Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news 25 March 2022

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The week’s mastheads:

Monday: Port of Walvis Bay
Tuesday: Port of Ngqura

Wednesday: Port of Ngqura Container Terminal

Thursday: Port of Mombasa
Friday: Port of Apapa
Saturday: Port of East London
Sunday: Port of Durban Sugar Terminal




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Maersk Cabinda. Picture by Trevor Jones, in Africa Ports & Ships
Maersk Cabinda.    Picture by Trevor Jones

The container ship MAERSK CABINDA (IMO 9525493) departs from Durban on 7 March, bound for Tanjung Pelepas with a reasonably fullish cargo of containers on board. The box ship is expected to arrive at the Malaysian port on 23 March 2022.

Maersk Cabinda has a deadweight of 61,547 tons (50,869-gt) and is 249 metres in length and 37m wide.  Her draught is 11.4 metres. The ship was built in 2012 and is sailing under the flag of Singapore. Although registered to Moller Singapore, her management is based with Maersk in Denmark.

The ship’s main engine is a diesel MAN B&W, Model 6S80ME-C9, two-stroke engine producing 23,000 kW (31,271 HP) and driving a fixed pitch propeller. In port for added manoeuvrability the ship has two side thrusters.

On deck as a geared containership, Maersk Cabinda has four on board cranes each with a 50 tonne lifting capacity. Her container carrying capacity is 4,496 TEU. The ship is deployed on Maersk’s West Africa – South Africa – South-East Asia – China service.

Maersk Cabinda’s picture is by Trevor Jones




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WHARF TALK: well-known name, new ship GREY FOX

Grey Fox in the Duncan Dock before going alongside at FPT. Picture by 'Dockrat', in Africa Ports & Ships
Grey Fox in the Duncan Dock before going alongside at FPT. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Story by Jay Gates
Pictures by ‘Dockrat’

One of the constants in maritime life used to be the regular, if not clockwork, appearance of certain shipping line vessels on their regular, unchanging, runs to and from South Africa, or even within Southern Africa itself. The four Safmarine Big Whites, the Unicorn Lines paper and sugar coastal run of ‘Gamtoos’ and ‘Gouritz’, or the ‘Berg’ and ‘Breede’ on their fixed day feeder container run between Durban and Walvis Bay, with Port Elizabeth and Cape Town northbound, and Cape Town and East London southbound. You could set your watch by them.

Sadly, all gone today, and never to reappear.

However, not all is lost, and there is still at least one constant left on the Southern African coast, and that is the tidy looking MACS vessels, since 1979, all resplendent in their company colours, with their famed Rhinoceros houseflag and MACS hull logo, and who maintain regular scheduled calls into Walvis Bay, Cape Town, Port Elizabeth, Durban and Maputo all year round, with their nine vessel fleet.

On 13th March at 09h00 the multipurpose handysize vessel GREY FOX (IMO 9594470) arrived off Cape Town, from Walvis Bay in Namibia’, and entered Cape Town harbour, going straight to A berth in the Duncan Dock, for FPT staff to begin the offloading operation of her southbound cargo. She had loaded in Leixoes, Hamburg, Rotterdam and Antwerp on her regular Europe-Africa service.

Grey Fox arriving in the port of Cape Town from Walvis Bay and Europe. Picture by 'Dockrat', in Africa Ports & Ships
Grey Fox arriving in the port of Cape Town from Walvis Bay and Europe. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Built in 2011 at Zhejiang Ouhua Shipbuilding in Zhoushan in China, ‘Grey Fox’ is 179 metres in length and had a deadweight of 33,217 tons. She is powered by a single STX MAN-B&W 6S50MC-C7 6 cylinder 2 stroke main engine producing 11,965 bhp (8,800 kW), to drive a fixed pitch propeller for a service speed of 15 knots. She was built as one of twelve sisterships, all built for two different German shipowners.

Grey Fox's accommodation and bridge area. Picture by 'Dockrat' , in Africa Ports & Ships
Grey Fox’s accommodation and bridge area. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Her auxiliary machinery includes two STX MAN-B&W 6L16/24 generators providing 510 kW each, and one STX MAN-B&W 5L16/24 generator providing 425 kW. She also has a single MAN D2866LXE20 emergency generator providing 160 kW. She has a single Saacke Composite 340/40 m2 boiler.

As a multipurpose vessel, ‘Grey Fox’ is capable of carrying bulk cargoes, breakbulk cargoes and containers, all at the same time. She has five holds, serviced by four 60 ton, electro-hydraulic, MacGregor-Hägglunds cranes, which can lift 110 tons when two are used in tandem. She has a cargo carrying capacity of 39,042 m3, and she has a container carrying capacity of 1,158 TEU, with the provision of 130 reefer plugs.

Grey Fox enters the Duncan Dock of Cape Town harbour. Picture by 'Dockrat', in Africa Ports & Ships
Grey Fox enters the Duncan Dock of Cape Town harbour, assisted by two tugs of whom one is Enseleni, seen here. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

There will be some readers who think that ‘Grey Fox’ is a regular caller on the MACS schedule, and you would be right. Except that it is not this particular ‘Grey Fox’ that you are thinking of. The current ‘Grey Fox’ is the latest addition to the MACS stable, and she only joined the MACS fleet in October 2021, and is only on her third Europe-Africa voyage for the company. She did. However, replace a vessel of the same name, built in 1998 and which had been a stalwart of the MACS fleet, and a regular in South African ports, until she was retired from MACS service in June 2018.

The stern view of the general cargo vessel. Picture by 'Dockrat', featured in Africa Ports & Ships
The stern view of the general cargo vessel. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

On retirement ‘Grey Fox’ was sold on for scrapping, and her name was changed to ‘Grey’. On 11th August 2018 she arrived off the infamous Gadani Beach in Pakistan, and on 12th August she was run up the beach at Plot 93, for the shipbreakers to start work on reducing her to razor blades.

The current ‘Grey Fox’ is owned by Austral Asia Lines Pte. Ltd. (AAL) of Singapore, and she is operated by MACS Maritime Carrier Shipping GmbH of Hamburg in Germany. She is managed by Columbia Shipmanagement GmbH, also of Hamburg. AAL have four such vessels in their fleet, which they refer to as the ‘W’ Class, and which are the largest multipurpose, heavylifters, in their fleet.

Grey Fox manoeuvring towards the FPT terminal where she will begin her discharge. Picture by 'Dockrat' in Africa Ports & Ships
Grey Fox manoeuvring towards the FPT terminal where she will begin her discharge. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

As always, her time in Cape Town was short, and at 23h00 on 14th March, ‘Grey Fox’ sailed from Cape Town, bound for Port Elizabeth, thence to Durban. From Durban she will make a port call at Maputo in Mozambique, before returning to Durban to load for her northbound voyage. The northbound schedule will take her via Cape Town, Walvis Bay, and then onto her discharge ports in Europe, namely Vigo (Spain), Rotterdam (Holland), Hamburg (Germany), and finally Antwerp (Belgium).

Grey Fox as Grey at the Gadani beach graveyard. Picture by 'Dockrat' in Africa Ports & Ships
Grey Fox as Grey at the Gadani beach graveyard, having made her final voyage. Picture by ‘Dockrat’
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IN CONVERSATION: Ukraine: how the global fertiliser shortage is going to affect food

What happens now?  lenina11only

John Hammond, University of Reading and Yiorgos Gadanakis, University of Reading

We are currently witnessing the beginning of a global food crisis, driven by the knock-on effects of a pandemic and more recently the rise in fuel prices and the conflict in Ukraine. There were already clear logistical issues with moving grain and food around the globe, which will now be considerably worse as a result of the war. But a more subtle relationship sits with the link to the nutrients needed to drive high crop yields and quality worldwide.

Crops are the basis of our food system, whether feeding us or animals, and without secured supply in terms of volume and quality, our food system is bankrupt. Crops rely on a good supply of nutrients to deliver high yields and quality (as well as water, sunlight and a healthy soil), which in modern farming systems come from manufactured fertilisers. As you sit and read this article, the air you breath contains 78% nitrogen gas – this is the same source of nitrogen used in the production of most manufactured nitrogen fertilisers.

However, to take this gas from the air and into a bag of fertiliser takes a huge amount of energy. The Haber-Bosch process, which converts nitrogen and hydrogen into ammonia as a crucial step in creating fertilisers, uses between 1% and 2% of all energy generated globally by some estimates. Consequently, the cost of producing nitrogen fertiliser is directly linked to the cost of fuel. This is why the UK price of ammonium nitrate has climbed as high as £1,000 per tonne at the time of writing, compared to £650 a week ago.

Fertiliser inputs to farming systems represent one of the largest single variable costs of producing a crop. When investing in fertiliser, a farmer must balance the return on this investment through the price they receive at harvest. Adding more fertiliser, for a small improvement in yield, might not pay for itself at harvest.

This calculation between the cost of fertiliser and the value of the crop produced – the “breakeven ratio” – is typically around six for a cereal crop (6kg of grain needed to pay for 1kg of nitrogen fertiliser), but with the rise in fertiliser prices it is currently around ten. To remain profitable, farmers will need to keep a particularly close eye on production costs, and potentially use less fertiliser. However using less fertiliser will reduce yields and quality, adding to pressure on the food system as a whole.

The bigger picture

The global food system was already under pressure. During the pandemic, as many economies emerged from lockdowns and recovered, the rapid rise in activity increased demand on energy. The spike in gas prices triggered a pause in the production of fertilisers at some UK facilities in 2021, causing a rise in prices.

Since many farmers buy fertiliser in advance, some may have escaped this rise and so it was unlikely to impact immediately on the food supply and prices. But while fertiliser production restarted, global fuel prices have not recovered and continue to climb.

This brings us to the current conflict in Ukraine. The latest sharp rise in fuel prices is directly impacting on the prices of fertilisers, which helps to explain why the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) food price index reached its highest ever value in February – and is rising at the highest rate since the 2008 financial crisis.

