Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news 4 June 2023

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Cosco Chang Sheng.  Picture is by Trevor Jones

A slightly unusual arrival on the South African coast was this fairly newbuild general cargo ship, loaded with a cargo of containers and calling at the Durban and Ngqura container terminals among other African ports.

Her name and IMO number on all the AIS lists identify the ship as COSCO CHANG SHENG (IMO 9928918) whereas on the hull we see COSCOSHIPPING CHANG SHENG. Take your pick.  

Owned and operated by the Chinese state-owned Cosco Shipping and flying the Chinese flag, the 62,053-dwt ship has a length of 202 metres and width of 32m.

Picture by Trevor Jones



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Air Cargo: Demand decline slows in April

MSC Air Cargo

Edited by Paul Ridgway

On 31 May from Geneva the International Air Transport Association (IATA) released data for April 2023 global air cargo markets, showing a continued, but slower, decline against the previous year’s demand performance.

* Global demand, measured in cargo tonne-kilometres (CTKs), fell 6.6% compared to April 2022 (-7.0% for international operations). This decline was an improvement over the previous month’s performance (-7.6%).

* Capacity (measured in available cargo tonne-kilometres, (CTK) was up 13.4% compared to April 2022. It was also up 3.2% compared to April 2019, marking the first time in three years that the capacity has surpassed pre-COVID levels. The strong uptick is primarily driven by belly capacity as demand in the passenger business recovers. Adjusting for this, freighter capacity declined 2.3%. Freighter operations ceased in March after 2.5 years of continuous activity.

* Key factors influencing demand include:

o The global new export orders component of the Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI), a leading indicator of cargo demand, improved in April. China’s PMI level surpassed the critical 50-mark indicating that demand for manufactured goods from the world’s largest export economy is growing.

o Global goods trade increased by 0.2% in March, marking the first annual increase since November 2022.

o Consumer and producer prices increases have moderated. The April headline Consumer Price Index (CPI) recorded rates of 5.0% in the US, 0.3% in China, and 3.5% in Japan. While Europe was higher (8.1%), it is well below its 11.5% October 2022 peak.

In the words of Willie Walsh, IATA’s Director General: ‘The air cargo industry is adjusting itself to the implications of the recovery in passenger demand that brings with it an expansion of belly capacity.

Cargo loading

“Freighter operations stopped in March and freighter services were scaled back by 2.3% in April. The demand environment is challenging to read. Tapering inflation is definitely a positive. But the degree and speed at which that could lead to looser monetary policies that might stimulate demand is unclear. The resilience that got the air cargo industry through the COVID-19 crisis is also critical in the aftermath.”

To view the April Air Cargo Market Analysis in pdf form readers are invited to SEE HERE

With regard to the April regional performances of Middle Eastern carriers and African airlines we learn the following:

Middle East

Middle Eastern carriers experienced a 6.8% year-on-year decrease in cargo volumes in April 2023. This was a slight decline in performance compared to the previous month (-5.5%). Capacity increased 10.0% compared to April 2022.


African airlines had the only positive performance in April posting a 0.9% increase in demand compared to April 2022. This was an improvement in performance compared to the previous month (-4.3%). Notably, the Africa to Asia trade route experienced a significant increase in cargo demand in April, up 20.0% year-on-year. Capacity was 5.3% above April 2022 levels.

IATA in brief

IATA represents some 300 airlines comprising 83% of global air traffic. Its statistics cover international and domestic scheduled air cargo for IATA member and non-member airlines.

Market shares

Total cargo traffic market share by region of carriers in terms of cargo tonne-kilometres (CTK) is: Asia-Pacific 32.4%, Europe 21.8%, North America 28.1%, Middle East 13.0%, Latin America 2.7%, and Africa 2.0%.

