Ports & Ships Maritime News

May 13, 2010
Author: Terry Hutson


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TODAY’S BULLETIN OF MARITIME NEWS

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  • First View – ENSELENI


  • Strike enters fourth day and still no end in sight


  • Shipping lines return to profitability and increase services


  • Piracy: Two more ships captured, Eleni P and Panega


  • Mozambique nabs Iranian fishing vessel


  • Shell declares Force Majeure at Bonny Offshore


  • Wind farm for Coega and windy city


  • Namibia lends Angola a research vessel


  • Johannesburg/Durban plan needs further investigation - SARF


  • Pics of the day – OCEAN PRINCESS and MILLENIA TOWER





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    First View – ENSELENI

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    Cape Town’s most modern harbour tug, the Voith Schneider-propelled ENSELENI (378-gt, built 2000) seen at work in Cape Town port. Picture by Aad Noorland



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    Strike enters fourth day and still no end in sight

    Day Four of the nationwide port, railway and pipeline industry strike and there is no solution in sight, with Transnet appearing to have dug its heels in saying the ball lies in the union courts, and the unions meanwhile accusing Transnet of being unreasonable.

    Cargo owners and shipping lines meanwhile, plus all the related activities in between are left to add the escalating costs as close to 50,000 workers not only down tools but man the pickets to ensure that little or no work gets done.

    Despite this PORTS & SHIPS has become aware of some areas where rail transport has continued to operate, albeit on a limited scale, although in the ports very little activity is taking place particularly in the main areas of the Durban and Cape Town container terminals. Richards Bay is also reported as being ‘very quiet’.

    Trains that were getting through on the normally busy and highly strategic Durban to Johannesburg main line were suddenly forced to a halt by a derailment on the outskirts of Durban yesterday morning, where the small station of Shallcross may as well be renamed Shallnotcross. Persons unknown removed rail clips from the tracks resulting in a derailment of eight wagons on a fuel train heading inland to Gauteng, which was running just ahead of a suburban Metro passenger train. Both the up and down lines have been blocked and will remain so for another two days or so while Transnet Freight Rail investigates whether to reopen the historic Old Main Line and allow at least some traffic through.

    Whether the sabotage was caused by strikers or, as seems likely, by thieves wanting to cause an accident in the hopes of rich pickings, is still unknown but either scenario is possible. Adding to Transnet’s woes is that the Durban breakdown train is currently at Koedoespoort undergoing overhaul and is not available. Another breakdown train will have to be brought from Richards Bay.

    The accident and strike has forced two privately operated passenger trains to remain in Durban – the Shongololo and the Rovos Rail trains that visited Durban in time for the annual tourist Indaba. A third passenger train, the famous Blue Train ‘escaped’ just ahead of the strike by cancelling planned excursions along the South Coast and returned to Johannesburg.

    In the country’s ports there is little normal activity at the Transnet-operated terminals and things were reported to be quiet but with no further violence.

    At 18h00 last night (Wednesday) 38 ships had gathered outside the port of Durban.


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    Shipping lines return to profitability and increase services


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    CMA CGM Tema by Ian Shiffman

    In what is promising news for both the global economy and for individual shipping companies, seeral shipping lines have begun reporting a return to profitability during 2010. As a result several new services are being introduced and less container ships are being reported in strategic laybye.

    Latest company to announcement a return to profitability is Hanjin Shipping, which posted a first quarter profit of USD 2.2 million on sales of USD 1.63 billion, although it still recorded net losses for the period of USD 118 million. Nevertheless this was a considerable improvement on the USD 191 million lost in the same quarter of 2009.

    Another company to reflect happier times is AP Moller-Maersk, parent of Maersk Line and Safmarine, which increased revenue for the first quarter by 20 percent to make a profit of USD 639 million, compared with a loss of USD 373m for the same period of 2009.

    “Markets have improved and our efforts are paying off,” said the company’s CEO Nils S Andersen.

    During this period the group’s container divisions recorded net profits of USD 168m, compared with losses of USD 582m in the first quarter of 2009.

    CMA CGM and Hapag-Lloyd have also posted much improved results for the first quarter of 2010. Analysts caution however that the healthier returns this year may be a reflection of inventory replacement and not necessarily an indication that the worst is over. Shipping companies are in the meantime adding new services and taking back into service ships placed in reserve. Paris analysts AXS Alphaliner report in their latest newsletter that despite a still high level of scrapping, the rate of ship deletions is diminishing “due to improved employment prospects and as the fleet has been purged of most over-aged units.”

