Ports & Ships Maritime News

Dec 6, 2007
Author: P&S

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  • South African-made armoured personnel carriers shipped to Iraq for US military

  • IRISL introduces new Africa service

  • Time for Europe to drop colonial attitude towards Africa – EU official

  • SA oil companies can double earnings

  • AU-EU summit to adopt joint strategy

  • Pic of the day – LNG CROSS RIVER

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    South African-made armoured personnel carriers shipped to Iraq for US military

    tug and barge combination THUNDER (tug) and LIGHTNING on charter to the US Sealift Command. Picture US Navy

    The visit to Durban this week of the US Military Sealift Command tug and barge combination ITB THUNDER / LIGHTNING culminated with the barge being loaded with large number of South African-built RG-31 armoured personnel carriers (APC) and other equipment for US military forces in Iraq.

    Thunder / Lightning is one of those uniquely American style tug and barge combinations where the tug (Thunder) acts as a pusher, notching in behind the barge (Lightning). The pair arrived in Durban and began loading 55 RG-31 Cougar vehicles which had been manufactured by BAE Land Systems at Benoni outside Johannesburg. The RG-31 Cougar is a multi purpose mine protected vehicle which is a development of the South African RG-31 Nyala vehicle which in turn evolved from the Mamba APC.

    RG-31s are heavily armoured, have V-shaped bases and high suspension and are designed to provide a high degree of protection from enemy attack including landside bombs and mines. They have proved reliable and popular among the military in Iraq and Afghanistan on account of an ability to absorb and deflect blasts from landmines and car bomb attacks although in one case six Canadian soldiers and an Afghan interpreter died in southern Afghanistan when their vehicle detonated a roadside improvised explosive device. However in other incidents occupants of the vehicles have survived serious blasts with minor injuries or none at all even when taking direct blasts.

    The shipment of vehicles will be discharged in Kuwait and then flown into Iraq to hasten delivery. “This is one of the first large-scale sealift deliveries of mine-resistant vehicles and the first time MRAP-like (Mine Resistant Ambush Protected) vehicles have been loaded” using assets from the European theater, said Chief Petty Officer Pawel Oscik, cargo operations specialist with Sealift Logistics Command Europe.

    By early in 2007 the US had taken delivery of 424 RG-31 vehicles which have been placed in service with several units including the US Army Task Force Pathfinder attached to the 82nd Airborne Division. RG-31s have been involved in combat situations in numerous parts of the world including Bosnia and Herzegovina and are currently in service with a number of armed forces around the world. The RG-31 has become the multi purpose vehicle of choice with the United Nations and other peacekeeping forces and the US Army began equipping its forces with the vehicle in Iraq shortly after five soldiers escaped certain death in one that detonated a landside mine in 2004. They later wrote to Land Systems in Benoni in appreciation for the vehicle having saved their lives.

    sources – Stars and Stripes and PORTS & SHIPS

    South African designed and built RG-31 armoured personnel carrier

    IRISL introduces new Africa service

    The Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines (IRISL) intends introducing a new regular shipping service between Bandar Abbas and Durban as from today (6 December), Iran’s Deputy Commerce Minister announced on Monday.

    In an interview with the Iran News Agency - IRNA (Iran’s official news agency) deputy minister Mehdi Ghazanfari said the new service is being made possible through a joint investment between the Iran Trade Development Corporation and IRISL.

    "IRISL will operate from Bandar Abbas port to the east and south coast of Africa and from west and north coast of Africa back to Bandar Abbas with the aim of responding to the increasing demand for transporting non-oil goods to the continent and in line with government trade with Africa."

    He said that the plan was for ships to operate on a rotation of Bandar Abbas, Mombasa, Zanzibar, Durban, Freetown (Sierra Leone), Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Alexandria, Bandar Abbas.

    The deputy minister referred to costs incurred by shipping lines and said that IRISL will absorb some of these expenses with Iranian exporters and importers receiving a 10 percent discount on freight rates.

    IRISL operates a fleet of 112 ships and transports over 22 million tonnes of cargo annually. Iran’s trade with Africa, excluding oil exports to South Africa, have been listed at US$600 million annually and according to Iranian trade officials has risen 60 percent this year over 2006. IRISL used to maintain an office in Durban and managed by a line representative but this was closed about four years ago, since when non-liner IRISL vessels have continued to call. The company’s non-liner services have been looked after locally by ships agents King & Sons, who told PORTS & SHIPS yesterday they were not aware of the latest development.

    Time for Europe to drop colonial attitude towards Africa – EU official

    The European Union should stop regarding Africa as if it is its own private domain, says the EU’s top development official.

    Louis Michel, the EU Development Commissioner reminded his audience that Europe no longer has a unique relationship with Africa and never will again. He pointed out the expanding influence of China and the United States.

    Michel was speaking at a conference in Brussels ahead of this weekend’s important EU-Africa summit in Lisbon, which aims at strengthening ties between the two regions.

    Michel accused Europe of being paternalistic and seeing Africa as a burden rather than an opportunity and called on the EU to enter into a new partnership with its former colonies. He said the EU needed to create its own ‘strategic revolution’ on Africa to change attitudes.

