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Ports & Ships Maritime News

25 September 2012
Author: Terry Hutson

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With Monday having been Heritage Day, a public holiday in South Africa, and this week being National Maritime Week, what better can we do in commencing this shorter than usual news bulletin with this magnificent photograph of the steam tug FC STURROCK helping turn the T&J Brock freighter MATANGI off N-Shed in Durban harbour during the 1970s.
FC Sturrock was delivered to the then SAR&H in 1959 and spent most of her life working in Durban harbour. At 812 tons and 176ft in length she, together with her twin the DANIE HUGO, was equipped for deep sea salvage as well as harbour work. Both tugs were oil burners. FC Sturrock remained in service until 1984 when she was broken up. Picture by Trevor Jones


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Tanzania’s Energy & Minerals minister Sospeter Muhongo created something of a stir this past week by ordering the board of the Tanzania Petroleum Development Corporation (TPDC) to review all 26 production-sharing agreements with oil and gas companies operating in and off Tanzania, reports The Citizen (Tanzania) newspaper.

The minister also instructed the board to more closely supervise the auditing of the cost of prospecting to, he said, avoid fraud. Although the private companies carry the cost of prospecting, there is concern that some firms have exaggerated costs in order to earn more profits during production. In terms of Professor Muhongo’s instructions an audit of past and existing contracts will now be conducted.

The minister said that some of the contracts had been signed between the government and oil and gas companies a long time ago, and he suggested that Tanzania might be getting a raw deal. His move follows criticism that the government entered into deals with multinational companies that weren’t always in the best interests of Tanzania. Officials now have until 30 November to determine whether any of the 26 petroleum sharing agreements are ‘not in the country’s best interests, are shoddy and need to be revoked.’

Tanzania is sitting on known natural gas reserves of 43 trillion cubic feet worth an estimated US$430 million, with further discoveries being made almost continuously.

Donors are reported to have urged Tanzania to hold off on licensing more blocks for exploration until contracts are made transparent and better terms have been put in place. The TPDC has also been advised to negotiate more strenuously. “They shouldn’t be selling out,” said one analyst quoted by Reuters.

Since making these statements, the Tanzanian government has been forced to move quickly to reassure stakeholders that there is no intention to revoke any of the existing contracts during its review of the contracts with international oil and gas companies.

Minister Muhongo now describes the review as procedural and claims that he was misquoted in the press. He said that it was critical that officials were familiar with the terms of old contracts to avoid making mistakes as they drew up new deals.

Muhongo has been quoted in one paper as saying, “Some of the agreements are really shoddy and they need to be revoked. I can't tolerate agreements which are not in the country's interest but benefit a few individuals.”

“We will respect all contracts, it is not our intention of stopping any business,” the minister now says.


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The KwaZulu-Natal Sharks Board has unveiled what it describes as the first-of-its-kind in the SADC region Maritime Centre of Excellence.

The announcement came at a function held at the Sharks Board headquarters in Umhlanga, Durban last Friday (21 September). The KZN Sharks Board, which falls under the auspices of the provincial Department of Economic Development and Tourism, is world-famous for its pioneering work in protecting bathers from shark attacks and leading in the field of marine research.

In its statement the KZNSB said that because of the province’s maritime riches, which include the ports of Durban and Richards Bay, and the potential promised by the maritime industry in terms of economic growth, it had decided that a Maritime Centre of Excellence (MCE) should be established in order to harness this potential.

Once again reference was made to the lack of ships on the South African register, with claims that this is resulting in huge financial losses, a claim that is based on a supposed figure of what it costs to ship cargo in and out of South African ports on foreign-owned vessels. A figure of R37-billion has been touted by the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA).

‘The MCE, therefore, is being established as the Maritime Institute of Sectoral Occupational Excellence (MISOE) to facilitate the development of trade, occupation and SMME’s in the environment of ocean and coastal shipping, inland waterways, aquaculture, port activities, maritime security, boat building, boat repair and associated land-based activities,’ the statement said.

“In recent years the role of the KZN Sharks Board has evolved to respond to changes in the province’s economy,” said Mthokozisi Radebe, CEO of the KZN Sharks Board.

“The Maritime Centre of Excellence has identified programmes and courses that will be delivered to the industry and the public at large through the centre and through partnerships with other institutions. This will allow the centre to remain a leader in maritime capacity building.

“The MISOE will see to the growth of shipping-related services that will improve productivity at ports, cargo handling operations and offer professional support services. It will also become a conduit for regional seafarer supply for the nation and minimise global shortfalls, exponentially increasing the capacity and output of the skills development system. “In addition, the MISOE will be an anchor in managing national and regional Maritime Sector Information (MSI); establishing a Provincial Maritime Institute with a One-Stop Shop Market Differentiation and also establishing a higher education institute with international recognition,” said Radebe.

