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Ports & Ships Maritime News

7 February 2012
Author: Terry Hutson

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

57,105 readers and over one million hits were recorded on PORTS & SHIPS during January 2012 – thank you readers. Just another good reason to consider advertising your company or services on these pages. info@ports.co.za for details

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Image and video hosting by TinyPic The Maltese-flagged, Swiss-owned chemical products tanker ADFINES STAR (19,118-dwt, built 2011) approaching Cape Town harbour this past week. Picture by Ian Shiffman

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Following a lengthy period of relative peace in the Niger Delta regions of Nigeria, hostilities have broken out with MEND (Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta) claiming credit for the blowing up of an Eni SpA-operated oil pipeline at Brass in Bayelsa State.

In addition MEND activists have threatened to bomb South African telecommunications company MTN and other South African companies operating in Nigeria because of alleged interference by SA’s President Jacob Zuma in the struggle for what MEND calls justice in the oil producing communities.

The Italian oil company Eni SpA said it has lost about 4,000 barrels a day of ‘equity production’ after the pipeline was bombed. The pipeline carries crude oil to an export terminal in the coastal town of Brass, about 250km south-west of the oil hub of Port Harcourt.

MEND said that South Africa, which has postponed the trial in a South African court of MEND leader Henry Okah, is little more than a mercenary of President Goodluck Jonathan. Okah, who faces terrorism charges in South Africa, is accused of having masterminded two car bombings in Abuja, Nigeria in 2010, in which 12 people died and 36 were injured. He was arrested in Johannesburg the next day but his trial has been repeatedly postponed and is now set for October this year.

Nigeria says it doesn’t want him extradited. The South African courts have denied him bail on three occasions.

In a statement by MEND, the organisation said, “In the dark days to come, MTN, SACOIL, and other South African investments will pay a heavy price for the interference of Jacob Zuma in the legitimate fight for justice in the Niger Delta by its people. The South African President has reduced himself to the position of a hired thug for Goodluck Jonathan.”

South Africa's Ministry of International Relations and Cooperation says it will investigate the threat against the country's investments in Nigeria. “It's a matter we will look into definitely; terrorism has to be rooted out.” Rich Mkhondo of MTN said that the telecommunication company was leaving security matters to the Nigerian and South African authorities and has no further comment. Source The Vanguard.

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Call to salvage Costa Concordia goes out

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Costa Concordia – 10 months to complete salvage

Costa Crociere, operator of the Costa Concordia, has invited 10 of the world’s leading salvage companies to bid for the contract to remove the stricken vessel from the rocks of Giglio. Costa Crociere made the announcement yesterday adding that operations to remove the vessel’s fuel oil and other pollutants are already underway.

The invitation to bid was sent to salvage companies that are capable of performing the work in the shortest period of time while also ensuring maximum safety and minimum environmental impact. The companies invited include Donjon Marine, Fukada Salvage & Marine Works, Mammoet Salvage, Nippon Salvage, Resolve Marine, Smit, Svitzer, T&T Marine, Titan, and Tito Neri.

Costa Crociere says that proposals must be submitted by the beginning of March and that a contract will be awarded within the month.

Almost immediately following the 13 January accident Costa Crociere hired international salvage experts, SMIT Salvage BV, for the removal of the vessels fuel oil and other pollutants, totalling 2,200 tons of intermediate fuel and 185 tons of diesel distributed over 17 tanks. Smit’s salvage plan has received approval and progress in the preparation has been made although unfavorable weather has so far restricted any removal of oil.

The full salvage operation has been estimated to take up to 10 months. Source gCaptain

Sale of Hapag-Lloyd to be completed in months

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Sale of company nearing completion

The sale of container line Hapag-Lloyd could be completed within months, and the word out is that the buyers of the remaining stock in the shipping line are businessman Klaus-Michael Kuehne and the city of Hamburg both of the Albert Ballin consortium, which already holds a majority of shares in the shipping company.

Tourism group Tui and the Hamburg-based Albert Ballin consortium have been in talks although Lloyd’s List in a recent report suggested that Tui would eventually part with a smaller stake than originally planned. Tui is currently left with a 38.4% stake in the company and it was suggested that it would part with 33.3% of the total leaving the travel company holding a 5.1% share.

Now reports have emerged that the Albert Ballin consortium would acquire 33% of the balance in Hapag-Lloyd, leaving Tui with 5.1%. Kuehne has been quoted as saying, “The process isn’t completed yet, but the dice have fallen.”

Both Kuehne and Hamburg already own majority shares in Hapag-Lloyd via the Albert Ballin consortium, of which Kuehne owns about 25% of Hapag-Lloyd shares.

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Somali pirates who captured a Greek-owned oil tanker with Filipino seamen aboard are fighting over ransom, the news site Somalia Report stated over the weekend.

Quoting sources who said the Ilaalo group, the security detail guarding the MT LIQUID VELVET, was refusing to take orders from their seniors, it said that the conflict was a serious one related to ransom negotiations, but that it had turned physical.

Somalia Report said the source was close to the pirate group in Garacad.

The conflict reportedly occurred over the last few days when the pirates failed to agree upon the desired amount of ransom. On 19 December last year, they demanded US$8 million as ransom.

The Somalia Report said the negotiations were already at an advanced stage before a rift emerged among the pirates — specifically between the investors and the pirates who are on the ship. The pirates aboard the vessel were open to any amount of ransom offered by the owner of the ship but the investors were demanding at least $8 million in ransom.

When a ship is highjacked and moved to the Somali coast, it is usually turned over to another group including the Ilaalo group that serves as guards on board the vessel. This group however does not have power to negotiate the ship’s ransom. One person is appointed in charge of the captured ship and is responsible to those who have invested him.

