Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news 22 May 2022

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FIRST VIEW:  MSC Domitille


The week’s mastheads:

Monday: Port of Ngqura Container Terminal
Tuesday: Port of Mombasa
Wednesday: Port Apapa (Ghana)
Thursday: Port of East London
Friday: Port of Durban Sugar Terminal
Saturday: Port of Durban T Jetty
Sunday: Port of Durban Container Termimnal




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MSC Domitille. Picture: Trevor Jones. in Africa Ports & Ships
MSC Domitille. Picture: Trevor Jones

The large container ship, MSC DOMITILLE (IMO 9720201) sails from Durban earlier in May, bound for Cape Town.   Flagged in Portugal (Madeira), the 110,6990-dwt boxship has a length of 300 metres and a width of 48m.  The 9,400-TEU (1000 reefers) MSC Domitille was built in China at the Jiangnan Shipyard (Group) Ltd as Hull number H2553.

MSC Domitille is powered by a 2-stroke MAN B&W diesel engine model 9S90ME-C10 producing 46,665 kW ( 63,446 HP) and driving a fixed pitch propeller.

This picture is by Trevor Jones






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Shinsei Maru No.3, the fishing vessel that caught fire while being scrapped in Cape Town harbour. Picture by 'Dockrat' in Africa Ports & Ships
Shinsei Maru No.3, the fishing vessel that caught fire while being scrapped in Cape Town harbour. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Story by Jay Gates
Pictures by ‘Dockrat’

As reported in Africa Ports & Ships on 11th May, the decommissioned Japanese longliner SHINSEI MARU No.3’ (IMO 8520094) caught fire whilst alongside at the ‘Graveyard’, on Berth 700 in the Ben Schoeman Dock in Cape Town Harbour. She was being scrapped and only seven workers were aboard at the time. There were no injuries reported as a result of the fire.

Shinsei Maru 3 on fire. Picture: Dockrat' in Africa Ports & Ships
Smoke billows out from the fishing vessel Shinsei Maru 3, on fire at berth 700. Picture: Dockrat’

The response from the authorities was quite impressive. The little known Transnet Port of Cape Town Fire Department, together with the City of Cape Town Fire Department responded to the fire, with the City Fire Department sending five fire engines to fight the fire. Transnet also initially deployed three of the Cape Town harbour tugs to the scene.

The fire was reported at 09h30 in the morning on the 10th, and was extinguished in less than three hours, with the fire thought to have been started in one of the fish holds, where insulation had been inadvertently set alight. The fire resulted in container operations being suspended within the Cape Town Container Terminal, affecting one vessel, and preventing a second container vessel from entering the Ben Schoeman Dock.

Cape Town port has its own fire department with adequate resources within the harbour precinct. Picture by 'Dockrat' in Africa Ports & Ships
Cape Town port has its own fire department with adequate resources within the harbour precinct. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

It is not well known that Transnet operate their own Port Fire Departments. They are small in size, and rely on the support of the local City Fire Departments to assist when large deployments of Fire and Rescue assets are required. In Cape Town harbour, the Fire Department is mainly concerned with fire safety, fire equipment maintenance, fire training, fire education and responding to minor incidents.

Despite the harbour being a source of unlimited water, there are many applications where only freshwater is used to extinguish fires. For that purpose, there are large tanks within the harbour that are for that very purpose, and are where fire engines can replenish any water stock that they use whenever they are fighting fires within the harbour.

The large water tank marker FIRE WATER along the Eastern Mole. Picture by 'Dockrat' in Africa Ports & Ships
The large water tank marked FIRE WATER along the Eastern Mole. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Along the Eastern Mole, almost indistinguishable from the other bulk liquid tanks, is one tank that is marked ‘Fire Water’. This is not to be confused with the Hollywood Western films where Whisky is referred to as ‘Firewater’ by the indigenous American people. It is, in fact, a tank of fresh water on standby, purely for firefighting purposes.

To the observer, the giveaway clue to its contents are the red pipes that lead from it. In the pipeline world, red is set aside to identify firefighting infrastructure. This is also clearly visible on the fire main pipes that are seen on ship accommodation blocks, and pipes leading up to firefighting monitors seen on both tankers and tugs.

Cape Town harbour tug Enseleni. Picture by 'Dockrat' in Africa Ports & Ships
Cape Town harbour tug Enseleni, equipped for fire-fighting from the waterside. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Every Transnet tug is equipped not just for towage, but specifically for firefighting purposes, and all have one, or two, fire monitors mounted above the bridge. The harbour tugs are generally equipped to FiFI1 standard with water-foam monitors capable of delivering 1,200 m3/hr of water. They are often used to spray a vessel’s hull during a fire, which is known as boundary cooling, and assists in maintaining the integrity of the burning vessel’s hull.

Cape Town harbour tug Umbilo. Picture by 'Dockrat' in Africa Ports & Ships
Cape Town harbour tug Umbilo. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Cape Town also has advanced firefighting Monitor towers at her bulk liquid berths in the Tanker Basin. Each berth has up to two such towers, located in the middle of the berth, and that can be remotely operated. They are designed to deluge the manifold areas of tankers during discharging operations, if a fire breaks out. They are regularly tested to ensure that they are in good working order.

Cape Town was the first port to receive this quayside firefighting upgrade back in March 2017. The upgrade cost ZAR260 million (US$16.2 million). Fires within South African harbours, thankfully, are quite rare, but there have been at least 13 such fires (unlucky for some) in the last ten years or so. The ports of Durban, Richards Bay, Ngqura, and Cape Town have all been affected with major fires.

In March 2017, Durban had a dock warehouse fire that led to an evacuation of the local area due to the intensity of the fire, and the toxicity of the smoke. In February 2019 the Mozambican trawler ‘Tropical 1’ caught fire whilst undergoing a refit in the Bayhead area and, tragically, six crew members lost their lives.

As recently as October 2021, the Agriport Terminal at Maydon Wharf was damaged when a conveyor belt system caught fire. Richards Bay also had two conveyor belt fires, in the space of two weeks, in October 2021, which badly affected the port.

Durban's Agriport, where conveyor belt caught fure in October last year. in Africa Ports & Ships
Durban’s Agriport, where a conveyor belt caught fire in October last year.   TPT

Most of the Cape Town harbour fires have been on vessels that have been in the process of receiving refits, or under maintenance. In December 2011 the Korean trawler ‘Dongsan’ was badly damaged by fire, as was the Korean longliner ‘Hwa-Tsan’ in March 2013, which tragically also resulted in the death of one of her crew.

Fire on board the South Korean trawler Dongsan in 2011. Picture by Glen Kasner in Africa Ports & Ships
Fire on board the South Korean trawler Dongsan in 2011. Picture by Glen Kasner

In November 2016 the Russian trawler ‘Verano’ was destroyed by fire at Berth 700, the same spot where ‘Shinsei Maru No.3’ caught fire. The Koreans seem to have bad luck, because in February 2017 the Korean Jigger ‘No.101 Geumjeong’ caught fire and required tugs and the local Fire department to extinguish the fire.

The Russian trawler Verano which was destroyed by fire at Cape Town's Berth 700. Picture: SAMSA in Africa Ports & Ships
The Russian trawler Verano which was destroyed by fire at Cape Town’s Berth 700. Picture: SAMSA

Occasionally, the fire is brought into port by a vessel, where shoreside firefighting assistance is needed to extinguish the blaze, normally in a cargo hold. In May 2020 the container vessel ‘Cosco São Paulo’ reported a fire in her hold whilst en-route from Durban to Cape Town, which was then reported as having been extinguished by the crew. As she entered Cape Town harbour, smoke was seen coming from one of her holds and the City of Cape Town Fire department was called in to extinguish the onboard blaze.

The same happened to the container vessel ‘APL Austria’, which arrived in Ngqura with an onboard fire in one of her holds. Four tugs were used to assist in extinguishing the fire, in addition to fire engines despatched to the scene by the Port Elizabeth Fire Department.

Fire on board APL Austria. Picture by Fleetmon in Africa Ports & Ships
Fire on board APL Austria at the container terminal. Picture by Fleetmon

The latest fire in Cape Town, on a decommissioned Japanese vessel that nobody has ever heard of, belies the fact that she was a major provider of scientific data to allow the Antarctic Toothfish industry to be regulated and managed. Despite her anonymity, ‘Shinsei Maru No.3’ had an interesting final career.

Built in 1986 by the Kanasashi Zosen shipyard at Shizuoka in Japan, ‘Shinsei Maru No.3’ was 54 metres in length and had a gross tonnage of 735 tons. She was powered by a single Hanshin 6LUN28AG 6 cylinder 4 stroke main engine, producing 1,000 bhp (735 kW).

Testing the fire monitor tower, Cape Town. Picture by 'Dockrat' in Africa Ports & Ships
Testing the fire monitor tower, Cape Town. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

She was owned, operated and managed by Taiyo A&F Co. Ltd. of Tokyo in Japan. She had a crew of up to 39, and had a cargo carrying capacity of 439 tons, contained within four fish holds, with a total freezer capacity of 1,567 m3. She carried a sealed MAR-GE Argos VMS position reporting system, to allow Japanese Fisheries authorities to monitor her movements.

Since December 2004, ‘Shinsei Maru No.3’ has been licensed by the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Living Marine Resources (CCAMLR) to conduct longline fishing operations for both Patagonian Toothfish (Dissostichus Eleginoides) and Antarctic Toothfish (Dissostichus Mawsoni) south of 60° South.

firefighting monitor tower in the tanker basin at Cape Town harbour. Picture: 'Dockrat' in Africa Ports & Ships
Firefighting monitor towers in the tanker basin at Cape Town harbour. Picture: ‘Dockrat’

Her last CCAMLR license expired in November 2020, at which point she was retired, and her role was taken up by the Taiyo fleet longliner ‘Shinsei Maru No.8’. Despite some folk believing that the Japanese have a large fleet of longliners operating in Antarctic waters, ‘Shinsei Maru No.3’ was for many years the only Japanese longline vessel licensed by CCAMLR.

From 2007 onwards she was utilised every year to conduct exploratory and research fishing in various areas around the Antarctic continent and the Southern Ocean. Since 2013, she also undertook a collaborative research programme between the Japanese and South African fisheries research authorities, to enhance data collection and analysis. The work took place alongside another Taiyo longliner, ‘Koryo Maru No.11’, which was transferred to a South African subsidiary company, reflagged to South Africa, and registered in Cape Town.

Licensed to fish mainly in the FAO Fisheries Areas 48.6 (Queen Maud Land), 48.6.2 (Bouvet Island), 58.4.2 (Prydz Bay), 58.4.3b (BANZARE Bank) and 88.1 (Ross Sea), ‘Shinsei Maru No.3’ also conducted exploratory research fishing in 2013 for the Japan Fisheries Research and Education Agency in the South Indian Ocean Fisheries Agreement (SIOFA) area, to test new trot lines.

Another of the firefighting monitor towers. Picture by 'Dockrat' in Africa Ports & Ships
Another of the firefighting monitor towers. Picture by ‘Dockrat’


The same year she transferred to the South East Atlantic Fisheries Organisation (SEAFO) area and conducted fisheries research between 41° to 44° South, and 003° West to 003° East, on a seamount area to the southeast of Tristan da Cunha and Gough Island.

This research required her to make no more than ten line hauls in each area, with each line being set no less than 3 nautical miles apart, with each line having no more than 5,000 hooks per line, and the lines to remain soaked (on the seabed) for no less than six hours. She was also expected to tag and release at least 5 toothfish, per ton caught and landed.

With the recent fire now out, her scrapping will continue at Berth 700, and soon she will be no more, becoming just a dull memory. It is guaranteed that nobody will remember her name, nor the part she played in drawing up the management requirements for the development of the many Toothfish fisheries in the Antarctic region.

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IN CONVERSATION: ‘Gentleman’s agreement’: Despite mining ban, Russia scours Antarctica for massive fossil fuel deposits

 Moored near the foot of Table Mountain in Cape Town in mid-March, the Akademik Tryoshnikov was one among several Russian polar vessels that visited Cape Town, an established port for the Russian Antarctic fleet, in the summer of 2021/22. Picture: Xabiso Mkhabela in Africa Ports & Ships
Moored near the foot of Table Mountain in Cape Town in mid-March, the Akademik Tryoshnikov was one among several Russian polar vessels that visited Cape Town, an established port for the Russian Antarctic fleet, in the summer of 2021/22. Picture: Xabiso Mkhabela

Long Read:

Supergiant oilfields are simmering below the Southern Ocean, the warming waters at the bottom of the Earth that wrap around the melting, icy Antarctic, a litany of Kremlin sources suggest.  

Despite the 1998 Antarctic mining ban — ratified by Russia and 28 other states — some of the so-called loot in the Kremlin’s crosshairs appears cached within large marine sedimentary basins off East Antarctica’s Indian Ocean sector.

That supposed loot may equal a climate-busting 500 billion barrels of hydrocarbon “resources” — the building blocks for oil and gas — claims a bombshell statement released by the Kremlin’s mineral explorer, Rosgeo. 

Issued February 2020 from the Antarctic gateway port of Cape Town, and first reported by S&P Global, the statement hardly cracked a nod in media swamped by pandemic news. Yet, its revelations were staggering — it did not say how much of those stocks were recoverable, but at 500 billion barrels such largesse would outstrip global annual oil consumption of 35 billion barrels by about 15 times. 

Rosgeo brazenly revealed its 2020 seismic operations sought “to assess the oil- and gas-bearing prospects of the Antarctic shelf”. Chief geologist Sergey Kozlov predicted data from that year, succeeding 2019 work, would “make it possible to substantially clarify our expectations”. 

Yet, refuting those February 2020 media claims that 2019 and 2020 marked Russia’s first attempts since the 1990s to size up Antarctic hydrocarbons, the truth seems more chilling. Instead, Daily Maverick’s investigation into state documents shows Russia has not ceased its search for Far South’s oil, gas and other mineral swag since the late-1990s mining ban entered into force under the Antarctic Treaty’s Madrid Protocol — the environmental chapter that governs the ban. 

In 2021/22’s austral summer, it was indeed a Russian prospecting company that once again sailed south on a Kremlin-decreed mission to amass “an information base” on “the mineral resource potential of the Antarctic”.

