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Ports & Ships Maritime News

21 May 2013
Author: Terry Hutson

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


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A collection of harbour tugs, work boat and pilot boat in Walvis Bay, seen from the deck of the Queen Mary 2 on her recent visit to the Namibian port. BTW, does anyone know what is the collective for a number of tugs? Picture by Ian Shiffman

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China’s Kingho group has revealed plans to build a second coal terminal at the Port of Beira, along with a new railway to the coalfields near Moatize in Tete Province.

Details were announced by Qing Huahuo, Kingho’s chairman during a meeting with Mozambique president, Armando Guebuza, who was on a week-long visit to China when he met Qing Huahuo in Shanghai.

Guebuza is reported to have taken with him more than a hundred development projects with the intention of finding public and private investors.

According to Mozambican news agency AIM the chief executive of the Kingho group visited in Mozambique in 2012. At that time the railway project was discussed, which revealed plans of building a new railway from Moatize to Beira via Chimoio in Manica Province . This is a more direct route than the existing railway that dates back to Portuguese rule and which runs north of the Zambezi River until it crosses the river at Sena, which gave the railway its name. From Sena the existing railway runs south to Dondo on the Beira – Zimbabwe railway, not far out from Beira.

The proposed railway would run in much the same direction as the main road from Tete to Bandula, near Chimoio.

No details of the terminal at Beira have been given, although AIM described it as a new port but this may have been a translation error.

Vale cuts its production estimate by 30 percent

In a related matter Vale Moçambique has reduced its projection for coal exports from Mozambique in 2013 by 30 percent, from 4.9 million tons to 3.4 million tons, the company’s mining operations director, Altiberto Brandão has announced.

Vale Moçambique was forced to declare force majeure in February after flooding interrupted deliveries of coal to the Port of Beira along the Sena Railway, leaving the mining company unable to meet contractual obligations.

Deliveries have also been affected by the generally suspect state of the Sena railway and other inadequate infrastructure. Nevertheless, Brandão was confident enough to say that production in 2014 would total 6.4 million tons, increasing to 9.2mt in 2015. Vale was meanwhile investing in increasing production capacity to 11 million tons.

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The Dona Ana bridge crossing the Zambezi River at Sena, now converted back to railway use combined with foot traffic

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The Dutch sailing ships STS EUROPA and STS OOSTERSCHELDE were at sea off the Eastern Cape coast yesterday evening at 18h00, with Europa a few miles to the north and Oosterschelde opposite Gonubie.

It appeared that both sailing ships were having to tack against a north-easterly wind and progress was slow. Under these circumstances it is unlikely that the two ships will appear off Durban today (Tuesday, 21 May) unless they revert to using their auxiliary engines.

UPDATE: At 07h00 this morning (Tuesday 21 May) both ships were a little to the north of Kei Mouth, close inshore and with Oosteschelde now making better progress and lying ahead of Europa by several miles. At the current rate of progress the two sailing ships won’t reach Durban before Thursday.

The third Dutch sailing ship, the smaller TECLA is understood to be making her way direct to Port Louis in Mauritius.

Another ship of interest that has remained in port at Durban is the navy hydrographic survey ship SAS PROTEA, which arrived in the port last week towing the fourth navy strike craft for refurbishment, SAS Adam Kok (P1563).

Shortly after releasing her tow at Salisbury Island Naval Station, SAS Protea put to sea only to return a day or so later where she has remained.

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The Dutch sailing barque EUROPA under full sail in a glorious setting. Together with another Dutch sailing ship, the Oosterschelde, the Europa is making for Durban and last night was entering that area of coast known as the Wild Coast

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AP Moller-Maersk chief executive Nils Smedegaard Andersen told CNBC on Friday that the company would not order any new ships this year and it had idled 28 vessels around the world so far this year.

“The shipping industry needs to take note that the future growth both in container volumes will be very slow and the only way to bring the market back in balance is to be very, very careful on ordering and that's why we're not ordering any new ships,” Andersen said.

“We don't plan to order any ships this year because we don't believe there's a need for new capacity. We didn't order any vessels last year, so what is coming on stream from us now is our ships ordered in 2011.”

What Maersk has coming on stream is the first of 20 Triple-E 18,200-TEU container ships. With that kind of tonnage coming available it’s not surprising that Maersk will be abstaining from ordering more ships right now.

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Maersk Triple-E class ships of over 18,000-TEU capacity – 20 on order and coming into service from next month. China’s CSCL has also placed orders for ships of this size.

Slow steaming back in fashion

Having got themselves back in a condition of over-tonnage, and engrossed in a resultant freight rate war, analysts in Europe are now forecasting that the container carriers will be forced to resort to slower speeds in order to cut costs.

It happened five or so years ago, at that time a spinoff from the dramatic downturn in the global economy, but this time it would appear the lines have simply miscalculated by placing themselves with too much tonnage.

