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Ports & Ships Maritime News

23 August 2016
Author: Terry Hutson

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


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The newest De Beers Marine (Debmarine) diamond mining ship, SS NUJOMA arrived in Cape Town at the weekend for final fitting out prior to going to Namibia where she will be based with Debmarine's Namibian operation. The vessel was built in Norway at the Kleven shipyard at a cost of around US$139 million, to introduce the latest technology for subsea mining off the cold and inhospitable coast of Nambia.

The ship displaces 80,000 tons and will have a crew of 80 when in full operation. SS Nujoma is diesel-electric powered -- the SS being the initials of Namibia's former president, Sam Nujoma and not that of 'Steam Ship'. SS Nujoma is touted as the most advanced marine diamond sampling and exploration vessel in the world, equipped with a subsea sampling system and treatment plant developed in parallel with De Beers Marine South Africa.

The above is an artist's computer generated image of the vessel. Now that she has arrived in Cape Town we can hopefully look forward to the first real photographs as she takes final shape with all equipment aboard. Image courtesy De Beers Marine

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Lobito Bay, port and town

Sonangol, Angola's state-owned oil company, announced last Friday that it has suspended all building operations at the Lobito oil refinery including the Barra do Dande ocean terminal.

In the statement Sonangol said it intended holding a full review of the project's development, its phasing and financing.

The financial condition of the oil and gas industry and its subsequent effect on Angola brought is the reason for the suspension while a new assessment if undertaken, resulting from the sustained drop in the price of oil. With oil production generating most of Angola's revenue the country is feeling the effects of the economic downturn and lower oil prices.

Sonangol said it intended meeting all its contractual obligations so far incurred and reiterated its commitment to a sustainable fuel supply to the local market, taking into account improved efficiency and the company's cost structure.

The refinery was designed to process 200,000 barrels of oil a day, producing fuels such as petrol, diesel, jet fuel and other derivatives. The refinery was being built over an area of 3,805 hectares and was expected to go into production in 2018 with a final cost expected to be US$5.6 billion.

Meanwhile, the Barra do Dande ocean terminal was intended for completion in 2017, after originally being set for this year. Costing US$1 billion, the terminal is now also on hold.

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Lefkas, the Aegean Marine bunker tanker based at Port Elizabeth. Picture: SAMSA

Our report Oil spill in Algoa Bay in the story below refers to a spill that occurred during a ship-to-ship bunker transfer in Algoa Bay and identifies Aegean Bunkering Marine Services as operating the offshore bunkering service from Port Elizabeth. The representative of the P&I Insurers of the tanker Lefkas, operated by Aegean, have pointed out that the vessel which was held responsible for the spill was not their tanker Lefkas, but the receiving vessel named Energy Challenger, which was detained by SAMSA and which paid an admission of contravention fine of R350,000, not Aegean. The misconception is regretted.

Original report follows:
An oil spill or maybe two has caused a bit of a froth in Nelson Mandela Bay district, especially after a number of penguins had to be rescued for cleaning, and the blame was immediately levelled at Aegean Bunkering Marine Services, who operate an offshore bunker service, the only offshore operation in South African waters.

It appears however there may have been more than one spill. According to the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) one of them involved a ship to ship bunker transfer taking place offshore of Port Elizabeth and Ngqura, when about 100 litres were reported to have been spilled. This, says SAMSA was quickly cleaned up.

The company involved signed an admission of guilt fine of R350,000 for this leak.

However, a second and large oil slick was observed in the bay and photographed on a separate occasion, and the photographs were sent to the UK for analysis. Algoa fm radio station reported Captain Nigel Campbell of SAMSA as saying that UK officials who examined the photos were of the opinion that the slick was not caused by bunker fuel. During the cleanup of this slick samples were taken and sent to Pretoria also for analysis and the results will be known in the next day or two.

It is thought that a passing ship had cleaned its bilges into the sea while passing the area, but there is no definiate evidence of this. Captain Campbell told the radio station that SAMSA was flying aerial patrols along the coast and so far there have been no further observations of oil in the sea.

Meanwhile, close to a hundred penguins which became oil-soaked from one of the spills have been taken to centres for treatment and cleaning of their plumage. Many if not all of these were rescued in the vicinity of St Croix and Bird Islands in Nelson Mandela Bay (Algoa Bay).

An appeal has been made to the public for donations of towels and newspapers for cleaning the birds.

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Above: The general cargo vessel GUILIANA in Durban harbour prior to her auction. Picture by Ken Malcolm

ZEYNEP K Shipspotting 2151815 480
The bulker Zeynep K which was auctioned earlier in the year in Durban. Picture is courtesy of Shipspotting

Dry bulk vessels have faced extreme distress in recent years. With a combination of factors including newer vessels being ordered with up to 5-year lead times and oil and commodity prices falling globally, owners have been left in precarious waters.

Many did not anticipate the crash of commodities followed by oil falling to new lows (spot Brent at US$45 a barrel) making it even more difficult to service either debt on existing vessels and associated dry dock fees, or to actually take ownership of their new vessels. As such, there is too much old tonnage on the waters floating around that warrant maintenance and work, compounded with many unclaimed new vessels awaiting transfer of ownership.