Fly Net Zero

An introduction to Fly Net Zero is to be FOUND HERE

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WHARF TALK: When the Hunter Becomes the Hunted – SEA SHEPHERD    Part Two

Farley Mowat at sea. Picture via Twitter

Story by Jay Gates

Part Two

Whilst detained in Cape Town, the local public were very sympathetic to the plight of ‘Farley Mowat’, and she received a stream of visitors throughout her enforced stay. Ship tours were carried out by the crew for the Capetonian visitors, many of whom brought food for the crew when they visited the vessel. Even corporate supporters provided encouragement, and assistance, with Pick ‘n Pay reportedly bringing down a whole bakkie load of food for the crew.

Then on 16th June 2002, a Public Holiday in South Africa known as Youth Day, Paul Watson took drastic action. Counting on the port authorities having a relaxing day, and a relaxed attitude of Port Control staff, the ‘Farley Mowat’ slipped her moorings in the dead of night, without permission, without a harbour pilot being on board, and without her navigation lights showing.

She literally just sailed out of the harbour directly under the noses of the Port Control building, whose duty staff both failed to see her sailing, and failed to notice her on radar as being underway. She headed out of Cape Town harbour, and unchallenged by any Government authority, or the South African Navy, sailed over the horizon, rounded the Cape and set a great circle course for Fremantle in Australia, where she was hailed on arrival by her supporters.

Johan Hiort (Farley Mowat) under construction, Bergen March 1957. Picture: Digital Museum

She then prepared for the next mission back to Antarctica, but things again went against her. The Canadian Authorities revoked her Canadian registration in November 2006. The next month, in December 2006, she immediately applied to go on the British Flag, but after less than one day under the Red Duster, that too was revoked by the British Authorities. So ‘Farley Mowat’ then applied to go under the flag of Belize. Less than ten days later the Belize Authorities revoked that arrangement. It was clear that nobody wanted ‘Farley Mowat’ on their books.

Astoundingly, at the end of 2006, and without a state flag, she sailed to Antarctica, from Hobart in Australia, without major objection from the Australian Authorities. She spent the whole of 2007 sailing without a state flag, but was never arrested, and it was only at the start of 2008 that the Dutch Authorities granted her permission to sail under the Dutch flag.

Johan Hiort Fisheries Research Vessel. Picture: Shipspotting

Having fights with the authorities worldwide, and getting herself a negative maritime reputation was never going to end well for ‘Farley Mowat’. In April 2008, she tried to interfere with a seal hunt, and she was arrested by the Canadian Coast Guard in Newfoundland. Her Captain and Mate were deported back to Holland, and then tried in absentia by a local court for breaking Canadian law.

She never went to sea again. Paul Watson effectively abandoned ‘Farley Mowat’. She became a derelict, and a pollution threat. Appallingly, for a man who championed the environment, Paul Watson crowed that the costs of the clean-up of his flagship having to be met by the Canadian Authorities was a perfect ‘karma’ ending, and not his responsibility. How ironic it was that a vessel famed for marine environmental activities had herself become a threat to the marine environment.

She was sold by court order in November 2009, but in June 2015 she sank at her berth in Shelburne, Nova Scotia, creating further pollution problems, and costs, for the local harbour authorities. She was raised, and towed along the coast of Nova Scotia to the port of Liverpool, where she was finally broken up for scrap in July 2017. A career that spanned almost 60 years.

Farley Mowat towed away for scrapping, 2017. Picture: CBC

As one might expect, from the outset, ‘Farley Mowat’ courted controversy. On her first expedition in 2002 she headed for Guatemala to harass local fishing vessels considered by Paul Watson to be IUU vessel. The outcome of this was that ‘Farley Mowat’ had to leave Guatemalan waters waters in haste, as the Guatemalan Government threatened to arrest the vessel for illegal activities in their waters.