    Meanwhile CMA CGM and Maersk Line have announced the launch of a joint weekly service linking Asia and Europe. This is in addition to the CMA CGM group’s 11 existing Far East services. The new joint service will deploy a total of 10 ships each of 13,000-TEU capacity (five vessels each) covering the following rotation: Ningbo – Shanghai – Yantian – Tanjung Pelepas – Port Kelang – Le Havre – Hamburg – Rotterdam – Zeebrugge – Port Kelang – Singapore – Ningbo.

    The new service will operate on the slow steaming principle.


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    Piracy: Two more ships captured, Eleni P and Panega

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    The Bulgarian chemical tanker Panega, captured on Tuesday by pirates in the Gulf of Aden

    Yet another ship has been captured by pirates and is on the way to the Somali coast and an eventual ransoming.

    The latest vessel to be taken is the Greek owned, Liberian-flagged bulk carrier ELENI P (72,119-dwt, built 1997) which was seized yesterday (Wednesday) 250 n.miles off the coast of Oman.

    Eleni P is carrying a crew of 26, made up of 23 Filipinos, two Romanians, and one Indian. The ship was en route to Kandla in India. According to EU NAVFOR which is monitoring the situation, all crew are safe.

    This follows the capture on Tuesday of the Bulgarian-flagged chemical tanker PANEGA (5,848-dwt), which was seized in the Gulf of Aden about 100 n.miles east of Aden. The ship, with a crew of 15 Bulgarians was en route to India and had just exited the Red Sea.

    Meanwhile Russian defence sources in Moscow have confirmed that the ten suspected pirates captured by the Russian destroyer MARSHAL SHAPOSHNIKOV and subsequently released into an open boat while about 300 miles from the nearest coast, have “probably” died. In questionable circumstances it turns out they were released not in one of their own skiffs but an inflatable boat without any navigation equipment. The Russian Navy says it lost contact with the boat’s radio beacon within an hour of their release and it seems that all ten men have died.

    The suspects were captured on board the Russian tanker MOSCOW UNIVERSITY on 6 May when marines from the Russian destroyer boarded the merchant ship which had been captured by pirates. One of the pirates was killed in the skirmish. The others denied being pirates and claimed they were hostages. Because the tanker’s crew had locked themselves in a safe room and were unable to identify any of them, Moscow ordered that they be released instead of taken to Russia for trial, which was the original intention.


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    Mozambique nabs Iranian fishing vessel

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    The arrested PAYAM in Inhambane harbor, Mozambique

    Mozambique Fisheries Authority has arrested an Iranian-flagged fishing vessel for illegal fishing in Mozambique waters. This follows the tightening up of port state control measures by Mozambique allied to having better equipment to enforce fishery laws along the country’s long coastline.

    According to a report in www.fis.com the Iranian vessel named Payam, which is registered in the Iranian port of Shilat Chabahar, was intercepted after having called in the Mozambique port of Inhambane. It was claimed that the Iranian vessel had entered Mozambique waters without authorization after operating in Madagascan waters.

    The Payam’s skipper said he was following instructions given by the owner of the vessel and from a Nigerian citizen based in Maputo. He declared having thrown eight tonnes of fish overboard but didn’t know where the fish had been caught – the vessel had no logbook and the crew carried no identification documents.

    A 9 kilometre long driftnet found on the vessel has been destroyed.

    The skipper of the vessel has been fined USD 45,000 for fishing without a licence in Mozambique waters, for having no logbook and for having failed to comply with entry/exit EEZ requirements in Mozambique.

    The Fisheries department said it was patrolling Mozambique waters with its recently acquired Kuswag vessel acquired from South Africa and was undertaking regular patrols organised within the framework of the SADC fisheries protocol and the EU-funded Regional Fishery Surveillance project managed by the Indian Ocean Commission. – fis.com


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    Shell declares Force Majeure at Bonny Offshore

    Shell has reported a declaration of Force Majeure at their Bonny offshore terminal, due to pipeline leakage on their 24 & 28 inches Trans-Niger pipelines, reports GAC World.

    This has resulted in Shell shutting down all of its land area production.

    According to the oil company, this will lead to a revision of all Bonny cargo for the period of the Force Majeure.

    Currently, there is no information on the progress of repairs on the leaking pipelines.

    For information about operations in Nigeria contact GAC Nigeria at nigeria@gacworld.com


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    Wind farm for Coega and windy city

    Construction of a wind turbine farm has begun at the Coega Industrial Development Zone outside Port Elizabeth. Although not on a huge scale, the 25 wind turbines which are being provided by Electrawinds Belgium in a R1.2 billion investment will each produce 1.8MW, providing an annual yield of 5,700,000kWh, sufficient to power a small town.

