Ports & Ships Maritime News

Sep 21, 2006
Author: P&S

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TODAY’S BULLETIN OF MARITIME NEWS

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  • Spoornet woes affect Mittal steel exports


  • End in sight for bunker shortage


  • Peace, stability vital for Africa's lasting development: Lekota


  • SA seeks stronger trade ties with Cameroon


  • Mbeki criticises rich nations for non-implementation of UN agreements


  • West Africa: Saudi donation to help alleviate hunger


  • Picture of the day





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    Spoornet woes affect Mittal steel exports

    Inadequate delivery by rail has left Mittal Steel desperately short of raw material with which to continue production and facing the distinct possibility of having to import steel.

    Mittal’s new CEO Rick Reato revealed this week that the company has half of the iron ore stocks it requires as a result of Spoornet’s shortcomings. And to make matters worse the loss of production comes at a time when South Africa is gearing up for massive development ahead of the 2010 Soccer World Cup which requires new stadiums and other infrastructure to be in place ahead of the tournament.

    In addition the local automotive manufacturing sector is experiencing high volumes for both local and the export market and is heavily reliant on the supply of South African steel.

    Reato said that delays with the environmental impact assessments mean that Mittal’s R9 million 2 million tonne expansion programme will now take much longer than originally estimated. He said the EIAs had taken 18 months to be approved whereas Mittal had banked on them being completed in about one year.

    In addition to Spoornet’s inability to deliver iron ore to Mittal, the delays being experienced by the rail carrier were also affecting Mittal’s steel export programme as well as local domestic deliveries. The only blessing is that the poor deliveries will not affect costings as Mittal bases its price of finished steel on international prices plus the exchange rate. Mittal currently produces just over 7 million tonnes of steel annually.


    End in sight for bunker shortage

    The chronic shortage of bunker fuel in South African ports these past few months will hopefully become a thing of the past as South Africa’s major refinery, Durban’s Sapref, prepares to switch on after its annual maintenance shutdown.

    And at the same time Cape Town is reported to again have supplies of bunker fuel, relieving the situation in that region.

    Durban’s Sapref Refinery, which has been undergoing a planned maintenance shutdown since 26 June 2006, began starting up major units last week, said the company yesterday in a media statement. “Such shutdowns are a legal requirement in terms of the Occupational Health and Safety Act and ensure regular maintenance of facilities.”

    In addition to the maintenance work Sapref used the opportunity to implement environmental improvement projects totally approximately R5 million while at the same time renewing existing environmental control equipment worth R45m.

    “The refinery commenced start up of boilers on 23 August 2006, followed by start up of units last week. The first products made were solvents and bitumen with lube oils soon after. Currently half of refinery capacity is anticipated to be restored by the end of this week and full capacity by the end of September. Petrol, diesel and marine fuel will be manufactured this week,” says Sapref, adding that the shutdown was part of standard maintenance practice and therefore planned arrangements to import product during this period were in place early.

    It would seem however that those import arrangements did not include marine bunker fuel (MFO) which has been in short supply. Heavy bunker fuel is basically a waste product and an unlikely candidate for importation in such circumstances, but the shortage of this important product has adversely affected shipping movements around the South African coast. The pity is that this occurs each year at this time leaving a chronic shortage and ships having to be diverted away from South Africa.

    Note: The Sapref crude oil refinery is a 50/50 joint venture between Shell South Africa Energy and BP Southern Africa. Sapref is southern Africa’s largest crude oil refinery, with 35 percent of the country’s refining capacity. This equates to 180,000 barrels of crude oil per day or 8.5 million tons per year.

    Sapref’s facilities comprise a single buoy mooring through which 80 percent of South Africa’s crude oil is imported, a storage facility at the Durban harbour, joint bunkering services and the refinery itself, which is located in Prospecton (on the south of Durban). The refinery has been operating since 1963. More than R480 million has been invested in environmental improvements since 1993, including a R350 million project commissioned in 2002 to reduce sulphur dioxide emissions from the refinery by 46 percent.


    Peace, stability vital for Africa's lasting development: Lekota

    by Shaun Benton, BuaNews

    Cape Town, 20 September 2006 - South Africa has prioritised peacekeeping in Africa because stability and peace are the foundation for sustainable development, Defence Minister Mosiuoa Lekota said today at the Africa Aerospace and Defence 2006 (AAD 2006) exposition.

    "South Africa is spending so much time and effort on peacekeeping because peace and stability are the foundation for sustainable development," he told the assembled business executives and military personnel participating in the largest arms fair in Africa.

    Flexibility, mobility and reach are the watchwords of South Africa's defence and broader peacekeeping strategy, the minister said.

    He used his opening address to the assembled business executives and military figures to expand on South Africa's overall defence and defence-procurement strategies in the context of peacekeeping and conflict resolution operations on the continent, which are receiving high priority from the government.

    This is in line with the change in South Africa's defence posture from offensive to defensive with the onset of democracy.

    This entails peacekeeping operations in Africa, which have extended beyond the traditional notion of "defence", now requiring the involvement of other government departments as well, the minister said.