On arrival in Costa Rica, ‘Farley Mowat’ was arrested by the authorities, and accused of deliberately ramming a local fishing vessel. Paul Watson was charged with attempted murder. In a similar fashion to what was to occur four years later in Cape Town, ‘Farley Mowat’ departed from the Costa Rica port of Puntarenas without permission, and Paul Watson was declared a fugitive by the authorities, and an arrest warrant was issued against him.

‘Captain’ Paul Watson.  The reefer jacket was braided for a fancy dress event   Picture LeTemps

He was then arrested in Germany, based on the Costa Rica arrest warrant, and bailed on a bond of €250,000 (ZAR5.28 million). On the news of his arrest, the Japanese Government placed an extradition request with the German authorities. Paul Watson then skipped bail, and departed from Germany without permission.

‘Admiral of the Fleet’  Paul Watson. 

In the end, Paul Watson was ousted from the organisation that he had set up in 1977. The board of Sea Shepherd had told him that a Red Notice (effectively an international arrest warrant) that had been issued by the Government of Japan was hampering the functions of Sea Shepherd. He was asked to step down from the board, and away from all activities of Sea Shepherd, as his reputation was now a liability to the organisation. This move allowed Sea Shepherd to make a shift toward working with governments, rather than working against them all the time, emphasizing science and research, and foregoing the direct action that Paul Watson entered into with ‘Farley Mowat’.

These were all approaches that were in direct conflict with the longstanding ethos of Paul Watson and Sea Shepherd. The outcome was that Paul Watson left the organisation to set up another one. It is called ‘The Captain Paul Watson Foundation’, with Paul Watson stating that its direct mission is to eradicate whaling, and otherwise continue the work he has conducted with Sea Shepherd for over 45 years. Again, Paul Watson is not a qualified Captain. PR wins out.

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Battle of the Atlantic: 80th commemoration – Port of Liverpool

Picture: UK MOD © Crown Copyright 2023

Edited by Paul Ridgway

A Battle of the Atlantic memorial was unveiled by HRH The Princess Royal at St Nicholas’s Church, Liverpool on 26 May.

Royal Navy and allied warships joined merchant vessels in Liverpool for three days of commemorations marking the Battle of the Atlantic.

Led by HMS Defender visiting warships arrived in the port city and raised the curtain on a weekend of events to mark the 80th anniversary of the longest, hardest naval battle in British history.

The weekend got underway with a private service of commemoration at St Nicholas’s Church at the Pier Head.

Her Royal Highness was guest of honour at the service, also attended by First Sea Lord, Admiral Sir Ben Key. Proceedings acknowledged the sacrifice of the thousands of UK and allied sailors involved in the Battle of the Atlantic, both merchant and naval.

Picture: UK MOD © Crown Copyright 2023

After the church service, The Princess Royal unveiled a new Battle of the Atlantic Memorial and Garden of Reflection – the first of its kind in the UK – in the church grounds.

In company with HMS Defender on the prime berth of the Cruise Liner Terminal at the heart of Liverpool’s waterfront was the French Destroyer Bretagne, and Trinity House Vessel Patricia.

USS Ramage was also in Liverpool during the weekend, providing an impressive backdrop to events on and over the Mersey, while their sailors joined in commemorative events ashore.

Commodore Phil Waterhouse, the Royal Navy’s Regional Commander for Northern England, based at HMS Eaglet in Liverpool, commented: “This will probably be our final chance to say, ‘thank you’ to that wonderful wartime generation who fought the battle – serving in the ships, in the docks, in the shipyards, in the homes.”

Picture: UK MOD © Crown Copyright 2023

Historical note

Britain depended on vital supplies from North America and the Empire in the Second World War. These were transported in merchant ships across the Atlantic Ocean, where they were attacked by German submarines and warships.

To combat this threat, merchant ships were convoyed and escorted by warships and aircraft. The first Atlantic convoy sailed on 2 September 1939.

Winston Churchill coined the phrase Battle of the Atlantic on 6 March 1941, deliberately echoing the Battle of Britain to emphasise its importance.