    "The increasing globalisation of the economy is reflected in the greater than ever determination of the economic powers - both traditional and emerging - to access the vast resources of the African continent to pursue their continued economic expansion. Africa thus has a pivotal role in the new geopolitics of energy, driven by high demand of oil and gas,” he added.

    Africa with 10 percent of the world’s oil reserves had therefore taken on a strategic importance in the race for oilfields and in the diversification of the sources of supply.

    There was a strong need for an overhaul in attitudes. "Europe occupies a unique position vis-a-vis Africa, but the EU and its member states do not appear to be taking advantage of their unique position for a number of reasons.

    "Firstly, there is the attitude of the member states. The colonial heritage and the power instinct have created a situation where some member states have strong links with their African partners which only serves to complicate Europe's position as a global partner for Africa.

    "Afro-pessimism is still too prevalent in Europe, not just in the circles of power, but in public opinion too."

    Michel said that the Africans for their part are taking a much more assertive and demanding attitude towards Europeans. “But they also expect the EU to be ambitious and committed in its approach to Africa. The challenge facing Europe therefore is to change the nature of its relationship with Africa, to create its 'strategic revolution' on Africa," he said.

    Michel proposed a new Europe-Africa Partnership, which is comprehensive, ambitious and sustainable.

    In a related matter the Secretary-General of the East African Community (EAC) said the body had signed a framework agreement to determine the reduction and eventual scrapping of tariffs on 81 percent of EU imports entering the EAC market as part of the economic partnerships agreement (EPA) talks. The purpose of the talk and eventual agreement was to ensure continued access to EU markets for small African farmers.

    "We are made to play second fiddle because we are told the World Trade Organisation says 'come January 1, 2008, no more preferential Cotonou agreement. Take it or leave it'. In such a situation, how are we going to access the EU market if we don't have an arrangement to replace the Cotonou agreement?" secretary-general Juma Mwapachu told a meeting of the Helsinki Process on globalisation and democracy.

    The East African Community (EAC) consists of Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi.

    SA oil companies can double earnings

    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).

    “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 percent 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 percent of the 50 percent local content required in 2006.

    The third 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

    AU-EU summit to adopt joint strategy

    by Michael Appel

    Pretoria, 5 December (BuaNews) - The EU-AU Summit in Portugal this weekend will look to adopt a joint strategy that will be implemented through a number of short term action plans that bear tangible results for Africa.

    "The European Union (EU) and Africa will be looking to forge a new strategic partnership that capitalises on the lessons learnt in the past. Both sides feel it is time for a new phase," said Foreign Affairs Deputy Director General (DDG) Gert Grobler.

    Africa has adopted a new strategic importance in the eyes of the West, said the DDG, adding "it was felt it is now time to talk again."

    Much in the world has changed since the two continental unions last met in Egypt in 2000 for the first ever EU-Africa Summit.

    The first summit resulted in the signing of the Cairo Declaration aimed at giving a new strategic dimension to the global partnership in the 21 Century.

    Mr Grobler said, "When we last met seven years ago, there was no such thing as climate change on the agenda, it didn't exist.

    "Democratisation is deepening on both continents, regional integration between the EU and Africa is on the increase, and globalisation has accelerated."

    Whilst the summit will host EU-AU trade union meetings, youth meetings, society meetings and a business summit, the key focus over the weekend will be on the adoption of the Joint Africa-EU Strategy, said the DDG.

    The Joint Strategy is based on four pillars:

    * Peace and security

    * Good governance and human rights

    * Trade and regional integration and

    * Key development issues

    "The joint strategy is a political vision and provides a road map for the challenging world we live in.

    "It will also provide an overarching framework in which the strategy will be carried through a number of short term action plans in line with the objectives of the four pillars," he said.

    The key objective for Africa, said the DDG, is that the new partnership should make a tangible and material contribution towards the reduction and eventual alleviation of poverty on the continent.

    Grobler added that what was critical to the success of the joint strategy was the financing issue, making sure plans are appropriately implemented, and that follow-up actions are taken to ensure the summit is "not just a talk shop."

    The pillar and key objective of the summit is that it will give practical content to the relationship between the EU and the AU.

    He highlighted that this could be achieved through ensuring that the necessary economic developments were taking place in Africa in order to harness economic opportunity.

    In order to facilitate greater communication and cooperation between the EU and AU, Grobler said the two unions would hold bi-annual summits, and that smaller meetings would take place in the period between the summits.

    Specific focus, he said, would also be placed on the Millennium Development Goals; development cooperation; human and social development; gender equality; environmental sustainability and climate change; migration and development; agriculture and food security; infrastructure; water and sanitation; energy; development of knowledge-based societies; and cultural cooperation.

    Responding to questions regarding whether the issue of Zimbabwe would feature prominently on the agenda of the summit, Grobler said the focus of the summit must remain on strengthening the strategic partnership between the EU and AU, and that Zimbabwe was not part of the agenda.

    Grobler added that the possibility existed that some countries might bring the issue of Zimbabwe up, under the good governance and human rights pillar of the joint strategic partnership

    Pic of the day – LNG CROSS RIVER

    Click on image to enlarge – with some browsers click twice

    LNG CROSS RIVER called at Cape Town harbour at the end of November to load bunkers. Ian Shiffman took the picture

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