Liquid Velvet was highjacked on 1 November 2011 along with its crew of 22, made up of 22 Filipinos and one Greek. The highjacking took place in the Gulf of Aden while the ship was en route from the Suez to India. The leader of the hijacking group was Aw-kowbe, a well-known pirate from Bari region.

Since then Liquid Velvet has been reported as having been used as a pirate mother ship, although this doesn’t appear to have been confirmed. Source GMA News and Somalia Report

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Concordia fallout hits cruise line bookings

Royal Caribbean Cruises says its bookings have dropped significantly following the capsizing of the Costa Concordia in mid-January.

In a financial report issued yesterday Royal Caribbean said that overall bookings have fallen by low to mid-teen percentages when compared with the same period a year ago.

“In Europe, where media coverage has been more extensive, the decline has been higher, though results vary significantly by country. The country’s other markets, including Asia/Pacific and Latin America, are down slightly.”

The cruise line said the negative effect of the Costa accident affected more first-time cruisers than seasoned passengers and suggested that bookings across the United States in particular were beginning to recover.

English for the ASTOR

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Astor in the Kiel Canal in 2009 after clearing the blocks at Holtenau. Picture by Trevor Jones

It used to be that some cruise lines could be distinguished by language but now these differences are becoming blurred, as cruise lines face up to the reality of a global village and the need for attracting new passengers.

The trend is more pronounced with some German cruise lines which have begun welcoming English-speaking passengers on board. Peter Deilmann set off in this direction back in the late 1990s with his immaculate 600-passenger DEUTSCHLAND (22,496-gt) and this has been followed up by Hapag-Lloyd Cruises which has several ‘international cruises’ on offer each year that cater for both English and German to be spoken onboard its ultra-luxury EUROPA and the two expedition ships BREMEN and HANSEATIC.

Previously these ships spoke only German on board and hotel crew employed were not necessarily required to have a knowledge of or to speak English.

The latest German ship to follow this trend is the former Safmarine cruise ship ASTOR (20,606-gt, built 1987) which will begin accepting English-speaking passengers in future. It’s operator, TransOcean Cruises is similarly catering for English-speaking passengers on several of its river ships. English-language menus and daily programs are in issue and an English-language website for TransOcean is now available.

Astor underwent a complete refit and modernisation in 2010.

Later this year Astor will embark on a 130-night ‘Indian Ocean and Round Africa’ cruise, sailing from Barcelona on 16 December through the Mediterranean and Red Seas to the Persian Gulf. From there the ship will sail to India and Sri Lanka, the Maldives, Seychelles, followed by calls at Mombasa, Zanzibar, Madagascar (four calls), Reunion and Mauritius. The ship then heads to Mozambique (one call) and South Africa where five calls will be made, two more in Namibia (Luderitz and Walvis Bay), one in Angola, followed by eight calls in West Africa. On her way back to Bremerhaven Astor will stop at the Canary Islands, Madeira and Lisbon.

The cruise can be booked in various segments.

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Astor is no stranger to Southern African shores having made several visits. This was taken as the ship entered Durban harbour during January 2005. Picture by Terry Hutson

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The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has begun distributing rations in Mozambique, where an estimated 70,000 people are in urgent need of assistance after the country was pounded by two tropical cyclones.

Distributions began on Sunday in flood-hit Zambezia province, with almost 6,000 people in the province’s Maganja district receiving enough rations of flour and other basic supplies to last a month.

The agency reported that it eventually hopes to provide emergency food rations to 65,000 people across Zambezia and another 6,500 in Maputo province, which surrounds the country’s capital.

Working with other UN agencies and non-governmental organisations (NGOs), WFP has been helping the Mozambican Government to assess the scale of the crisis and the needs of those affected by the storms and subsequent floods.

A total of 37 people are now confirmed to have been killed since tropical cyclones Dando and Funso struck Mozambique last month, and about 100,000 hectares of farmland are no longer in use.

WFP said there are fears that people living in storm-affected areas will have no crops to harvest, jeopardising their food security in the coming months. Source UN News Centre.

Meanwhile a Mozambique government assessment reports that in addition to 37 people confirmed as killed by the two storms, another 41 were injured and an estimated 81,200 people are directly affected by the storms.

About 20,000 houses were destroyed as well as 687 school classrooms and 29 health units.

The government praised the speedy response of the population in the affected areas who “immediately took preventive measures in order to minimise the negative impact of the disasters, thus expressing a high sense of responsibility and self-esteem”.

The government adds that it “noted, with satisfaction, the effort made by relatives, communities, local governments, NGOs and civil society who committed themselves unreservedly to mitigate the immediate effects of the disasters.” Such pro-active attitudes were “a basic condition for reducing the vulnerability of the population and fighting against absolute poverty”.

It also praised the dedication and commitment of such bodies as the national relief agency, the INGC (National Disaster Management Institute), the National Water Board (DNA), the National Roads Administration (ANE), the Local Disaster Risk Management Committees (CLGRC), and the armed forces (FADM), as well as the United Nations system which was “actively involved in the coordination mechanisms created by the government”.

Since the rainy season is far from over, the government urged people living near the major rivers to keep away from flood-prone areas, and to follow attentively all the warnings issued by the authorities. Source AIM

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The US-owned, Liberian-flagged drill ship NOBLE BULLY II (30,270-gt, built 2011) made an impressive approach in Table Bay before entering the port of Cape Town last week to undergo some minor maintenance repairs. Noble Bully II is due to shortly commence operations in Brazil. Pictures by Ian Shiffman

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