Drewry’s Container Insight Report suggests that ocean carriers are losing money due to the freight rate war taking place in the east-west trades, where they are still confronted with surplus capacity. With fuel prices remaining stubbornly high, ocean carriers can no longer afford the bill, it says. “At the end of April, there were still 31 ships of over 10,000 TEU due for delivery this year, and carriers are running out of places to hide unwanted 8,000 TEU vessels cascaded out of the Asia-Europe tradelane,” the report said.

Drewry suggests that cargo growth between Asia and the US and Asia and east coast South America is insufficient, which means that either more vessels will have to be laid-up, or further slow-steaming introduced.

“With east-west freight rates plummeting to sub-economic levels again, ocean carriers can return to the view that ‘shippers get the service they pay for’ by further releasing pressure on their vessels’ accelerators.”

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The International Maritime Organisation (IMO) member states on Sunday agreed on a resolution on technology cooperation, which has delayed the implementation of standards to improve the energy efficiency of new ships.

The resolution had been in discussion for two years and has hindered any progress on other measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from ships. It meets the concerns of developing and developed nations by recognising the principles of non-discrimination in the IMO and common but differentiated responsibilities (CBDR) in the UN's Framework on Climate Change.*

“The lack of agreement on this resolution was holding up the discussion on tackling shipping emissions at the IMO for too long,” said Transport & Environment clean shipping officer Antoine Kedzierski. “Today's decision unlocks the door to serious consideration of further measures to reduce the sector's contribution to climate change. We urge the IMO and its member states to now make progress towards a market-based measure to reduce emissions from existing ships.”

* CBDR is a founding principle of the United Nations Framework on Climate Change talks designed to ensure developed states take responsibility for their emissions and developing countries aren’t over-burdened with obligations that hinder their economic development. Source: Transport & Environment


Nigeria LNG Ltd has been ordered to pay outstanding levies to NIMASA (Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency) following arbitration of a dispute between the two organisations.

See related article in PORTS & SHIPS NIMASA lifts blockade on Bonny channel - use your BACKSPACE key to return to this page.

The ruling came down after a state arbitration panel ruled that the operator of Africa’s biggest liquefied natural gas export terminal is not exempt from taxes.

Isichei Osamgbi, a spokesman for NIMASA, said that NIMASA was already in meetings with Nigeria LNG to sort out outstanding levies. These apparently go back as far as 2007, with Nigeria LNG having considered that it was to continue benefiting from a tax break set up when the facility was built. NIMASA claimed that this fell away once gas prices reached a certain level, which it did in 2004.

The Bonny Island plant produced 8 percent of the world’s LNG, or 21.7 million tonnes last year.

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The Bonny Island LNG plant in Nigeria


The South African Association of Ship Operators and Agents announced last night (Monday, 20 May) that Peter Besnard has been appointed as acting chief executive officer of SAASOA with effect from 20 May 2013.

The position of CEO has been vacant since the resignation of Ms Thato Tsautse in September last year.

Besnard retired as senior vice president of Evergreen Ships Agency in May 2011, after more than 16 years with the Taiwanese company. He has always been based in Durban.

In a statement SAASOA said it trusted that his knowledge and experience of the industry will be put to good use and will add value to the association’s endeavours.


Malawi: How to Save a Fish ... a Lake and a People

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Nguwo village committee chairperson Ibrahim Kachinga on the shores of Lake Malawi. For the past five years the village committee has been going to local gatherings to educate residents about the need to protect the lake. Credit: Mabvuto Banda/IPS

by Mabvuto Banda, 20 May 2013

Lilongwe — Lloyd Phiri, a fisherman from Senga Bay on Lake Malawi's shores in Malawi's central region, knows that the lake's water levels are dropping. He can see it in his catch, which has shrunk by more than 80 percent in recent years.

Years ago, it was the norm to catch about 5,000 fish a day, Phiri says. But now, if he is lucky, he brings in one-fifth of that. And if he is not, he catches a mere 300 fish a day.

“My fish catch has gone down in recent years and this has affected my earnings. I now have problems paying school fees for my children,” Phiri tells IPS.

The rapid drop in Lake Malawi's water levels, driven by population growth, climate change and deforestation, is threatening its floral and fauna species with extinction, says Malawi's Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Management. And included among the wildlife threatened are the fish that Phiri depends on for a livelihood.

“Over the last three decades some water balance models have been done on the lake and have shown that the water levels have dropped from 477 metres above sea level in the 1980s to around 474.88 metres currently,” Yanira Mtupanyama, principal secretary in the ministry, tells IPS of the 29,600-square-kilometre lake that straddles the borders of Malawi, Mozambique and Tanzania.

“It's a big deal because studies are showing that the water levels in the lake will keep on dropping in coming years because there are signs that show (that there will be) less rainfall and increased evaporation,” she says.

An estimated 1,000 different fish species rely on the fresh waters of Africa's third-largest lake for their survival, which also provides 60 percent of this southern African nation's protein requirement.

