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Ports & Ships Maritime News

6 February 2012
Author: Terry Hutson

Bringing you shipping, freight, trade and transport related news of interest for Africa since 2002

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The French Navy patrol frigate of the Floreal class, FS NIVOSE arrived in Cape Town on Saturday for a three day stopover. Picture by Ian Shiffman.

Meanwhile a sister frigate FS FLOREAL was visiting the port of Dar es Salaam in Tanzania at the weekend.

The patrol frigates, which are built to commercial ship standards, displace 2600 tonnes (2950t fully loaded) and have a length of 93.5m, a beam of 14m and a draught of 4.4m. Speed is 20 knots (37 km/h) and the ships have a range of 10,000 nautical miles (19,000 km) at 15 knots (28 km/h). The ship's company consists of 11 officers, 36 non- commissioned officers and 42 sailors. Armament includes two Exocet MM38 missile launchers, one 100 mm gun with a Najir fire control system, two 20 mm modčle F2 cannon and a Eurocopter AS565 Panther light helicopter.

It’s difficult to ignore the thought that the South African Navy might have been better served acquiring four or five of this type of frigate instead of the highly expensive, sophisticated Meko A200SAN type frigates from Germany, which have incurred engine/exhaust problems since going into service from 2006 onwards. Two of the Valour class frigates, SAS Amatola and SAS Mendi are currently semi-crippled with engine problems – Amatola’s problems are bad enough to warrant having one of her two diesel engines, which has a bent crankshaft, replaced at the next major refit.

Despite these ailments SAS Amatola has completed several operations using just one diesel engine, while SAS Mendi was able to return from anti-piracy patrol operations under her own power after experiencing what appears to have been a similar problem. Mendi was escorted back to South Africa by a second frigate, SAS Isandlwana which subsequently replaced the Mendi and is now based at Pemba.

Given the cost ofthe German-built ships and the difficulty the SA Defence Force faces with underfunding and lack of sufficient experienced manpower, which has seen most of its frontline aircraft grounded and the navy similarly underfunded, a cheaper more conventional type of ship such as the French vessel currently in Cape Town might not have been such a bad idea.

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India’s Essar Ports, the country’s second largest port operator, will sign a concession agreement with the Mozambique port and rail company CFM to develop a port for handling up to 40 million tonne of iron ore and coal, reports the Hindu Business Line.

The signing of the concession is expected within the next six months, said Rajiv Agarwal, managing director of Essar Ports. “We are in talks with Mozambique authorities. We expect to have a clear idea on the size and investment for the proposed port there within the next six months,” he told Business Line.

A separate reports says Essar Ports will build a slurry pipeline to connect the port with Zimbabwe where the Essar Group's recently acquired Zimbabwe Iron and Steel Company.

However, Essar Ports says the Mozambique project will not cater to just the Essar Group's requirements but was looking to handle the needs of other companies that have invested in the region and require an outlet from which to export iron ore and coal.

The concession will be Essar Ports’ first overseas project. Agarwal indicated that the new port would handle iron ore for one of its affiliates and coal for third party customers.

The Essar Group is held by the Ruia family which founded the company in 1969. Essar Ports, which is listed on the Bombay Stock Exchange and the National Stock Exchange of India, and which develops, owns and operates ports and terminals, is India’s second-largest private sector port and terminal company by capacity and throughput.

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Congested Mombasa Container Terminal

Reports from Kenya say that delayed clearance and high port charges which have resulted in cargo stacking up at the port of Mombasa, has prompted the Kenya Ports Authority to declare a three month waiver.

The waiver is limited to shippers who have applied to clear their cargo between January and 1 March.

The move came as a relief to cargo owners who have failed to get their cargo out of Mombasa due to delays in clearance. These delays in clearing goods at the port of Mombasa have affected trade in countries that use the port, creating shortages which often translate into price hikes in such countries.