Even then, the February data only partly reflected the effects of the invasion, since it happened late in the month and some price rises will be delayed: higher fertiliser prices are going to force farmers to either make an equivalent rise in crop prices at harvest or use less fertiliser. Higher prices for grain at harvest will exacerbate inflationary pressures in the economy, since the supply chain will eventually transfer the costs to the consumer in the form of higher food prices.

Everything is going up.   Aleori

Russia and Ukraine are also major producers and suppliers of fertilisers and their raw materials. For example, Norwegian group Yara, the biggest producer and supplier of fertilisers in Europe, makes much of its product in Ukraine. Reducing western trade with Russia, and the disrupted supply lines in Ukraine, will therefore add another layer of pressure to the production and supply of fertilisers.

Russia is responsible for nearly a tenth of global nitrogen fertiliser production. Russia also has a comparable share of phosphate fertilisers and together with Belarus around a third of potash production, though in many cases these are not applied to soil every year and have much lower energy costs, so will have less of an immediate impact on yields and food production.

Vladimir Putin has explicitly been connecting the disruption to the trade in fertilisers with a coming surge in food prices. The Russians have just announced a suspension in fertiliser exports to the west. With major markets in Brazil, China and the US for Russian ferilisers, these global suppliers of grains to the world will be impacted.

Ukraine is also a huge agricultural producer in its own right, supplying significant quantities of cereals and oil crops to global markets (12% of the world’s wheat and the world’s largest supplier of sunflower oil). So at a time when many crops in Ukraine are due to be sown or those already in the ground are expecting fertilisers and pesticides, disruptions will put further pressure on this year’s harvest and lead to higher food prices. At particular risk from reductions in Ukrainian and Russian grain supplies are Egypt, Turkey and Bangladesh.

Food security

When you couple this situation with the impact of the pandemic and climate change (including extreme weather), it all adds up to a growing threat to food security. Even in 2019, before the pandemic, the FAO estimated that 690 million people or 9% of the world’s population, were facing food insecurity and going hungry. Since then, the food price index has gone up 39%.

In this context, calling for an immediate government intervention to the market is therefore the natural thing to do. Yet government budgets are severely stretched after COVID, leaving little room for direct monetary support and contribution. In view of the recent promises to remove all Russian oil and gas from our imports, there will be some tough decisions ahead for governments, farmers and consumers alike.

In the medium term, it highlights the need to transform our food system, using more green energy. We should also be encouraging more sustainable diets, which contain fewer grain fed animal products; and regenerative agricultural practices, which improve soil health and the efficiency of nutrient use by the crop.The Conversation

John Hammond, Professor of Crop Science, University of Reading and Yiorgos Gadanakis, Associate Professor of Agricultural Business Management, University of Reading

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

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Increased hopes of a 24-hour operation at the Lebombo / Ressano Garcia border crossing

It’s being reported in Mozambique that the governments of that country and South Africa are in the final stages of reaching a decision to extend the opening hours of the Lebombo / Ressano Garcia border gates to 24 hours a day.

The border crossing is on the main commercial route linking South Africa and the port of Maputo and a conclusion to the extended hours of opening has long been sought in order to improve the movement of freight between South Africa and the port.

In particular, Mozambican commercial interests have added the pressure on both governments to bring their talks to a long-awaited conclusion.

According to these reports, the Confederation of Economic Associations of Mozambique (CTA) has increased pressure on the Mozambique Ministry of Industry and the South African High Commissioner in Maputo to emphasise the need for not only opening the border gates 24 hours a day, but also to enable trucks to operate on the roads after 22h00.

This, they argue, will improve the flow of imports and exports to and from the port.

Map of the Ressano Garcia border with South Africa in Africa Ports & Ships

It will also solve the problem of congestion at the border crossings on both sides.

Business interests have long said the congestion at the border hampers the competitiveness of the Maputo Corridor.

They point out that during the festive seasons of December and Easter the border posts remain open for 24 hours.

The South African High Commissioner is reported to have responded in a letter to the CTA saying that it will continue to work with the Government of Mozambique to bring an increase in the open hours in order to improve bilateral cooperation and strengthening of ties between the two countries.

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Exercise Cold Response starts off on the shores of Norway

Two F35s flying past the NATO Flagship HMS Prince of Wales and US Taskforce 2.1 comprised of HMS Prince of Wales R09, USS The Sullivans DDG68 and USS Mount Whitney LLC20. All pictures: Ministry of Defence Crown Copyright 2022 © in Africa Ports & Ships
Two F35s flying past the NATO Flagship HMS Prince of Wales and US Taskforce 2.1 comprised of HMS Prince of Wales R09, USS The Sullivans DDG68 and USS Mount Whitney LLC20. All pictures: Ministry of Defence Crown Copyright 2022 ©

UK Armed Forces join largest Arctic exercise in 30 years

The Royal Navy aircraft carrier, HMS Prince of Wales, has taken its place at the centre of one of the most powerful naval task forces in the world at the start of the largest Arctic exercise for thirty years.

On 15 March the Ministry of Defence reported that Prince of Wales, which is currently serving as NATO’s command ship, had sailed north to the Arctic for Exercise Cold Response 2022, a month-long test of Allied forces which will see 30,000 troops from 27 nations operate together.

This regular exercise, which takes place every other year and planning for which began in December 2020, will involve more than twice as many personnel as the 14,000 planned for in Exercise Cold Response 2020.

During the weekend 12 / 13 March, a task force of twenty-five warships from eleven nations gathered close to Norway at the start of the training, including six Royal Navy ships and more than 2,000 UK military personnel.

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said: “The Arctic is becoming an area of increasing military competition and the security of the region is directly linked to our national security.

“Exercise Cold Response is a demonstration of NATO’s ability to both operate and compete in one of the harshest environments in the world and is demonstration of how a multinational force would defend Europe’s northern flank.”

USS The Sullivans DDG68 turning away from the task group on completion of a Photographic Exercise whilst operating in the North Sea with NATO Flagship HMS Prince of Wales R09. In 11 March two F35s from 207 Squadron RAF Marham (Norfolk) conducted a flypast of the NATO Flagship HMS Prince of Wales whilst in the area conducting training with the ship, in Africa Ports & Ships
USS The Sullivans DDG68 turning away from the task group on completion of a Photographic Exercise whilst operating in the North Sea with NATO Flagship HMS Prince of Wales R09. In 11 March two F35s from 207 Squadron RAF Marham (Norfolk) conducted a flypast of the NATO Flagship HMS Prince of Wales whilst in the area conducting training with the ship

Prince of Wales joined the Cold Response task force shortly after air defence exercises in the North Sea alongside four of the UK’s F-35B Lightning jets from 617 Squadron, the Dambusters, on 11 March.

The jets from RAF Marham took part in an air battle exercise, which was orchestrated by two Royal Navy fighter controllers in Prince of Wales in the skies over the east of the UK and in the North Sea.

The F-35B jets were pitted against eight ‘aggressor’ aircraft, allowing them to hone tactics between ship and fighter jets.

As Prince of Wales continued her passage north to the Arctic, the RAF’s 207 Squadron carried out a flypast with two of their F-35B jets while the aircraft carrier sailed alongside USS Mount Whitney and USS The Sullivans.

Commander UK Strike Force embarked in Prince of Wales is responsible for leading NATO’s Maritime High Readiness Force – an international task group formed to deal with major global events – and deploys for the first time in that role to Cold Response.

Alongside landing support ship RFA Mounts Bay, HMS Albion leads the UK’s amphibious input into Cold Response, with a significant level of littoral strike operations – traditional-style commando raids – staged in the fjords, with the British force integrating with numerous allies.

Around 900 Royal Marines have been deployed to the Arctic since January in preparation for the exercises, sharpening their expertise in operating in the freezing conditions.

While HMS Prince of Wales works on Cold Response, her sister ship HMS Queen Elizabeth is carrying out vital training and exercises in the waters close to the UK to keep her ready for operations anywhere in the world.

RFA Tidesurge re-fuelling HMS Prince of Wales whilst underway at sea  in Africa Ports & Ships
RFA Tidesurge re-fuelling HMS Prince of Wales whilst underway at sea

The warships of the Cold Response task group are:

Surface Group

HMS Prince of Wales, HMS Defender, HMS Northumberland, RFA Tidesurge, USS Roosevelt.

SNMCMG1 (Standing Nato Mine Counter Measures Group 1):

HMS Grimsby, LVNS Virsaitis, BNS Lobelia, FGS Bad Bevensen, HNLMS Schiedam, HNoMS Magnus Lagaboete, HNoMS Olav Tryggvason, HDMS Vaedderen, HNoMS Hinnoey, ENS Sakala.

Amphibious Task Force:

ITS Garibaldi, FS Dixmude, HNLMS Rotterdam, HMS Albion, RFA Mounts Bay, HNLMS Van Amstel, HDMS Peter Willemoes, FGS Berlin, HNLMS De Zeven Provincien, FS Languedoc

NATO’s Command Ship is also known as NATO’s Command Platform at Higher Readiness.

Paul Ridgway

Edited by Paul Ridgway

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Obangame Express 2022, West Africa’s largest multinational maritime exercise, is underway

Nigerian Navy frigate NNS Centenary in Lagos, in Africa Ports & Ships
Nigerian Navy frigate NNS Centenary in Lagos.  Picture Nigerian Navy

The largest multinational maritime exercise in Western Africa, Obangame Express 2022 (OE22), is currently underway in the Gulf of Guinea, in which 32 nations are taking part.

Now in its 11th year, and sponsored by the U.S. Africa Command, otherwise known as AFRICOM, OE22 is designed to improve regional cooperation and maritime domain awareness (MDA).

OE22 also involves information-sharing practices and the development of tactical interdiction expertise, aimed at enhancing the collective capabilities of participating nations to counter sea-based illicit activity.

The exercise began in Dakar, Senegal on 11 March and is continuing until the close on Friday 18 March 2022.

“Obangame Express reinforces regional security partnerships and improves our joint capacity to ensure safety and security in Africa,” said a spokesperson for the U.S. Embassy in Dakar.

