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Ports & Ships Maritime News

21 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 FS NIVOSE which was in Table Bay earlier in February. Picture by Ian Shiffman

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Ro-Ro vessel Leila captured

The ship reported to have been highjacked between 15 and 17 February is now believed to be the Ro-Ro vessel LEILA (2292,gt, built 1973), although there is still a chance that a second vessel was also highjacked in the same area at about the same time.

The Panamanian-flagged Leila was sailing in the Arabian Sea 25 n.miles southeast of Sadh in Oman when it was seized on 15 February. The highjacking was only confirmed two days later on 17 February.

Shipping in the area of the coast of Oman has been warned that this area remains highly dangerous and risky and ship operators are advised to proceed with utmost caution while transiting the coastline.

Leila has on board a crew numbering 24 and the ship is likely to be on her way to the Somali coast.

Charcoal carrier Safina-Fahad reported highjacked

An alert has been issued for the UAE-owned charcoal carrier SAFINA-FAHAD which is believed to have been highjacked while sailing from Kismayo to the UAE. Her exact position when attacked is not known nor are her current whereabouts.

GAC which issued the alert points out that the hijacking is unlikely to feature in international reports, but is of significance as the vessel is likely to be used as a mother ship over the coming weeks.

“Increased attacks should be expected throughout the high risk area as weather conditions improve over the coming weeks; attacks as far as 500 n.miles east of the Seychelles have been recorded over the past seven days. Operators are advised to proceed with vigilance, conduct vessel hardening measures in accordance with BMP4 and maintain strict watch rotas to mitigate the chances of successful pirate attack,” the GAC report concludes.

Courtrooms being set up in Seychelles and Mauritius

Bowing to pressure from Europe, the governments of the Seychelles and Mauritius have agreed to the setting up of court rooms as well as purpose-built ‘pirate jails’.

An announcement to this effect is expected from British prime minister this Thursday when a meeting will be held in London to work out a plan of action that aims at bringing stability to Somalia.

According to the reports Britain will work alongside UN officials while looking at a range of measures, including transferring pirates to the Seychelles and Mauritius for trial under international law, and pouring money into internationally managed prisons in Puntland, to the north-east, and Somaliland, in the north.

Delegates will also consider taking captured pirates to the UK for prosecution but Peter Cook, founder of the Security Association for the Maritime Industry, says that having internationally certified prisons in Somaliland and Puntland ensures that pirates stay within Somalia and is ultimately more constructive than someone disappearing into a Western country.

“It will build rather than destroy confidence in the regions, and ensures that there is a rule of law that sets a precedent. Eventually it could work its way down the coast.”

Tom Donnelly, conflict and security adviser for Saferworld, an international think tank, said: “Security is the bedrock of progress in Somalia, but lasting security isn’t going to come just from military intervention, special courts to try pirates, or training Somali police in counter-terrorism tactics. It will come from helping to reconcile Somalia’s many local-level conflicts, so that ordinary Somalis themselves feel safer.” Source – Shiptalk

Arrests on Italian tanker after death of two Indian fishermen

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The Italian tanker Enrica Lexie under detention off the Indian port of Kochi

Almost a week after two Indian fishermen were shot and killed by armed guards on board the Italian-flagged tanker ENRICA LEXIE (see yesterday’s News Bulletin), Kerala police have gone on board the detained tanker near Kochi and have arrested two of the guards.

According to some reports the two arrested men are guards of Italian nationality who were stationed on the ship to provide protection from pirate attack. The matter has become highly emotive among the Indians and accusations of trigger-happy guards are rife.

Local legal experts said the ship would be kept under detention until the deceased families have filed compensation cases in an Indian court otherwise once the ship has sailed it will prove almost impossible to secure compensation from the shipping company.

According to police sources the two guards will face charges of murder as the two fishermen were killed in Indian territorial waters. Experts say the shipping company is facing the likelihood of having to pay a huge amount of compensation to release the ship and possible secure the release of the arrested guards.

Not all the facts of this case have surfaced. The shipping line is accused of not having announced the ‘attack’ which led to the fishermen being killed, “even after the rest of the fishermen returned to their village.” If this is so then one wonders why the ship didn’t simply sail away, instead of remaining in the area for five days to get arrested. In retrospect, the ship operator might be excused for thinking he should have taken his chances among the Somali pirates.

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Zim Qingdao – bailouts keeping the line afloat

Israeli-flag shipping company Zim is to receive a US$50 million bailout from its parent company, Israel Corporation.

Calling it a safety net, the controlling shareholder Millenium Investments says it will match the bailout with a similar offer.

The financial windfall comes after Zim posted a $66 million loss for the third quarter of 2011. The shipping line also missed its deadline to restructure its debt.

Maersk acts on over capacity

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Maersk Duisburg in Durban harbour. Picture by Trevor Jones

Maersk Line has reacted to over capacity challenges and is to remove 9% of carrying capacity from its Asia – Europe trade. This, it said, became necessary after overcapacity on the service had pushed freight rates to unsustainable low levels.

