Ports & Ships Maritime News

Nov 21, 2007
Author: P&S

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  • Durban Harbour not affected by refinery blaze

  • UN body salutes France for escorting aid ships safely into Somalia

  • Africa to invest on integrated railway system

  • IMO’s Mitropoulos wants ship carbon emission restrictions speeded up

  • South Africa and Angola agree to do away with visas

  • Razzmatazz cancels all cruises

  • Pic of the day – RFA GOLD ROVER

    Durban Harbour not affected by refinery blaze

    pictures Ian Hall

    The fire which began burning fiercely at approximately 7pm on Monday evening at the Engen refinery on the Bluff in Durban has had no effect on operations at the port of Durban.

    Some reports circulating both locally and internationally have compared the fire to a much larger conflagration in the Island View petroleum storage complex in Durban Harbour on 18 September, but whereas the earlier fire was within the port complex and caused the evacuation of ships as well as people living nearby and polluted harbour waters, the latest fire is in another part of the city.

    The Engen refinery, which was first constructed in the 1950s on what was then an undeveloped section of the Bluff, has been in the news repeatedly in recent years on account of complaints of pollution by residents whose properties overlooked the sprawling complex.

    Monday’s fire is thought to have been caused by lightning strike on a tank holding petrol, which burst into flame. Firefighting teams from the refinery, as well as those from the nearby Sapref refinery (Shell and BP) and others from the Durban Municipality concentrated on dowsing adjacent tanks to prevent them from also catching fire, while a process of draining the burning tank of some of its contents was begun.

    By early last evening (Tuesday) the fire was still burning but an Engen spokesman said it was expected the fire would burn itself out during the night. He said the refinery had continued production but at a lower rate.

    There were no injuries reported and people living within 500m of the burning tank were not asked to leave their homes.

    The Engen refinery processes 125,000 barrels of crude oil a day and is linked to the harbour some five to seven kilometres away by pipeline. The refinery is also linked to the Transnet pipeline system.

    the same fire 12 hours later

    UN body salutes France for escorting aid ships safely into Somalia

    Nairobi, 19 November 2007 - The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) welcomed the safe arrival on Monday of the first two ships carrying WFP food assistance to be escorted by a French naval vessel to Somalia, and urged other countries to step forward to help protect humanitarian assistance from pirate attacks.

    "This operation comes at a critical time for the Somali people who have been devastated by some of the worst conflict and drought seen in years," said WFP Executive Director, Josette Sheeran, adding that she was very grateful to the Government of France and the French Navy for providing naval escorts to ships carrying WFP food to Somalia.

    "Piracy has damaged our ability to reach Somalia's most vulnerable people. We cannot tackle this challenge alone and are grateful to those helping to protect our ships."

    Since 27 October, nearly 200,000 people have fled their homes in Mogadishu because of fighting, bringing the total number of people displaced by insecurity in the capital to 580,000 since February. Many are living in desperate conditions, camped on the sides of roads during the rainy season – without shelter, or the most basic sanitation and medical assistance.

    The French corvette FNS COMMANDANT DUCUING (F795) left the Kenyan port of Mombasa on Friday, escorting the MV Rozen loaded with 2,800 metric tons of WFP food and MV Semlow with 850 tons. They arrived at Somali’s Merka port on Monday.

    Sheeran said WFP needs a safe sea supply line to Somalia to provide food to the steadily increasing numbers of people living in dire circumstances. "We, like France, hope other nations will urgently step up and follow the French example," Sheeran said.

    Sheeran also thanked the multinational coalition naval force off Somalia for its increased surveillance and actions against a plague of pirate attacks in recent months. WFP and the International Maritime Organisation jointly appealed in July for high-level international action to stamp out piracy in waters off Somalia.

    So far this year, pirates have mounted at least 26 attacks on ships off Somalia, including 13 hijackings. Of those attacked, three were ships carrying WFP food assistance.

    An estimated 80 percent of WFP food assistance to Somalia is transported to the country by sea. The Government of France has said that its escort operation will last two months.

    WFP is the world's largest humanitarian agency. Last year it gave food to 88 million people - mostly women and children - in 78 of the world's poorest countries.

    Africa to invest on integrated railway system

    by Luyanda Makapela

    Midrand, 20 November 2007(BuaNews) - Africa must take its rightful place in the international trade sector by investing on integrated rail systems which will boost socio-economic development on the continent.

    Addressing delegates at the African Union (AU) Rail Conference on Tuesday (20 November), South Africa’s Transport Minister Jeff Radebe said there was great need of integration between rail operators in order to provide a framework of joint delivery of a cost-effective and predictable African rail transport service.

    "Our access to local and international economies heavily relies on the ability of the rail system ... therefore, our railways must always provide companies with the ability to compete globally irrespective of changes in the commodities under trade," Radebe said.

    The two-day conference, themed: "Interconnection, Interoperability and Complimentarily of African Railway Networks", seeks to come up with strategies on how to achieve a more efficient railway system for developing the African continent.

    Minister Radebe said the conference would serve as a platform for developing solutions to challenges identified by African Ministers of Transport responsible for railways with the aim to facilitate integration, development and promotion of intra-Africa trade.

    Some of the challenges included eliminating missing rail infrastructure links and developing policies and instruments to bring private sector participation in the railways.

    Union of African Railways and the International Union of African Railways have recently begun developing the African Railway Master plan.

    "In my view, this plan needs to deal with the current debate [on the current AU Rail Conference] ... in order to maximise the integration of railway systems in Africa.