OE22 is one of three U.S. Naval Forces Africa-facilitated regional exercises, and is part of a comprehensive strategy by Naval Forces 6th Fleet and AFRICOM to provide collaborative opportunities for African forces and international partners to address maritime security concerns.

The exercise is being conducted in multiple areas at sea and ashore. At-sea operations are underway throughout the Gulf of Guinea and the Atlantic Ocean.

Two Nigerian Navy ships taking part in Obangame 2022 in Africa Ports & Ships
Two Nigerian Navy ships taking part in Obangame 2022    Picture Nigerian Navy

Among the training exercises during OE22 are boarding techniques, search and rescue operations, medical casualty response, radio communication, and information management techniques.

This year’s exercise is being hosted by Senegal from the capital city of Dakar. Nigeria alone has committed 10 naval ships and two helicopters to the exercise.

The 32 nations taking part are Angola, Belgium, Benin, Brazil, Cabo Verde, Cameroon, Canada, Cote d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Denmark, Equatorial Guinea, France, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Italy, Liberia, Morocco, Namibia, Netherlands, Niger, Nigeria, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Congo, Sao Tome & Principe, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Togo, and the United States.

Also participating are the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS).

Last year’s Obangame Express 21 was hosted by Ghana.

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WHARF TALK: offshore construction & pipelay support vessel – SKANDI VITORIA

The offshore construction & pipelayer vessel Skandi Vitoria which has arrived in Cape Town for repairs. Picture by 'Dockrat' in Africa Ports & Ships
The offshore construction & pipelayer vessel Skandi Vitoria which has arrived in Cape Town for repairs. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Story by Jay Gates
Pictures by ‘Dockrat’

The offshore industry is big, and it is worldwide, with the biggest of the offshore vessels used in construction projects, normally simply passing through to oil dominions in another part of the world. However, the rise in the discovery, and subsequent oil and gas developments off Northern Mozambique, has seen a spike in the arrival of vessels destined for this particular Southern African dominion.

In a change from the normal large British and Scandinavian construction vessels, those vessels, flagged in Brazil, as they are normally associated solely with the Brazilian oilfields, are not normally moved out of area, and so they are never normally seen in Southern African waters.

On 12th March at 11h00, the large offshore construction and pipelay support vessel SKANDI VITORIA (IMO 9387231) arrived off Cape Town, from Rio de Janeiro, and entered Cape Town harbour, proceeding directly to the Repair Quay in the Duncan Dock. The reason for any vessels proceeding to the Repair Quay needs no explanation to the reader, and so it proves to be so.

Skandi Vitoria 'limps' into Cape Town harbour not just for bunkers and supplies, but some major repairs as well. Picture by 'Dockrat' in Africa Ports & Ships
Skandi Vitoria ‘limps’ into Cape Town harbour not just for bunkers and supplies, but some major repairs as well. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

With her hull built in 2010 by the Estaleiro Ilha SA Shipyard at Rio de Janeiro, and then brought round for outfitting and completion at the STX Brasil Offshore Shipyard at Niteroi in Brazil, ‘Skandi Vitoria’ is 142 metres in length and has a deadweight of 9,000 tons. She is an STX OSCV 06 design, and she was the first pipelay vessel to be built in Brazil. She is one of two sisterships.

She is has diesel electric propulsion, and is powered by two STX MAN-B&W 8L32/40 8 cylinder 4 stroke main engines, each producing 5,150 bhp (3,840 kW) each. She has four STX MAN-B&W 6L32/40 generators providing 2,880 kW each, to drive two Rolls-Royce Azimuth Contaz 35 contra-rotating propulsion pods, each providing 3,700 kW, to give a service speed of 16 knots. She also has a single MTU 12V2000M40B emergency generator providing 695 kW. The total output from her combined engines and generators is 25,747 bhp (19,200 kW).

For added manoeuvrability she also two bow Rolls-Royce TT thrusters providing 1,900 kW each, and two stern Rolls-Royce TT thrusters providing 1,500 kW each. Together with her pair of contra-rotating propulsion pods, she has a Dynamic Positioning classification of DP2, all managed through a Kongsberg Rolls-Royce DP system.

The imposing bows of Skandi Vitoria provide a clue as to how many people the vessel can accommodate. Picture by 'Dockrat' in Africa Ports & Ships
The imposing bows of Skandi Vitoria provide a clue as to how many people the vessel can accommodate. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

For her construction work she has a working deck area of 2,100 m2, capable of carrying 1,725 tons of project cargo. Her overside capability is provided by an NOV heave compensated deck crane, capable of lifting 250 tons, which is backed up by a further NOV deck crane capable of lifting 50 tons. Both cranes are capable of working down to water depths of 3,000 metres.

She has both vertical, and horizontal, pipelay capability and her vertical capability is provided by an IMECA, 350 ton VLS, heave compensated lay tower, and a 2,500te carousel. She also has a 7.2m x 7.2m moonpool for ROV operations, as well as a port and starboard ROV Hangar, for two further ROVs, to operate in support of construction operations down to 3,000 metres.

Her flexible design allows ‘Skandi Vitoria’ to be used as a pipelayer, as well as on construction projects, especially those requiring Subsea Umbilicals, Risers and Flowlines (SURF), as well as subsea, and seabed, infrastructure maintenance and monitoring.

As with almost all construction vessels, Skandi Vitoria provides an impressive sight. Picture by 'Dockrat' in Africa Ports & Ships
As with almost all construction vessels, Skandi Vitoria provides an impressive sight. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

For all of these operations, she provides accommodation for 120 persons. For logistical support, and offshore crew change requirements, she has a 21 metre helideck capable of taking helicopters, including up to the largest Sikorsky S-92A size.

She is owned by DOFCON do Brasil Navegacao of Rio de Janeiro, and she is operated by Technip Brasil Engenharia Instalacoes e Apoio Maritimo of Rio de Janeiro. She is managed by Norskan Offshore Limitada also of Rio de Janeiro. All of these companies are linked to the mother company, which is DOF ASA of Storebø of Norway.

DOF have a current fleet of 59 vessels, of which 30 are large subsea construction vessels, 15 are large Anchor Handling Tugs and 14 are large Platform Supply Vessels, Eight of the fleet are registered in Brazil, and all are named with the standard DOF prefix of Skandi, followed by the name of a Brazilian port, i.e. Vitoria.

Skandi Vitoria is due for repairs to her propulsion that includes a spell in the Cape Town dry dock. Picture by 'Dockrat' in Africa Ports & Ships
Skandi Vitoria is due for repairs to her propulsion that includes a spell in the Cape Town dry dock. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

This is not the first recent African call by ‘Skandi Vitoria’, as she was in Walvis Bay in January this year, after completion of a contract in the offshore Angolan oilfields. Her final transit across to Cape Town was made at a sedate 5 to 6 knots. The reason for this was that she developed a mechanical defect in one of her propulsion pods, when three days out of Rio de Janeiro, that required her to be nursed across to Cape Town. Her vastly reduced transit speed meant that she arrived eight days late in Cape Town.

She was originally meant to be making a quick call at Cape Town for bunkers and stores, before heading for a contract in Mozambique. However, her stay in the Mother City is now going to be a protracted one, whilst the shore engineers arrange to repair her damaged propulsion pod. The likelihood of a drydocking to achieve this is quite probable.

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SAMSA warns that vessels under 25-grt have 6 months to undergo survey

Picture: SAMSA in Africa Ports & Ships
Picture: SAMSA

All vessels of 25-grt or less and operating off port limits (OPL) along the South African coastline have six months from 3 March 2022 to undergo a formal vessel survey.

This follows a marine notice issued by the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA), who advises that vessels of under 25-grt currently under construction and designated for OPL services within the South African territorial space, will have a grace period of six months to comply with newly published requirements contained in a Marine Notice (MN 03-22 (S+P) released this month.

According to SAMSA, the marine notice aims at providing guidance and a standardisation of the requirements for OPL launches along the South African coast. This is by providing an overview of the requirements of design, construction, operation and manning of OPL launches.

For instance, vessels of the category serving as OPL launches “…must be constructed of suitable material of good quality..(and whereby its design) must provide a sufficient reserve of positive stability to prevent capsizing when carrying a heavy load….”

Additionally, manning requirements include that owners of such vessels “…must ensure that the vessel is operated by or under the constant guidance of a skipper who is physically able and of sound mental health…” along with other bare minimum necessities such as requisite training evidenced by a Certificate of Competence issued by a certified authority.

The Marine Notice continues:

An OPL launch shall always be manned by a qualified Skipper and a minimum of two competent crew members. A competent crewmember shall be a person that has completed induction and SAMSA recommends that the crewmember is also the holder of a Personal Survival Training and Able Seafarer Deck course certificate of attendance.

Records of safety drills (as per the requirements of the MS NSVR 2007 as amended), including the recovery of a Man Overboard shall be readily available for inspection.

The duties of each crewmember shall be clearly defined and displayed on board

The Marine Notice further outlines minimum manning requirements for varied services inclusive of medical incidents where a helicopter is not used, OPL with laden tankers, crew and cargo transfers, marine pollutants (as regulated by the Marine Pollution [Control and Civil Liability Act 6 of 1981), and related matters.

The Marine Notice is obtainable from the SAMSA website.

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IN CONVERSATION: The Russian economy is headed for collapse

Eric Werker, Simon Fraser University

To justify invading Ukraine, Vladimir Putin has painted Russia as a hegemonic power re-asserting its rightful claim to imperial greatness. Yet even before the invasion, Russia’s economic capabilities were hardly capable of sustaining an empire.

Now, with foreign sanctions presiding over a plummeting Russian ruble, Russia’s economic standing has fallen further still. If measured at today’s exchange rates, Russia’s economy would be the 22nd largest in the world, with a gross domestic product (GDP) not much larger than the state of Ohio’s.