According to the Sharks Board, the MCE is expected to fully incorporate the youth from across all provinces with the initial focus on KwaZulu-Natal, Eastern Cape, Northern Cape and Western Cape. When the MCE is fully developed, it would be rolled out to other landlocked provinces. At its launch, the MCE showcased six trainee skippers who are qualified to pilot small vessels but lacked the necessary seatime experience. Eight students were paraded for their new expertise in boat building and boat repair. Of these 14 previously disadvantaged individuals, seven are females. This has helped in strengthening the transformational agenda that the KZN Sharks Board has embarked upon.

“This Maritime Centre of Excellence will be a game changer in the maritime sector and will ensure that the comparative and competitive advantages that our province boasts are fully-harnessed enabling it to contribute not only to the economy of our country but of the SADC region as a whole,” said Mike Mabuyakhulu, MEC for Economic Development & Tourism in KZN.


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The oil rig SCARABEO 3 at DCD Marine’s A-Berth repair facility in the Port of Cape Town, where the rig has been undergoing an extensive repair and maintenance.

Cape Town-based DCD Marine says that the development of a marine industry-specific training facility in Cape Town clearly underlines DCD Marine’s commitment to the advancement of artisans in the South African engineering sector.

The shipyard and service provider to the international oil and gas industry has partnered with Khula Nathil Empowerment (KNE), who in turn has appointed MCD Training Centre to train 150 artisans annually.

The R4-million investment by the DCD Group for the training facility will help address the shortage of critical skills available in South Africa.

“DCD Marine is intent on providing the market with competent and highly qualified artisans. Our partnerships with MCD Training Centre, which provides training solutions aimed specifically at the specialised artisan market, and KNE will enable us to provide a reliable source of skilled artisans in South Africa,” says DCD Marine General Manager Gerry Klos.

He said that the partnership with KNE, which is an accredited Public Benefit Organisation (PBO), is a clear demonstration of DCD Marine’s commitment to empowerment.

“KNE has a similar philosophy to DCD Marine, which focuses on deepening the skills pool in the South African engineering sector. This is accomplished by offering comprehensive training and apprenticeships in boiler making, fitting and turning, welding and rigging,” Klos says.

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DCD Marine Training Centre in Cape Town

The DCD Marine Training Centre of Excellence comprises a welding school, pipe welding area, grinding and gas cutting (burning) assessment and training area, and a classroom area for the theoretical component of the courses. A blasting and coating simulator was also built to recreate the confined spaces onboard vessels and rigs.

“The facilities also include 20 individual welding cubicles, each fully equipped with high-tech equipment. Of these cubicles, 15 are occupied by the learners while the remaining five are utilised for coding purposes,” Klos says.

Close cooperation and discussion between DCD Marine, KNE and MCD Training Centre, has resulted in a series of training programmes designed around substantially reducing the time period needed to convert trainees into productive workers.

“The programmes are tailored to suit specific work needs, processes and methodologies. They ensure that real skills transfer and capacity building are achieved and that empowerment initiatives are properly channelled,” adds Klos.

All of these competent learners are placed on a labour database within DCD Marne’s recruitment centre and they are continuously used as contract workers. “In addition, we train and multi-skill unemployed people who are paid for the 40 to 80 hours that they receive training or assessments. This enables each learner to become employable, not only within DCD Marine, but within the industry in general,” says Klos.

“The benefit to DCD Marine’s clients is exhibited by employees who are multi-skilled to the highest levels. Since skills are constantly being refreshed and upgraded, all employees working for DCD Marine are able to easily undertake even the most difficult tasks with zero defect as the end result,” Klos concludes.


Dormac Marine achieves BBBEE Level 3 rating

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Dormac Marine’s shipyard at Bayhead in the Port of Durban. Picture by Gary Pulford

Durban-based ship repair and engineering company Dormac Marine says that it has achieved a BBBEE rating of Level 3, which is a remarkable move up from the previous Level 4.

“The directors are proud to make this announcement,” says Gary Pulford, Dormac Marine’s international marketing and sales manager.

“The government yard stick for acceptable BBBEE is Level 4, so this means that we are now rated as a strongly empowered company. Dormac’s procurement, training and enterprise development elements scored full marks and we are sure that there is no other engineering company in the country that achieved that.”


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Unicorn Tankers oil and chemical products tanker LAVELA (40,100-dwt, built 2010) which was in Cape Town harbour in recent weeks. The vessel trades on the international market. Pictures by Ian Shiffman

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