“With this adjustment we are able to reduce our Asia – Europe capacity and improve vessel utilisation without giving up any market share we have gained over the past two years. We will defend our market share position at any cost, while focusing on growing with the market and restoring profitability,” Maersk Line ceo, Søren Skou said.

Maersk has been able to achieve this reduction in capacity by way of its vessel sharing agreement with CMA CGM which has enabled Maersk to maintain a full coverage on the Asia-Europe service. Source – Maersk Line

Emirates Line increases Middle East - East Africa rates

Emirates Shipping Line has announced a general rate increase of US$250 per TEU as from 1 March on all shipments from the Middle East to East Africa.

A week ago Emirates announced an increase in rates from the Far East and Southeast Asia to East Africa by $250 per TEU on 1 March followed by an additional $250 per TEU on 1 April.

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Malusi Gigaba, public enterprises minister

Pretoria - SizweNtsalubaGobodo has been appointed as the first locally grown black-owned firm to handle the R70 million a year audit account of Transnet, says Public Enterprises Minister Malusi Gigaba.

According to Gigaba the appointment is a major milestone in the transformation of the accounting and auditing profession.

“This reaffirms our commitment to ensuring that state-owned companies, as entrusted to us by the people of South Africa, are used as agents of change and transformation of our economy,” he said on Monday.

“We have identified our infrastructure rejuvenation programmes and provision of professional services among our entities as one of the key vehicles by which we will achieve this.”

The minister encouraged the private sector to use the services of firms that have demonstrated skills and expertise in their area of competence.

SizweNtsalubaGobodo was selected out of three bidders based on criteria set by the Audit Committee of the Board of Directors. The criteria were: technical ability, black economic empowerment and price.

“The integrity of our financial statements is one of the key elements that determine our ability to raise funds in both domestic and international markets – this is crucial for our capital investment programme. I have no doubt that we have selected one of, if not, the best in the country (audit partners),” Mafika Mkwanazi, chairman of the Board of Directors said.

Transnet, which recently announced that it would increase its capital investment programme to R300 billion over the next seven years from the current R110 billion rolling five-year programme, raises its funding on the strength of its balance sheet without subsidies or guarantees from the fiscus.

In the previous financial year, the state-owned transport and logistics company achieved annual revenue of R38 billion with audit fees of just over R60 million, making it one of the biggest audit contracts in the country.

SizweNtsalubaGobodo’s CEO Victor Sekese described the contract as an honour for the industry.

“We are delighted that a company of Transnet’s size with such an enormous responsibility in this economy has shown confidence in one of us. We are aware that our performance in the Transnet account will determine the fate of local players in future,” he said. – BuaNews

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Beira’s future coal terminal under construction. Picture by Capt Hugo Schuitemarker

Work on completing the Sena railway line in Mozambique is to begin this month, the executive director of the company Portos e Caminhos de Ferro de Moçambique (CFM), Marta Mapilele, said in Maputo.

Quoted by the Mozambican newspaper O País, Mapilele said the work would cost between US$44m and 45 million and must be completed within six months. After that the line will be able to transport up to 6.6 million tonnes of freight per year, the current capacity of the coal terminal at the port of Beira.

But before the work starts CFM will have to sign a termination contract with the former contractor, the consortium formed by the Indian state companies Rites and Ircon, a partner with CFM in managing the railway network in central Mozambique.

Studies will also be carried out to determine what work has to be done on the line to increase its capacity to 12 million tonnes per year in a first phase and subsequently to 18 million tonnes, to “meet the capacity of the coal terminal being built at the Beira port,” she said.

Mapilele, who made her comments on the sidelines of the CEO Experience conference held in Maputo, said that Brazil’s Vale and the Anglo-Australian Rio Tinto had already submitted their production plans to CFM, envisaging a need to transport about 5 million tonnes of coal, less than capacity after work on the Sena line is completed. Source – macauhub

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Maputo, 20 February – Construction of a gas pipeline to receive domestic gas from the port of Maputo is due to be finished by April, said Manuel Braga, the director-general of Mozambican fuel importer Importadora Moçambicana de Combustíveis (Imopetro).

Speaking to Mozambican daily newspaper Notícias, Braga said that with the construction of the gas pipeline Mozambique could, if necessary, receive ships carrying domestic gas and would no longer be dependent on imports via land from South Africa.

The director-general of Imopetro declined to give a figure for the investment made and Notícias said that, as well as the pipeline, which will be around 2 kilometres long, the company made efforts to increase gas storage capacity by over 6,000 cubic metres.

Gas is currently imported by road, which makes it more expensive for the end user.

Mozambique is one of the main producers of gas in southern Africa but, because it does not have a refinery, it depends on liquid petroleum gas (LPG) imports, which are a by-product of crude oil. Source – macauhub

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The Safmarine container ship SAFMARINE ONNE (10,069-gt. Built 1995) seen sailing from Cape Town recently. Picture by Aad Noorland

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