Ports & Ships Maritime News

May 26, 2009
Author: Terry Hutson


















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TODAY’S BULLETIN OF MARITIME NEWS

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  • First View – FAIRMOUNT FUJI

  • Transnet continues with Durban terminal expansion despite downturn

  • Mozambique railway moves closer to Moatize – reaches Sena

  • Brazil’s Petrobas takes 50% share in Namibian oil search

  • Red tape hinders Nigerian inland container plans

  • Namibia’s northern rail corridor in urgent need of repair

  • Pic of the day – HELLESPONT DARING




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    First View – FAIRMOUNT FUJI



    The offshore support tug FAIRMOUNT FUJI (998-gt, built 1997) which arrived yesterday in Cape Town harbour. Picture by Aad Noorland


    Transnet continues with Durban terminal expansion despite downturn

    Plans to deepen container berths at Durban’s two container terminal in order to accommodate larger new generation vessels now entering service to South Africa remain in the pipeline.

    This was the reassurance given on Friday concerning the lack of any apparent progress with deepening berths to correspond with the harbour entrance widening and deepening programme. The harbour entrance programme is due for completion early next year.

    Solly Letsoalo, Transnet Port Terminals (TPT) Chief Operating Officer told PORTS & SHIPS that geotechnical work at all container berths had been completed and that a decision was now pending regarding the deepening of the berths. Geotechnical surveys were completed a month ago, he said and a process of evaluation of the results had begun. Initially Transnet had planned to deepen berths 105 – 107 alongside the Pier 1 Container Terminal at the same time that the new terminal was being upgraded for modern container handling. However, when certain technical problems became evident it was decided to complete an inspection of all container berths with a view to these being deepened in accordance with channel deepening elsewhere in the port.

    Deepening of the harbour entrance channel to a depth of 16m inside the channel and 14.5m within the harbour is underway but so far no work has been undertaken on deepening alongside the working berths to accommodate the new generation ships. The maximum current water depth alongside the container terminals is 12.8m, with several berths even shallower.

    Letsoalo also gave assurances that Transnet is to continue with its capital investment programme in the Durban port despite the economic downturn. The Pier 1 Container Terminal he said was now almost complete – the new rail gantry cranes imported recently are still to be commissioned but terminal productivity levels were now matching those at Durban Container Terminal (DCT) with further improvements anticipated. Pier 1 is a rubber tyre gantry operated terminal.

    A decision of extending Pier 1 Container Terminal across the Salisbury Island area, recently vacated by the military, remains part of the Port Master Plan but no decision has been taken at this time. Expenditure on Pier 1 Container Terminal has so far been R1.9 billion.

    At DCT construction of the relocated workshop area and a new multi-level car park for staff is underway, which will create additional stacking area within the terminal. Reconstruction of the berths on the north quay is also underway – berth 203 has been completed and work on 204 is in progress. Additional straddle carriers are to be ordered for use at DCT. The terminal will also convert to the Navis IT container handling system in the near future – the terminal currently makes use of a Cosmos IT system.

    Letsoalo also confirmed that a new shed for the handling of soya beans at the Agriport on Maydon Wharf is underway which will have a capacity of 80,000 tons when complete.

    He advised that utilisation of the Durban Car Terminal had decreased by 37% as a result of the global economic downturn. Nevertheless the programme of building capacity to an eventual 14,000 slots is continuing – the terminal currently has 13,200 slots is use across four berths. In the past financial year a total of 372,557 units were handled at the car terminal – of these 184,511 were imports, 182,091 exports and the balance were tranships.



    Mozambique railway moves closer to Moatize – reaches Sena

    The Mozambique newspaper Noticias reports that a further section of the railway from the port of Beira to Tete Province and the coalfields at Moatize has been opened.

    Goods trains are now able to reach the town of Sena, 320km from Beira on the southern bank of the Zambezi. Sena is also close to the Malawi border. The first section of line to the sugar town of Marromeu reopened to traffic in late 2008.

    A spokesman for the railway, which is being rebuilt by a consortium consisting of the Indian firm Rites and Ircon said that while a small amount of cargo has been carried already, the rail company was waiting on business to make use of the service as far as Sena. The railway company that will operate the railway, also headed by the Rites of India consortium, is known as the Beira Railroad Company (CCFB).