According to the prospecting company’s 2021 annual report, its upcoming operations in the first quarter of this year would probe West Antarctica’s Weddell Sea — where the wreck of Sir Ernest Shackleton’s sunken Endurance vessel was found this season; and proclaiming marine protected areas has failed since 2016, largely due to Chinese and Russian opposition. 

That prospecting company is the Saint Petersburg-based Polar Marine Geosurvey Expedition (PMGE), a privatised subsidiary of state-owned Rosgeo — Russia’s largest mineral exploration holding company. 

In recent February diaries, the Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute (AARI) — Russia’s polar science operator — confirms seismic surveys were completed on continental East Antarctica, as well as aboard the Russian seismic vessel Professor Logachev, during the 2021/22 summer. 

By emitting and decoding sound blasts that bounce off the seabed, a range of sciences use seismic vessels to understand the ocean floor’s structure and contents. But seismic tech is also used by fossil fuel interests to find oil and gas. In Africa Ports & Ships
By emitting and decoding sound blasts that bounce off the seabed, a range of sciences use seismic vessels to understand the ocean floor’s structure and contents. But seismic tech is also used by fossil fuel interests to find oil and gas

Set to gather in Berlin next week for their first annual in-person meeting since the pandemic, the treaty’s 54 states aim to preserve the ecologically sensitive region below 60°S for peaceful activities, particularly tourism and science. Founding signatories Russia and the US reserve the right to claim the whole continent any time, while competing narratives allege either western states or Russia found Antarctica in 1820 — still, for now, the ban keeps all mining off limits. 

This ensures an ice and ocean wilderness nearly five times bigger than Australia belongs to no one. 

It is Earth’s last unmined frontier. 

But Russian state policy suggests the Kremlin’s designs on this inhospitable St Nowhere — the planet’s coldest and stormiest natural reserve — may transgress the Madrid Protocol’s scientific mandate. In fact, multiple bodies reporting to the Kremlin appear to sing from the same songbook — one that follows high-policy geopolitical orders. As one senior Russian analyst, who was not authorised to speak publicly, told us: “It is approved from the top until the Kremlin says ‘nyet’.”

Geopolitical interests

Chief among Antarctic state documents is Russia’s grand vision for the White Continent and surrounds to 2030: According to that vision’s 2021-released action plan, it is a major objective to scrutinise the region’s “geological structure and minerals” by land, air and sea. 

Charged with executing these orders are state entities Rosgeo; AARI, the Russian polar science operator; hydro/environment agency Roshydromet; and mineral resource agency Rosnedra.

To further safeguard geopolitical interests, the Kremlin’s “Reproduction and use of natural resources” programme emphasises reliance on Antarctic geology data. This 660-billion roubles (US$10-billion) drive to 2024 is steered by the natural resources ministry. At least seven state bodies are listed as programme participants. 

In the 16-year stretch between 2006 and 2022, Russian state-contracted investigations are also weighted with commercial suggestions of Antarctica’s “raw material potential”, often crowing about “promising” oilfields in marine sedimentary basins. 

Kremlin interests since the 1998 ban stretch back to at least the early 2000s: The state-run Russian Antarctic Expedition’s 2001 environmental impact assessment (EIA) — an exercise meant to contain damage rather than encourage it — greenlights annual ocean studies of “oil gas-bearing perspectives” via Cape Town, a well-established Russian gateway to Far South. South African Antarctic and environmental authorities did not respond to repeated requests for comment.

At the time of publication, a considerable inventory of Antarctica’s continental minerals was also available, mostly in Russian, on the prospecting company’s website. 

This resource described 2.5 million km² “in the exposed mountainous regions of coastal Antarctica” facing the Indian Ocean, citing “manifestations” of gold, diamonds, copper-nickel, coal, iron ore, molybdenum and even uranium. It credited the company’s geologists for doing “a lot” to evaluate these potential resources, such as the so-called “raw materials” of Larsemann Hills a vault of globally rare minerals that is relatively easy to study because the area is mostly ice-free. A 40km² lake-rich oasis, Larsemann Hills is depicted in none other than Russia’s 2001 Antarctic EIA as one of the “most promising areas” for “mineral and hydrocarbon raw materials” in East Antarctica.

Annually between 2007 and 2017, the company often reports making a move on this very area — where Russia maintains a key logistics and research station, Progress — to assess its “mineral resource potential”.

And deep within the East Antarctic hinterland, war-sanctioned oligarch Leonid Mikhelson, the Putin-aligned chair of gas giant Novatek, has promised to sink 4-billion roubles into building Russia’s flagship new Vostok research station — but only for philanthropic purposes, say Russian media. New modules for that station sailed via Cape Town in October.

Antarctica is “a potential reserve for the extraction of mineral raw materials by future generations of humankind”, divulges a 2015 PMGE report — while a 2017 report also gamely admits Russia’s mineral investigations are “geopolitical”. This “guarantees Russia’s full participation in any form of possible future development of Antarctic mineral resources”. And, this is why “the Russian Federation receives information on the mineragenic potential” of the continent, and “the oil and gas potential of the seas awashing it”. 

Russian seismic surveys in Earth’s last unmined frontier since Antarctica’s 1998 mining ban entered into force. (Graphic: Righard Kapp) in Africa Ports & Ships
Russian seismic surveys in Earth’s last unmined frontier since Antarctica’s 1998 mining ban entered into force. (Graphic: Righard Kapp)

Russia’s natural resources and foreign affairs ministries did not respond to repeated requests for comment. Rosgeo, replying on behalf of itself and PMGE, said its Antarctic activities were “exclusively scientific” — “without going beyond the standard boundaries of non-commercial geology”. It was in “no way engaged in the exploration and exploitation of Antarctic mineral resources”.

“The purpose of our scientific research is the geological and geophysical study” of Antarctica’s structure and origin, the state’s mineral explorer added. “Marine works are aimed at studying the structure and thickness of the sedimentary cover, determining the nature of the foundation” and “reconstructing the stages of the formation of the Earth’s crust in the Antarctic seas”.

When pointed to a late April report by PMGE, in which the company claimed to be gathering data on Antarctica’s “mineral resource potential”, Rosgeo told us: “You will agree it would be illogical to exclude hydrocarbons from consideration … given that they are a natural component of the geological environment.”

PMGE managing director Pavel Lunev said the company’s geological and geophysical survey work was “no different from the work conducted by other members” signed up to Antarctica’s mining laws. During the 2021/22 summer, he said, the company’s work probed “the glacial processes, dynamics and evolution of the ice sheet and the stages of Antarctic glaciation” and “the nature and foundation of the Earth’s crust”.

‘Prospecting’ through ‘scientific research’

As defined by a controversial 1988 Antarctic mining pact — ultimately abandoned after public protests — “prospecting” aims to identify “areas of mineral resource potential for possible exploration and development”. 

Thus, argued the University of Canterbury’s Alan Hemmings, Antarctic prospecting was a mineral resource activity outlawed by the ban, because it forbade “any activity relating to mineral resources, excluding scientific research”. Hemmings, an observer of the 1990s ban negotiations, added “parties had earlier agreed that prospecting was the first of three stages of mineral resource activities — and quite separate from scientific research activities”.

PMGE’s advertised services include analysing the Earth’s crust — a geology discipline permitted by the ban’s “scientific research” allowance. None of this means prospecting should be “laundered” as standard geology, or any of myriad sciences allowed by the treaty’s “freedom of scientific investigation” principle, explained Hemmings, one of the world’s foremost Antarctic governance experts. The professor is part of a new academic push calling for a “forever ban” on mining Antarctic oil and gas. The current ban does not expire, he pointed out, but after 2048 it was possible that a majority of treaty states with decision-making rights may vote to transform Antarctica’s mining laws.

“There are questions around whether other, including Western, states might be laundering ‘prospecting’ through ‘scientific research’,” Hemmings noted. Treaty state India’s new Antarctic bill, for instance, provides for mineral resource activity permits deemed as “scientific research”. In an April comment, India’s Telegraph daily flagged this as a “tenuous” front for prospecting. Indian Antarctic authorities could not be reached for comment.

But Russia, said Hemmings, “as far as accusations and evidence in the public domain are concerned, is seemingly in a class of its own”. 

The ban “does not prohibit research activity into oil and gas”, such as critical new understanding into how storms release atmosphere-heating gases, said Australian National University’s Donald Rothwell — but the prominent polar law professor noted commercial prospecting for mineral resources would be widely considered in breach of the ban. Treaty authorities did not respond to repeated requests for comment.

Even so, big oil is replete with hyped or infeasible discoveries. 

As it is, tapping Antarctica — which lost ice shelves, and hit all-time-low sea ice in a relative scorcher of a recent summer — would flout International Energy Agency warnings to limit temperatures to below 1.5°C by halting new oilfields. Burning 500 billion barrels, a quantity dwarfing Venezuela’s unmatched country reserves at 300 billion barrels, would certainly defy Paris Agreement goals. 

For his part, when contacted for comment, a Russian state senior geoscientist attempted to pour cold water over the so-called Rosgeo discovery. 

“I think the statement of officials from ‘Rosgeologia’ is a fake, due to their very low competence in fundamental Antarctic research,” said German Leitchenkov, Antarctic geoscience head at Russia’s Research Institute of Geology and Mineral Resources of the World Ocean. Leitchenkov is also a decorated professor associated with Saint Petersburg State University.

“All our geophysical and geological studies in Antarctica have only fundamental scientific results and all data are available for the international scientific community,” he explained, citing an international academic book on Antarctic climate evolution, published last year.

Yet, between at least 2006 and 2020, Leitchenkov churned out papers — including Antarctic oil and gas assessments — with PMGE, subsidiary of the explorer he has accused of ineptitude.  

In one such 2018 Russian Science Foundation study, Leitchenkov et al. contend their research is old-school science allowed by the ban. 

“The Madrid Protocol banning exploration in Antarctica is a gentleman’s agreement, and public opinion can quickly change as soon as humanity senses the problem of oil shortage,” they propose, citing a “University of Tehran energy expert”. The paper relies on, among others, Russian seismic data spanning a 4.5 million km² Southern Ocean block; and ideas about ancient Gondwanaland as parent supercontinent to both Antarctica and mineral-flush areas in, for instance, the southern hemisphere. 

“I outlined only general scientific estimation of hydrocarbon resources in my 2018 paper, nothing more,” he told Daily Maverick. “Any scientist can do it using marine geophysical data.”

If Rosgeo’s 500 billion-barrel bombshell is indeed “fake”, alleged lies of mind-bending deposits are scattered across state documents between 2010 and 2016. 

This cache of online documents records ambitious estimates of “70 billion tons” in Southern Ocean oilfields — converted as 500 billion barrels — which can be seen in 2012 and 2016 reports, as well as in a Kremlin state decree up to 2020. General multibillion-ton estimates emerge in 2008, 2010 and 2012 reports. 

“There are very large reserves in the Southern Ocean,” noted an Antarctic climate expert, speaking anonymously to discuss sensitive information. “A colleague worked on an ice shelf to drill sediment cores for climate research. It was a pain for them. They kept striking oil. This meant the loss of their core and lots of time and effort to seal up the hole.”

Driven by upheavals such as Russia’s war on Ukraine, higher oil prices could, in fact, make all kinds of exotic propositions seem accessible. Before the war, Russia loudly and often reaffirmed its treaty commitments. Since the February 24 invasion, Moscow’s violations of global law such as the UN Charter demonstrate a loose cannon in an apparent trough of gentleman’s agreements.

To make Antarctic mining more feasible, “oil prices would need to be above $150 per barrel consistently”, cautioned Elizabeth Buchanan, polar geopolitics specialist at Australia’s Deakin University, and Fellow of the Modern War Institute at West Point. She suggested that, for Moscow, Antarctic minerals may also be about “blocking market competition should another state tap these oil reserves and become an energy competitor on the global stage”.

Leitchenkov and co, in their 2018 study, peg that feasibility price above $200 per barrel. 

Soaring to nearly $130 per barrel in March, from about $80 in January, this year’s volatile Brent crude prices have recalled the spectre of the 1970s Yom Kippur War/energy crisis when Arab Opec members punished Western states for supporting Israel. Perceived shortages seeded the abandoned Antarctic mining pact — signed by 19 states including European members, China, the US and the Soviet Union — which ultimately paved the way for the ban.    

The best-laid plans of ice and men

New Zealand geologist Peter Barrett, whose 1967 fossil discovery linked Antarctica to Gondwanaland, told us he found it “inconceivable” that Far South’s punishing conditions would be mined. 

And, currently, sanctions are threatening to drive Russian fossil fuels towards a stranded future. But the best-laid plans of ice and men often go awry — as forewarned by potential interest in a varied chest of Antarctic continental minerals beyond oil and gas.

Leitchenkov said he also worried about Antarctic environments and that, since the ban, scientists from different countries had published reports on Antarctica’s mineral resources. The geoscience professor said he had recently reviewed an unpublished Chinese paper, which claimed there was “real possible prospecting on land” of “mineral resources on the Antarctic continent”. This paper was still confidential and could not be distributed, he said.  

When asked if sanctions-hit Russian oil and gas changed Antarctic exposure to the possibilities of mining, he said: “I will not foresee any changed circumstances for the potential of Antarctic mining in the longer-term future.”

Access through warming ice, paired with new technology and “potential market demand for resources”, Buchanan added, were material factors exposing Earth’s last unmined frontier to a range of energy entrepreneurs.

And Moscow, the geopolitician suggested, “is certainly getting ready for that day”. DM/OBP

Read DM’s previous stories in this investigation here, and here.


This article first appeared on Daily Maverick and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.

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Added 20 May 2022


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International News: Xeneta real-time container rates update


Long-term reefer rates soar to all-time highs on US West Coast to Far East trades

According to the latest crowd-sourced data from Xeneta, long-term rates for reefer containers on the key US West Coast to Far East route soared almost 60% in April.

The Oslo-based ocean and air freight benchmarking specialist today reveals a surge in rates of around US$ 2000 per 40ft unit after the latest 12-month contracts came to a close. The average contracted rate recorded on 15 May stood at US$ 5850 per container, while the average for new agreements running from Q2 2022 to the end of Q1 2023 was even higher, at US$ 5945 per 40’ reefer.

