration reportedly sustained from allegedly being accidentally run over by the dive boat’s propellers while surfacing from a recreational dive.

    “The diver, aged in his early 40’s, from Weltevreeden Park in Johannesburg, was assessed by our crew and found to be in a serious condition with a laceration to the crown of his head and scrapes and bruises. He was lapsing in and out of consciousness.

    “Netcare 911 Ambulance Services were activated while the rescue crew aboard Megan II transferred the patient onto our rescue craft and initiated medical treatment while heading towards our rescue base.

    “It appears that the diver was hit on the head by the boat’s propellers while diving off-shore of Coopers Lighthouse while on a recreational dive charter. The dive crew had recovered the diver from the water after the accident and immediately headed towards port seeking medical assistance when they came across our NSRI rescue boat which was returning from recovering the life-raft.

    “The patient was brought into our rescue base secured into a Stokes Basket Stretcher where he was stabilised and treatment was handed over to Netcare 911 paramedics who had responded to our base to assist.

    “He has been transported to hospital in a stable but serious condition by a Netcare 911 ambulance.”

    Later yesterday during the afternoon the Durban NSRI was again activated by a call from the Port of Durban following reports of a drowning in progress off one of the main Durban beaches. The rescue craft EIKOS RESCUER II and MEGAN II responded to the scene along with a landbased 4x4 rescue vehicle, where they were joined by units of the SA Police Search and Rescue, Netcare 911 Ambulance Services, Kwa-Zulu Natal Emergency Medical and Rescue Services (KZN EMRS) and Fire and Rescue Services.

    On arrival on-scene the NSRI joined eThekwini (Durban) Municipal Pro Lifeguards who had initiated a search in the surf for a male swimmer who was reportedly seen being washed out to sea by suspected rip-currents.

    Following a full-scale search no sign of the unidentified man was found and the case was handed over to Police Search and Rescue

    Reports courtesy Craig Lambinon / NSRI

    Intertanko says tanker shipping is energy efficient and enviro-friendly

    The following announcement has been received from Intertanko - the International Association of Independent Tanker Owners. Although lengthy it is considered interesting enough to reproduce here in entirety.

    Tanker Shipping

    Oil tankers transport over 2.4 billion tonnes of oil annually. Getting on for two thirds of the oil and oil products that the world consumes is transported by sea. Oil tankers are environmentally-friendly, energy-efficient and effective in terms of minimising greenhouse-gas (GHG) emissions.

    One litre of fuel on a modern VLCC (Very Large Crude Carrier) moves one tonne of cargo more than 2,800 kilometres; this is more than twice as far as 20 years ago. The average carbon footprint (in terms of CO2 per tonne-kilometre) of each of the world’s oil tankers is less than one tenth of that of a heavy truck and less than one hundredth of that of an aircraft.

    World shipping carries 90 percent of world trade and modern bulk carriers, container ships and other cargo ships, – supplying the world with energy, moving raw materials and shipping finished goods – are similarly environment-friendly and energy-efficient.

    Over recent years tanker owners have invested an average of nearly US$32 Billion a year in new ships and today over 75 percent of the internationally traded fleet is double hulled. With this increased protection for the oil cargo, as well as the ship’s fuel tanks, accidental oil spills this decade have been at record low levels - one third of the previous decade and one tenth of the 1970s - at a time when oil transported has more than doubled since the mid 1980s. Engines are more efficient and other measures, such as segregated ballast water, the application of new tin-free paints, optimal weather routing and the recovery of otherwise wasted heat from the engine and auxiliaries, have resulted in significant gains in energy efficiency and reductions in environmental impact.

    A particular issue for the tanker industry has been the control of cargo vapours (volatile organic compounds - VOCs) during loading and on passage. VOCs have a global warming potential of approximately 20 times that of CO2 and the tanker fleet has voluntarily developed means to reduce these emissions to a small fraction of what they were.

