Ports & Ships Maritime News

Nov 30, 2007
Author: P&S

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  • Big day for Durban shipbuilding as SMIT LiPuma is named

  • FORUM – readers views

  • News from the shipping lines

  • Undersea cable to connect 21 African countries

  • UN maritime agency goes it alone - urges action to curb piracy off coast of Somalia

  • Pic of the day – SMIT LiPUMA

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    Big day for Durban shipbuilding as SMIT LiPuma is named

    at the moment of being named. Picture Terry Hutson

    Meaning ‘emerging sun’ or ‘arrival of a son’, South Africa’s first fully double skinned bunker barge was formally named SMIT Li Puma in a ceremony held in Durban yesterday. SMIT La Puma is due to go in the water early in December before undergoing sea trials and entering service with SMIT Amandla Marine in Durban in January.

    SMIT LiPuma was named by Dr Xolisa Poswa in the time honoured fashion of breaking a bottle of sparkling wine across the bows. Immediately prior to this the chaplain to Missions to Seafarers, the Revd Des Vaubell had invoked God’s blessing on the vessel and all those who will work on her.

    Built at a cost of some R60m the barge signals the return to shipbuilding by the firm of Dormac – formerly known as Dorbyl and before that Dorman Long. SMIT LiPuma became hull no.108 meaning that 107 other vessels have been built before her at the Durban shipyard – the last one prior to SMIT LiPuma being the 9,000-gt container ship CAPE BONAVISTA, which was the last in a series during the early 1990s.

    Paul Maclons, managing director of SMIT Amandla Marine, owner of the new bunker barge SMIT LiPuma. Picture Terry Hutson

    Fortunately this appears to be a rebirth for local shipbuilding, after many ups and downs and false promises. SMIT Amandla has awarded a second contract to Dormac to equip another barge, the PENTOW ENERGY with a double skin in accordance with incoming regulations and requirements from the oil majors. Steel cutting for Pentow Energy began this week, ensuring continued work for what is now a skilled workforce reinstated at the shipyard. But equally importantly, Dormac also has orders for another one or two barges in the pipeline as well.

    Construction of the latest barge has been no mean achievement. Work commenced in November last year and the contract is currently running just one week late – and that after having lost a total of 47 days because of rain and other adverse weather conditions.

    The new barge has a carrying capacity of 5,000 tonnes of bunker fuel and a delivery rate of 1,000t per hour – a considerable improvement on any other barge operation in southern Africa. The larger size of SMIT LiPuma means that up to three container ships, for example, can be refueled one after the other whereas at present the largest barge in use has enough capacity to handle one ship at a time before returning to base to load more fuel.

    The delivery of a new barge comes at a time when Durban’s port pipelines are nearing the end of their lifespan. Transnet National Ports Authority has indicated it does not intend replacing the pipelines to ship quays.

    Further along the waterside construction of the first of five new tugs for Transnet is already well underway at Southern African Shipyards. And a glance around all the adjacent shipyards yesterday indicated that all available berth space at the repair jetties was fully occupied, as was the dry dock, showing that things are looking up at the Durban shipyards. With similar good news from Cape Town’s ship repair industry, where the industry is bolstered by ships, work boats and oil rigs from the West African oil industry in addition to an active ship and boatbuilding programme, ship repair and building in South Africa is certainly on the up.

    FORUM – readers views

    Mr Alain Malherbe of Port Louis, Mauritius writes:

    “While I deeply appreciate your daily publications on PORT NEWS, I really do not see and understand why in today's (Wednesday edition, 28 November) you are talking of HIV/DRUGS in Mauritius. Unless I am mistaken, this is not the basic mission of your publication which is to publish news on ports.

    So many articles have appeared on your country South Africa and other remote African countries/ports without mentioning the HIV/drugs which in fact is much more predominant there. So why only Mauritius?