Looking beyond volumes

“This is an almighty increase, pushing prices to an all-time high,” comments Patrik Berglund, Xeneta CEO.

Xeneta CEO Patrik Berglund in Africa Ports & Ships
Xeneta CEO Patrik Berglund

“Contracts on this trade tend to be for year-long durations, running from the start of April to the end of the following March. With the escalating cost of energy prices, and the recent strength of the market for ocean freight in general, shippers would have expected some pain at the negotiating table. But this, for many, is going to be excruciating.”

He continues: “What’s unusual, is that this hike comes despite a poor start to the year in terms of export volumes. In the first quarter of 2022, the number of reefer containers exported from the US West Coast to the Far East was actually down by a whopping 37%. Yet still we see this jump. That illustrates there’s more at play than just supply and demand within this niche – it’s the macro picture that holds sway here.”

Short-term gains

Shippers looking to beat the price rise may, Berglund points out, switch to cheaper three-month contracts (currently at around US$ 2000 per container) or spot rates, which still appear to offer better value.

Current spot rates on the corridor are predominantly flat, at US$ 5050 (14 May), equating to almost US$ 900 lower than the average for long-term contracts from the past three months. In fact, Xeneta’s analysis shows that spot rates have never reached the current heights of long-term costs, creating opportunity for shippers limber enough to refine strategies ‘on the run’.

“That said,” Berglund comments, “most shippers on the long-term market will now be locked in paying high rates until it comes to renewing contracts for Q2 2023.”

Continual development

Both long- and short-term pricing sits considerably higher for reefers than dry containers, with the former US$ 4300 more expensive for long-term contracts, while spot prices command a US$ 3850 reefer premium as of 14 May. To put this into a broader market perspective, this time last year the difference between dry and reefer containers was US$ 2500 on both the long- and short-term market.

“So, we see significant development in this crucial ocean freight subsector,” concludes Berglund.
“All stakeholders in the value chain should stay tuned to ongoing intelligence to track how this changes going forwards. That’s the only way of ensuring they get the best value for their businesses, assets and cargoes.”

Xeneta’s platform compiles the latest ocean and air freight rate data aggregated worldwide to deliver unique market insights. Companies participating in the benchmarking and market analytics platform include names such as ABB, Electrolux, Continental, Unilever, Nestle, L’Oréal, Thyssenkrupp, Volvo Group and John Deere, amongst others.

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Added 20 May 2022


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Scholars exposed to maritime careers at Port of Mossel Bay

A group of the learners who took part in the port exposure project In Africa Ports & Ships
A group of the learners who took part in the port exposure project    Picture: Transnet

Forty scholars were given a glimpse of maritime related careers and opportunities through the
Port of Mossel Bay’s Maritime Exposure Programme in April and this week.

The learners who were invited from the Hillcrest Secondary and Indwe High School, spent time in the port environment gaining a glimpse into the operations of the national port system and the wide range of career opportunities offered.

The project forms part of the Port of Mossel Bay’s Maritime Exposure Programme.

“The Port of Mossel Bay is committed to exposing the youth to the world of port operations and maritime industry,” said Port of Mossel Bay Port Manager, Dr Dineo Mazibuko.

“The port’s Maritime Exposure programme also focuses on exposing the learners to some of South Africa’s biggest role players in the Oceans Economy e.g. the Fishing, Ship Repair, Oil and Gas Industry role players.”

Mazibuko said the programme not only supports TNPA’s commitment to supporting communities in the areas in which it operates but it is also implemented in line with the National Ports Act 12 of 2005 mandate to collaborate with educational institutions in order to promote technical education on port services and facilities.

The Port of Mossel Bay, in Africa Ports & Ships
The Port of Mossel Bay    Picture: Transnet

“This programme complements the TNPA Port of Mossel Bay Maritime Career Roadshows, which have been created as a platform for TNPA to positively contribute to the development of our youth and build role models in our rural and previously disadvantaged schools and communities whilst simultaneously attracting them towards not only the Maritime Industry but the Oceans Economy value chain.”

After receiving a career overview presentation about bursaries and career opportunities available within Transnet, the learners were then exposed to port operations which involved site visits to marine operations and fish processing plants owned and managed by Seavuna Fishing Company and Afro Fishing.

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IN CONVERSATION: Traditional leaders give Wild Coast seismic survey (and Mantashe) a king-size boost

From left AmaMpondo aseNyandeni King Mangaliso Ndlovuyezwe Ndamase shaking hands with minister of mineral resources Gwede Mantashe at Nyandeni Great Place in Libode, in the Eastern Cape on the 21 April 2022 Picture: Hoseya Jubase in Africa Ports & Ships
From left AmaMpondo aseNyandeni King Mangaliso Ndlovuyezwe Ndamase shaking hands with minister of mineral resources Gwede Mantashe at Nyandeni Great Place in Libode, in the Eastern Cape on the 21 April 2022 Picture: Hoseya Jubase

Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy Gwede Mantashe has won considerable support to allow the seismic survey of the Wild Coast to take place after a series of meetings with six of the seven kingdoms in the Eastern Cape and the council of traditional leaders in the province. Traditional leaders, however, have made it clear that they expect local people to benefit from the gas exploration.

At the end of April, after a meeting with Mantashe, the leaders of the AmaMpondo aseNyandeni kingdom, among others, pledged their support for the Shell seismic survey to go ahead. The survey was temporarily halted late in 2021 by court order after a successful application for an interdict by a number of environmental and community organisations.

Mantashe told the meetings he had held with the kingdoms that they wanted to make the Eastern Cape the gas capital of the country. Meanwhile, the Eastern Cape High Court is hearing further arguments in litigation to stop the seismic survey of the Wild Coast in the Gqeberha High Court on 30 May and 1 June.

“This blasting will likely cause significant and irreparable harm to marine life in the affected area. This, in turn, will impact upon the livelihood, constitutional rights and customary rights [including customary fishing rights and cultural rights] of coastal communities,” heads of argument filed on behalf of a number of organisations opposing the seismic survey reads.

“When assessing and granting the Exploration Right to Impact, the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy [“the Department”] failed to take into account a number of critical considerations – including the impact that the seismic blasting would have on the livelihoods of affected communities, on the spiritual and cultural practices of such communities, and the cumulative impact of all seismic blasting along the East Coast,” according to court papers.

The legal teams for the organisations are expected to argue that these omissions rendered the granting of the exploration right and Shell’s seismic blasting unlawful and invalid.

The organisations are asking the court to rule that a holder of an exploration right under the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act 28 of 2002 (MPRDA) may not undertake any seismic survey if it has not been granted an environmental authorisation by the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment.

From left is AmaMpondo aseNyandeni King Mangaliso Ndlovuyezwe Ndamase and minister of mineral resources Gwede Mantashe during a visit to Nyandeni Great Place in Libode in the Eastern Cape to explain about the oil and gas development on the 21 April 2022 Picture: Hoseya Jubase in Africa Ports & Ships
From left is AmaMpondo aseNyandeni King Mangaliso Ndlovuyezwe Ndamase and minister of mineral resources Gwede Mantashe during a visit to Nyandeni Great Place in Libode in the Eastern Cape to explain about the oil and gas development on the 21 April 2022 Picture: Hoseya Jubase

Mantashe applauded

Since Mantashe’s roadshow, traditional leaders have sent a stern warning to the government not to neglect rural communities when the gas and oil production project starts.

The meeting at the Great Place was attended by King Mangaliso Ndlovuyezwe Ndamase and all residents living in the AmaMpondo aseNyandeni kingdom, which includes Libode, Port St Johns and Ngqeleni. Most residents vowed to support the oil and gas project. Mantashe lambasted those who were against this, describing them as anti-development.

Ndamase applauded Mantashe’s initiative to visit kingdoms to give information to residents.

“We’ve been hearing that a seismic survey is going to kill the ocean life. But this thing is not starting here. It has been happening in other countries. Why, then, when it is supposed to start on our side there are reports that it will kill animals? As AmaMpondo, we are supporting the development but we also love fish and other ocean creatures.

Seismic surveys: Shell’s gone — but another devil has arrived

“We thank Minister Gwede Mantashe that you also explain that the ocean life will be protected during the process,” Ndamase said.

Meanwhile, AmaMpondomise King Zwelozuko Matiwane said he appreciated the manner in which the department conducted its consultations. “We have supported the initiative by the government as it seeks to boost the economy and intend[s] to create more job opportunities, especially here in the eastern part of the Eastern Cape province.”

AbaThembu king spokesperson Prince Langalibalele Mthunzi Ngonyama said the issuing of licences must include local people. “They must not come just to create temporary employment, this thing must be something people will carry to the next generation as a form of inheritance… also the kings must have some power because they are the custodians of the land.”

Ngonyama added that they were not anti-development but they wanted to be taken seriously.

Let it BEE

The Congress of Traditional Leaders of South Africa (Contralesa) in the Eastern Cape has also welcomed the consultation process. Contralesa chairperson Nkosi Mwelo Nonkonyana said they believe the key in rural development is through traditional institutions, including kingships.

“We believe the ocean and the land belong to us and so we will be very, very pleased if the members of communities firstly understand and workshopped about this to make sure that even the companies that are going to be involved, there will be a BEE component that must primarily involve the people within that kingship and as Contralesa we implore to our members to monitor that situation.” DM168


This article first appeared on Daily Maverick and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.

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WHARF TALK: after an eight-day wait – CYGNUS

The tanker Cygnus on her berth at Cape Town's tanker basin. Picture by 'Dockrat' in Africa Ports & Ships
The tanker Cygnus on her berth at Cape Town’s tanker basin. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Story by Jay Gates
Pictures by ‘Dockrat’

It is not something that, currently, the inhabitants of the Northern Hemisphere think about, but as summer approaches in the north, so winter approaches in the Southern Hemisphere. As the nights draw in, and the evening temperatures fall, so the need for warming up the house and workplace becomes more paramount in Southern Africa.

Heat requires fuel, but South Africa is now not in any position to provide the heating fuel, or any other kind of fuel, required to run a country in a winter season. It is now becoming very apparent that the fuel providers are trying to fill up their storage tanks, and supply facilities, in advance of the coming winter weather. As such, Cape Town has seen a veritable wave of tankers arriving in Table Bay over the last few weeks, sometimes a couple every day, and arriving from every major, conceivable, oil exporting nation in the world.

As far back as the 3rd May, at 01h00 in the morning, the MR2 tanker CYGNUS (IMO 9354260) arrived in the Table Bay anchorage, from Mangalore in India, and due to the queue of tankers ahead of her, went to anchor for a full eight days whilst awaiting a berth in Cape Town harbour. On 11th May at 15h00, she finally entered Cape Town harbour and proceeded to the tanker basin in the Duncan dock to begin her discharge of fuel products.

The stern of the tanker Cygnus as she discharges her cargo in Cape Town harbour. Picture by 'Dockrat' in Africa Ports & Ships
The stern of the tanker Cygnus as she discharges her cargo in Cape Town harbour. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Built in 2007 by STX shipbuilding at Chinhae in South Korea, ‘Cygnus’ is 183 metres in length and has a deadweight of 51,218 tons. She is powered by a single STX MAN-B&W 6S50MC-C 6 cylinder 2 stroke main engine producing 12,900 bhp (9,488 kW), to drive a fixed pitch propeller for a service speed of 14.2 knots.

Her auxiliary machinery includes three MAN-B&W 6L23/30H generators providing 900 kW each, and a single Cummins 6CT8.3-D(M) emergency generator providing 180 kW. She has an Alfa Laval Aalborg Mission OC Composite oil and exhaust gas boiler, and an Alfa Laval Aalborg OL oil fired boiler.

She has 12 cargo tanks with a cargo carrying capacity of 52,047 m3. As with virtually all modern product tankers in service today, ‘Cygnus’ has segregated ballast tanks, a crude oil tank washing system, an inert gas system and her tanks are all coated with phenolic epoxy. She is capable of carrying six grades of products simultaneously.

Cygnus' accommodation and bridge area. Note the nondescript white funnel. Picture by 'Dockrat', in Africa Ports & Ships
Cygnus’ accommodation and bridge area. Note the nondescript white funnel. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Owned by Gong Fu Cygnus LLC of Hong Kong, ‘Cygnus’ is operated within the MR tanker pool of Maersk Tankers A/S of Copenhagen, and managed by Thome Croatia D.O.O of Zadar in Croatia. As with other recent tanker arrivals, she dons a completely nondescript white funnel, that gives no indication of her owner’s identity, or shipping pedigree.

It is becoming a pattern that many of the recent tanker arrivals in Southern African waters are on charters that has them operating on back-to-back voyages to South African ports. Prior to this current voyage, ‘Cygnus’ had delivered a full range of fuel products to Durban in March 2022, before heading to Mangalore to load for her current call at Cape Town.

As always, India is not a destination that immediately brings up a picture of a major oil exporter. Mangalore is located in the west coast Indian State of Karnataka, on the Arabian Sea, at 12°57 North 78°48 East. The port is actually located at nearby Panambur, and is known as New Mangalore Port, opened up only in 1974. It is the only major port in Karnataka, the 7th largest port in India, and the deepest port on the west coast of India.

Within the port, the Oil terminal has five berths, four of which are for product tankers, with all fuel products loaded from an oil storage facility within the port. The port is also connected by pipeline to the nearby government owned oil refinery, operated by Mangalore Refinery and Petrochemicals Limited (MRPL). It produces 15 million metric tons of products per annum, including diesel, jet fuel and kerosene. It is also only one of only two refineries in India that produces high octane, unleaded petrol.

With two unloading arms in use with ‘Cygnus’ in Cape Town, she was fully discharged after a stay of two and a half days alongside. Picture by 'Dockrat', in Africa Ports & Ships
With two unloading arms in use with ‘Cygnus’ in Cape Town, she was fully discharged after a stay of two and a half days alongside. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

For the etymologists, ‘Cygnus’ is named after a northern star constellation, from the Latin word meaning Swan (hence Cygnet, in the English language, being a young Swan). It is very recognisable as it forms a cross in the night sky, and is sometimes known as the Northern Cross (not to be confused with the more well-known Southern Cross of the Southern Hemisphere.) Cygnus was among the 48 constellations listed as far back as the 2nd century AD, by the famed Egyptian astronomer, Ptolemy.