Graph of Russia's ranking among the largest economies in the world at current market exchange rate
With foreign sanctions presiding over a plummeting Russian ruble, Russia’s economic standing continues to fall.   Author provided

That’s a far cry from the past, when Russia was a true world power. According to data assembled by the late economic historian Angus Maddison, it was the fifth largest economy in the world in 1913, behind the United States, China, Germany and Britain. By 1957, when the U.S.S.R. outpaced the United States to launch the first satellite into space, the Soviet economy was the world’s second largest after America’s.

Putin’s quest for greatness

Putin was elected president following the chaotic disintegration of the Soviet Union and the 1998 financial crisis in which Russia defaulted on its debt and abandoned its fixed exchange rate.

At the time, Russia’s market-value GDP had bottomed out at US$210 billion, making it the world’s 24th largest economy, behind Austria. (All contemporary GDP figures are from the October 2021 World Economic Outlook published by the International Monetary Fund.)

Putin established an informal social contract with the Russian people based on his ability to deliver strong economic growth. Under Putin’s rule, and buoyed by a commodity price supercycle that would stretch well into the 21st century, Russia’s GDP in market exchange rates rose tenfold, returning Russia to global relevance and providing purchasing power to its middle class.

However, Russia researchers argued that as Russia’s economy began to flag, from a peak in 2013, Putin sought new legitimacy to govern through foreign policy actions to re-establish Russia’s status as a “great power.” These efforts were epitomized by the Crimean annexation of 2014.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, against the backdrop of Russia’s market-rate GDP losing a third of its value between 2013 and 2020, represents a doubling down of Putin’s strategy to seek legitimacy from “great power status,” rather than economic performance.

Yet the West’s unrelenting financial and economic sanctions have only accelerated Russia’s economic downfall.

Russian stocks traded on the U.K. market have fallen by 98 per cent, wiping out US$572 billion of wealth, while stocks on Russian exchanges remain suspended.

The Russian currency has fallen to 155 rubles per dollar — a drop of more than 50 per cent from 75 rubles per U.S. dollar before the invasion. If not for recent captial controls and the rising prices of commodities — brought about by the sanctions themselves — that make up the majority of Russia’s exports, it would fall even further.

Domino effect

A country’s market-rate GDP is its GDP converted to a global currency like the U.S. dollar. While there are other ways to measure GDP, when it comes to global trade and investment — and economic power — the market rate is what matters.

Russia’s market-rate GDP in 2021 was US$1.65 trillion, enough to make it the world’s 11th largest economy, behind South Korea. If we crudely convert Russia’s 2021 estimated GDP by March 7, 2022, currency rates, rather than the average exchange rate used last year, and place it against the 2021 market-rate GDP table, the rankings change and Russia slides to 22nd place, falling between Taiwan and Poland.

This drop is likely an underestimate. While a falling ruble lowers Russia’s exchange rate of its GDP to U.S. dollars, its weakening economy lowers its ruble GDP directly. And Russia’s isolation will erode its economic competitiveness, widening the economic gap further in the medium term.

Ukrainians confronted with the oncoming Russian army were wise to Putin’s chimeric strategy. “Don’t you have problems in your country to solve? Are you all rich there, as in the Emirates?” one elderly man heckled Russian soldiers.

Putin’s next move

Robert F. Kennedy famously observed that GDP failed to account for many things that we care about — like health and education. The fall in Russia’s market-rate GDP cannot begin to describe the human tragedy playing out in both Ukraine and Russia.

But what these figures do make clear is that Putin’s claim to legitimacy through economic performance is all but destroyed. With “great power status” tied closely to economic power, Putin’s back-door source of legitimacy from stirring up nationalist pride now seems closed as well.

Putin may have led Russia from one “Times of Troubles,” but he has delivered it to another one. That’s cold comfort to the Ukrainians, and indeed to the rest of the world, who are wondering Putin’s next move.The Conversation

Eric Werker, William Saywell Professor of International Business, Simon Fraser University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

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DNV’s INDUSTRY INSIGHTS: Alternative Marine Fuels video

The potential of promising alternative fuels

What are the pros and cons of the most frequently discussed alternative fuels for shipping? What is the uptake of gas as fuel, ammonia, methanol and hydrogen in the maritime industry?  DNV discusses by video.

Watch the most essential information in DNV video article. [5:27]


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Freight train derailment in DRC leaves at least 60 dead

News from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) tells of a freight train that has derailed in the south-eastern part of the country killing a large number of people who were riding as illegal passengers.

Reports say there were several hundred ‘stowaways’ on board the train and that it has become common practice for people to hitch an unauthorised lift on freight trains.

Confirming the accident and deaths, the state-owned railway said there were still bodies trapped in the wagons that came off the rails and fell into ravines.

The train was travelling from the town of Luena and heading south toward the mining town of Tenke, which is the junction with the east-west line between the cities of Lubumbashi in the south-east and Kolwezi from where it continues to the Angolan border and become the Benguela Railway.

The goods train had a consist of 15 wagons, of which 12 were empty.

The carrying of people on these freight trains is prohibited but there are few to enforce this across the vastness of the DRC, which has few passenger services in the rural areas.

Among the people on board and including those killed or injured are women and childlen.

The derailment happened last Thursday, 10 March at 23h50 but the news only broke at the weekend. The train had reached near the village of Buyofwe in Lualaba Province, approximately 200km from Kolwezi.

The countryside where the accident occurred has ravines on either side of the track and seven of the wagons fell into these.

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WHARF TALK: ECO-Ship Ultramax bulker – ES WARRIOR

The bulk carrier ES Warrior being manoeuvred into position for berthing in the Duncan Dock of Cape Town harbour. Picture by 'Dockrat' in Africa Ports & Ships
The bulk carrier ES Warrior being manoeuvred into position for berthing in the Duncan Dock of Cape Town harbour. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Story by Jay Gates
Pictures by ‘Dockrat’

The two big agricultural imports to South Africa on a year round basis, are bulk fertilisers for the arable farming industry, and wheat and grain bulk products for the food industry and livestock farming industry.

Industrially produced fertiliser comes mainly from the Middle East and Far East, and organic fertilisers from the west coast of South America, with wheat and grains coming from Australia or the east coast of South America. Generally speaking, the two products arrive from different directions, and never from the same port.

On 12th March at 09h00 the Ultramax bulk carrier ES WARRIOR (IMO 9775854) arrived off Cape Town from Puerto Galvan in Argentina, and immediately entered Cape Town harbour, heading for B berth in the Duncan Dock to begin her discharge. Bulk imports from Argentina are almost exclusively agricultural products, and almost always wheat and grain.

The Ultramax bulker ES Warrior arriving in Cape Town harbour recently. Picture by 'Dockrat', in Africa Ports & Ships
The Ultramax bulker ES Warrior arriving in Cape Town harbour recently.   Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Built in 2016 by Sanoyas Mizushima Shipyard ay Kurashiki in Japan, ‘ES Warrior’ is 200 metres in length and has a deadweight of 60,513 tons. She is powered by a single Mitsui MAN-B&W 6G50ME-B9.3 6 cylinder 2 stroke main engine producing 10,526 bhp (7,740 kW), to drive a fixed pitch propeller for a service speed of 14.3 knots.

Her auxiliary machinery includes three Yanmar 6EY18ALW generators providing 550 kW each, and a single emergency generator providing 275kW. She has a single Osaka OVS2-80/51-22 composite economizer boiler. She has five cargo holds, serviced by four, 30 ton SWL, electro-hydraulic cranes, with each being equipped with a 12m3 electro-hydraulic grab. Her cargo carrying capacity is 77,067 m3.

Her narrow, three windowed bridge, and voids underneath her bridge wings, identify her as a Sanoyas ECO-Ship design. She has a very bluff bow, with just the hint of a bulbous bow, and this optimised hull design and bow form is designed to improve performance in any seaway, resulting in energy savings, lower emissions and better fuel efficiency.

The ECO-Ship design had already achieved the NOx Phase 2 level of EEDI (Energy Efficiency Design Index) regulations, that all vessels ordered after 1st January 2020 would have to meet.

The ECO-Ship design of ES Warrior includes this stand-out bluff bow. Picture by 'Dockrat' in Africa Ports & Ships
The ECO-Ship design of ES Warrior includes this stand-out bluff bow. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

The design also incorporates the patented Sanoyas Tandem Fin (STF), and the patented Sanoyas ACE DUCT. The STF consists of two pairs of flat-plate fins, with one attached in front of the propeller, and the other on the hull ahead of it. The effect of the STF is to reduce the vessel resistance, and improve the propulsion efficiency, by controlling any vortex that occurs in the flow around the after part of the hull.

The ACE DUCT (Advanced flow Controlling and Energy saving Duct) is set relatively lower than any general hull duct, and it adjusts the passage of the water through the propeller, using a specially designed horizontal strut. This makes it possible to lower propeller cavitation risk, and achieve the desired improvement in propulsive efficiency.

The Sanoyas shipyard designers claim that by the combined use of both the patented STF and ACE Duct energy saving devices, that the ECO-Ship vessel will be capable of achieving as much as an 8% reduction in total fuel consumption.

The ECO-Ship designs from the Sanoyas Shipyard design office, resulted in the Royal Institute of Naval Architects (RINA) awarding them ‘Ship of the Year’ in 2014. Again, in 2014, Sanoyas were awarded the ‘Bulk Ship of the Year’ award.

The accommodation and side bridge area of the bulk carrier. Picture by 'Dockrat' in Africa Ports & Ships
The accommodation and bridge wing area of the bulk carrier. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Nominally owned by the Four Shrine Corporation of Panama, ‘ES Warrior’ is operated by the Erasmus Shipinvest Group Ltd., of Athens, and whose houseflag she has on her funnel, and she is managed by Glory Ships (S) Pte. Ltd. of Dalian in China, who are a subsidiary of the Erasmus Corporation.

In her six year career, ‘ES Warrior’ has received 28 Port State inspections, and in an unusual percentage for South Africa, she has received two of them in Port Elizabeth, the last being in March 2021, and before that in September 2018.