    I sincerely believe that it is certainly not the spirit of your publications to treat such subjects.
    (by email)

    The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) warns that syndicates are using the ports of Mauritius – both sea and air – to smuggle drugs into the island which is then used as a conduit into other African countries, including South Africa and Kenya. This has a direct bearing on port security issues and is therefore of interest (and concern) to stakeholders.
    It was not PORTS & SHIPS’ intention to burst any bubbles of complacency about the island paradise of Mauritius (or Seychelles which is also mentioned in the report) but we think the matter is newsworthy and therefore of interest.
    At the same time we don’t believe we should ignore the connectivity between drugs and the spread of HIV/AIDS, which is of prime concern to the maritime industry for obvious reasons. As was pointed out in the article movement between the islands (and the continent) is common and governments need to start waking up to this threat.
    “Mauritius is sitting on a volcano that is going to explode very loudly ... and the Indian Ocean region is in for big trouble," said Dr Farida Oodally in the complete article - Dr Oodally is involved with the UNAIDS Focal Point in Mauritius.

    On a related matter another reader queried recently why PORTS & SHIPS devotes so much space to reporting on food shortages and various natural disasters in Africa. The reader raised the same question as to whether this is the mission of PORTS & SHIPS.

    PORTS & SHIPS highlights anything that has a bearing on maritime transport, however broad, but does not exclude featuring occasional items outside this parameter. The motivation for highlighting food aid deliveries to Africa is straightforward - food shortages have an impact on many of the continent’s ports and related transport systems, while also affecting individual country’s economies. In recent years ports and transport systems in southern Africa have come under strain from large volumes of food aid arriving by sea (which compares unfavourably with a similar situation in the early 1990s during a period of severe drought in southern Africa when the South African ports and railways coped admirably with unprecedented volumes). Today shipments have often to be split up for discharge at several ports in neighbouring countries, with consequent increases in costs to ship operators because localised transport chains are unable to cope. That’s just one effect of such matters on our harbours and shipping.

    Note: Do you have an opinion on these or other topics? Readers comments are very welcome – email them to info@ports.co.za

    News from the shipping lines

    In a terse statement yesterday EWATA member lines announced the introduction of a surcharge on the port of Sierra Leone.

    According to EWATA this is due to recently adjusted cost structures and the need to recover these costs. The new surcharges are: €70 per TEU (£50 per TEU) and will take effect from 1 January 2008.

    EWATA member lines are CSAV, Delmas, Hapag Lloyd, Libra, Maersk Line, NileDutch, OT Africa Line and Safmarine.

    Source - EWATA

    Mitsui OSK Line (MOL) has announced that following a review of the applicable bunker surcharge against present oil prices, MOL will introduce adjusted bunker surcharges on the Europe – South Africa – Europe trade (also known as SAECS and presumably to be followed by other SAECS members).

    With effect 1 January 2008 the revised bunker surcharge will become

    US$435 per TEU for General Purpose Cargo
    US$615 per TEU for Reefer Cargo

    MOL also announced that the container ship MOL CALEDON on voyage 709B will omit the port of Tilbury. MOL said the reason for the omission is due to the fact that the ship would have berthed in Tilbury over the Festive Season. With the terminal shutting down at that time the vessel would have been delayed by between 2 and 3 days and this would have impacted her Bremerhaven berthing window, meaning the ship would have faced a 5 to 6 day delay overall.

    Cargo destined for Tilbury will be transferred to the vessel LICA MAERSK of voyage 801B ETA Tilbury on 31 December and ETD that port on 1 January 2008. Port Elizabeth cargo has already been transferred to the vessel MOL KOMATI of voyage 701B ETA at Thamesport 18 December, departing there on the same day.

    The National Shipowners’ Council meeting taking place in Luanda, Angola this week involved discussions on the national reconstruction process leading to the signing of new contracts among international maritime operators for 2008. Ship owners used the opportunity to submit proposals for lowering freight costs to Angola’s Transport Ministry (no doubt also highlighting the chronic delays at the port as one of the key factors affecting high costs).

    Ivory Coast trade unions are threatening to hold a one-day strike among cocoa workers for next week that could impact negatively on port operations, according to news reports from the West African country. The union wants better pay and work conditions. In October a similar threat was made which caused prices of cocoa to rise sharply on the London market.

    Ivory Coast ports ship 1.4 million tonnes of cocoa a year, or 40 percent of the word’s total production and any disruption or even threat of such is enough to give traders the jitters.

    Undersea cable to connect 21 African countries

    Washington, 28 November 2007 (BuaNews) - The construction of an undersea fibre-optic cable is to move Africa closer to reliable telecommunications and affordable Internet access, by connecting 21 east, southern, and central African countries to west Africa and Europe.