More etymology exists with the name of the owning company of ‘Cygnus’. Gong Fu is the name of the traditional Chinese tea making ceremony. Often linked to the martial art ‘Kung Fu’, the derivation of the expression is ‘with skill’, which equates to the same thing in both the tea making tradition, and the ancient martial art.

With two unloading arms in use with ‘Cygnus’ in Cape Town, she was fully discharged after a stay of two and a half days alongside. At 08h00 on 14th May, she sailed from Cape Town, bound for Fujairah in the UAE. As soon as she cleared the harbour, the next MR2 tanker, ‘Largo Desert’, was brought in to replace ‘Cygnus’ on the berth and to continue with the stocking up of the winter fuel requirements for the Western Cape.

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Over 50 tons of semi-precious stones for illegal export seized in northern Mozambique

An example of garnet in its 'raw' unpolished form. Picture: Wikipedia
An example of garnet in its ‘raw’ unpolished form. Picture: Wikipedia

Mozambique customs authorities have intercepted 53 tons of semi-precious stones that were being smuggled out of the country, destined for China.

Two trucks were stopped in separate interceptions in Nampula, northern Mozambique, according to the Portuguese-language newspaper, Lusa.

The first truck with 28 tons of the semi-precious stones was stopped in the last week of April while the second interception took place last Friday, 13 May 2022. On this occasion 25 tons of the stones were discovered on board.

The semi-precious stones included tourmaline, garnet, quartz and beryl, all of which were destined for China.

The exporters had arranged false documents to help bypass Mozambique customs, the provincial director of customs, Felito Tawala told Lusa.

The people smuggling out the cargo “forged the documents that prove their fiscal suitability,” because their situation “was not good”.

It appears the unit responsible for issuing the export documents “did not recognise them,” Tawala said.

He added that this was the first seizure of semi-precious stones so far this year.

The intended port of export was not mentioned. Nampula’s natural port by distance would be Nacala but the trucks may have been intended for Beira.

Northern Mozambique is a significant producer of these items used in the manufacture of jewelry and by collectors of gemstones. source: Lusa

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Second coal train from Botswana reaches Port Maputo

Grindrod's coal terminal at Matola, Maputo in Africa Ports & Ships
Grindrod’s coal terminal shiploader at Matola, Maputo    Picture Grindrod

A second train load of coal has arrived in the port of Maputo, Mozambique, from its source at the Morupule mine near Palapye in central Botswana.

The train arrived Sunday 15 May and discharged 50 wagons of coal at the Grindrod Matola terminal, using the terminal’s tipplers.

When the first train arrived on 26 April 2022, it marked a significant milestone for Grindrod’s drybulk terminal in the main Port of Maputo, Mozambique. The rail consignment was then of 40 wagons, carrying a total of 2,000 tonnes of coal.

See that report HERE

As before, the train began its journey at Palapye in Botswana, transiting through Zimbabwe via the Chicualacuala rail network to its final destination. Grindrod discharged the wagons and loaded the cargo on a vessel destined for Europe.

This was the first trainload of coal from Botswana to the port at Maputo, in April 2022. Picture: tvm in Africa Ports & Ships
This was the first trainload of coal from Botswana to the port at Maputo, rolling through the Mozambique countryside in April 2022. Picture: tvm

A sample load was sent to Grindrod’s Matola terminal, where the compatibility of the Botswana wagons on the terminal’s tipplers was confirmed.

Grindrod said afterwards that the successful collaboration between the key stakeholders, African Railway Company, Botswana Rail, National Railways of Zimbabwe, Mozambican Railway Company (Caminhos de Ferro de Moçambique), and Grindrod, has created an export route to market for Botswana producers.

Having now unlocked this new train corridor, Grindrod says an annual volume throughput of 350,000 – 400,000 tonnes of coal from Botswana can now be earmarked for the global market.

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Plans for a 80 MW thermal power plant at Cameroon’s Port of Kribi

The Cameroon port of Kribi. Picture Port Autonome de Kribi
The Cameroon port of Kribi. Picture Port Autonome de Kribi

The Port Authority of Kribi (PAK) has announced it is planning a 80 MW thermal power plant to supply electricity to the port of Kribi.

An international call for tenders has already been issued.

According to the port authority, the successful bidder will be responsible for conducting comprehensive technical, financial, legal, and commercial due diligence.

The company will also define the technical solution to be implemented while specifying the installed capacity, the type of technology to be used, and the impact on the operational performance of the plant.

In addition, the successful company will be in charge of developing a consultation file to be used for the selection of private partners and the elaboration of contractual documents needed in the framework of the project, in particular, the power purchase agreement.

The execution period of the services is eight months maximum, including four months for the realisation of the structuring phase of the project and four months for the assistance in the selection of the private partner.

The estimated cost of all these services is CFA120 million (US$192.5 million). Applications to submit bids closes on 19 June 2022.

The report described the port authority as seeking to become energy self-sufficient and said that until now the energy needs of Kribi port were met by Globeleq, which is experiencing supply problems due to financial problems.

In addition, the National Oil and Gas Company (SNH) delivered 234.68 million m3 of natural gas to the regional thermal power plant of Kribi at the end of October 2020, which is only 59% of the plant’s requirements to generate a nominal capacity of 216 MW. source: Business in Cameroon

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Bolloré Transport & Logistics invests in cocoa loading station in San Pedro

Port of San Pedro, Ivory Coast, in Africa Ports & Ships
Port of San Pedro, Ivory Coast   Picture Bollore

Bolloré Transport & Logistics Côte d’Ivoire has invested in the construction of a new cocoa loading station in Côte d’Ivoire. The facility is located in the port area of San Pedro, in the south-west of the West African country.

The inauguration of the loading station took place last Thursday, 12 May 2022.

The fully robotised and automated infrastructure will speed up the loading operations and provide a smoother export process of bulk cocoa beans. This will provide greater competitiveness to the port of San Pedro, the world’s leading cocoa export port.

Thanks to an investment of one billion CFA francs (US$160,750), this new loading station is expected to enable Bolloré Transport & Logistics to improve its quality of service, with a potential volume increase of 30 to 50% of cocoa handled to date at this logistics base.

It will also benefit the entire maritime transport chain (shipowners, stevedores, freight forwarding agents, carriers, etc) in the port community of San Pedro.

Joël Hounsinou, Managing Director of Bolloré Transport & Logistics Côte d’Ivoire, durng the inauguration ceremony for the new loading station. Picture: Bolloré in Africa Ports & Ships
Joël Hounsinou, Managing Director of Bolloré Transport & Logistics Côte d’Ivoire, durng the inauguration ceremony for the new loading station. Picture: Bolloré

For cocoa farmers, the new logistics platform will reduce the waiting time of bush trucks at the factories where the cocoa is prepared for export, improve rotation and increase productivity.

In particular, it will make Côte d’Ivoire even more attractive as the world’s largest cocoa producer with over 2 million tonnes.

“With this new loading station, Bolloré Transport & Logistics Côte d’Ivoire is pursuing its action plan to modernise its logistics tools and support the development of the agricultural sectors that are the flagships of the Ivorian economy,” said Joël Hounsinou, Managing Director of Bolloré Transport & Logistics Côte d’Ivoire.

“Thanks to our expertise and long experience, we are able to provide concrete answers to the logistical issues of our exporting customers and to accompany them efficiently.”

Bolloré Transport & Logistics has three loading stations dedicated to cocoa, including two in the port area of Abidjan. The company says it is consolidating its leadership in the logistics of agricultural products. Its value-generating activities have also created 100 direct jobs and 1,000 indirect jobs.

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WHARF TALK: navy grey painted tanker – LARGO DESERT

The tanker Largo Desert, owned by a subsidiary of the J.P. Morgan banking group, in Cape Town harbour. Picture by 'Dockrat', in Africa Ports & Ships
The tanker Largo Desert, owned by a subsidiary of the J.P. Morgan banking group, in Cape Town harbour. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Story by Jay Gates
Picture by ‘Dockrat’

After the recent flurry of arrivals of naval vessels in Cape Town, one would be forgiven in thinking that an overall ‘navy grey’ painted tanker arriving in port would be nothing other than a naval auxiliary oiler. But you would be quite wrong in that assumption.

On 8th May at 07h00 the MR2 products tanker LARGO DESERT (IMO 9828912) arrived at the Table Bay anchorage, after a short voyage from the Eastern Cape port of East London. She remained out at anchor for just over six days, and at 10h00 on 14th May she entered Cape Town harbour and went alongside at the Tanker Basin, in the Duncan Dock.

Largo Desert in Cape Town's Duncan Dock, shortly after arriving from Durban. Picture by 'Dockrat' in Africa Ports & Ships
Largo Desert in Cape Town’s Duncan Dock, shortly after arriving from Durban and East London. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Her voyage had actually begun at the Saudi Arabian oil terminal of Al Jubail, in the Persian Gulf, where she had loaded for South African ports. Her voyage to South Africa first had her calling into Durban to discharge an initial parcel of fuel products, before she headed to East London to repeat the process. Her third stop on her coastal trip was Cape Town.

Built in 2018 by the Hyundai Vinashin Shipyard at Ninh Hoa in Vietnam, ‘Largo Desert’ is 183 metres in length and she has a deadweight of 49,703 tons. She is powered by a single Hyundai MAN-B&W 6G50ME-B9.5 6 cylinder 2 stroke main engine, producing 9,762 bhp (7,180 kW) to drive a fixed pitch propeller for a service speed of 14.2 knots.

Another view of the tanker in the Duncan Dock ahead of her moving into the tanker basin. Picture by 'Dockrat' in Africa Ports & Ships
Another view of the tanker in the Duncan Dock ahead of her moving into the tanker basin. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Her auxiliary machinery includes three Hyundai Himsen 6H21/32 generators providing 850 kW each, and a single Doosan emergency generator. She has a Kangrim auxiliary PB0501DS16 boiler, and a Kangrim PC0201P001 composite oil fired, and exhaust gas, boiler. She has 12 cargo tanks, and a cargo carrying capacity of 53,253 m3.

As the modern world has many ports that now place the Harbour Pilot onboard by helicopter, such as in Durban and Richards Bay, ‘Largo Desert’ has a raised ‘Winch Only’ platform located forward, on the starboard side. Such a platform is unusual on a tanker as small as an MR2.

The accommodation and bridge area of the MR2 tanker. Picture by 'Dockrat' in Africa Ports & Ships
The accommodation and bridge area of the MR2 tanker. Note the white funnel. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

She is classed as an Eco ‘Mipo’ Tanker, which is a highly successful Product Tanker design of Hyundai Heavy Industries. They have set aside two of their four shipyards, Mipo and Vinashin, to build the ‘Mipo’ MR2 tanker, and so far a total of almost 800 of them have been built in less than ten years.

The Vinashin shipyard is the smallest of the Hyundai dockyards, and was only opened by Hyundai in 1999, initially as a ship repair and conversion yard, not as a construction and shipbuilding yard.

Nominally owned by Jupiter 2 Limited, of Hamilton in Bermuda, which is one of the asset management subsidiaries of the J.P. Morgan banking group, ‘Largo Desert’ is operated by Anglo-Eastern Ship Management Pte. Ltd., of Singapore, and managed by Oceonix Services Ltd, of London.

Largo Desert manoeuvring towards her berth in Cape Town's tanker basin. Picture by 'Dockrat' in Africa Ports & Ships
Largo Desert manoeuvring towards her berth in Cape Town’s tanker basin. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

JP Morgan Global Maritime, the shipowning unit of the US investment bank, J.P. Morgan, acquired two of the sisterships, including ‘Largo Desert’, in February 2020 from Top Ships. The purchase price paid by J.P. Morgan for ‘Largo Desert’ was US$35 million (ZAR566.15 million), and the deal marked J.P. Morgan’s entry into the tanker sector.

One of four sisterships built for the same owner, the confusing all over naval grey colour given to a fully merchant vessel, is because her original owners, Top Ships of Athens, who are a subsidiary of Central Shipping Incorporated of Monaco, have all of their vessels painted in this colour scheme, together with a white funnel and a company motif. There are not many fully civilian, merchant navy, companies who choose overall navy grey for their vessels identity.

A final nudge or two from the tugs assists the tanker in going alongside. Picture by 'Dockrat' in Africa Ports & Ships
A final nudge or two from the tugs assists the tanker in going alongside. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

However, her new owners appear to have decided to leave her in her original colours, and have merely removed the previous company logo from the funnel. This is her second voyage to South Africa this year, and is a direct follow on from her previous voyage, which called in to both Durban, and Walvis Bay in Namibia, with fuel product parcels which were loaded at Tanjung Pelepas in Malaysia.

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Gbemisola Saraki becomes Nigeria’s new transport minister as Amaechi resigns

Gbemisola Saraki, Nigeria's new trasport minister in Africa Ports & Ships
Gbemisola Saraki, Nigeria’s new transport minister

As a consequence of the resignation of Nigeria’s Transportation Minister, Rotimi Amaechi, the Minister of State for Transportation, Senator Gbemisola Ruqayyah Saraki, has automatically stepped up and assumed office in Amaechi’s place.

Rotimi Amaechi in Africa Ports & Ships
Rotimi Amaechi

Amaechi has announced his intention of contesting the 2023 presidential election,

His resignation as transport minister follows an instruction from Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari last week that all political appointees, including ministers, ambassadors and heads of agencies who intend offering themselves for election in 2023, must resign their current positions by 16 May 2022.

“It is with mixed feelings that I tender my resignation as the Minister of Transportation of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to contest for the Presidential ticket of our great party, the All Progressives Congress,” he said.

Amaechi has been Nigeria’s transport minister since 2015.

NIMASA Director-General

Another person affected by the ruling is the Director-General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Bashir Jamoh, who had indicated his intention of standing for governorship of Kaduna State.