She also received an inspection in Durban in January 2018. All three inspections returned few findings, and did not result in any detentions. All of the inspections were conducted under the auspices of both the Abuja MoU, and the Indian Ocean MoU. Her previous visit to Southern Africa was to Durban in May 2021, but where no inspection took place.

In an unusual side business for Sanoyas Shipyard, they are also famous for the design and construction of giant Ferris Wheels, of which there are over 80 of them around the world, including many in most major Japanese cities, in Lihpao in Taiwan, at Halong in Vietnam and in Melbourne in Australia, all of which are over 100 metres in height.

With a nudge or two from the harbour tug Enseleni, ES Warrior is positioned for berthing. Picture by 'Dockrat' in Africa Ports & Ships
With a nudge or two from the harbour tug Enseleni, ES Warrior is positioned for berthing. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

The loading port for ‘ES Warrior’ in Argentina, Puerto Galvan, is one of the two harbour complexes that make up the Port of Bahia Blanca, which is a natural, deepwater, estuary port, located at 38°47’ South 062°18’West. The port is a major exporter of wheat and grain, originating in the pampas, and the port also hosts one of the world’s largest industrial producers of both urea and ammonia fertiliser.

The port itself was developed by the British owned railway company, the Buenos Aires Great Southern Railway (BAGSR), who built the first railway line which had arrived in Bahia Blanca in 1884. The railway company then built the original port at nearby Puerto Galvan in 1885, in order to assist the export trade in wheat from Argentina.

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AVIATION: Comair Grounded – A precautionary affair, says regulator

Comair grounded, in Africa Ports & Ships
Comair & Kulula grounded    Picture Kulula

South Africa’s Minister of Transport, Fikile Mbalula, has been advised that the decision taken by the South African Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA) to suspend the air operator certificate of Comair was a precautionary measure.

“The regulator took this decision independently, in line with its mandate to oversee aviation safety,” the Ministry of Transport said.

This action follows a series of safety incidents, involving British Airways Comair and, which led the regulator to conduct a safety oversight inspection to determine compliance with the Civil Aviation Regulations.

“The regulator has advised the Minister that the decision follows a series of safety incidents for which Comair was expected to address. The safety issues identified by the regulator, which non-compliant with the regulations, led to its decision to suspend the operator’s Air operator Certificate, effectively grounding the entire fleet,” the Ministry said.

The Ministry says it has affirmed its commitment to ensuring compliance with aviation safety prescripts without fear, favour or prejudice.

“South Africa has an impeccable aviation safety record in so far as airline operations are concerned. This is due to our robust aviation safety regime and the vigilance SACAA exercises in ensuring full compliance by airlines,” the Ministry said.

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IN CONVERSATION: Ukraine war and anti-Russia sanctions on top of COVID-19 mean even worse trouble lies ahead for global supply chains

Tinglong Dai, Johns Hopkins University

Francis Fukuyama, the American political scientist who once described the collapse of the Soviet Union as the “end of history,” suggested that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine might be called “the end of the end of history.” He meant that Vladimir Putin’s aggression signals a rollback of the ideals of a free Europe that emerged after 1991. Some observers suggest it may kick off a new Cold War, with an Iron Curtain separating the West from Russia.

As an expert in global supply chains, I think the war portends the end of something else: global supply chains that Western companies built after the Berlin Wall fell over three decades ago.

Supply chains – often vast networks of resources, money, information and people that companies rely on to get goods or services to consumers – were already in disarray because of the COVID-19 pandemic, resulting in massive shortages, disruptions and price inflation. The war and resulting sanctions against Russia have immediately put further strains on them, prompting skyrocketing energy prices and even fears of famine.

But beyond these short-term effects, I believe the war in Ukraine could drastically reshape global supply chains in a way the pandemic never did.

Immediate effects: Fuel and famine

Russia accounts for less than 2% of global gross domestic product, while Ukraine accounts for only 0.14%. As a result, they have little direct impact on global supply chains – except in a few very important areas.

Let’s start with the most obvious one: energy. Russia supplies nearly 40% of Europe’s natural gas supply and 65% of Germany’s. It is the third-largest oil exporter in the world, accounting for 7% of all crude oil and petroleum product imports into the United States. After the Biden administration signaled it would stop importing Russian oil, the price of crude topped US$130 per barrel for the first time in 13 years, and consumers in some parts of the U.S. have seen average gasoline prices rise above $5 per gallon.

Less obviously, Russia and Ukraine account for nearly one-third of all global wheat exports. Several countries, including Kazakhstan and Tanzania, import more than 90% of their wheat from Russia. The war has the potential to disrupt the still-recovering global food supply chain and endanger the livelihoods of millions of people.

Even less obviously, Ukraine produces 90% of the semiconductor-grade neon used in the United States. Russia, on the other hand, provides the United States more than a third of its palladium, a rare metal also required to make semiconductors. Although companies have enough inventory to fulfill immediate needs and may find alternative suppliers, some disruptions are inevitable. And this comes at a time when the world is still suffering from a severe chip shortage, which has slowed auto production and sent new and used car prices soaring.

It is also worth noting that Russia is a dominant exporter of titanium and titanium forgings, which are popular in the aerospace industry because of their light weight. This war will further stress the aerospace supply chain.

Snarling trade

While the direct effects of the war on supply chains are relatively limited, the impact on the global movement of goods and services has been significant – I believe even greater than from COVID-19.

After 36 countries, including EU members, the U.S. and Canada, closed their airspace to Russian aircraft, Russia retaliated with the same restrictions. As a result, goods transported by air freight from China to Europe or the Eastern U.S. may need to be rerouted or use slower or more expensive modes of transportation. The China-Europe rail freight route that goes through Russia, which was experiencing a boom in 2021 because of congestion in major ports, now faces mounting cancellations from European clients.

The war has also had a devastating impact on global trade movements, with hundreds of tankers and bulk carriers stranded at ports as a result of sanctions imposed on Russian-connected ships. It has also resulted in severe travel and transport restrictions imposed on Russia and Belarus in an unprecedentedly rapid and broad manner that has been coordinated among multiple nations.

In addition, the disruption of the route from China to Europe and the U.S. could do severe damage to China’s “Belts and Roads” initiative. That’s the ambitious trillion-dollar project aimed at reshaping global trade and affirming the dominance of a China-centric global supply chain, especially in Europe and Asia. Because both Russia and Ukraine are critical links in the initiative, it will almost certainly need to scale back in size and scope.

A supply chain Iron Curtain

The New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, a true believer in globalization, in 1996 famously theorized that no two countries that both have a McDonald’s would ever fight a war against each other. McDonald’s has about 850 restaurants in Russia and 100 in Ukraine, all of which have now been temporarily closed.

His point was that countries with economies and middle classes big enough to support a McDonald’s “don’t like to fight wars; they like to wait in line for burgers.” It was also based on the belief that rational economic calculations will always triumph over geopolitical conflicts – that is, leaders in such countries wouldn’t let their differences get in the way of trade and making money.

And the supply chains that companies erected in the decades since then have crisscrossed the globe, ignoring old enemy lines for the sake of efficiency and higher profits.

Friedman now concedes Russia’s action has shattered that theory. I agree, and in fact the world may now be on the cusp of a new type of supply chain Iron Curtain with Russia and its allies on one side and the West on the other. Companies will no longer be able to separate business from geopolitics.

And those allies include China, which remains pivotal to most Western companies’ supply chains. Despite China’s ambiguous stance on the invasion, the war will likely serve as a catalyst to reduce that dependence, at least for critical products such as materials used for semiconductor manufacturing, medical supplies and electric batteries.

Moreover, the growing emphasis of shareholders and regulators on environmental, social and governance issues means how a company does in each category can affect its daily operations and cost of capital. On the issue of Ukraine, the push to be more socially responsible is one reason companies have overcomplied with sanctions. It’s also prompting them to proactively avoid geopolitical risks, which can involve retreating from an entire economy.

Russia’s war against Ukraine is still ongoing, and there’s no way to know for certain how long the sanctions will remain in place or whether companies that have chosen to leave Russia will return. But I believe one thing is certain: Global supply chains, like the rest of the world, will never be the same again as a result of this war.

Tinglong Dai, Professor of Operations Management & Business Analytics, Carey Business School, Johns Hopkins University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

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Supply chain turmoil lies ahead after Chinese Covid lockdowns, warns Container xChange

Container xChange banner in Africa Ports & Ships

Covid lockdowns to cause greater damage to China’s supply chain than the Russia-Ukraine crisis

~ Container Availability index (CAx) shows rising inbounds at Chinese ports after the announcement of lockdowns ~

~ Average container prices to increase in next few weeks which fell by 10-15% in the last two months ~

~ Little impact of war on container prices and container availability in China ~

Shanghai, 14 March 2022: After a little over two weeks since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, there seems to be a negligible impact on the container prices and leasing rates in China, writes Container xChange, a global logistics technology specialist.

Warning that supply chain turmoil lies ahead after recent Chinese Covid lockdowns, Container xChange says that container availability has improved from soon after the Chinese New Year until last week across key ports in China.

However, with the announcement of nationwide lockdowns, the supply chain must prepare for another turmoil in the coming months, impeding the flow of container movement as importers worldwide prepare for the coming peak season later this year.

At the port of Ningbo, average prices for a 40 ft high cube container fell by 10% approximately from US$5930 on 14 February to $5329 on 27 February. As of 10 March, these prices stood at $5248. Similarly, average prices fell by 10-15% at the ports of Shanghai, Qingdao and Shenzhen till 11 March. Shenzhen witnessed a drop of 8% in the past two weeks.

However, the lockdowns imposed now in Shenzhen, Zhejiang, Shanghai, Jilin, Suzhou, Guangzhou and Beijing (19 provinces as of Sunday, and probably more to come in a few days) will clearly heavily restrict container movement at these ports which will, as has been seen in the past, prove to be further damaging for the global supply chain.

Clearly, 2022 has not brought any cheer to the supply chain industry. On top of this, war in eastern Europe will just prove to be another disruption amongst the other innumerable factors for China’s supply chain.

