Ports & Ships Maritime News

Jan 8, 2009
Author: Terry Hutson












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TODAY’S BULLETIN OF MARITIME NEWS

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  • First View – FREJA R

  • Bourbon Leda and crew released off Nigeria

  • Maersk slashes more jobs to reorganise head office

  • Somali pirates release Turkish freighter

  • Nigerian president tells ports to decongest within 60 days

  • Pics of the day – GOTLAND ALIYA and SEA GRACE




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    First View – FREJA R



    The Danish dredger FREJA R (1,875-gt, built 1982) appeared in Durban in 2007 to undertake some maintenance dredging on behalf of Transnet National Ports Authority. Now the dredger is back again, this time working on the Durban harbour entrance widening and deepening project which is rapidly taking shape. Rohde Nielsen AS, the owner and operator of the Freja R have recently establsihed an office in South Africa to explore and manage various dredging contracts in the region. The office is situated in Durban. Picture by Terry Hutson



    BOURBON LEDA and crew released off Nigeria

    Nigerian militants holding the Swiss/French crewboat BOURBON LEDA (320-gt, built 2006) yesterday released the vessel and crew. It is not known but is suspected that a ransom was paid.

    The crewboat, described also as a Fast Supply Intervention Vessel, and carrying a crew of five Nigerians, two Ghanaians, a Cameroonian and a Indonesian was seized by militants last week Saturday 3 January off an oil installation near Bonny off the coast of Nigeria.

    Reports said the released crew were all in good health and were returning home.

    Bourbon Leda is the latest Bourbon vessel to be taken hostage off the Nigerian coast – last year at least two others were seized and held for ransom.

    Also in Nigeria Italian Eni SpA officials have confirmed that an explosion has damaged one of its oil pipelines in the oil-rich south of the country which has reduced the country’s output by 12,000 barrels of oil a day. Eni’s share is said to be 2,400bpd.

    The pipeline was blown up last Friday using dynamite, according to preliminary investigations.

    Explosions and sabotage to Nigeria’s oil production is costing the country an estimated one quarter of total production.



    Maersk slashes more jobs to reorganise head office

    Denmark’s shipping giant Maersk said yesterday it will cut another 100 jobs out of a head office workforce of 830 as it reshapes the destiny of the group. The reorganisation will see the establishment of two distinct management units – a corporate centre and service functions.

    The company said in a statement that the split into two units would clarify responsibilities within the group while decentralising responsibility among the business units “where it should be”.

    The Corporate Centre will focus on group governance issues such as accounting, finance, IT, corporate relations and Human Resources. The service functions will support the Corporate Centre and all business units in areas like procurement, IT-services, oil trading, technical operations and recruitment.

    Group CEO Nils Andersen said that apart from clarifying responsibilities within the group, the changes will reduce complexity and save costs.

    “Having to reduce the number of employees is regrettable. But as the pressure on our business units increases, Groups Functions also have to be more effective in order to strengthen the group’s overall competitiveness,” he said.

    The rearrangement is due to be finalised by the end of January.



    Somali pirates release Turkish freighter

    Somali pirates successfully concluded another ransoming deal with a ship owner this week, when the Turkish Yasa Holding Company confirmed it had paid a ransom to pirates for the release of the YASA NESLIHAN, a general cargo ship taken hostage together with its 20 crew on 29 October 2008.

    The company spokesman declined to say how much had been paid but said the crew were in good health and happy to be released.

    Yasa Neslihan is carrying a cargo of 77,000 tonnes of iron ore and was on a voyage from Canada to China. The ship was seized in the Gulf of Aden.

    Meanwhile it is being reported that the number of ships using the Suez Canal dropped by between 35% in December (compared to preceding month November) and by 50% when compared with the equivalent December a year earlier.

    Although there are probably a number of factors to have influenced such a dramatic reduction of shipping in the canal, including the global economy, it is believed that piracy at the southern end to the Red Sea and resultant re-routing of shipping via the Cape of Good Hope is one of the main contributory reasons. Higher insurance premiums and canal fees may also be playing a role.

    According to figures issued by the International Maritime Bureau, which monitors worldwide piracy, 111 ships came under attack in the Gulf of Aden in 2008, with 42 being captured by pirates and taken for ransom. Until yesterday 14 of these were still being held. A total of 285 pirate attacks were registered with the IMB worldwide during 2008.

    A number of other side effects from piracy off the Somali coast have taken their toll on international shipping and local economies. The cruise industry was one of the first to respond to increasing attacks by re-routing ships or overflying passengers to avoid the risk of capture. It is noticeable that the Kenyan port of Mombasa has not seen many cruise ships in port this summer.

    It is also being reported that fuel supplies to East Africa are also coming under strain with some tanker companies reluctant to send their vessels to Kenya and Tanzania.



    Nigerian president tells ports to decongest within 60 days

    Adopting a tough stance with his country’s port terminal, Nigerian Fedceral President Umar Musa Yar’Adua has issued an ultimatum to have the ports decongested within 60 days.

    Yar’Adua’s directive follows a similar injunction issued the day before Christmas by his Minister of Transport, Ibrahim Bio, for congestion at the port terminals to be lifted within two weeks, an instruction that appears to have had little effect.

    The transport minister told port stakeholders at a meeting this week that the president wanted the decongesting to be carried out without further delay. He pointed out that apart from oil revenues, the maritime industry was the major revenue earner for the country and played a “vital role” in the president’s seven-point economic agenda.

    “We have a serious situation on our hands which might affect the nation’s economy negatively, especially at this period of global economic recession,” he said.

    The stakeholders included terminal operators, Nigeria’s Customs Service, the Nigerian Port Authority, Freight Forwarders, NIMASA (the country’s maritime safety authority) and various service providers.

    He advised that the main reason for the stakeholder meeting was to look for immediate and remote causes of the congestion and to find lasting solutions.

    Nigerian Port Authority Managing Director Abdul Salam Mohammed told the meeting that he and the Comptroller General of Customs had been instructed by the ministers of Finance and Transport to establish the cause of port congestion, which he said was posing a major challenge to the nation’s economy.

    “Let us work together as partners to see the growth of the nation’s seaports, and let us be guided by a sincere desire for change,” Mohammed said.

    Meanwhile the former Vice-President of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents, Day Azeez, said the Federal Government needed to build more ports as a lasting solution to port congestion. He suggested new ports to be built at Badagry and Lekki in Lagos State and that existing terminals within the other ports should be expanded.

    It was reported in mid December that up to 80 ships were waiting outside the Lagos ports for berthing space. Michael Hansen, the Managing Director of the AP Moller Terminal in Lagos told media this week that his terminal held about 9,500 container that were awaiting clearance. He said that 3,000 of these had been waiting for clearance for more than 30 days while another 9,000 had been transferred to Inland Container Depots in Lagos.



    Pics of the day – GOTLAND ALIYA and SEA GRACE




    Another two ships diverted around the Cape of Good Hope because of piracy in the approaches to the Red Sea were the Danish products tanker GOTLAND ALIYA (29,283-gt, built 2008) above, and the Indian bulker SEA GRACE (11,194-gt, built 2000) below, both of which called at Cape Town a couple of days before Christmas. Both pictures by Ian Shiffman









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