Bashir Jamoh in Africa Ports & Ships
Bashir Jamoh

Jamoh expressed this interest on behalf of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), and paid the obligatory nomination fee, but has since declined to stand down by Monday as Director-General of the country’s maritime safety authority.

Jamoh has been in office at NIMASA for only two years and in that short time has drawn favourable comment on his performance with the organisation.

His intentions were not yet confirmed earlier this week.

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IN CONVERSATION: Mombasa Port: how Kenya’s auditor-general misread China’s Standard Gauge Railway contracts

A general view shows the Standard Gauge Railway train constructed by the Chinese Communications Construction Company and financed by Chinese government. Simon Maina/AFP via Getty Images

Deborah Brautigam, Johns Hopkins University

In December 2018, a leaked letter from the Kenyan auditor-general’s office sparked a rumour that Kenya had staked its bustling Mombasa Port as collateral for the Chinese-financed Standard Gauge Railway. Our new research shows why the collateral rumour is wrong.

The former auditor-general, Edward Ouko, was completing the 2017/18 audit of the national ports authority. He warned that the port authority’s assets – of which Mombasa Port is the most valuable – risked being taken over by China Eximbank if Kenya defaulted on the US$3.6 billion railway loans.

The profitable Mombasa Port is East Africa’s main international trade gateway. Launched in 2017, the railway was intended to seamlessly link the port to Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, and landlocked countries beyond.

The Kenyan fears mirrored another tale widely circulated earlier in 2018. In that story, China was said to have “seized” Hambantota Port in Sri Lanka when the island nation had trouble repaying Chinese loans. This “debt trap diplomacy” allegation was later shown to be a myth, but not before it sparked fears about other large Chinese projects.

The Chinese and Kenyan governments both denied that Mombasa Port was collateral but offered no explanation. Perplexed by the leaked letter, our team of scholars and practitioners of international commercial law and project finance spent months collecting primary documents and mapping the project’s contractual structure.

To our surprise, we found that the collateral rumour stemmed from a seemingly tiny but critical misreading by the auditor-general. The chief auditor mistakenly labelled the ports authority as a borrower, responsible for repaying the Chinese railway loans. He charged that by waiving sovereign immunity, Kenya’s government had “expressly guaranteed” that the ports authority’s assets could be used to repay the Chinese loan. The auditor-general was mistaken in both charges.

For the auditor-general, and many others, the debate over the railway and Mombasa Port was complicated by technical terms and practices. These are used routinely in the law and business of international project finance but are unfamiliar outside this arena.

Although some public education would have been necessary, releasing the contracts (which Kenya’s High Court ordered the government to do just last week) might have prevented the auditor-general’s mistake, and would have allowed debate on the facts, rather than rumours.

Mapping the project

The four key stakeholders in the financing of the Standard Gauge Railway were Kenya’s National Treasury (the borrower), the Kenya Railway Corporation (the project company), the Kenya Ports Authority and China Eximbank (the lender). The figure below maps the complicated contractual and payment arrangements.


The complicated contractual and payment arrangements.  Author supplied

Kenya’s treasury explained the railway’s financing arrangements and credit enhancements in some detail in a 2013 briefing to Kenya’s parliament. The government had arranged several credit enhancements to boost the financial attractiveness of the costly project, rendering it “bankable”.

Among these was a “take or pay” agreement signed between the national railway corporation and the ports authority. Under this 15 year agreement, the ports authority undertook to ship (or “take”) a minimum amount of cargo on the new railway every year. If cargo shipments dropped below the agreed annual level, Kenya Ports Authority would draw on its own revenues to cover (“pay”) the shortfall.

The ports authority is thus the Standard Gauge Railway’s major client, not its collateral. The treasury also pledged that the railway development levy, a 1.5% tax on Kenya’s imports, would support the project.

The mistakes

One of our most important findings is that the government’s chief auditor was mistaken to call Kenya Ports Authority a borrower. If the ports authority was a borrower, it would mean that it had co-signed the Chinese loans and was equally responsible for repayment. But the ports authority is not in any sense a borrower.

Clause 17.5 of the four party agreement quoted by the auditor-general in its report spelled out the relationships: “Each of the Borrower, Kenya Rail Company and Kenya Port Authority agrees…”

Our legal expert immediately noted that this refers to three entities: Kenya’s treasury (the borrower), the rail company and the port authority.

Map showing east Africa and lines.

East Africa Standard Gauge Railway.  China Africa Research Initiative.

Yet this distinction was missed by the auditor-general, who wrongly paraphrased the clause as referring to two entities: “each of the borrowers, in this case Kenya Railways Corporation and Kenya Ports Authority…”

The auditor-general then pointed to Clause 17.5 to say that the ports authority was a borrower and therefore its assets were at risk. The auditor accused the ports authority of failing to disclose this during the audit. The auditor-general was operating from incorrect assumptions that influenced its opinion on the ports authority’s responsibilities.

What does the waiver of sovereign immunity mean?

The Treasury, Kenya Ports Authority and Kenya Railways Corporation all signed “waivers of sovereign immunity”. This is because all three were parties to various contracts in the overall package. Under international law, sovereign states and entities they control have sovereign immunity. This means they are generally immune from lawsuits and cannot be compelled to appear before a foreign court or arbitration venue, or to enforce a judgement rendered outside their borders. Yet few international banks will offer a loan if there is no possibility of arbitration should a dispute occur and no legal path to recover their money should the borrower default.

A published cache of loan contracts signed by Cameroon with banks and export credit agencies from Austria, India, Germany, Spain, Turkey, and the UK shows that all required these clauses. As one American lawyer noted,

leaving out a sovereign immunity waiver in an international commercial loan contract would be professional malpractice.

However, there is quite a large gulf between a general sovereign immunity waiver and specifying a particular asset like a port as collateral.

Our findings clarify similar rumours that borrowing governments have pledged strategic assets like land or ports in exchange for Chinese finance. These involve Zambia (Kenneth Kaunda Airport), Uganda (Entebbe Airport) and Montenegro (Port of Bar).

The debt trap diplomacy fear that borrowers’ strategic assets are directly (and deliberately) at risk from Chinese banks continues to fail the test of evidence.The Conversation

Deborah Brautigam, Bernard L. Schwartz Professor of International Political Economy, Johns Hopkins University

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

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SA Navy’s new patrol vessel SAS Sekhukhune is to be taken into service today

Artist's impression of SAS Sekhukhune at sea in Table Bay. Picture: Damen in Africa Ports & Ships
Artist’s impression of SAS Sekhukhune at sea in Table Bay. Picture: Damen

The first of three inshore patrol boats, officially designated as multi-mission inshore patrol vessels (MMIPV) is to be taken into service with the South African Navy today at a ceremony at Simon’s Town Naval Base.

The vessel is named SAS SEKHUKHUNE (P1571) and has been built at the Damen Cape Town shipyard.

The three new craft will join the earlier Warrior Class patrol vessels of the SA Navy – the others being SAS ISAAC DYOBHA (P1565) and SAS MAKHANDA (P1569), with a third, SAS GALASHEWE (P1567) having been recently decommissioned to reserve status.

These are based at the Durban Naval Base.

SAS Sekhukhune, whose keel was laid in February 2020, has successfully completed her sea trials and is now ready for service, under the command of Commander Jabulani Mashamba.

She has been built to a standard Damen Stan Patrol 6211 series design, utilising the distinctive Damen Sea Axe Bow, which identifies these vessels at first glance.

The Sea Axe bow is designed to reduce slamming into the waves when at sea, thus providing for more comfortable operations in open water – something that those crewing the older Warrior class ships of the former strike craft squadron will welcome.

The vessel is 62 metres in length and will be capable of stated speeds of 26.5 knots and ranges of 4,000 nautical miles. They will have crews of 62 persons.and will carry two RHIBs of 7 and 9 metres respectively for boarding purposes.

Following SAS Sekhukhune P1571 will be SAS Adam Kok (P1572), whose keel was laid in August 2020, and the third ship named SAS Shaka (P1573).

According to the SA Navy Public Relations Department, details of the role that the new MMIPVs will provide will be made available during today’s event.

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President Nyusi inaugurates Port of Maputo’s rehabilitated berths

President Filipe Nyusi inaugurating the rehabilitated berths at the Port of Maputo in Africa Ports & Ships
President Filipe Nyusi inaugurating the rehabilitated berths at the Port of Maputo MPDC

A total of 1058 metres of berthing area, comprising berths 6, 7, 8, and 9, were inaugurated on Wednesday, 11 May 2022, by the President of Mozambique, Filipe Jacinto Nyusi.

The berths, rehabilitated, expanded, and dredged to depths of up to -16 metres, are now fully operational, allowing the port to receive and load an increasing number of bigger vessels up to capesize.

New bollards installed at the rehabilitated berths in Africa Ports & Ships
New bollards installed at the rehabilitated berths

President Nyusi said that the resultant increase in shipments meant more revenue and income for Mozambicans. He said the strategic intent to invest in the Port of Maputo’s infrastructure has contributed significantly to adding value to the business.

“These berths are a fundamental pillar for implementing the master plan launched in 2010 and approved by the Government of Mozambique,” said Osório Lucas, CEO of Maputo Port Development Company (MPDC), the company holding the concession to operate the port.

“They are also the foundation of the new master plan that we presented publicly yesterday at our Conference.”

This referred to the 7th Conference of the Port of Maputo which preceded the inauguration, during which the port’s future up to and beyond 2043 was presented.

Some of the planned investments are:

• Construction of a new berth for bulk cargo
• Creation of a food terminal (grains, sugar, vegetable oils, molasses)
• Expansion of the container terminal

• Expansion of the intermodal container terminal (MICD)

• Expanding TCM capacity to 12 MTPA

Lucas reinforced that it is essential to align investment throughout the corridor. “We will continue to work with CFM and Transnet to achieve a better balance between road and rail freight, promoting an integrated development that will further enhance the corridor’s growth,” he said.

Included in the vision for the port’s future are the fundamental principles of port planning in its interaction with the city, port efficiency, and sustainable development.

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WHARF TALK:  Kamsarmax bulk carrier – AEOLIAN

The Kamsarmax bulk carrier Aeolian on the Landing Wall in Cape Town harbour. Picture by 'Dockrat' in Africa Ports & Ships
The Kamsarmax bulk carrier Aeolian on the Landing Wall in Cape Town harbour. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Story by Jay Gates
Pictures by ‘Dockrat’

Cape Town gets its fair share of unusual, or at least unexpected, callers who require the shoreside support services of the many marine engineering companies that operate in the port. Cape Town harbour has two double sided quays, namely the aptly named Repair Quay, and the Landing Wall, set aside to receive such visitors in need of a place of refuge. Each of these quays has a total of 2 berths per side, giving a total of 8 available berths, and with the Landing Wall having the deeper berths.

They are unusual callers, because Cape Town would not in normal circumstances be dealing with them under their trading patterns. Those that need such shoreside assistance include various large offshore construction and accommodation vessels, VLCC tankers, and large gearless bulk carriers, up to Capesize. Usually, after a few days of required quayside attention, they sail away never to be seen again. What doesn’t normally happen is for such a large vessel to enter the Sturrock Drydock for further attention.

Back on 13th April at 18h00, the Kamsarmax gearless bulk carrier AEOLIAN (IMO 9580209) arrived at the Table Bay anchorage, from Mombasa in Kenya. She remained out at anchor for almost six days, and on 19th April at 12h00 she entered Cape Town harbour, proceeding to the Landing Wall in the Duncan Dock. Such an arrival, of such an unusual vessel for Cape Town, normally meant only one thing, and a quick spot of shoreside engineering assistance was required.

Aeolian in the Sturrock dry dock on 12 May 2022. Picture by 'Dockrat' in Africa Ports & Ships
Aeolian in Cape Town’s Sturrock dry dock on 12 May 2022. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Built in 2012 by Sanoyas Mizushima Shipyard at Kurashiki in Japan, ‘Aeolian’ is 229 metres in length, and has a deadweight of 83,478 tons. Those two dimensions are what make her a Kamsarmax bulk carrier, as opposed to the slightly smaller Panamax bulk carrier, and enable her to be the largest vessel that is capable of berthing at the bulk bauxite port of Kamsar, located in the West African Republic of Guinea.

She is powered by a single Mitsui MAN-B&W 6S60MC-C 6 cylinder 2 stroke main engine producing 14,602 bhp (10,740 kW), driving a fixed pitch propeller for a service speed of 14 knots. She has four generators providing 1,750 kW, and she has an Osaka auxiliary vertical oil fired boiler.

The massive rudder and stern area of the bulk carrier. Picture by 'Dockrat' in Africa Ports & Ships
It was a tight squeeze in the dry dock for the bulk carrier in terms of its width. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

She is a gearless bulk carrier, and has seven holds. Her cargo carrying capacity is 96,078 m2, which was put to good use on her previous voyage. She loaded a full cargo of grain from the Argentinian bulk wheat port of Puerto Quequen, in Buenos Aires Province. After discharging her cargo in Mombasa, she proceeded, in ballast, direct to Cape Town.

The massive rudder at the stern of the bulker Aeolian. Picture by 'Dockrat' in Africa Ports & Ships
The massive rudder at the stern of the bulker Aeolian. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Owned by Costamare Incorporated of Monaco, ‘Aeolian’ is operated by Costamare Shipping Co. Ltd. of Athens, and she is managed by V Ships (Greece) Ltd., also of Athens. Her funnel colours of grey from deck level, and red to the upper part, gives away her former owners as being the famous Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha Ltd. of Tokyo, better known as “K” Line, and previously known as ‘Spring Aeolian, which explains why her name is not centrally located on her stern.

This is the bow of the bulk carrier. Notew the blunt 'nose'. Picture by 'Dockrat' in Africa Ports & Ships
This is the bow of the bulk carrier. Note the blunt ‘nose’ and compare the size of the workman below in the dock.. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Built as an Eco-Ship, ‘Aeolian’ has a high efficiency propeller, with the Sanoyas Tandem Fin (STF) fitted ahead of the propeller, which gives a 6% fuel saving. She has an energy saving fuel heating system, thus reducing CO2 emissions, and an independent bilge segregation system in her engine room.

She also has a high capacity freshwater generator, and dedicated tanks for hold washing and disposal water, dirty hold bilge tanks, as well as segregated tanks for all accommodation discharges.