Banks have long held out on calling in such debts and preferred to explore restructured payment terms. This was evident with major banks who have inadvertently falsely propped up the Panamax market and slightly smaller bulk carriers by extending finance terms rather than facing negative equity and repossessing the vessel.

Regretfully many of these decisions simply delayed the inevitable and by the time arrests or repossessions took place, the market had fallen even further. In the last six months alone, a leading African auction house, Clear Asset, which specialises in commercial maritime and mining assets, has disposed of four such carriers. The vessels ranged in size from 7,000 tons up to 80,000 gross tons.

"It has been interesting to see that despite a depressed market the bidding has proven extremely strong, with parties from as far as Greece, Cyprus, Abu Dhabi, UK, Liberia, West Africa and Singapore bidding competitively," says Clear Asset MD, Ariella Kuper.

"The auction sale of two recent ships, the SADAN K and ZEYNEP K, both 80,000-grt, achieved $1 million above reserve for each. A smaller 8,400 grt, the mv GIULIANA achieved $1.65 million which was $250,000 above reserve."

South Africa has become a global player for arrested vessels and is attracting a strong bidding appetite from abroad. The prices being paid are based on free market demand and supply, and with competitive bidding it is a fair indication of the value that the market places. What is strong to witness is the new players entering the ship trading game, who are in a financial position to settle payment within five days voetstoots (as is).

"Out of adversity comes opportunity for a new generation of maritime players to enter the game with a more sophisticated 21st century understating of prevailing market conditions," Kuper said.

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The NSRI rescue craft approaches the bulker Vega Dream almost 10 nautical miles out at sea. Picture: NSRI Port Elziabeth

On Sunday, 21st August at 10h00, the National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) Port Elizabeth duty crew, accompanied by an EC Government Health EMS rescue paramedic were called on to launch their rescue boat in order to rendezvous with the 270 metre bulk carrier VEGA DREAM.

The ship had been redirected by MRCC (Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre) to sail towards the nearest port following an illness to a 35 year old Myanmar sailor whose condition, after suffering an an intestinal illness for the past week, had deteriorated. By Sunday the patient was reported as having lost consciousness.

The PE crew launched their sea rescue craft Eikos Rescuer IV and rendezvoused with Vega Dream 9.5 nautical miles off-shore of Port Elizabeth.

Justin Erasmus, NSRI Port Elizabeth deputy station commander reported that the rescue paramedic and NSRI rescue crew were transferred onboard and the patient was found to be in a critical condition and unconscious.

Emergency medical treatment including intubation and ventilation was applied and the patient was secured into a Stokes basket stretcher.

A lowering rig was then erected and the patient lowered onto the sea rescue craft where medical treatment continued while the NSRI boat returned to the Port Elizabeth sea rescue base, from where he was transported to hospital by EMS ambulance in a serious but stable condition for further treatment.

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South African companies will be participating in the 52nd edition of the Maputo International Trade Fair next week, according to the Department of Trade and Industry (dti).

The trade fair, commonly known as FACIM, is an international multi-sectoral fair held annually to showcase Mozambique as an attractive destination for trade and investment.

Twenty-seven local companies are set to participate in the fair that takes place in the Mozambican capital from 29 August to 4 September.

According to dti Minister Rob Davies, FACIM will expose South African companies to trade and investment opportunities available in Mozambique and other countries participating in the exhibition.

"The dti is striving to facilitate economic development through promoting outward investment, intra-Africa trade, regional industrialisation and infrastructure development within the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region and the rest of Africa," said Minister Davies. "FACIM will be a good platform to promote South African manufactured products in the Mozambican market and beyond."

Last year, the trade fair attracted 680 foreign companies, compared to 651 foreign companies in 2014. Thirty-one countries participated in the trade fair last year, compared to 26 countries in 2014. Foreign countries that participated in FACIM 2015 include South Africa, Zimbabwe, Germany, Brazil, Italy, France, Spain, Macau, Indonesia and the Netherlands.

One of the dti's strategic goals is to grow the South African manufacturing sector in order to promote industrial development, job creation, investment and exports.

"In order to achieve this objective, the department embarks on international missions and participates in targeted international trade exhibitions in order to promote exports of South African value-added goods and services to increase market share in various regions of the world.

"This will enable South African businesses to access global markets, which will lead to them increasing their production, thereby growing the South African economy and creating employment," the minister said.

The participation of the South African companies in the popular fair is through the department's Export Marketing and Investment Assistance (EMIA) scheme. The objective of the scheme is to develop export markets for South African products and services. Mozambique is one of South Africa's top five trade partners in the SADC region. Trade between the two countries totalled more than R39 billion in 2015.

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ArcelorMittal South Africa Limited (AMSA) has agreed to pay an administrative penalty of R1.5 billion for its involvement in the long steel and scrap metal cartels.

This was after the Competition Commission reached the settlement agreement with AMSA.

The amount, which will be paid in five annual instalments of no less than R300 million, will cover all pending cases against AMSA, including those that are still under investigation.