    Construction of the 10,000 kilometre undersea cable is to begin next month following the announcement on Monday that the International Finance Corporation (IFC) and others have come up with US$70.7 million in financing for the project.

    "The project will transform the African telecommunication landscape and have a direct positive impact on business in East Africa," Lars Thunell, Chief Executive at the World Bank's private sector arm, said on Monday.

    In Africa, the Internet reaches only 4 percent of the population and users pay the world's highest fees to connect at the slowest speeds when the continent's notoriously erratic electricity supply and satellite connections permit.

    The situation is worse in the countries to be served by the new cable.

    The East Africa Submarine Cable System, or EASSy, is intended to change all this. Once completed, it is expected to provide digital access to 250 million people, or one in four Africans.

    The IFC believes that EASSy will cut the cost of internet connectivity by two-thirds at the outset and the number of subscribers will triple.

    The cable will run along the floor of the western Indian Ocean and connect South Africa, Mozambique, Madagascar, Tanzania, Kenya, Somalia, Djibouti and Sudan. At its southern end, it will join cables serving West Africa and Europe.

    Thirteen adjoining countries will be linked to the system as additional networks are completed through a broader World Bank initiative. These countries are Botswana, Burundi, the Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, Chad, Ethiopia, Lesotho, Malawi, Rwanda, Swaziland, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

    The IFC said it would provide $18.2 million out of $70.7 million in long-term loans sought by the EASSy consortium of companies.

    The rest would come from the African Development Bank, European Investment Bank, German development bank KfW, and French development bank AFD. The European Union also would provide some financing.

    The international lenders are channelling their financing through the West Indian Ocean Cable Company Ltd., formed specifically for the project, the IFC said.

    Most of the money for the $235-million project is to come from 25 private telecommunications operators that make up the 29-company EASSy consortium, the others being government entities. Of the private firms, 21 are African and these will be the cable's main users, the IFC said.

    French firm Alcatel-Lucent Submarine Networks is to lay the cable. Firms from Britain, India, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and the United States also are taking part in the venture, according to business documents.

    UN maritime agency goes it alone - urges action to curb piracy off coast of Somalia

    London, 29 November 2007 – The United Nations International Maritime Organisation (IMO) today renewed its call for measures to prevent and suppress acts of piracy and armed robbery against ships off the coast of Somalia.

    Piracy jeopardises the delivery of much-needed aid to Somalia, which is facing a deteriorating humanitarian situation.

    Some 80 per cent of food assistance from the UN World Food Programme (WFP) for the country moves by sea, and pirate attacks threaten to cut the main supply route, threatening the delivery of 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.

    In a new resolution, the IMO appeals directly to Somalia’s Transitional Federal Government (TFG), which, backed by Ethiopian forces, dislodged the Union of Islamic Courts (UIC) from Mogadishu, the capital, and much of the rest of the country at the end of last year.

    The agency calls for the TFG to take any action it deems necessary to prevent and suppress piracy and armed robbery against ships originating from within the East African nation, and to ensure that attacks are not launched from the country’s coastline.

    In addition, the resolution appeals to the TFG to ensure that all ships seized by pirates and armed robbers are released promptly, and that ships off the Somali coast do not become victims to such acts.

    Today’s resolution also urges the TFG to advise the UN Security Council that “in response to a previous IMO request” it consents to warships or military aircraft entering Somalia’s territorial sea when operations against pirates are underway.

    Due to the deteriorating humanitarian situation in the country, it also asks the TFG to notify the Council that it is prepared to negotiate to allow warships or military aircraft to escort WFP ships to deliver much-needed aid or leave Somali ports after unloading their cargo.

    IMO’s resolution passed by the agency’s Assembly, its governing body, underscored the need for cooperation, communication and information-sharing, and called on all governments in the area to conclude a regional agreement, in collaboration with IMO, to prevent, deter and suppress piracy and armed robbery against ships.

    source – UN News Centre

    Pic of the day – SMIT LiPUMA

    Click on image to enlarge – with some browsers click twice

    The new bunker barge SMIT LiPuma on her blocks at the Dormac Shipyards in Durban yesterday. The barge is due to go into the water early in December - see report above. Picture Terry Hutson

    Don’t forget to send us your news and press releases for inclusion in the News Bulletins. Shipping related pictures submitted by readers are always welcome – please email to info@ports.co.za

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