According to the Kenya Port Authority, the waiver will elapse after 100 days, after which uncollected cargo will be destroyed in an effort to reduce the number of containers that are congesting East Africa’s largest port.

According to the KPA over 466 export containers, 737 domestic imports and 294 transit containers have been lying at the port for between 100 and 1,000 days.

The report said it could not be established how many of these containers are Uganda-bound, although it is evident that Uganda is the biggest regional user of the Mombasa port.

Despite these measures, which have been generally welcomed, port observers say it won’t be long before containers stack up once more. They say that to avoid these, issues such as the high cost of storage and the high cost of rail and road transport need to be addressed.

A survey showed that it costs between US$2,900 and $3,500 to transport a container from Mombasa to Kampala.

In addition importers are charged a daily fee of $40 fifteen days from the time their goods reach the country, which is on top of the $1,000-$2,000 deposit paid to the shipping line. This is forfeited if cargo is not cleared within the specified time. Source All Africa.com

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COSCO applies emergency fuel surcharge to Africa trade

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Cosco’s general cargo ship ANZE JIANG entering Durban harbour. Picture by Terry Hutson

Cosco has given notice of an emergency fuel surcharge (EFS) for African trade on all shipments including reefer cargo between the Far East and South Africa. The surcharge will come into effect from 15 February 2012.

. The EFS amounts to a US$80 per TEU charge on containers shipped to South Africa.

Maersk drops unique around Africa MEW1 service

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Maersk Vallvik in Cape Town. Picture by Ian Shiffman

Maersk Line intends dropping its Africa MEW1 loop which links the west Mediterranean, West Africa, South Africa and the Middle East. The service will be discontinued as from 19 February 2012.

As a result there will be no service from Maersk between Dubai and West Africa outside its longer ME1 and Rumba loops that connect from Algeciras westbound to Dubai.

The ‘round-trip’ MEW1 is a 63-day voyage with calls at Algeciras, Dakar, Lagos, Douala, and Cape Town via Suez from Dubai and the Indian Ocean. Nine ships averaging 2,515 TEU were deployed including some vessels provided by the Maersk Line Safmarine division.

From 19 February the service will continue as a dedicated end-to-end loop between South Africa and Algeciras, deploying six vessels averaging 1,309 TEU, and from South Africa to Dubai on its MESA service calling at Karachi and Mumbai, on which five vessels averaging 2,235 TEU will be deployed.

China steps back from an outright VLOC ban

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Vale Beijing being towed away from the port of San Luis

China’s ministry of transport has intervened in the dispute between Chinese ports and Brazilian bulk carrier Vale over the possible arrival in Chinese ports of the Vale fleet of 400,000-dwt VLOC bulkers carrying iron ore.

The ministry issued a statement affirming the importance of maintaining safe operations at the ports, especially when handling the mega-sized bulk ships. It also expressed its lack of confidence in the design standards of the VLOCs.

This follows the drama surrounding one VLOC at the ore loading terminal of Ponta Madeira in San Luis, Brazil, in which water began ingressing into a partially filled hold just as the 400,000-dwt VALE BEIJING was completing her loading of 388,000-tons of iron ore.

A subsequent investigation using a robotic underwater device determined that large cracks had developed in the hull and that the ship’s pumps were barely managing to contain the flow. It was found that the ship’s hull plating had cracked in the area of a water ballast tank and was making its way from there into one of the ship’s holds. A subsequent investigation arrived at the conclusion that that internal damage to web frames and longitudinals near the water ballast tank had occurred, probably while loading at the terminal itself and most likely a consequence of excess localised stresses in the hull structure.

An immediate stop to loading was ordered and the port authority sent its harbour tugs to escort the Vale Beijing to an anchorage outside the port. A few days prior to this however, Chinese ports were expressing their unease following the arrival in the port of Dalian of the BERGE EVEREST carrying 350,000 tons of iron ore on 28 December 2011. Chinese shipping companies such as Cosco also expressed their opposition to the introduction by Vale of a large fleet of 400,000-dwt ships. Other shipping interests expressed surprise that China had given permission for the first vessel to come into the port.