After almost three weeks alongside the Landing Wall, ‘Aeolian’ entered the Sturrock Drydock on 8th May. This, despite initial reports saying that her visit was just for an internal clean-up, and some repainting work. Once in the drydock, which was a squeeze for a vessel with a 32.3 metre beam, based on the bottom of the Sturrock drydock being only 38.4 metres wide, a programme of more in-depth work began.

Aeolian berthed at the Landing Wall in Cape Town's Duncan Dock. Picture by 'Dockrat'
Aeolian berthed at the Landing Wall in Cape Town’s Duncan Dock. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Despite her hull looking quite clean, she was given a full hull fresh water wash-down in the drydock. Engineers were seen working on her hatch covers, working within her tanks, and a number of engine room motors were taken ashore for a bench service. Not bad for a mere tidy-up and some minor repainting. Once her drydock period is over, it is not yet known where her next destination will be, although a Kamsarmax bulk carrier in Africa may give a misleading clue as to where it may be.

The bulker berthed at the Landing Wall, Cape Town harbour. Picture by 'Dockrat' in Africa Ports & Ships
The bulker berthed at the Landing Wall, Cape Town harbour. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

This is not her first visit to South Africa in the last six months, as she called into Richards Bay back in November 2021. For the etymologists out there, her name is derived from the Greek God of the Wind, Aeolus, and Aeolian means ‘relating to, or arising from, the action of the wind.’ A geological aeolian feature are the magnificent coastal Namib Desert sand dunes.

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CMF ships make successive drug hauls in north-western Indian Ocean

U.S. Coast Guard Cutters Emlen Tunnell (WPC 1145) and Glen Harris (WPC 1144) are moored pierside in Beirut, Lebanon in January this year. Emlen Tunnell and Glen Harris are deployed to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations to help ensure maritime security and stability in the Middle East region. Picture: U.S. Army photo by Cpl. DeAndre Dawkins, in Africa Ports & Ships
U.S. Coast Guard Cutters Emlen Tunnell (WPC 1145) and Glen Harris (WPC 1144) are moored pierside in Beirut, Lebanon in January this year. Emlen Tunnell and Glen Harris are deployed to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations to help ensure maritime security and stability in the Middle East region. Picture: U.S. Army photo by Cpl. DeAndre Dawkins

Naval forces operating with Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) in the waters of the Gulf of Aden and Gulf of Oman have registered several successful drug hauls so far this month.

On 5 May the Royal Navy frigate, HMS Montrose F236, was operating as part of Combined Task Force (CTF) 150, one of four task forces under Combined Maritime Forces. The international naval force has increased regional patrols to locate and disrupt unlawful maritime activity.

The seizure included 95 kilograms of heroin with an estimated U.S. street value of $4 million.

“This successful seizure by HMS Montrose is the testimony of vigilance and enhanced patrolling by CTF 150 units against illicit activities in the maritime domain,” said Commodore Vaqar Muhammad, commander of CTF 150.

Then on Sunday, 15 May, a U.S. Coast Guard fast response cutter, USCGC Glen Harris (WPC 1144) seized illicit narcotics from a fishing vessel while conducting patrols in the Gulf of Oman.

The haul consisted of 182 kilograms of heroin, 182 kilograms of methamphetamine, 27 kilograms of amphetamine pills, and 568 kilograms of hashish with a total estimated U.S. street value of $17 million.

USCGC Glen Harris is also operating as part of Combined Task Force (CTF) 150.

This closely followed the USCGC Emlen Tunnell (WPC 1145) interdicting a separate fishing vessel in the Gulf of Oman on Thursday 12 May and seizing methamphetamine and hashish worth $10,000.

Combined Maritime Forces is the largest multinational naval partnership in the world. The organisation includes 34 nations and is headquartered in Bahrain with U.S. Naval Forces Central Command and U.S. 5th Fleet.

HMS Montrose (F236), currently operating with CTF 150. Picture: Royal Navy, in Africa Ports & Ships
HMS Montrose (F236), currently operating with CTF 150.  Picture: Royal Navy

Apart from the CMF and its 34 nations including the US and operating with four separate groups CTF 150 (Maritime Security Operations outside the Arabian Gulf); CTF 151 (Counter-Piracy); CTF 152 (Maritime Security Operations inside the Arabian Gulf); and CTF 153 (Red Sea Maritime Security), other international interests are active in these regions.

Littoral states such as Egypt and Saudi Arabia have obvious interests, but other nations including Qatar and the UAE and Turkey have been steadily increasing their influence in these areas, as has China which has a naval station facility already established at Djibouti from which to safeguard their commercial shipping interests and an ongoing naval presence.

Iran is another player, ostensibly to look after its shipping interests although Iran is also an active participant in the ongoing civil war in Yemen, as are the UAE and Saudi Arabia.

All of these nations continue to increase their power and influence over one of the world’s most important maritime choke points. Meanwhile, the movement by maritime means of narcotics and other illegal substances, as well as people trafficking, continues, most often involving small stateless trading and fishing dhows as the active means of smuggling.

Adding to the complexity of the matter, many of the countries taking part in this activity are rivals of one sort or another, with each attempting to increase its influence in an area that for thousands of years has resisted control with traders, pirates and traffickers continuing in their own time-honoured fashion.

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amaBhungane exposure: Fuel theft from Kriel Power Station

Investigative journalist at amaBhungane, Tabelo Timse, has been taking a look into fuel theft reports at the Kriel Power Station. These relate to the syndicates involved with fuel theft from the Transnet pipelines, as documented in various issues of Africa Ports & Ships.   Read on, then follow the link below.

Tabelo Timse reports:

Dear amaB reader,

A source who came forward after our story on syndicates preying on the Transnet fuel pipeline, said to me that if I want to know about “real fuel theft”, I must look at Kriel power station.

My stories always start with desktop research to get a sense of the topic; however, I didn’t find anything on fuel theft at Kriel power station, let alone on a large scale. Little did I know I would stumble onto a serious crime costing Eskom and the country losses of millions of rands.

It became clear to me why this phenomenon managed to stay under the radar – it involved a dangerous and connected crime syndicate.

Despite the dangers there were a few brave drivers from trucking companies who were willing to talk and their motivation was that they were tired of seeing people living beyond their means due to criminality.

In today’s story we reveal why and how theft at this power station was such a well kept secret.

Tabelo Timse,Investigator
Digging dung, fertilising democracy

To read the report in amaBhungane, CLICK HERE

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TRADE NEWS: Vesconite facilitates extra-large marine bearings

One of the extra-large marine bearings that Vesconite Bearings produced recently, in Africa Ports & Ships
One of the extra-large marine bearings that Vesconite Bearings produced recently.  Supplied

Vesconite Bearings has established a dedicated extra-large bearings facility within its factory.

It will manufacture no-swell low-friction self-lubricating bearings for large ocean-going vessels, including container ships and oil tankers.

The dedicated facility houses five large horizontal lathes, including a six-metre lathe and two large vertical lathes.

Read the rest of this report in the TRADE NEWS section available by CLICKING HERE

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Cameroon expects to import 510,000 tonnes of oil products in next quarter

It’s reported in the Cameroon media that the Central West African country expects to import 510,000 metric tonnes of fuel products over the next quarter.

This was announced by the Water & Energy minister, Gaston Eloundou Essomba, who said an international call for tenders to select the suppliers has already been launched.

Applications to tender closed on Friday 13 May 2022.

The Cameroon government intends purchasing 175,000 tonnes of petrol, 255,000 tonnes of diesel, 60,000 tonnes of Jet A1, and 30,000 tonnes of fuel oil 3500. This is an overall increase of 23.5% or an additional 120,000 tonnes compared with the same period of 2021.

Cameroon is reported to have faced shortages of petroleum products in recent months.

The country altered its system of ordering petroleum products on the international market following the fire at Cameroon’s only refinery in May 2019.   source: Business in Cameroon

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Tanker Elandra Denali with Russian oil arrives off South African Cape coast

Elandra Denali, currently off the South African Cape coast. Picture: Fleetmon
Elandra Denali, currently off the South African Cape coast. Picture: Fleetmon

As shipping companies wind down their dealings with Russia, one tanker has aroused considerable interest locally in South Africa.

She is the 300,000-dwt tanker ELANDRA DENALI (IMO 9340635) which Africa Ports & Ships reported was heading towards South Africa with a cargo of Russian oil. The oil was going to be discharged at the port of Saldanha Bay into the large underground Saldanha Bay oil storage facility.

This facility dates back to South Africa’s isolation years in which sanctions were aimed at preventing South Africa from purchasing oil. The sanctions busting of that time is another story all by itself, which included tankers slipping into Durban harbour under darkness of night and using a code (ship name altered) and tarpaulins over the side obscuring the real name.

The government of the day also created six huge underground storage facilities at Saldanha Bay, said to be among the largest storage facilities in the world, as well abandoned mines in the Transvaal – thus providing the country with a massive strategic reserve in case of emergency.

With all the oil in the Saldanha tanks having been sold by members of the current government under controversial circumstances, the facility in the Western Cape remains partly unused and, it appears, a convenient place for Russian oil to be stored until a later date.

This is made possible by South Africa having adopted a neutral stance towards the situation in the Ukraine.

In our original report – see HERE – we reported two ships were thought to be bringing oil to Saldanha, but also confirmed in the same article that the first ship had already sailed around the Cape and was heading for the Middle East and would therefore not be discharging her oil ashore in South Africa.

As this report is being written (Sunday 15 May 2022, 21h30), the second ship, Elandra Denali has arrived off the Western Cape coast on schedule but at 21h00 local time was sailing south-west of Saldanha at 10.3 knots, in the general direction of Cape Town.

A little earlier (19h29) the tanker was showing an ETA for Saldanha Bay as 04h00 local time.

If the tanker holds her current course Elandra Denali will round the Cape into the Indian Ocean during the early hours of the morning, Monday 16 May. AIS however continues to show her destination as Saldanha Bay.

Only time will now tell….


At  23h30 on 15 May 2022 the tanker Elandra Denali, having bypassed Saldanha Bay, suddenly altered her destination to Fujairah ‘For Orders’.  Does this mean a second tanker was turned away by the authorities?

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WHARF TALK: Floating Storage and Regasification Unit – GOLAR IGLOO

The Floating Storage and Regasification Unit Golar Igloo arrives in Cape Town harbour on a misty May morning. Picture by 'Dockrat' in Africa Ports & Ships
The Floating Storage and Regasification Unit Golar Igloo arrives in Cape Town harbour on a misty May morning. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Story by Jay Gates
Pictures by ‘Dockrat’

The arrival in Cape Town, let alone any other port in South Africa, of an LNG tanker is considered a rarity. The reason for this is that there are no port facilities in the country to handle the discharge of Liquid Natural Gas.

What is even rarer is the recent arrival of more than one Floating Storage and Regasification Unit (FSRU), a vessel that is nothing more than an LNG Tanker converted for a very specific onshore purpose of providing natural gas to an onshore receiving power station, which provides electricity for the national grid.

On 12th May at 09h00 the Floating Storage and Regasification Unit GOLAR IGLOO (IMO 9633991) arrived off Cape Town from Fujairah in the UAE. She entered Cape Town harbour and proceeded directly to the Landing Wall in the Duncan Dock, a sure sign that an element of shoreside support was required.

Built in 2014 by Samsung Shipbuilding and Heavy Industries at Geoje in South Korea, ‘Golar Igloo’ is 293 metres in length and has a deadweight of 87,015 tons. She is powered by three Wärtsilä 12V50DF generators providing 46,112 bhp (33,915 kW), which power electric motors, to drive a fixed pitch propeller for a service speed of 19.5 knots.

The large FSRU makes for an impressive sight as she draws near. Picture by 'Dockrat' in Africa Ports & Ships
The large FSRU makes for an impressive sight as she draws near. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Her power set up is very unusual, and unique to LNG vessels, in that she is considered a TFDE vessel, or Tri-Fuel Diesel-Electric vessel. This means she is able to burn one of three available fuels, namely Heavy Fuel Oil (HFO), Marine Gas Oil (MGO) from her onboard fuel tanks, or Natural Gas from her cargo tanks. The natural gas comes as a byproduct of the boil off of the LNG in her cargo tanks.

Instead of an FSRU or an LNG tanker, ‘Golar Igloo’ is sometimes described as either an ‘Offshore Support Vessel’, or an ‘Offshore Processing Vessel’. As built she was not intended for normal LNG Tanker commercial service of carrying natural gas around the world. She was built specifically as a vessel that would be moored offshore to provide natural gas to onshore power stations.

Golar Igloo entering the harbour at Cape Town. Picture by 'Dockrat' in Africa Ports & Ships
Golar Igloo entering the harbour at Cape Town. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

On completion she was immediately chartered for an initial period of 5 years to the Kuwait National Petroleum Company (KNPC), and for nine months of every year she would be based at the Mina Al Ahmadi LNG Gasport in Kuwait. For the other three months of the year ‘Golar Igloo’ was released to be able to sail on spot charters in delivering LNG elsewhere.

Her main function was to provide gas to the Kuwait power providers during the long, hot, summer months. Unlike northern climates that have an increased power demand in winter, due to heating requirements, Kuwait has the opposite in that summer requirement for air conditioning and cooling makes summer their peak power supply season.

Hull marks give evidence of her long time spent alongside as the Kuwaiti FSRU. Picture by 'Dockrat' in Africa Ports & Ships
Hull marks leave evidence of her long time spent alongside as the Kuwaiti FSRU. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Kuwait, despite her own oil reserves, is a major LNG importer. The initial 5 year contract for ‘Golar Igloo’ was then extended by two years to 2021, and then extended for a further year to March 2022, with the possibility of a further extension to December 2022.

In the last year, she was previously alongside at Mina Al Ahmadi, providing LNG for a period of 263 days, between 13th February 2021 and 3rd November 2021. On her release for her commercial voyages, she sailed to Qatar, and picked up a full LNG cargo at Ras Laffan, for delivery to Tianjin in China. She then returned to Ras Laffan and picked up another LNG cargo, this time for Kochi in India. She then returned to Fujairah, before sailing south for Cape Town.