    “We are now ready to transport cargo between Beira and Sena. We can do that right now. We are only waiting for interested clients,” the spokesman said.

    The bridge across the Zambezi, known as the Dona Ana Bridge has also been rebuilt and completed and work for about 100km northwest of Sena is well advanced. The Dona Ana Bridge is the longest rail bridge in Africa. However no work has been undertaken on the 44km branch section from Mutarara on the north bank of the Zambezi to the Malawi border, on account of there being no indication from the Malawi authorities of reopening the line on the Malawi side of the border.



    Brazil’s Petrobas takes 50% share in Namibian oil search

    The Brazilian oil company Petrobas has taken a 50% interest in an offshore oil exploration and production block off the southern coast of Namibia. The share in Block 2714A was acquired from the UK-based Chariot Oil and Gas Ltd for US$16 million. Chariot Oil & Gas retains the other 50% share.

    Petrobas, which is already involved off the west coast in Angola and in Nigeria says it will be performing geological and geophysical studies on Block 2714A in order to model the petroleum systems of the area.

    The Block covers an area of about 5,500 square kilometers in water depths of between 150 metres and 1500m.

    The exploration license expires in August 2010 and the deal between Chariot and Petrogas is still subject to approval from Namibia’s Ministry of Mines and Energy.



    Red tape hinders Nigerian inland container plans

    Red tape and bureaucracy – which some describe as Africa’s curse – has put paid to efforts by the Nigerian Federal Government to open six inland container depots and freight stations. The aim of the inland depots and freight stations was to relieve chronic congestion at the country’s harbours, but say observers, red tape and inertia is preventing anything from happening.

    According to the Lagos newspaper Daily Trust, Nigeria’s former Port Authority managing director Chief Adebayo Sarumi puts the blame on concessionaires and the Oyo State Government that agreed on dry ports at Ibadan, Kano, Isiala-Ngwa, Maiduguri and Funtua but has only issued three certificates of occupancy enabling building to start.

    “For a country that has not added to its port facilities for the last 40 years, the short-cut by way of a solution to the problem of congestion is the Inland Container Depots,” said Chief Sarumi.

    But Alex Okwuashi, registrar of the Certified Institute of Shipping (CIS) accuses the host state governments of not showing enough commitment, political will and interest. He says better infrastructure of roads and railways is also needed for the Inland Container Depots to become a working solution for harbour congestion.



    Namibia’s northern rail corridor in urgent need of repair

    Namibia’s northern railway that will ultimately extend into the Caprivi and to the Angolan border is at risk of being derailed, according to a report published in The Namibian.

    The article quotes TransNamib’s Acting Chief Executive Officer, Mike Kavekotora as saying that the railway between Kranzberg near Karibib and Tsumeb in the North is in poor shape and that there is a high risk of trains getting derailed. He disclosed that passenger services to the north have already been discontinued and freight trains are having to run at below full capacity.

    The Acting CEO said that increasing freight demand from southern Angola through the port at Walvis Bay could also not be satisfied unless this railway was repaired. Without it the Northern Railway Project connecting Namibia to Angola would become a ‘white elephant’.

    The estimated cost to repair the line has been given as approximately N$39 million (R39m). The line carries about one million tonnes of freight annually.

    Kavekotora was speaking at the recommissioning of the first five diesel-electric locomotives under a scheme that will see 45 locomotives refurbished at a cost of about N$225 million. TransNamib has leased two diesel-electric locos from Transnet in South Africa while the refurbishment programme is underway and hopes to buy the two once the loan period is completed.

    He said the refurbishment programme would put an end to the loss of market share to road freight.

    “It is no longer necessary to allow new road haulers to come and deplete our road infrastructure with the excuse that TransNamib ... does not have the capacity,” Kavekotora said. - source The Namibian




    Pic of the day – HELLESPONT DARING



    The newbuild offshore supply ship HELLSEPONT DARING (2,177-gt, built 2009) has arrived in Cape Town harbour direct from the Cochin Shipyard in China requiring what is understood to be some serious repair. Picture Aad Noorland



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