The mbuna cichlids species and the famous tilapia fish, locally known as chambo, are facing extinction. Chambo is Malawi's most popular fish.

The country's Department of Fisheries says that fish stocks in the lake have dwindled by 90 percent over the last 20 years. It is a huge concern as, according to authorities, about 1.5 million Malawians depend on the lake for food, transportation and other daily needs.

And of even greater concern are the recent Malawian government reports that say the water mass may hold rich oil and gas reserves. Environmentalist Raphael Mweneguwe fears that if oil and gas mining starts on the lake, it can lead to further biodiversity losses.

“The fish stocks have declined in the last two decades from about 30,000 metric tonnes per year to 2,000 per year because of a drop in water levels, overfishing and rapid population growth. But this may get worse if oil is discovered on the lake,” Mwenenguwe tells IPS.

Source – IPS. Read the rest of this report from one of Africa’s Great Lakes, GO HERE - use the BACKSPACE key to return to this page.


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Asbestos mining in Canada

The Canadian government finally stopped defending the chrysotile asbestos industry, but seven other countries, including Zimbabwe, took its place last week at the United Nations’ Rotterdam Convention Conference, blocking all attempts to put the toxic mineral on a hazardous substances list.

It was the fourth time the effort to tighten the worldwide shipping regulations of asbestos failed, but the first when Canada was not stopping the move.

Russia, Zimbabwe, Kazakhstan, India, Kyrgyzstan, Vietnam and Ukraine all opposed the listing, while Canada remained neutral for the first time. Canada was the last Western power to stop endorsing the use of asbestos worldwide, prompted by public pressure and the closing of its last asbestos mine in 2012.

Although an overwhelming majority of the 143 countries attending the conference favored adding chrysotile asbestos to the hazardous substances list, protocol requires unanimous agreement.

The convention does not ban the trading of hazardous substances, but it makes the exportation more difficult by requiring Prior Informed Consent (PIC) before they are shipped. The PIC allows still-developing countries the right to refuse the shipment, or at least be better prepared for the danger it presents.

Chrysotile has been the most prevalent of the six types of asbestos, but is the only one not on the PIC list. Its extensive use has continued in many still-developing countries, which covet its cost effectiveness, despite its well-known dangers. It is also financially rewarding for the major producers and exporters.

Russia produced approximately 1 million tons of asbestos in 2012, which was more than double the amount produced in China, the second largest producer. This was the first time Russia has been represented at the Rotterdam Convention Conference. It was also the first appearance for Zimbabwe, which is expected to reopen its asbestos mines later this year.

At the last conference in 2011, the Canadian delegation worked behind the scenes to block the hazardous substance listing, which sparked a public outcry within the country and a change in policy.

Asbestos is the naturally occurring mineral that was used so extensively through much of the 20th century for its ability to insulate, fireproof and strengthen most everything. It also has been proven to cause mesothelioma, lung cancer, asbestosis and a variety of other respiratory diseases. Every year, an estimated 10,000 people in the United States die from an asbestos-related disease and more than 100,000 die around the world.

Neither the United States nor Canada has banned the use of asbestos, but both countries strictly regulate its use internally. Asbestos use in the United States peaked in the mid-’70s and has fallen dramatically in the past four decades.

Because there is such a long latency period (10-50 years) between exposure to asbestos and mesothelioma development, an estimated 3,000 Americans each year are still diagnosed with the disease, for which there is no cure.

“I’m upset that countries that continue to produce chrysotile, or are considering reopening mines like Zimbabwe, can block action on chrysotile,” said Ken Rosenman, MD, chief of the Division of Occupational and Environmental Medicine at Michigan State University. “This will prolong the hazards of asbestos, and cause health risks again in the future. It will continue to lead to a double standard for health because the more developed countries are not using asbestos now.”

Last week’s news produced outrage among the asbestos awareness groups around the world, many of which had believed Canada’s switch had weakened the defense of the asbestos industry. And, as Rosenman told Asbestos.com, the still-developing countries using asbestos will face bigger problems in the future.

“Tyrannical forces have this week seized control of the Rotterdam Convention; the United Nations protocol which was born in hope, has today been buried in ignominy,” wrote Laurie Kazan-Allen, coordinator of International Ban Asbestos Secretariat. “The Convention’s impotence allows the status quo to continue. The global trade in deadly asbestos will remain unregulated.” Kazan-Allen now refers to the countries that blocked the listing as “The Dirty Seven.” Source : Asbestos.com

The use, manufacture and processing of asbestos has been prohibited in South Africa since 2008. – P&S


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Another of the early MSC container ships that called at Durban was the DIEGO, seen arriving in port during April, 1980. This was a time before MSC ships used the prefix to their names and was also a time when today’s second largest container carrier in the world was considered to be little more than ‘another nuisance line’ by its bigger competitors.. Pictures by Trevor Jones

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