“Freight rates and container prices were already at a record high even before the invasion started and what happened immediately due to the war is that the Russian ports were not being called by the national shipping lines anymore, the Black Sea being mostly closed, and the Asia European railway being quite hit by this.

 Dr Johannes Schlingmeier, in Africa Ports & Ships
Dr Johannes Schlingmeier

“The immediate impact of this on the overall supply chain has not started to show up. Not ignoring the fact that the Russian importance on global trade is not big enough for the containerised cargo to really disrupt the supply chains. We see on the other side, the container prices at record highs, containers piling up and a massive shortage as well. This is a result of many more other disruptions over the past two years since the pandemic started,” said Dr Johannes Schlingmeier, co-founder and CEO, Container xChange.

“Lockdowns in China will further reduce capacity and cause a surge in already inflated shipping prices. The shockwaves will be felt across the US and America, and almost everywhere in the world,” added Schlingmeier.

So far the impact of the war on container prices is limited. The average prices of containers have declined by an average of 10-15% since February for 20 feet dry containers. The average prices for 40 feet high cube containers have increased slightly at the port of Shanghai while declining at Ningbo and Qingdao since January up until the second week of March (see charts below).

Chart 1 in Africa Ports & Ships

Chart 2 in Africa Ports & Ships

In the immediate future, the closure of the Asia- European railway (which only accounts for roughly 2.5% of Asia-Europe cargo) will cause the high-value cargo to be pushed to ocean freight which is already low in capacity. This will put more pressure on the already struggling supply chain. Adding on top of this, China’s lockdowns will be nothing less than a major shockwave to an already crippled supply chain.

If industry reports are to be believed, China could emerge as a buyer for Russian crude which could help alleviate some of the current global supply concerns as the EU could in turn buy more from the Middle East. With the COVID outbreaks and subsequent lockdowns, this expected surge in trade will slow down at least for some weeks/months.

Furthermore, there are midterm and long-term implications that analysts foresee, such as disruption in the trade of goods and increased U.S. efforts to insulate itself from geopolitical shocks to international supply chains fuelled by key sectors of the Chinese economy. Currently, China controls most of the global market for the processing and refining of rare earths and critical minerals.

Inbound containers in China rise, expected to further increase due to lockdowns

The CAx (Container availability index) for two of China’s major ports (Shanghai and Ningbo) is expected to increase further at a rather fast pace from around the 0.6 mark in the second week of March, meaning more inbound containers than outbound. It is unusual for this Asian behemoth that normally exports more than it imports – exhibiting the persisting bottlenecks of its trade routes and the bottlenecks that will inevitably emerge from these lockdowns.

Chart 3in Africa Ports & Ships

Chart 4 in Africa Ports & Ships

About Container xChange: 

Container xChange is one of the top ten logistics tech companies globally and the world’s fastest growing neutral marketplace for container leasing and trading. More than 800 companies such as Kuehne+Nagel, Seaco or Sarjak use xChange’s neutral online platform every day to gain market transparency, avoid demurrage & detention charges and increase their flexibility. Founded by Dr. Johannes Schlingmeier and Christian Roeloffs in 2017 the company is headquartered in Hamburg, Germany.

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non extension of
EU NAVFOR reaction to UNSC non-extension announcement on piracy

Somalia coastline. Picture: EU NAVFOR
Somalia coastline. Picture: EU NAVFOR

The United Nations Security Council has not extended UN Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 2608 (2021) which, among other measures, allowed for the fight against piracy and armed robbery of International Forces at sea within Somalia’s territorial waters (TTW), and stressed that these activities exacerbated instability by introducing “illicit money that fuels crime, corruption and terrorism”.

In response to this, EU NAVFOR ATALANTA said in a statement that in the rest of its wide area of operations, Operation ATALANTA will continue to fulfil its missions, providing Maritime Security in the Western Indian Ocean.

“Operation ATALANTA remains committed to the respect the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and will continue countering piracy in the high seas, protecting the World Food Programme (WFP) and other vulnerable vessels, countering drugs trafficking, contributing to the implementation of the weapons’ embargo on Somalia and monitoring other illicit activities at sea, such as the illegal export of charcoal and monitoring illegal, unreported and unregistered (IUU) fishing.”

EU NAVFOR Somalia Operation ATALANTA is the EU’s longest running and extraordinarily successful operation. Over the past 13 years, EU NAVFOR ATALANTA has demonstrated the utmost effectiveness, commitment and dedication to achieve mandated objectives throughout the area of operations. Some of the most impressive figures of the Operation include:

171 suspected pirates transferred to the regional authorities in view of their prosecution, more than 2.3 million tons of humanitarian aid delivered by WFP vessels escorted or monitored by EU NAVFOR ATALANTA, levels of voluntary registration of commercial shipping to its Maritime Security Center near to 90% in the Gulf of Aden.

All these achievements have been made possible thanks to the continuous commitment of the contributing nations. Today, 19 Nations make a decisive contribution to the operation (16 EU member states together with Colombia, Montenegro and the Republic of Serbia).

“After almost 14 years of existence, EUNAVFOR ATALANTA still fosters high-levels of coordination, deconfliction and complementarity with other operations and missions in the region, such as the Combined Maritime Forces (CMF), the European Maritime Awareness in the Strait of Hormuz (EMASOH) and with ATALANTA’s sister EU missions EUCAP Somalia and EUTM Somalia,” the organisation said.

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Situation in the Black Sea and Sea of Azov: Impacts on shipping and seafarers

Picture: IMO © in Africa Ports & Ships
Picture: IMO ©

IMO holds Extraordinary Council Session

On 10 and 11 March IMO held an extraordinary session of its Council to address the impacts on shipping and seafarers of the situation in the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov.

The Council recalled that Ukraine has, on multiple occasions, expressed its grave concerns about the Russian Federation’s unlawful unilateral actions in Crimea, and their consequences for the safety and security of navigation in the northern part of the Black Sea, the Sea of Azov and the Kerch Strait.

It strongly condemned the Russian Federation’s violation of the territorial integrity and the sovereignty of a United Nations Member State, extending to its territorial waters and represents a grave danger to life and serious risk to safety of navigation and the marine environment.

Furthermore, the Council deplored the attacks of the Russian Federation aimed at commercial vessels, their seizures, including Search-and-Rescue vessels, threatening the safety and welfare of seafarers and the marine environment.

It demanded that the Russian Federation cease its unlawful activities to ensure the safety and welfare of seafarers and the security of international shipping and the marine environment in all affected areas, and respect its obligations under relevant international treaties and conventions; and called upon all parties to seek to resolve the crisis through peaceful dialogue and diplomatic channels.

Blue safe maritime corridor

The Council agreed to encourage the establishment, as a provisional and urgent measure, of a blue safe maritime corridor to allow the safe evacuation of seafarers and ships from the high-risk and affected areas in the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov to a safe place in order to protect the life of seafarers, ensure the mobilisation and commercial navigation of vessels intending to use this corridor by avoiding military attacks and protecting and securing the maritime domain.

The Council, in this regard, taking into account the sensitivities of the matter, invited the Secretary-General to collaborate with the relevant parties and take necessary immediate actions to initiate the establishment and support the implementation of a blue safe maritime corridor in the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov and keep Member States informed of developments and report to the next session of the Council.

The Secretary-General indicated his commitment to take immediate action to realise the blue safe maritime corridor with the cooperation and collaboration of the relevant parties including littoral states.

Proposal to support seafarers

The Council welcomed the proposal that a number of steps should be taken to reduce the suffering of seafarers and their families, as follows:

* As a priority, ships should be allowed to sail from the ports of Ukraine at the earliest opportunity without threat of attack.

* For those ships that cannot leave immediately, or where it would be unsafe to do so due to the presence of sea mines or other hazards, humanitarian corridors should be set up that enable the safety of seafarers by allowing them to leave the conflict zone and return home, as appropriate.

*Any form of harassment of seafarers due to their nationality should be condemned.

* Seafarers affected by the conflict should be allowed free access to communications with their families.

* States should ensure that seafarers are able to access their wages.

* States should acknowledge the key worker status of seafarers and allow their unrestricted movement.

* Taking into account the key worker status of seafarers, States involved should strongly consider exempting their seafarers from mandatory military service; and where port State control officers are presented with expired documentation, a pragmatic approach to the inspection should be taken, considering the exceptional nature of the situation.

Paul Ridgway

Edited by Paul Ridgway

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Another attempt of theft from Transnet’s Multi-Product pipeline is thwarted

A second attempt in little more than a week at vandalising the Transnet Multi-Purpose Pipeline between the port at Durban and Heidelberg for the purpose of stealing fuel, has been prevented by an alert Transnet tactical response team.

The first attempt saw the same pipeline interfered with but on that occasion in the section between Harrismith and Warden being breached, with fuel escaping into the nearby Meul River. See that report HERE.

The latest attempt took place in the early hours of Saturday morning, 11 March 2022, in the Mooi River area of KwaZulu-Natal. Alertness by the respective tactical response teams prevented any theft of fuel and, although the offenders managed to get away, they abandoned a fuel tanker and a bakkie which have been impounded.

The Hawks and the SA Police Services are investigating the incident.

Transnet Pipelines says the swift reaction by the tactical teams averted disruption in the security of supply to the Gauteng market, and any potential environmental damage.

In just one week there have been three fuel theft incidents on the pipelines, which are being investigated by law enforcement authorities.

The pipeline is classified as essential infrastructure, therefore tampering, or colluding to tamper, is a Schedule 5 offence in terms of the Criminal Matters Amendment Act, Act 18 of 2015.

The dedicated team from the Hawks, SAPS Crime Intelligence, State Security Agency, the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) and local SAPS services will ensure that any offender will be charged and prosecuted as per the Act, a spokesperson from Transnet Pipelines said.

“As the pipelines traverse many rural, semi-rural and urban areas we continue to appeal to any persons living near the pipelines or driving past, especially at night, to report any suspicious activities e.g. bakkies, fuel tankers in the area of the block valve chambers or near our pipeline markers etc.”

The toll free number is 0800 203 843.