    The electricity generated is to be fed into the national grid and distributed by the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan municipality (Port Elizabeth).

    The first of the turbine units arrived in the port of Ngqura at the recent weekend, just ahead of the strike.


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    Namibia lends Angola a research vessel

    The Namibian Government has agreed to lease out the Welwitschia Research vessel to their Angolan counterparts for 1,099 million Namibian dollars to conduct an acoustic fisheries survey.

    In 2007 the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources and the Angolan Ministry of Energy and Water signed a bilateral protocol on fisheries and Aquaculture. In line with the protocol, the Angolan Fisheries Minister requested Namibia 2009 to make available the research vessel to Angola for a fishery survey between April and May this year. The protocol makes provision for sharing of resources and skills between the two ministries.

    The cabinet approved the lease of the Welwitschia research vessel to Angola for a period from 19 April to 21 May 2010. Money accrued from the agreement will be made available to the Marine resource Fund and will be administered by the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resource.

    The money will be used for research and development projects as stated in the Marine resource Act (Act 27 of 2000). - Namib Times



    Johannesburg/Durban plan needs further investigation - SARF

    The South African Road Federation (SARF) cautions that the resuscitation of a proposal by the Minister of Transport, Sbu Ndebele, to establish a high-speed rail link between Johannesburg and Durban, should be subject to a thorough feasibility study before the scheme reaches the design stage.

    While welcoming the new initiative, SARF president, Mutshutshu Nxumalo, observes it is essential that an unbiased assessment should be conducted by experienced and competent transport engineers and economists.

    “Although high-speed rail links have proven effective in other parts of the world, they have all been prone to intensive teething problems, and in most cases, considerable cost overruns. In addition, planners on the Johannesburg/Durban link will be faced with logistical challenges which are bound to add to the cost of the project.

    “Not least of these is the fact that a high-speed rail link runs on a wider 1,435mm rail gauge as opposed to South Africa’s traditional narrow 1,067mm gauge. This means that not only will new rolling stock have to be purchased but it will have to be dedicated exclusively to the rail link.

    “Secondly, there is the considerable difference in altitude between the two cities to consider. The link will have to traverse steep inclines in rising from sea level to just under 2,000m at Johannesburg.

    “This might prove to be an achilles heel as the undulating topography will impose severe constraints on vertical and horizontal alignments, all of which will be expensive to remedy.

    “And thirdly, for a rail link, either conventional, or high-speed, to attract freight business, the materials handling and storage aspects at either end of the line would have to be considerably improved,” he said.

    It is not clear whether the minister is proposing a passenger or a freight movement facility, or both, he noted.

    “Should it be his intention to relieve the N3 of the excessive heavy freight traffic it now carries, SARF suggests that a dedicated truck route would be far more effective. We believe that a high-speed freight rail link with its vastly increased costs would be a much more expensive option, both to construct and to run,” he said.

    An independent broad economic study conducted four years ago by Andrew Marsay, transport economics adviser of Arup SA (Pty) Ltd, held that additional freight capacity on the Durban/Johannesburg corridor could be created far more cheaply in a road as opposed to rail mode.

    He observed that for the same capital outlay of R15 billion the dedicated freight highway option could create up to four times more new freight transport capacity than if the same amount were spent on the rail mode. Moreover, relieving the existing N3 highway of heavy goods vehicles would create considerable new capacity for passenger and smaller goods vehicle traffic, not to mention the improved safety margins which would accrue from such a development.

    Nxumalo says there is a global preference for road over rail freight, primarily because of the greater flexibility, speed and effectiveness that it offers, not to mention the widespread adoption of the ‘Just-in-Time’ delivery philosophy.

    “Rail will need to demonstrate its capacity to contribute meaningfully to the overall transport mix before shippers buy into this mode of transport. Backing one type of transport at the expense of another won’t lead to the ultimate objective of making the entire corridor more cost-effective.

    “Funds should be allocated on an even-handed basis so that road and rail complement more than compete with each other.

    “We also believe that passenger traffic between the two cities needs to be realistically assessed in light of the fact that most of the world’s high-speed passenger trains serve higher population densities than would be the case in South Africa,” Nxumalo said. –Road Ahead press release



    Pics of the day – OCEAN PRINCESS and MILLENIA TOWER

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    The Princess Cruises’ cruise ship OCEAN PRINCESS (ex Tahitian Princess) on her recent visit to Cape Town. Picture by Ian Shiffman


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    The container ship MILLENIA TOWER, ex Sinar Tobar, ex Kota Perabu, which called at Cape Town back in July 2008. Picture by Ian Shiffman



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