Golar Igloo's bridge and accommodation area. Picture by 'Dockrat' in Africa Ports & Ships
Golar Igloo’s bridge and accommodation area. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

She has a cargo carrying capacity of 166,809 m3, and her LNG is carried in membrane tanks. In 2020 she received a proprietary hydro energy system. Her gasification system requires seawater to operate, and her gasification system is situated 25 metres above sea level. The power required to pump seawater up 25 metres on a continuous basis is quite large. The used seawater is then returned back 25 metres into the sea.

The hydro energy system installed is basically a simple hydro-electric system. The fall of seawater through the system delivers an additional 1.2 MW of clean energy for use in the vessel. It is equivalent to a 7% saving of 5 tons of fuel per day, when operating at full load. As ‘Golar Igloo’ operates at full load for the majority of her time alongside, this is a considerable saving for the client.

The FSRU entering Duncan Dock en-route to the Landing Wall. Picture by 'Dockrat' in Africa Ports & Ships
The FSRU entering Duncan Dock en-route to the Landing Wall. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Her ownership is currently in flux as her parent company was taken over in December 2021. Originally owned by Golar LNG partners LP, of Hamilton in Bermuda, ‘Golar Igloo’ was operated by Golar Management (UK) Ltd., of London, and managed by Golar Management AS, of Oslo. The new parent company is now New Fortress Energy Incorporated, of New York City.

A new set of operational and management companies, replacing the Golar Management companies will take over full control by May 2022, with operations being carried out by Cool Company Management Ltd., based in the same London offices, and ship management by Cool Company Management AS, of Oslo. She will retain her Golar name.

Polar Igloo under Table Mountain. Picture by 'Dockrat' in Africa Ports & Ships
Polar Igloo under Table Mountain. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Her parent company goes back to 1946, and is well known in the tanker industry, and also in the passenger sector, as the company were partners in Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines. The founders of the company were Tryvge Gotaas and Harry Larsen, and the company was known as Gotaas-Larsen Shipping. All ships in the fleet received a prefix made up of the first few letters of the founder’s surnames, i.e. GOLAR.

Their main business, however, was in tankers, and they were one of the earliest companies to move into the LNG tanker market. Gotaas-Larsen were the first company to introduce the concept of a Floating Storage Regasification Unit. In 2008, they converted the 1981 built LNG tanker ‘Golar Spirit’ into a FSRU for use in Brazil.

Polar Igloo about to go alongside her berth on Cape Town's Landing Wall. Picture by 'Dockrat' in Africa Ports & Ships
Polar Igloo about to go alongside her berth on Cape Town’s Landing Wall. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Her stay in Cape Town was less than one day, so her requirement for calling in was sorted out in short order, and at 06h00 on 13th May, ‘Golar Igloo’ sailed from Cape Town, with a mysterious destination of ‘Atlantic Basin’. This is indicative of a ‘For Orders’ destination, and her owners will, no doubt, direct ‘Golar Igloo’ to her next LNG port in good time.

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Maputo Port Fruit Terminal eases into  export of citrus

Citrus being loaded into a CMA CGM container ship at the Port of Maputo, in Africa Ports & Ships
Citrus being loaded into a CMA CGM container ship at the Port of Maputo    MPDC

After a six-year hiatus, the port of Maputo in southern Mozambique is again a fruit export centre, with citrus from the neighbouring Mpumalanga and Limpopo provinces being shipped from this port.

Since the previous Maputo Fruit Terminal ceased operating the port of Durban had to take on the increased volumes, despite some congestion constraints at times.

With a significant volume of South Africa’s citrus grown in the two north-eastern provinces of South Africa, it seems only logical that the Maputo port should once again re-enter the citrus export market.

With Maputo port having undergone a radical transformation, including dredging to enable larger ships to call, it was only a matter of time for the port to once again handle citrus exports during the months May to September/October.

Following negotiations between the Maputo Port Development Company (MPDC), which operates the port on concession from the Mozambique state-owned port and rail company CFM, and a newly-created company called the Maputo Port Fruit Terminal (MPFT), a warehouse on the quayside has been leased and although there are at present no cooling facilities in the harbour, Maputo is once again able to take on the export of citrus.

Maputo Port Fruit Terminal warehouse on the quayside in Africa Ports & Ships
Maputo Port Fruit Terminal warehouse on the quayside   mpdc

The next step is to ensure that shipping services are available for this added commodity, with some shipping lines adopting a wait and see approach to whether citrus producers in South Africa would send fruit to Maputo.

Adding to the uncertainty all round, producers remained unsure whether shipping lines would add a call to their existing schedules.

Another concern has been the efficiency of the border crossing at Ressano Garcia/Komatipoort, which hasn’t always lived up to some of the hype written about it. The latest reports say that the crossing has been a pleasant surprise, thus allowing another box to be ticked.

Nevertheless several shipping lines have recently added direct services to the port at Maputo, as reported in these pages. These are the French line CMA CGM with a service to Singapore, and Unifeeder which is due to commence a service to Jebel Ali in Dubai as from the end of May.

In addition, Baltic Shipping which operates with conventional reefer ships, has agreed to include a call at the Mozambique port.

When cargo is available shipping companies usually begin to follow and the same may now be expected of Maputo as fruit gets delivered to the port for export. The secret to its success will remain that border crossing and whether its reported efficiency levels can be evidenced and maintained.

As for the lack of cooler facilities, the MPFT gained approval last July of a protocol to allow the transport of loose pallets to Maputo, the protocol for ambient loading and Perishable Product Export Control Board approval of the MPFT warehouse at Maputo, and implementation of the Paltrack Palport system by MPFT.

CMA CGM pallets on the MPFT warehouse floor heading to Singapore, in Africa Ports & Ships
CMA CGM pallets on the MPFT warehouse floor heading to Singapore   CMA CGM   

Meanwhile, it is reported that several large fruit exporters have indicated their support and will no doubt be monitoring closely how well MPFT and the port handles their product.

The Maputo Port Fruit Terminal is capable of handling up to 300 containers per week. Already, five ships have left the port loaded with citrus fruit at the MPFT and by the end of may the terminal expects at least 100 containers of citrus for the markets in South East Asia.

Following the citrus season the MPFT intends handling the export of macadamias. (Acknowledgements to Fruit Plaza)

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Forum & Expo to detail upgrades and plans throughout African ports

Providing direct access to stakeholders responsible for major port projects

THE 10th annual Transport Evolution Africa Forum & Expo that is to be held at the Inkosi Albert Luthuli ICC Complex in Durban on 28 – 29 September 2022 will unpack and give a detailed status update on all upgrades and plans throughout African ports.

Opening stage, in Africa Ports & Ships

That’s the word from the organisers, dmg events.

Stakeholders within the African transport sector will meet in Durban to discuss, showcase, and exchange ideas in preparation to tackle the large pipeline of projects recently announced.

Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula recently revealed a bundle of investments valued at more than R26 billion in South Africa’s oceans economy.

These investments will result in:

The Strategic Fuel Fund constructing an onshore Liquid Natural Gas (LNG) regasification facility at the Port of Ngqura at an estimated cost of $1.5 billion.

Mnambithi Terminals investing R1.5 billion to develop and operate a liquid bulk terminal at the Maydon Wharf 6 in the Port of Durban.

Hillside Aluminium, owned by JSE-listed commodities multinational South32, renewing existing leases in the Port of Richards Bay for a bulk storage silos facility, pitch tanks terminal, stockyard facility and conveyor belt system effluent pipeline facility, resulting in R338 million annual revenue to Transnet and the municipality of Richards Bay, R2 billion a year in local procurement expenditure and R1.1 billion a year in contribution to the tax base.

The renewal of existing leases by Dormac Marine Engineering that generate rental income for Transnet and eThekwini Municipality (Durban), which is currently worth R17.5 million a year.

Speaking recently at the Port of Durban, Mbalula said these critical investments will contribute towards progressing South Africa’s interests through Operation Phakisa. Operation Phakisa is an initiative of the South African government that is designed to fast track the implementation of solutions on critical development issues.

Further information is available from

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NSRI Durban helps with release of young albatross

NSRI Durban helps with release of young albatross. In Africa Ports & Ships
After being released and then landing in the sea alongside the rescue craft, the wandering albatross begins his flight with powerful thrusts of his wings. Picture: NSRI

Our reporting of the National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) generally involves stories of crew from one of the stations dotted around the coast, going out deepsea to medically assess and evacuate a seriously ill or injured seafarer on board an ocean-going ship.

Space seldom allows us to cover similar duties involving the evacuation of crew on board ships at one of the offshore anchorages outside port, but occasionally along comes a report of something out-of-the-ordinary that simply MUST be repeated.

Here is one of those:

Paul Bevis, NSRI Durban duty coxswain, reports:

On Thursday, 12 May, our NSRI Durban duty crew gathered at our NSRI Durban rescue base to prepare for an operation to assist uShaka Sea World to release a juvenile Albatross at sea.

The sea rescue craft Spirit of Surfski VI was prepared for the mission.

A juvenile Indian Yellow Nosed Albatross had landed on a motor vessel at the outer anchorage off-shore of the Port of Durban some days ago.

These majestic birds require a rather lengthy runway to get airborne and the bird, not having a long enough take-off strip on the ship, had parked itself on the ship which then, a few days later, entered the Port of Durban.

The Transnet Ports Authority pilot, when boarding the ship at sea to guide her into the Port of Durban, was informed of the animal visitor that they had onboard.

The Transnet pilot contacted uShaka Sea World to see if they could assist.

Once the ship docked they were met by uShaka Sea World staff who safely captured the bird.

The bird, by now malnourished and weak, was rehabilitated, fed, rehydrated and prepared to be released.

This rehabilitation process took a few days.

Once the bird had regained its strength uShaka Sea World reached out to NSRI Durban to see if we would assist them with the release of the bird at sea.

The brief we got from uShaka Sea World marine scientists was to try to find other bird life at sea and to release the bird at least 5 kilometres off-shore, hopefully near to other sea bird life.

NSRI Durban duty crew, accompanied by uShaka Sea World aquarists and a volunteer, took the Indian Yellow Nosed Albatross, secured in a box, onboard our sea rescue craft Spirit of Surfski VI and we launched to go to sea.

From about 5 kilometres off-shore of the Port of Durban we searched for a while to see if we could find other sea birds around but failing to find any birds the decision was made to release the Albatross.

At a distance of 6.5 nautical miles off-shore, uShaka Sea World aquarist Lesley Labuschagne and an uShaka Sea World volunteer prepared to release the bird.

Because these animals are known to react unfavourably to bright colours, taking all efforts to assist to alleviate the bird from any stress and in the interest of taking all precautions for the wellbeing and care for the bird, Lesley and the volunteer removed their brightly coloured orange life-jackets and the brightly coloured yellow NSRI helmets, and while under increased safety measures taken by our NSRI crew, the bird was carefully removed from his box.

Lesley, firmly but gently handling the bird, prepared him to be released.

Lesley, firmly but gently handling the bird, prepared him to be released, in Africa Ports & Ships
Lesley, firmly but gently handling the bird, prepared him to be released nsri

Everyone onboard was, as prearranged, very still and very quiet and all that could be heard was the gentle lapping of the sea swells against the pontoons of our sea rescue craft.

We turned the sea rescue craft broadside to the wind.

In favourable sea conditions with about an 8 to 10 knot wind Lesley and the volunteer held the bird up, facing into the wind, gently throwing him up into the air in the hopes that he would catch the headwind that may have given him enough lift to take flight.

But instead of taking flight the Albatross simply and promptly landed in the water.

From a safe distance we watched him bobbing up and down on the sea swells while he appeared to take a good 15 to 20 minutes cleaning and preening himself.

Seemingly satisfied with his grooming efforts the bird faced himself into the gentle headwind and with a few steps on the water and some wing extensions he gathered momentum and took flight into the clear blue skies of Durban.

Humbled by this beautiful and majestic experience, following the successful mission to release the young bird at sea, we returned to base. source: NSRI

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Why ports are at the heart of sustainable development

Port of Mombasa, principal port of Kenya, in Africa Ports & Ships
Port of Mombasa, principal port of Kenya and East Africa   Picture:  KPA

UNCTAD analysis and Lesson for Africa

It is inescapable that most of the products we consume daily travel through ports, making them a key link in the global production and supply chains we rely on.

UNCTAD Secretary-General Rebeca Grynspan emphasised this. “Our livelihoods – food, jobs, energy – depend on functioning and resilient supply chains.”

How ports are managed has implications for economic growth, crisis response efforts, environmental protection and gender equality, placing them at the heart of sustainable development.

Powering trade and economic growth

The efficiency of a port directly affects the economies of the countries it serves, since more than 80% of global trade is carried by sea. The percentage is even higher for many developing countries.

The Covid-19 pandemic has been a stark reminder that when ports slow down, everyone suffers.

Lockdown measures caused disruptions and delays in many ports around the globe. The median time container ships spent in ports worldwide, for example, increased by 20% between 2019 and 2021.

During the pandemic, freight rates reached record highs and have again soared in the wake of the war in Ukraine due to logistics disruptions and port congestion.

UNCTAD analysis has shown how surges in freight rates can raise the prices of goods, especially in least developed countries and small island developing states.

Supporting crisis response

When disaster strikes, ports are the main point of entry for the food, water and medicine people need to survive and the fuel required to keep hospitals and health facilities running.

For example, Yemen, which is experiencing one of the largest humanitarian crises, imports through its ports about 90% of its food.

The war in Ukraine has also been a tragic reminder of the key role ports play in fighting crises like global hunger. The country was the world’s sixth largest exporter of wheat in the 2020-2021 season.

In the eight months before the conflict, more than 50 million tonnes of grain were shipped through the country’s Black Sea ports – enough to feed about 400 million people.

Now, with ports on the Black Sea blocked, the grain is stuck in silos on land or on ships, unable to move while 44 million people around the world face starvation.

Tackling environmental impact is critical

While ports are vital for economic development and crisis response, the associated maritime traffic, handling of goods, and road and rail transport take a toll on the environment through air and water pollution.

This is caused by fuel-powered cargo handling equipment, ships, trucks, trains and the power plants providing the energy needed to run port operations.