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Hapag-Lloyd to acquire DAL Line and grow its Africa service

The former Mataquito, now Deutsche Afrika Linien's DAL Kalahari which operates on the North Europe-South Africa (SAECS) service. Picture Fleetmon In Africa Ports & Ships
The former Mataquito, now Deutsche Afrika Linien’s DAL Kalahari which operates on the North Europe-South Africa (SAECS) service. Picture Fleetmon

 Hapag-Lloyd has announced it will be growing its Africa service with the acquisition of another German container carrier, Deutsche Afrika-Linien (DAL), which has long been a member of the South Africa-Europe Container Service (SAECS).

A framework agreement has been signed for Hapag-Lloyd to acquire DAL’s container liner business. The transaction remains subject to the approval of the responsible antitrust authorities.

“Africa remains an important strategic growth market,” said Hapag-Lloyd’s chief executive officer, Rolf Habben Jansen, who indicated he views this acquisition as an opportunity to increase Hapag-Lloyd’s service offer and expand customer’s cargo planning opportunities.

He said the container shipping industry is never static and this can translate into an increased service offering to and from various geographical locations.

“Africa remains an important strategic growth market. Particularly for our service offering from and to South Africa, DAL is a valuable addition, allowing us to offer our customers a better network and additional port coverage in this region.”

Jansen said Hapag-Lloyd was very much looking forward to welcoming the DAL colleagues.

“With their broad experience and market knowledge, they will significantly support us to further grow in Africa.”

DAL has origins dating back to the late 19th century and is an established shipping company for containerised cargo. Within SAECS, DAL operates services between Europe, South Africa and the Indian Ocean.

Its headquarters are located in Hamburg, the same as for Hapag-Lloyd, and it employs more than 150 people, who are mostly located in DAL’s own offices in South Africa and Germany.

In addition, DAL is represented in 47 countries by third party agents. In terms of capacity, DAL operates with a 6,589 TEU Portuguese-flagged container ship, DAL KALAHARI (IMO 9400095) which was built in 2010 and a container fleet of around 17,800 owned and leased containers, which will be taken over as part of the acquisition.

The taking over of DAL follows last year’s acquisition by Hapag-Lloyd of another African-focused shipping line, NileDutch, which immediately strengthened its presence in the Africa trades. Hapag-Lloyd also operates two East Africa – Asia services with partners PIL, ONE and Gold Star Line, calling at Mombasa and Dar es Salaam in two separate services.

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Wharf Talk: a stream of ocean-going tugs – ALP ACE

ALP Ace in Cape Town harbour, another of the tugs involved with the positioning of the giant FLNG Coral Sull in northern Mozambique. Picture by 'Dockrat' in Africa Ports & Ships
ALP Ace in Cape Town harbour, another of the tugs involved with the positioning of the giant FLNG Coral Sull in northern Mozambique. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Story by Jay Gates
Pictures by ‘Dockrat’

The arrival in Cape Town of ocean going tugs, in the last few months, has shown a steady stream of them entering the port, in one guise or other, and then departing onwards either with a charge to look after, or onwards to the next contract. Their arrival is always looked forward to by the local tug fraternity, of which South Africa has a large following.

Back on 5th March at 04h00, the Anchor Handling and Ocean Towage Tug ALP ACE (IMO 9344966) arrived off Cape Town, from Pemba in Mozambique, and entered Cape Town harbour, proceeding to the Landing Wall in the Duncan Dock. The choice of berth indicated that she was not just in for a transit bunker and stores stopover, but was in for a bout of minor maintenance, with shoreside engineering support.

ALP Ace on the Landing Wall quay in Cape Town harbour. Picture by 'Dockrat' in Africa Ports & Ships
ALP Ace on the Landing Wall quay in Cape Town harbour. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Built in 2006 by Mützelfeldt Werft GmbH of Cuxhaven in Germany, ‘Alp Ace’ is 59 metres long and has a deadweight of 3,480 tons. She is powered by two MAN-B&W 14V32/40 14 cylinder 4 stroke main engines producing 9,520 bhp (7,002 kW) each, to drive two controllable pitch propellers, each contained in Kort nozzles, and each with a high performance Becker rudder, to give an emergency transit speed of 17.5 knots, and an economic transit speed of 11.5 knots.

Her auxiliary machinery includes two MAN D2842LE301 generators providing 367 kW each, and one MAN D0824LE201 emergency generator providing 100 kW. For increased manoeuvrability she has two bow transverse thrusters providing 400 kW each, and a single stern transverse thruster providing 400 kW.

Her aft working deck provides 220 m2 for anchor handling, and for towage and salvage work, she has a bollard pull of 192 tons. Her twin shafts, and three thrusters, gives ‘Alp Ace’ a DP2 dynamic positioning classification, and for salvage work she has a FiFi1 firefighting category. She has accommodation for a maximum of 24 persons.

See immediately below for the reason for these red spray heads on ALP Ace. Picture by 'Dockrat', in Africa Ports & Ships
See immediately below for the reason for these red spray heads on ALP Ace. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

An unusual hull modification to ‘Alp Ace’ is the fitting all around the outside of working deck bulwarks, of red spray heads. This is to assist her in both salvage and firefighting, as the nozzles provide a continuous water mist screen around the outside of the whole vessel, which allows her to stay closer to any burning object, and keeps both her deck crew and equipment safer. Her main firefighting capability is provided by two fire monitors located above her wheelhouse.

She is owned, operated and managed by ALP Maritime Services BV of Rotterdam in Holland. Her arrival in Cape Town from Pemba is due to the fact that she was one of the fleet of five ALP vessels, contracted by ENI, for the towing of the Coral Sul FLNG from her builders in South Korea, to her assigned position in the Rovuma Basin, off the Northern Mozambique coast.

Whilst ‘Alp Ace’ was not involved in the trans-oceanic tow, she was waiting on station for the arrival of the Coral Sul FLNG, as her role was to act as one of the anchor handling vessels, whose job it was to hold her in position, whilst a mooring vessel connected her to her pre-laid mooring chain pattern. She had arrived in the Rovuma Basin in late December 2021, after a bunker and stores call at Durban, on 18th December 2021.

ALP Ace seen to perfection in Cape Town harbour. Picture by 'Dockrat' in Africa Ports & Ships
ALP Ace seen to perfection in Cape Town harbour.     Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Prior to her arrival in Southern African waters in late 2021, she had spent the whole of 2021, on contract to the Dutch government, acting as the guardship for the Borssele offshore wind farm. The Borssele wind farm is Holland’s largest wind farm, located off the Zealand coast, and very close to the English Channel shipping lanes, and to the approaches to the port complexes of both Rotterdam and Antwerp. The role of ‘Alp Ace’ was to provide assistance, and if necessary towage, in the event of an emergency that threatened the Borssele wind farm.

Before that she was contracted, briefly, to the Dutch Coastguard to act as an Emergency Towing Vessel (ETV), based at Vlissingen in Holland. She relinquished both roles to her fleetmate ‘Alp Forward’ on 4th November 2021, when she sailed for Durban, and eventually, Pemba.

As ALP Ace prepares to leave harbour she is joined by one of the port's workboats, performing the duties of Pilot Boat on the occasion. A lovely scene of ships working in a bsy harbour. Picture by 'Dockrat', in Africa Ports & Ships
As ALP Ace prepares to leave harbour she is joined by one of the port’s workboats, performing the duties of Pilot Boat on the occasion. A classic scene of ships working in a busy harbour. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Her engineering work was complete after less than a week alongside, and ‘Alp Ace’ sailed from Cape Town at 15h00 on 11th March. However, she did not sail off into the sunset, but merely out to the Table Bay anchorage, where she joined her fleetmate ‘Alp Keeper’, another of the Coral Sul FLNG fleet, and which is also currently awaiting fresh orders, and her next contract, out in the Table Bay anchorage.

The company of ALP maritime Services BV was only formed in 2014, and ‘Alp Ace’ was purchased as a block of six towing vessels in late 2014, with all six vessels coming from the German towing firm of Harms Bergung Transport and Heavylift GmbH of Hamburg. The purchase price for all six vessels was US$220 million (ZAR3.31 billion). She is the oldest vessel in the ALP fleet.

ALP Ace departs the calm safe waters of Cape Town harbour for the more uncertain waters of Table Bay. Picture by 'Dockrat', in Africa Ports & Ships
ALP Ace departs the calm safe waters of Cape Town harbour for the less certain waters of Table Bay. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Despite the relative proximity of Rotterdam to the Alps, ALP Maritime Services BV is not named after the scenic chain on European mountains. Rather, the company name is an acronym of initials, namely the initials of the first names of the three original founders of the company, simply arranged alphabetically. They were Arjen de Geus, Leo Leusink and Pete Mulder. The rest of the name of every member of the fleet is simply the name of the position, role, or description, of a player on a football field, i.e. ‘ALP Ace’, or ‘ALP Keeper’, or ‘ALP Forward’.

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Fruit exporters from Africa and South America turn to Turkey for entry into the Russian market

As has been reported in these pages, South African (and other) fruit exporters have been stymied by the developments in Eastern Europe which have led to the boycotting of Russian ports.

With Rotterdam also closed as a land, river or sea transshipment port for Russia, desperate fruit exporters are looking to Turkey as a transshipment destination. With Black Sea ports into either Russian or Ukranian ports also effectively closed, Turkey enjoys a land corridor with Russia via Georgia, though whether Turkey will continue to permit this trade loophole remains to be seen.

According to reports, Turkish fruit exporters have received numerous calls from overseas producers, including South Africa, who are looking to discharge Russia-bound fruit cargo into Istanbul.

Russia is said to be accepting imports from its southern Black Sea EU-member neighbour in order to secure its food supply and the fruit exporters are looking of take advantage of this.

However the land corridor via Georgia is becoming congested with delays. On top of which the fall in value of the rouble means imported fruit is suddenly expensive.

Russia’s imports of fresh vegetables and fruit is close to 7 millon tonnes annually.