    "It's not the South African National Defence Force that's involved in peace missions, it's the people of South Africa represented by nearly every government department," Mr Lekota said, adding that South Africa's approach was now captured in a new draft paper on Peace Missions.

    "Our continent of Africa has been torn apart by the greed of outside role players to access its considerable mineral wealth and natural resources. In the wake of this devastation, there is internal conflict over shortage of resources," he added.

    One case in point is the resource-rich Democratic Republic of Congo, which, with the determined assistance of the United Nations and several other countries including South Africa, has only recently entered a period of relative peace after years of war.

    Mr Lekota, providing the AAD 2006 participants some information on South Africa's possible equipment requirements, said that the South African Air Force (SAAF) found, on its numerous missions to the DRC transporting election-related material and other support, that, for example, the Boeing 747 proved more useful than the Russian-made carrier the Antonov 24 because the former had a wider mouth on its cargo hold, making it easier to load freight pallets.

    In the first round of elections in the DRC recently, the SAAF transported 4,732 freight pallets loaded with 1,921 tons of election material to South Africa's northern neighbour, requiring 67 flights, to three hubs in the DRC and then the 14 centres from where material was distributed to 53,000 voting stations in the massive country, which is the size of western Europe.

    This, said the defence minister, involved 14 days of flying, day and night, to the DRC, which has now begun the second phase of its elections, after an initial one failed to secure an overall winner.

    This process is supported again by South Africa, which will be flying in a further 1,250 tons of election material on 58 flights.

    The aircraft used for these flights are mostly South Africa's largest carrier, the ageing Hercules C130, as well as Boeing 747s and Antonovs, with the new, giant A400M military transport airbuses being purchased from EADS yet to be delivered to South Africa.

    South Africa's acquisition policy - such as the recent orders of the military Airbus A400M - should be linked to technology transfer, the minister said, adding that the A400M programme has linked this to its role in the global supply chain and future growth of its aerospace industry.

    Bearing in mind also the threat presented by climate change and global warming, the minister added that, technologically, "we must support all efforts to reduce the global impact of emissions and energy consumption within the aerospace industry".

    South Africa's equipment requirements for peace missions range from small items to heavy military equipment, such as the Mamba armoured vehicles, are being determined by conditions on the ground, said Mr Lekota.

    "Based on the existing political and threat environment, the African "defence" environment has become more complex, necessitating a broader scope of security operations. These include total war theatre and force projection at the one end of the spectrum, to search-and-rescue and environmental protection on the other end," he said.

    "Clearly the frequency of operations in terms of peacekeeping, humanitarian assistance and logistic-related missions are increasing and will dominate the future SANDF's operational role, resulting in requirements for different products and services," Mr Lekota added.


    SA seeks stronger trade ties with Cameroon

    Pretoria, 20 September 2006 (Bua News) - Trade and Industry Minister Mandisi Mpahlwa left for Cameroon yesterday on a four-day trade and investment mission.
    The minister is leading a 30-member delegation with an objective to strengthen economic relations between South Africa and Cameroon.

    The Department of Trade says Cameroon's location in the western part of central Africa, made it a strategic hub in the region with the main port in Douala, providing trade and logistical services to landlocked Chad and the Central African Republic.

    "With a relatively diversified economy, Cameroon has an endowment of natural resources such as oil, natural gas, bauxite, iron ore, timber and hydropower, whereas the services, agricultural and manufacturing sectors are the backbone of the economy," said the department.

    South Africa and Cameroon established diplomatic relations in 2004, and trade relations between the two countries are cordial.

    Despite a lack of formal trade arrangements between the two countries, South African exports to Cameroon reached R 232.6 million in 2005, while Cameroon' exports to South Africa amounted to R17.9 million during the same period.

    South Africa however does not have a significant business presence in Cameroon. Only a few companies have invested in that country including MTN, Comazar, Nedbank Capital, Global Outdoor Systems, Rand Merchant Bank, Siemens and Yekani Investment Holdings.

    Mr Mpahlwa's spokesperson Donavan Jacobs said it was envisaged talks would be held to help unlock opportunities and create a platform for business relations between the two countries.

    It is also expected that the two countries would sign agreements that would serve as a catalyst for strengthening trade and investment relations as well as broaden economic co-operation.

    Minister Mpahlwa is also scheduled to address a 200-strong business forum under the auspices of the South Africa-Cameroon Business Networking Forum.

    He will also hold several consultative meetings with the ministers of commerce; finance and the economy, small and medium-sized enterprises, external relations and regional cooperation, mines and technological development.

    While there, he will pay a courtesy visit to the Prime Minister Ephraim Inoni.


    Mbeki criticises rich nations for non-implementation of UN agreements

    by David Masango (BuaNews)

    President Thabo Mbeki has criticised some developed nations for consistently refusing to implement the outcomes and agreements of the United Nations (UN) aimed at improving the lives of the poor.

    He said at the beginning of the 21st century UN member states crafted comprehensive plans and bold declarations to defeat the scourge of poverty and underdevelopment; and committed to transform the UN to reflect the modern reality that was defined by free, sovereign and equal nations.