The emissions include greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide and particulate matter, which cause respiratory infections such as bronchitis and pneumonia, and chronic lung and heart diseases.

Reducing port emissions would cut air and water pollution and improve the health of over 3.5 billion people while helping curb climate change.

Need to empower women

Ports are an important source of local employment, but they have historically created more jobs for men than women.

Data from over 50 ports working with UNCTAD’s TrainForTrade port management programme show that women held just 18% of official port jobs in 2021. The ports are spread out across Africa, Asia, Europe and Latin America.

The highest regional average was 22%, reported by the European ports that participated in the study.

A closer look showed a more encouraging average of 42% for management and administrative roles in ports. But in cargo handling and operations, just 6% of workers were women.

The figures highlight the need to empower women port workers and to continue working towards gender equality in the sector.

How UNCTAD supports ports

To address existing challenges, UNCTAD provides research, analysis and technical assistance to help ports and the maritime transport sector – especially in developing countries – improve operations, empower women and become more sustainable and resilient to crises, including climate change.

This work includes the annual Review of Maritime Transport and frequent expert meetings on transport, trade logistics and facilitation.


In terms of capacity-building, UNCTAD’s TrainForTrade port management programme has certified over 6,700 port managers in 140 countries on various topics.

The programme’s member ports can track their performance on a range of indicators through UNCTAD’s port performance scorecard.

UNCTAD’s TrainForTrade’s Port Management Week, held this year from 10 to 13 May in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Spain, brought together over 100 senior managers from around the globe to explore how the programme could help ports contribute even more to achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

Paul Ruidgeway, London Correspondent Africa Ports & Ships

Edited by Paul Ridgway

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Mozambique’s STEMA to rehabilitate Matola grain silos

Stema silos at Matola, Maputo. Picture: Noticias in Africa Ports & Ships
Stema silos at Matola, Maputo. Picture: Noticias

The Matola Grain Silos and Terminal Company (STEMA) at Maputo says it aims at investing about US$14 million in rehabilitating equipment to increase its grain handling capacity.

STEMA chairperson, Arlindo Chilundo, said that while this required taking a loan from Mozambique’s banks,the debt is sustainable and within the fiscal capacity of STEMA.

“Right now, we are operating 27 silos”, Chilundo said. “They have a total capacity of 45,000 tonnes, or 1,700 tonnes per silo.”

He said STEMA still has enough capacity to meet the demand for grain imports from all the milling companies in southern Mozambique. “We’ve been working with all the importers. STEMA does not buy the products directly. It just manages the bulk grain unloaded from the ships, which is later picked up by the buyers.”

He warned that the price of wheat will continue to rise on the international market because of Russia’s war against Ukraine. Between them, the two countries account for about 40 per cent of all wheat exports. He said that one shipload of wheat had arrived in the previous week, and two other ships are due to arrive before the end of May.

The wheat arriving in Mozambique this month was harvested before the Russian invasion of Ukraine, but Chilundo said the price was already oscillating since the demand for wheat was outstripping the supply.

Channelling this wheat to the market will depend on the flexibility of the milling companies in replenishing their stocks as quickly as possible, so that the price of bread does not rise too much,” he said.

STEMA has been advised to modernise its facilities in order to meet the challenges of the logistics market and to ensure that its business plan meets regional needs.

Because of its strategic location in the port of Maputo, STEMA not only serves the Mozambican market, but supports the transit of grain imported by neighbouring countries including South Africa, Zimbabwe and Eswatini. source: AIM

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Simplifying saving lives: automating AMVER

AMVER wordwide coverage in Africa Ports & Ships
AMVER wordwide coverage    USCG

NAVTOR, which is headquartered in Norway and provides vessel and fleet e-Navigation and performance solutions, has teamed up with the United States Coast Guard (USCG) to integrate AMVER into its innovative digital chart table software NavStation.

The result is a simplification of a crucial life-saving initiative; negating barriers to entry, easing administration and boosting a key support network for sailors worldwide.

AMVER is something of an institution for sailors across the globe.

Launched in 1958, the Automated Mutual Assistance Vessel Rescue (AMVER) System is a constantly evolving safety net for ships in distress. Operated by the US Coast Guard (USCG), AMVER encourages ships to participate in a voluntary reporting scheme that details sailing plans, positions, deviations and arrivals to pinpoint locations and routes.

If AMVER receives a distress call from a vessel outside the reach of the USCG, or other participating coast guards, it can then alert nearby ships to come to the rescue. There is no place on the oceans that can’t be reached by an AMVER participant within 24 hours.

AMVER banner in Africa Ports & Ships

Strength in numbers

“AMVER represents the very best of what seafarers have to offer, the highest tradition of mariner helping mariner,” explains Benjamin Strong, Director, Amver Maritime Relations, USCG.

The tangible impact of that noble desire, he says, is that the system has sent ships to 1,889 incidents in the last ten years, saving a total of 3,572 lives.

“It’s incredible. A hugely powerful tool for search and rescue, but one that relies on ship participation to succeed. It can only ever be as strong as the network of vessels it attracts, so we have to continually grow that pool of volunteers.”

Awareness is one thing, Strong says, and that’s high, with over 11,000 vessels currently involved (with around 6,600 reporting on a daily basis). But lowering the threshold to entry is another, especially given the increasing complexity, and demands, defining modern day shipping.

“The feedback we receive from seafarers is they want to ‘find a way to eliminate manual reporting’, easing an administrative burden which, we have to admit, adds to existing duties. We obviously wanted to help and were keen to leverage any available technologies or partners to do so.”

NaStation in Africa Ports & Ships

Which is where NAVTOR comes in

The Norwegian maritime technology company launched NavStation in 2014 as the world’s first digital chart table. The software ‘layers’ vital voyage information over ENCs to unite data on a single, integrated platform – putting, as the company says, “everything a navigator needs at their fingertips.”

One benefit of this integrated approach is the ability to simplify tasks, cutting administration through automated processes wherever possible. NavStation’s Passage Planning module is a case in point, with the platform slicing admin time from an average of over three hours per voyage to around just 30 minutes.

“This got some of our key customers thinking about what else it could do,” says Todd Allen, Regional Manager, North America, NAVTOR. “One area where potential efficiencies were spotted was, of course, AMVER.”

Instead of having to manually enter data in detailed standardised language and codes, and then emailing it to AMVER, could the information already available through the Passage Planning module on NavStation be automatically collated and sent at the push of a button?

“This was an intriguing idea that fitted perfectly with our mission of enhancing safety and operational efficiency through digital innovation,” Allen says. “We’re focused on making life simpler for those at sea and this seemed to be tackling a pressing, and important, issue for them.

“So, we got to work.”

Win win win

As a result, the latest incarnation of NavStation – arriving in the next couple of weeks – has fully integrated, and automated, AMVER reporting as standard (when used with Passage Planning).

“This is a real step forward,” Strong says.

“Firstly, the integration makes AMVER reporting easy and allows participating vessels to continue their tradition of enhancing safety at sea. Secondly, it eliminates the risk of human error in reporting, making the system more accurate, reliable and robust. Thirdly, it makes it even easier for ships that are NOT enrolled in AMVER to participate. If a ship uses NavStation, and wasn’t an AMVER participant, then there’s now no reason not to get involved. All it takes is the push of a button to be part of this life saving network!

“As such, this is a win for the ship’s crew, a win for search and rescue personnel, and it’s an obvious win for anyone in distress at sea,” he says. “We are delighted to partner with NAVTOR on a project that delivers such clear benefits for all AMVER stakeholders.”


NavStation is available globally. In addition to the new AMVER functionality, the upcoming update also integrates IHS Markit port data, time zones and vessel load lines into the platform for the first time. Contact for more information

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Transnet increases supply of jet fuel to OR Tambo International Airport

Transnet pipeline system in Africa Ports & Ships
Transnet’s pipeline system

Transnet said on Friday (13 May) it is increasing supply of jet fuel through the National Multi-Product Pipeline from Durban to the inland.

This as repairs to the railway line get underway following damage from the floods in April.

Currently, Transnet Pipelines (TPL) is transporting 14 million litres of jet fuel between Natref and OR Tambo International Airport (ORTIA) per week. To supplement the weekly supply, 20 million litres of imported jet fuel has been injected into the pipeline in Durban, and is expected to reach Natref on 18 May 2022.

Natref will store this jet fuel in their tanks and thereafter supplement the average weekly supply with an additional five million litres per week for the next four weeks via the dedicated jet fuel pipeline to ORTIA.

TPL is also reviewing medium and long term solutions to ensure security of supply via the pipeline from Durban to ORTIA.

Rail restoration

The single rail line operation between Durban and Gauteng is expected to be restored by 9
June 2022, with the double line operation to be fully restored by 30 September 2022.

Transnet engineers have assessed which sections of the double rail line can be restored in the shortest possible time in order to ramp up operations as soon as reasonably possible.


Whilst the rail infrastructure in KwaZulu-Natal is being repaired, Transnet Freight Rail (TFR) has activated rail services with the loading of jet fuel at Matola, Mozambique and supplying approximately 1 million litres to ORTIA.

The current jet fuel volume is 17.8 million litres, with the expected consumption of
2.6 million litres per day. Jet fuel stockpiles at ORTIA are currently at 5.1 days (which is within
the target of five (5) to seven (7) days).

Weekly ORTIA jet fuel management meetings are being held with all the stakeholders including Transnet to ensure that the security of supply risk is mitigated.

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IMO adopts new guidelines to combat wildlife trafficking

Criminal networks exploit maritime supply chains to traffic wildlife

On Friday (13 May 2022), the 46th Meeting of the Facilitation Committee (FAL46) of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) adopted new ‘Guidelines for the Prevention and Suppression of the Smuggling of Wildlife on Ships Engaged in International Maritime Traffic’.

This endorsement by the United Nations’ specialised agency sends a strong message on the growing international engagement against the illegal wildlife trade and its impacts on global biodiversity, directly threatening the survival of many species in the wild.

The Guidelines were formally submitted to FAL46 by Brazil, Colombia, Germany, Kenya, Tanzania, the Intergovernmental Standing Committee on Shipping (ISCOS), the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS), the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) and the International Organisation of Airports and Seaports Police (INTERPORTPOLICE).

IMO’s first time

This is the first time the IMO has taken a bold step to combat illegal wildlife trade (IWT) exploiting the maritime shipping industry.

The Guidelines provide extensive recommendations for both government agencies and the private sector to increase due diligence over this criminal activity. Formal efforts started in FAL44 (44th Meeting of the Facilitation Committee in 2020) led by the Republic of Kenya with a working group composed of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), WWF, TRAFFIC and United for Wildlife Transport Taskforce.

“We are thrilled that the IMO Member States have made this commitment to tackling the illegal networks that exploit maritime supply chains to traffic wildlife,” said said Philippa Dyson, coordinator of transport sector engagement at TRAFFIC.

“These new Guidelines, including the Red Flag Compendium, will provide a fundamental resource to aid governments and the private sector to take collaborative action against the illegal wildlife trade and help to conserve our global biodiversity.”

Wildlife trafficking is a growing concern globally, threatening not only biodiversity but also ecosystems vital for climate change mitigation, domestic and international economies, and potentially human health.

Organised criminal groups are increasingly taking part in this illegal activity which is still considered “low risk – high reward”. Smugglers exploit the weaknesses in supply chains to illegally transport endangered species, including live animals, animal products, plants and timber.

Maritime sector involvement

With 90% of the world trade being seaborne and an estimated 72-90% of illicit wildlife volumes being trafficked through maritime transport, the sector holds a responsibility to engage against this transnational organised crime.

The Guidelines highlight measures and procedures already available to the private sector and government agencies to combat wildlife trafficking within the industry. The document provides information on the nature and context of maritime smuggling of wildlife.

It includes measures to prevent, detect and report wildlife trafficking within the maritime sector, with an emphasis on due diligence, responsibility-sharing and cooperation between all stakeholders along the supply chains.

Picture: TRAFFIC / WWF in Africa Ports & Ships
Picture: TRAFFIC / WWF


“These guidelines present a gamechanger in the fight against the illegal wildlife trade. Through dedicated and expert support from IMO member states and partners, government authorities and companies can implement greater safeguarding measures to protect their employees, business, and nature, critical to protecting the integrity of maritime supply chains from operational, economic, security, and zoonotic health risks,” said Dr. Margaret Kinnaird, Global Wildlife Practice Leader of WWF.

Kinnaird said that what was novel in 2020 has now become the UN standard to mitigate risks, investigate and report IWT in the shipping supply chain.

The adoption of these guidelines will catalyse global cooperation in the maritime sector to fight IWT. We’re incredibly proud of our part in providing research, consultation and outreach support to the IMO partners and we’re pleased to announce that our work will continue as we embark on supporting IMO parties and the maritime industry with regional and national roll-out of these guidelines,”” she added.

Towards the adoption of the Guidelines, the working group collaborated with varied stakeholders, including governments, academia, professional organisations, private companies, non-governmental organisations and inter-governmental organisations. This resulted in broad support from IMO Members, observers and consultative organisations at FAL46.

The Republic of Kenya emphasised that “their government is thankful to all Member States who supported the development of these Guidelines and who contributed to their finalisation. This will greatly help to protect our wildlife, wherever it may be.”

Red Flag Compendium

In July 2021, WWF and TRAFFIC launched the ‘The Red Flag Compendium for Wildlife and Timber Trafficking in Containerised Cargo’ which details the warning signs of corruption, wildlife smuggling and other related crimes.

It features additional tools to identify prolifically trafficked CITES-listed species, including big cats, specific marine life, large mammal species such as rhino, elephant, and timber. This compendium includes at-risk routes as well as typical indicators of illicit activities such as questionable paperwork and discrepancies in information such as value, weight, and appearance. The tool now forms part of the new IMO Guidelines.

Maritime sector

The Guidelines represent an essential step in recognising the maritime sector’s role in tackling wildlife trafficking. They will help create and endorse policies that recognize and respect the importance of nature and support many of the world’s most threatened species. WWF will keep engaging with the stakeholders by providing expertise and support in awareness-raising, training relevant staff, policy advocacy and adapting the sector’s practices.

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