Turkey, which is a member of NATO but not the EU, is continuing to remain apparently neutral in the war between Russia and Ukraine, selling arms including highly successful drones to the latter but otherwise refraining from being seen as taking sides with its Black Sea neighbours.

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Reunion authorities take over the clean-up from wrecked Tresta Star Tresta Star

Tresta Star grounded on the island of Reunion. Picture by Prefecture La Reunion in Africa Ports & Ships
Tresta Star grounded on the island of Reunion. Picture by Prefecture La Reunion

The salvaging of the grounded bunker tanker TRESTA STAR on the island of Reunion in the Indian Ocean remains uncertain but the clean-up operation is being tackled by the authorities on the island, after the Greek salvage company Polygreen walked away when agreements with the ship’s owner could not be reached.

With the tanker starting to break up, and an oily substance being observed at sea, the island’s Préfet has issued instructions to local authorities and the French Navy to attend to the clean-up.

The bill for this will be sent to the owners, though with what success remains to be seen.

The French Navy ship Champlaign has been assigned to assist with the clean-up.

Tresta Star is reportedly owned by a subsidiary of the Indian company, Shiny Shipping & Logistics, which indicated it is in contact with its insurance company that it says has responsibility for ensuring that the clean-up and salvage is carried out.

According to the owner, a No Cure-No Pay contract had been signed with Polygreen but since then the ship has suffered more damage from waves breakng over the vessel and further grounding her on the rocks.

It appears now that another salvage company will be appointed to take over the removal of the wreck.

Tresta Star was attempting to reach the southern part of the island for shelter against the heavy seas and wind of Cyclone Batsirai that at that time, the night of 3 February, was passing Reunion to the north. The vessel suffered engine failure when opposite the volcanic rocks at Tremblet Point and was washed ashore. The crew were later able to reach safety along a rigged zip line.

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Support of the African Continental Free Trade Area: WTO DG Okonjo-Iweala welcomes project

WTO Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, in Africa Ports & Ships
WTO Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala

World Trade Organization (WTO) Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala (pictured above) has welcomed a new project aimed at helping eight African countries operationalise the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).

Led by the Enhanced Integrated Framework (EIF), the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) and the International Islamic Trade Finance Corporation (ITFC), the project was launched at a virtual event on 10 March that brought together the Ministers of Trade of Niger, Senegal and Togo, and other government representatives of Burkina Faso, Guinea and Mauritania.

It is understood that this project will support the implementation of more than 30 activities in the AfCFTA strategies of Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea, Mauritania, Niger, Senegal, Togo and Tunisia. By assisting the implementation of priority actions formulated by UNECA, the project will help to create an environment where trade can be more efficient and inclusive in the eight beneficiary countries.

To quote Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala in her opening remarks at the event: “This programme illustrates the spirit of partnership needed to support the implementation of the AfCFTA.

“Allow me to commend these institutions and programmes for demonstrating collaboration in tangible ways. At the end of the programme, the capacity of beneficiary countries will have been enhanced towards tangible outcomes, such as jobs and other economic opportunities.”

Mikael Anzén, Permanent Representative of Sweden to the WTO and Chair of the EIF Steering Committee added: “This project represents the EIF’s importance in continuing to foster regional programming as well as deepening relationships with partners for their economic recovery.

“It leverages UNECA’s extensive expertise and experience on the continent, building on the individual country strategies and the ITFC’s valuable trade skills.”

The AfCFTA seeks to bring about the establishment of a common framework and sets of standards across the African continent to ensure trade cooperation, harmonisation and efficiency of countries’ trade relations. It entered into force on 30 May 2019 for the 24 countries that deposited their instruments of ratification by this date. The operational phase was launched on 7 July 2019.

The AfCFTA is expected to spur intra-African trade and to have positive effects on trade among Africa’s least-developed countries. It is also expected that the AfCFTA will pave the way for increased inter-African trade due to better access to the intercontinental market.

Of course, if it succeeds, there will be more business for Africa’s truckers and warehousemen, maybe even for the establishment of the long-anticipated coastal traffic.

Paul Ridgway

Reported by Paul Ridgway

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Loss of Russian fertilisers a problem for SA? – Nyet

Ocean Venus, the Aframax bulker that recently discharged a cargo of fertiliser in Durban and Cape Town. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

The Russian invasion of Ukraine has, among other issues, raised concerns about the effect on Africa, and in this instance on South Africa and its need for fertiliser by the local agricultural sector. South Africa currently imports 30% of its fertiliser requirement from Russia and Ukraine, and the blockade of the latter’s port by Russian naval ships, and the almost worldwide boycott of Russian exports, means that South African farmers could have a problem.

That’s not really so, says the chief executive of the Fertiliser Association of South Africa, Dr Pieter Haumann.

He refers to it as more of an inconvenience than a problem, saying that finding new suppliers is in fact logical. because of current shipping rates added to Russia’s distance from South Africa.

In any case, he says, it turns out that four months ago Russia suspended the export of urea until 31 May 2022 to safeguard their own supply. Dr Haumann points out that urea is available from the Middle East and phosphates are available from Morocco, China and Saudi Arabia, all of which are closer.

100% of South Africa’s potassium comes from places like Chile, Canada and Germany.

Of interest, readers will recall the report by Jay Gates of the Ultramax bulk carrier OCEAN VENUS that called at Durban and Cape Town recently to discharge her cargo of fertiliser – that article can be SEEN HERE

In 2020 the country just A LITTLE over 11% of its fertiliser came from Russia and may now have to be supplied from elsewhere, at least in the short term.

But it turns out that the country’s requirement of fertiliser represents just 1% of global fertiliser use, or about 2 million tonnes annually. South Africa’s Russian imports average 150,000 tonnes of mono-ammonium phosphate and 50,000 tonnes of urea (nitrogen) and according to Dr Haumann, fertiliser prices are incredibly expensive, hence distance becomes an important factor. “There are far bigger fertiliser-producing countries than Russia,” he points out.    sources: Fresh Plaza and FERTASA.

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Statement by the Secretary-General of UNCTAD, Rebeca Grynspan, on the situation in Ukraine

Geneva, UNCTAD (United Nations Conference on Trade and Development) – 11 March 2022:

The war in Ukraine has a huge cost in human suffering and is sending shocks through the world economy.

I want to express solidarity with the millions of men, women and children impacted and displaced by the invasion of Ukraine and I echo the call made by United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres for the conflict to stop now.

This crisis, coming during the global COVID-19 pandemic, is accelerating existing vulnerabilities and widening inequalities across the world.

All countries will be affected by this crisis, but developing countries already hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, rising debt and climate change will be hit especially hard by disruptions in food, fuel, and finance.

Soaring food and fuel prices will affect the most vulnerable in developing countries, putting pressure on the poorest households which spend the highest share on their income on food, resulting in hardship and hunger.

This is cause for great concern, as social and political stability and increasing food prices are highly correlated.

Countries, already under severe pressure due to the costs of the pandemic, will see disruption in trade, deficits widen and investment contract. Additionally, significant increase in oil and gas prices can shift investment back into fossil-fuel-based energy generation, which risks reversing the trend towards renewables at a time of acute climate crisis.

All these shocks threaten the gains made towards recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and block the path towards sustainable development.

UNCTAD is committed to supporting developing countries to face these shocks and protect the wellbeing of their populations, specially the most vulnerable.

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UNCTAD’s work to ease trade: United Kingdom commits £1.8 million

Container ship at the new Walvis Bay container terminal. Picture: Namport in Africa Ports & Ships
Container ship at the new Walvis Bay container terminal. Picture: Namport

It was reported earlier in the month that the UK government will provide £1.8 million ($2.4 million) to UNCTAD to help developing countries boost trade by cutting red tape to ensure a better recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic.

UK Minister for Asia and the Middle East, Amanda Milling, announced the funding on 4 March in a meeting with UNCTAD Secretary-General Rebeca Grynspan and World Customs Organization Secretary-General Kunio Mikuriya.

The two organisations joined forces with Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs in 2015 to advance the implementation of the World Trade Organization’s Trade Facilitation Agreement.

Long-held commitment

Minister Milling said: “I am delighted to reaffirm the UK’s long-held commitment to trade facilitation in developing countries. Through simplifying, modernizing and harmonizing export and import processes, least developed and developing countries can increase their trading capacity and revenue, contributing to their sustainable economic growth.”

She said the UK looks forward to continued partnership to enable countries to increase their benefits from fuller participation in the international trading system.

UNCTAD Secretary-General Rebeca Grynspan commented: “The United Kingdom is a valued partner for UNCTAD and has provided key support to developing and least developed countries since 2015 to ensure trade efficiency.

“Successful trade facilitation reforms are based on joint and collaborative efforts of public and private sectors to make cross-border trade procedures more efficient and cheaper.”

Extended collaboration

The funds will enable UNCTAD to build on its engagement with national trade facilitation committees, providing a suite of digital tools and learning products to promote reforms.

The new funding represents a 102% increase in funding from the previous £880,000 ($1.2 million) provided by the UK government for UNCTAD’s work on trade facilitation.

It extends UNCTAD’s collaboration with the UK government, which since 2015 has supported over 25 countries to expedite the movement of goods and strengthen public-private collaboration through the implementation of the Trade Facilitation Agreement.

The work is part of the UK-funded Accelerate Trade Facilitation programme.

The programme’s next phase will concentrate on strengthening countries’ capacity to better respond to future crises, furthering the digitalization of trade procedures and targeting trade-related bottlenecks.

It will continue to foster gender equality and diversity, working with border agencies to embed the importance of gender sensitivity and promote women’s participation and decision-making in trade facilitation.

The programme will also assist administrations to assess policies, practices and activities to develop concrete recommendations for supporting gender mainstreaming reform.

Zafivanona Ernest Lainkana, Director General of Customs in Madagascar, one of the beneficiary countries added in conclusion: “We welcome the continued support to boost our effectiveness in border management. Only through the coordinated efforts of all agencies will we be able to fully seize the potential of trade facilitation.”

Paul Ridgway

Edited by Paul Ridgway

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