    "It must also define and identify rail corridors that would constitute the Pan-African Railway Network to facilitate trade and economic integration in the continent," the minister said.

    Among other developments, Radebe said talks with Lesotho have already started with the long-term goal to establish a railway line linking Lesotho with the ports of Durban and Port Elizabeth.

    "These projects are a clear indication that we have made a good start ... but our fundamental goals for rail in Africa must support economic integration and meet the basic needs of our people," he said.

    AU commissioner for the Infrastructure and Energy Dr Bernard Zoba said South Africa had the largest and longest network in railway matters which will enhance African development.

    "We need to come together and put a railway infrastructure as it is important not only for transporting people, but for global socio-economic growth and sustainable development," Dr Zoba said.

    In April 2006, the first AU Conference of Transport Ministers was held in Congo with the aim of finding a more efficient railway system for developing the African continent.

    The meeting also aimed to define and adopt a shared vision of railway transport development in Africa and elaborate appropriate strategies.

    Strategies for railway development and the role of various stakeholders in implementing railway development strategies were also discussed.

    Note – The Minister’s full address to the AU Rail Conference can be found here http://www.transport.gov.za/frames/sp112007-f.html - Ports & Ships

    News continues below….

    You can follow Kingsley Holgate on his latest expedition AFRICA, THE OUTSIDE EDGE with regular blogs posted here http://ports.co.za/didyouknow/index.php

    IMO’s Mitropoulos wants ship carbon emission restrictions speeded up

    Efthimios Mitropoulos, the IMO (International Maritime Organisation) secretary-general, says he wants to see a limit put on carbon gas emissions from ships introduced sooner rather than later.

    Mitropoulos was addressing the IMO when he said the setting of standards regarding CO2 emissions from ships should be expedited to that they could be placed before the March (2008) meeting of the IMO’s Marine Environment Protection Committee in order that that body can in turn bring forward its process to reduce emissions.

    It is now thought likely that the committee will be in a position to make decisions on certain elements of IMO’s revised gas study by the autumn of next year.

    Mitropoulos said that the IMO needed to demonstrate its determination to tackle this threat to the global climate without delay.

    source – Schednet

    South Africa and Angola agree to do away with visas

    by Michael Appel

    Luanda, 20 November 2007 (BuaNews) - South African and Angola have agreed to sign a declaration which will see ordinary passport holders no longer needing visas to travel between the two countries.

    The Declaration of Intent will be signed today (Wednesday) during a South African delegation’s visit to Angola for the Joint Commission for Cooperation (JCC).

    The JCC will also see two more agreements focussing on the petroleum sector and the promotion of tourism signed.

    The South African Minister of Foreign Affairs Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma was be accompanied by Minerals and Energy Minister Buyelwa Sonjica and Home Affairs Deputy Minister Malusi Gigaba.

    Ms Dlamini-Zuma will co-chair the meeting with her Angolan counterpart Foreign Minister Joao Bernardo de Miranda.

    Since its establishment, the JCC has finalised agreements relating to agriculture, health and the exemption from visa requirements for diplomatic passport holders.

    Other finalised agreements have related to promoting and protecting investments, a defence protocol, cooperation in the field of electricity, and social assistance and reintegration.

    The first South Africa-Angola JCC meeting took place four years ago in Pretoria.

    Bordering the South Atlantic Ocean and nestled between the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Namibia, Angola is one of the continents leaders in economic growth.

    The country's high growth has been driven by its oil sector, with record oil prices and rising petroleum production.

    Oil production and its supporting activities contribute to about half of Angola's Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and 90 percent of its exports.

    A post-war reconstruction boom, following 27 years of civil war, and the resettlement of displaced persons has led to high rates of growth in construction and agriculture as well.

    According to a report issued in June from the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa on regional economic developments in 2006, the Angolan economy is among the top 10 best performers in Africa.

    In Southern Africa, Angola is at the top, followed by Mozambique, Malawi and Zambia.

    With regard to financial management, Angola is among the three best African countries. The national currency, the Kwanza, had an appreciation of 8.5 percent relative to the United States dollar in 2006.

    Angola's economic stability is not only the result of the increase of oil revenues, but also because of inflows of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), a sustainable monetary policy and a macro-economic management.

    Razzmatazz cancels all cruises

    Razzmatazz Ocean Cruises, which had hoped to commence a cruise operation from Durban using the 3,500 ton MADAGASCAR, has begun advising customers who had booked cruises that all operations should be regarded as cancelled.

    The Johannesburg-based company began yesterday advising customers that it had been forced to cancel all cruise operations. The email sent to customers stated that the cancellation was due to a legal battle between themselves and the sellers of the ship.

    “We have had to cancel all cruise operations until such time as the legal wrangle is resolved,” the email stated.

    Razzmatazz Ocean Cruises requested customers who had bookings to confirm their banking details to permit a full refund.

    Razzmatazz was due to commence the cruising season on Saturday (17 November) with a theme cruise for bird lovers to Europa and other Indian Ocean islands. On Wednesday, three days before the cruise was due to start it was suddenly called off, with the cruise company claiming legal complications. Ports & Ships understands these are to do with an arrest order on the vessel.

    See related report Shock for 200 passengers as Razzmatazz cruise is cancelled http://ports.co.za/news/article_2007_11_15_1118.html#one

    Pic of the day – RFA GOLD ROVER

    Click on image to enlarge – with some browsers click twice

    The Royal Navy’s fleet replenishment auxiliary ship GOLD ROVER seen in Cape Town last week. Picture by Ian Shiffman

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