Chinese ports do not have regulatory approval to receive dry bulk carriers of more than 300,000 tonnes and industry sources are saying that Berge Everest's arrival in the port of Dalian was nothing more than a bureaucratic fluke.

The China Shipowners Association and steelmakers also entered the dispute saying that Vale's fleet of giant iron ore carriers should be seen as a ‘Trojan horse’ that would allow the Brazilian miner to monopolise the shipping and iron ore markets at China's expense.

Then came the news that one of the large ships, the Vale Beijing had developed large cracks rendering her unseaworthy. Her owner, STX Pan Ocean which is a subsidiary of the builder STX of South Korea promptly declared the vessel fixable, although this is proving more complicated than expected, due to the circumstances of where the ship is. The San Luis port authority gave instructions that the ship must be emptied of all oils before any attempt at discharging her cargo can take place, but bad weather has intervened in delaying this operation.

With more giant ships lining up to load cargo at Brazil’s ports, Vale has had to cast around for a solution even if only temporary. Vale has now entered into an agreement with the Philippines to provide a transit hub in Subic Bay Freeport until such time as an agreement could be reached with China for the so-called Valemax ships to use Chinese ports.

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Nacala Corridor connecting the port of Nacala with Malawi, and now to be extended into Tete Province and the coal mines at Moatize

Portuguese group Mota-Engil is set to build a 145km stretch of railway in Malawi for Brazilian mining group Vale under the terms of a US$703 million contract, the group said in a statement with Portuguese stock market regulator CMVM.

According to the statement, the Portuguese Mota-Engil will build the railway line in 27 months and that it is part of the Nacala Corridor, a facility for transporting mining products from the Moatize coal mine in Mozambique, which is operated by Vale.

Mota-Engil said that, following its efforts to increase its activities in emerging markets, its portfolio of orders in Africa had grown to a total of US$1.2 billion including the project for the Brazilian mining group. source Macauhub

In other Mozambique-related news…
Seacom to supply broadband in Mozambique

Maputo – Pan-African telecommunications company Seacom plans to provide broadband to Mozambique for a 20-year period under the terms of a contract signed in Maputo, the company said in a statement published on its website.

Under the terms of a deal, Seacom will provide broadband Internet access to government institutions linked to GovNet and higher education institutions linked to MoRENet.

GovNet aims to link all government institutions on a central, provincial and local level through a single private data communications network.

Evaristo Baquete, the permanent secretary of the Ministry for Science and Technology, who signed the contract on behalf of the Mozambican government, said at the time that, “the Mozambican government plans to build an accessible and high quality data network as a vital tool for the country to achieve high levels of development.” Seacom is a privately owned and operated pan-African ICT company. It financed and developed the first broadband submarine cable along the eastern and southern African coast. In July 2009 Seacom linked Mozambique with Europe and India via its 17,000 kilometre cable. Sources Seacom, macauhub, and AIM

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One year after the establishment of a joint venture between Dachser and Jonen Freight, the South African logistics provider is being re-branded and will from now on operate under the name Dachser South Africa (Pty) Ltd. The ownership structure remains unchanged.

“The new name reflects the integration of the company into the Dachser network, through which we link South Africa with the world's major economic centres,” said Thomas Reuter, managing director of Air & Sea Logistics. South Africa is a substantial market and an important node in this network.

The joint venture has shown a positive balance after the first operating year. “Revenue has grown more than 10 percent,” said Detlev Duve, managing director for South Africa and son of Jonen's founder. The company has been active in South Africa for over 30 years.

“We currently employ a staff of 157, which is 35 more than a year ago.”

The company in South Africa has branch offices in Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban.

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Silversea’s cruise ship SILVER WHISPER (28,258-gt, built 2001) which arrived in Cape Town at the weekend. Pictures by Ian Shiffman

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