    Tanker owners are however not complacent and are committed to “continuous improvement” in all fields right across the industry. New technologies are being tested for application in both existing and new ships, including ways of achieving further efficiency gains and reducing harmful engine exhaust and GHG emissions.

    Air Emissions

    Air emissions from ships are regulated by the United Nations’ International Maritime Organization (IMO).

    In 1997 an International Convention on the Regulation of Air Pollution from Ships (MARPOL Annex VI) was adopted. This Convention covers the emissions of oxides of sulphur (SOx) and nitrogen (NOx) as well CFCs and VOCs, and makes provisions for regional control zones for sulphur emissions.

    As early as 2000 the IMO produced a study on Green House Gas (GHG) emissions and is currently working on an update to give a better foundation for future decisions. Additional measures to regulate GHG emissions are under review and will be debated more fully in the first half of 2008.

    Sulphur levels in most fuels used today by ships average just 60 percent of the maximum permissible level in the IMO regulations. Within Sulphur Emission Control Areas (SECAs), currently covering the Baltic Sea and from November the North Sea and English Channel, where maximum sulphur levels are set at one third of the global level, the sulphur level of the fuels used by ships is frequently below the maximum permissible level. Since 2000 all new engines installed on ships also produce significantly lower NOx emissions.

    This Convention is currently being revised with a target completion date of 2008.

    Intertanko has submitted a specific proposal to the IMO which would require the use of cleaner fuel (distillate) on a global basis. Other (shorter and longer term) proposals under review include the application of abatement technologies and/or the expansion of Emission Control areas.

    In order to fast-track the revision of Annex VI, the IMO has endorsed a proposal by its Secretary-General and has commissioned a comprehensive study, by an informal cross- government/industry Group of Experts, to evaluate the effects of the various proposals for revisions and establish the facts.

    Inputs on current and future fuel consumption and emissions were invited by the IMO’s Group of Experts, whose members, although nominated by inter alia governments, oil and bunkering interests, engine manufacturers and ship owner representatives, serve the Group in their personal capacity. One of several such inputs was a report by Intertanko which included a model for estimating the global usage of marine fuels by ships subject to Annex VI regulations and their associated emissions, together with an explanatory note of the underlying assumptions in the model. This report makes no comparison with either estimates of previous years or with other transportation modes. The Group of Experts is responsible for making any comparisons with other models as part of the process of validation for its final report.

    Intertanko will not comment on the contents of its report, the ongoing work of the IMO Group of Experts nor on speculation about the total or mix of emissions from shipping.

    Regrettably, despite understandings with regard to the confidentiality of the work of the IMO Group of Experts, a third party (not Intertanko) has chosen to release the input provided by Intertanko and subsequently various press articles and comments have appeared out of context and in advance of the publication of the IMO Group of Experts’ report in December.

    Recent press articles do not reflect the official position of Intertanko. Respecting these understandings on confidentiality, we consider it inappropriate to make specific comments while the work of the IMO’s Group of Experts is under way.

    Growth in World Trade

    World trade and ship numbers have naturally seen a steady increase over recent years, but in parallel there have been economies of scale (with larger, more efficient ships) and on a per unit basis emissions both of harmful substances (pollutants) and GHGs from ships have been reduced, allowing shipping still justifiably to assert that it is the most environmentally-friendly and the most energy-efficient transport mode.

    Shipping is therefore a part of the solution to the challenges of air emissions and global warming which face the world today, rather than being the problem.

    Tanker owners, and Intertanko, are totally committed to remaining at the forefront in providing the world with safe, environmentally sound and efficient seaborne transportation of oil, gas and chemical products.

    Pic of the day – BAHIA NEGRA

    Click on image to enlarge – with some browsers click twice

    Hamburg Süd’s newbuild BAHIA NEGRA sails from Durban Picture by Steve McCurrach http://www.airserv.co.za/maritime.htm

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