    However, he pointed out, six years into the 21st century some of the developed nations had consistently refused to implement the outcomes and agreements of the UN to uplift the poor.

    In addition, there continued to be terrorists acts; unilateralism that threatens to reverse the democratic advances of the last decades of the 20th century as well as renewed conflicts and wars that seemed to compete with the destructive fury of the conflicts of the last century.

    Mr Mbeki, who is also leader of the G77+China representing poor nations, was addressing the 61st Session of the UN General Assembly (UNGA) in New York on Tuesday.

    Issues on the meeting's agenda included peace and security; economic growth and sustainable development; development of Africa; human rights; humanitarian assistance; justice and international law; disarmament as well as the UN organisational and administrative matters, including the reform of the UN and its Security Council.

    Contrary to the prevailing situation, Africa, which constitutes most of the world's poor, had declared that the 21st century an African Century in which billions in the developing world and other poor and marginalised people would want to transform into a century for all humanity.

    President Mbeki told delegates that if poor nations' wishes could turn into reality, the 21st century would be free of wars; of internecine conflicts; of hunger; of preventable disease; of want; of environmental degradation and free of greed and corruption.

    "Indeed, we began the century with great hopes for a better, peaceful and humane world," he explained.

    Thus, the members of G77 and China, who represent the poor people of the world, are calling for the implementation of a global partnership for development and the realisation of the common commitments made at the UN.

    Yet, the common commitment for a global partnership for development cannot be transformed into reality when the rich and powerful insist on an unequal relationship with the poor, Mr Mbeki pointed out.

    "A global partnership for development is impossible in the absence of a pact of mutual responsibility between the giver and the recipient. It is impossible when the rich demand the right, unilaterally, to set the agenda and conditions for the implementation of commonly agreed programmes.

    "We who represent the poor, know as a matter of fact that these billions of poor people are increasingly becoming impatient because every year they hear us adopt declaration after declaration, and yet nothing practical is done to assuage the hunger pains that keeps them awake at night," said Mr Mbeki.

    He explained that "only few and selected" agreements were implemented, with outcomes that were clearly insufficient to alleviate hardships faced by the poor.

    President Mbeki added that the poor people's concerns were raised clearly at the recently-concluded 14th Summit of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) in Cuba.

    And as the divide between the rich and the poor widened and became a serious global crisis, Mr Mbeki pointed out; there was an increase in the concentration of economic, military, technological and media power.

    Mr Mbeki said in part the reason the UN was unable to fulfil some of its objectives was because it did not reflect the expansion of the global family of free nations.

    "Because this organisation of the peoples of the world has grown to encompass the entire world, many had thought that it would be logical that this custodian of global democracy would itself serve as a beacon in our continuing quest for democracy in all our countries.

    "Clearly, for the UN to continue occupying its moral high ground, it has to reform itself urgently, and lead by practical example as to what is meant to be democratic," he emphasised.

    President Mbeki, supported by Minister of Foreign Affairs Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, yesterday attended the African Union Peace and Security Council meeting of Heads of State and Government to discuss the situation in Darfur and consider the mandate of the African Mission in Sudan (AMIS).


    West Africa: Saudi donation to help alleviate hunger

    Dakar, 20 Sep 2006 (IRIN) - Saudi Arabia has donated US $ 10 million to the World Food Programme to help fight hunger in eight West African countries and boost school feeding programmes.

    "This assistance to the WFP, especially at this particular time when there is hunger in the West African region, would go a long way in supporting our food aid programs within the region where aid is highly needed,” Mustapha Darboe, West Africa regional director of WFP, told reporters on Tuesday.

    The cash donation is to help Ghana, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Senegal and Sierra Leone.

    Drought, conflict and high prices for staple foods have made millions of people in the 16-nation region struggle to feed themselves, WFP said. Chronic poverty is widespread – about one in two people live on less than US a day. The region has the lowest life expectancy at birth, according the UN Human Development Report.

    WFP said more than half of the Saudi funds are destined for the Sahel countries, where malnutrition continues to take its toll among children. Niger and Mauritania are to receive US $ 2 million each. US $ 1.5 million was allocated to Mali. Senegal is to receive US $ 1 million for the troubled southern region of Casamance to assist refugees, IDPs and more than 100,000 children in the school feeding program.

    "The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is concerned about the hunger” in West Africa, said Abdulaziz Arukban, Saudi Arabia’s special international ambassador for WFP. “Children are dying because of hunger and we would like to see an improvement of this situation and that is why we are intervening and working to assist UN agencies to bring relief to these poorest people who need something to eat."

    He said the school-feeding program was an important way to encourage vulnerable and hungry children to get an education.

    Liberia, for example, has a rigorous WFP school-feeding programme. Many parents cannot afford food for their children as the nation emerges from a 14-year civil war.

    WFP said it plans to assist more than half a million Liberian children in about 2,000 schools.

    (This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations)


    Picture of the day


    Dockwise heavylift semi-submersible Enterprise enters Durban harbour to float on board the Belgian dredger Pinocchio which is required for a dredging project in La Reunion. Picture Terry Hutson. Click image to enlarge


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