"AMSA has agreed to remedies relating to complaints against its pricing conduct without admitting that its pricing conduct constituted a contravention of the Competition Act, the Commission said in a statement.

"In this regard, AMSA has undertaken that for a period of five years it will limit its EBIT (earnings before interest and tax) margin to a cap of 10% for flat steel products sold in South Africa."

In addition, AMSA has committed to a R4.64 billion capital expenditure over five years.

The Commission's investigations and finding include an investigation against long and flat steel producers in South Africa, involving AMSA.

"This investigation was initiated following concerns about high and increasing prices of steel products observed by the Commission, despite South Africa being a net exporter of steel.

"As part of the investigation, on 19 June 2008, the Commission conducted a dawn raid at the premises of Cape Town Iron and Steel Works (Pty) Ltd (CISCO), Highveld Steel and Vanadium Corporation Limited (Highveld), and the South African Iron and Steel Institute," the Commission said.

Subsequently, Scaw South Africa (Pty) Ltd (Scaw), a subsidiary of Anglo American Plc, applied for and was granted leniency for its involvement in collusive practices.

The Commission's investigation found that AMSA, CISCO, Scaw and Cape Gate (Pty) Ltd (Cape Gate), being competitors in the manufacturing of long steel products, engaged in collusion by fixing prices and discounts, allocating customers and sharing commercially sensitive information through the South African Iron and Steel Institute (SAISI) and the South African Reinforced Concrete Engineers' Association.

The scrap metal cartel
In December 2009, the Commission initiated an investigation against the consumers of scrap, namely AMSA, Highveld, Cape Gate, CISCO and Columbus Stainless Steel (Pty) Ltd (Columbus Steel) for collusive practices.

The Commission's investigation found that AMSA, Columbus Steel, Cape Gate and Scaw fixed the purchase price of scrap metal.

"In this regard, the Commission found that these firms collectively negotiated and agreed a standard formula, which was used to determine the purchase price of scrap metal as a buyers' cartel.

"The Commission found that AMSA and Columbus Steel, Cape Gate and Scaw collaborated and acted in tandem with the upstream cartel of scrap merchants," the Commission said.

The Commission referred this matter to the Tribunal for adjudication.

The flat steel cartel
In April 2008, the Commission initiated an investigation against flat steel producers Highveld and AMSA.

The Commission found that during the period 1999 and 2009, AMSA and Highveld had an understanding in terms of which Highveld would follow AMSA's lead on pricing in the flat steel market.

The Commission also found that AMSA and Highveld used the industry association, SAISI, to exchange commercially sensitive information, such as sales volumes.

"This conduct constituted price fixing and market allocation in contravention of the Competition Act. On 30 March 2012, the Commission referred a complaint against AMSA and Highveld to the Tribunal," the Commission said.

The Barnes Fencing complaints
In December 2003, the Commission received complaints from Barnes Fencing Industries (Pty) Ltd, F&G Quality Tubes (Pty) Ltd and Dunrose Trading (57) (Pty) Ltd against AMSA and various wire producers.

"The complaints alleged that AMSA differentiated between its customers in terms of discounts offered for low carbon wire rod and that this conduct amounted to price discrimination in contravention of the Competition Act.

"The Commission's investigations found that AMSA engaged in the conduct of price discrimination in contravention of the Competition Act," the Commission said.

This complaint concerned the period 2000 to 2003. The complaints were referred to the Tribunal for adjudication in January 2007.

In the second complaint received in December 2008, the same complainants alleged that the conduct complained of in the first complaint had continued from 2004 to 2006. The Commission referred the second complaint to the Tribunal in November 2012.

The excessive pricing complaint
In July 2011, the Commission initiated a complaint into AMSA's pricing policy for its flat steel products based on a complaint by the Department of Trade and Industry.

The investigation pertained to AMSA allegedly charging excessive prices for its flat steel products in contravention of the Competition Act. The Commission has not made a finding in this matter.

"The Commission is delighted to bring an end to these longstanding proceedings. The penalty sends a strong message of deterrence and is an important milestone in the Commission's enforcement against cartels," Commissioner Tembinkosi Bonakele said.

Minister of Economic Development Ebrahim Patel said the action by the competition authorities is part of a crackdown against abuse of market power and price-fixing that undermines the performance of the economy, imposes unnecessary costs on downstream factories and damages local jobs.

"South Africa's competitiveness and industrial performance require an efficient basic steel supplier industry.

"High levels of concentration, together with collusion, undermines our national goals," Minister Patel said.

He said South Africa wants to send a message that it is open for business and it will act against conduct that damages competition and jobs. SAnews.gov.za

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QM2 in Cape Town. Picture by Ian Shiffman

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This you will find here in CRUISE NEWS & REVIEWS

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The geared bulker AFRICAN ARROW (61,285-dwt, built 2015) which has arrived in Durban and is currently working her cargo at Maydon Wharf 11. The 199m long and 33m wide ship is managed by the Japanese firm of Yano Kaiun Co, Ltd and was built at the Imabari Zosen shipyard in Japan. This picture is by Ken Malcolm


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