Without doubt the cost of the Battle of the Atlantic was extremely high as by May 1945, in the Atlantic alone, over 2,200 British and Allied merchant ships had been sunk, totalling in excess of 13 million gross tons. One hundred warships and 600 RAF Coastal Command aircraft were lost.

Sailors march through the streets of Liverpool to Princes Parade for the Battle of the Atlantic 80th anniversary

With the merchant ship losses it was estimated that more than 30,000 merchant seamen died with thousands from Allied navies and air forces.

More than 800 U-boats were operational in the Atlantic and of these two out of three were lost, mostly to allied aircraft and escort vessels between 1943 and 1945. An estimated 18,000 U-boat crew died in action.

Our photographs show aspects of the events of 26 May.

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Seabourn Sojourn completes call at Ghanaian port of Tema

Seabourn Sojourn on berth at Tema, Ghana.  Picture GPHA

Seabourn’s luxury cruise ship SEABOURN SOJOURN, which recently called at South African and Namibian ports, has completed a visit to Tema in Ghana, the latest port of call during the ship’s time in West Africa.

These past few months are proving both interesting and beneficial to Ghana generally, as Seabourn Sojourn is the 6th cruise ship to have called in three months and the third at Tema.

The other three ship visits were to the port of Takoradi.

For the latest call it meant that 330 guests on board the Sojourn were able to explore the Ghanaian countryside.

According to Benjamin Quansah, the Operations Manager at ships agency, Inchcape Shipping Services, which was responsible for taking care of the ship’s call at Tema, cruise companies are increasingly happy to send their ships to Tema on account of the security and safety procedures at the port.

Seabourn Sojourn had already called at several other West African ports prior to her visit at Tema. These included visits to Togo, Benin and The Gambia.

With the resurgence of the cruise industry following the Covid pandemic, African countries have a window of opportunity to promote the sub-continent as an exciting and educational experience unique among cruising destinations.

Small expedition and mid-size ships similar to Seabourn Sojourn are well able to call at many places unavailable to their much-larger cousins.

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Nigeria releases VLCC Heroic Idun after plea bargain by owners

Heroic Idun, in the roadstead at Singapore. Picture: Mark Wen – VesselFinder

A crude oil tanker, HEROIC IDUN (IMO 9858058) has been released from detention in Nigeria after the owners entered into a plea bargain with maritime authorities in the West Africa nation.

The three year old vessel was detained by Equatorial Guinea maritime forces after the Norwegian-registered tanker sailed away from Nigeria’s AKPO oilfield when it became clear that the Nigerian Navy was about to effect an arrest of the vessel.

Ignoring orders, the Heroic Idun sailed towards the Sao Tome Joint Development Zone Area and later into the waters of Equatorial Guinea where the tanker was later intercepted by that country’s navy on 12 August and placed under arrest.

Reports said that on 7 August 2022, personnel of the Nigerian Navy, whilst on a routine patrol offshore with the NNS GONGOLA, observed the suspicious presence of the VLCC tanker in the AKPO oilfield, in deep waters some distance from Bonny.

“The vessel had arrived at the Total Safe Anchorage (SA) operated by Akpo Oil Field for loading operations but was interrogated by the Nigerian Navy and later observed to be without NNPC due clearance for the loading operations,” reported Commander Adedotun Ayo-Vaughan, the spokesperson of the Nigerian Navy.

“Notwithstanding, MT Heroic Idun proceeded with the loading operation at the Akpo Single Buoy Mooring (SBM) on 8 August 2022,” Ayo-Vaughan said.

The tanker was then instructed to sail to Bonny Fairway for interrogation. Instead it raised anchor and sailed away towards the Nigeria-Sao Tome Joint Development Zone Area, while raising a report that it was under attack by pirates.

Once back in Nigerian waters and under detention orders, the ship’s crew of 26 Indian, Sri Lankan, Filipino and Polish seafarers were charged in a Port Harcourt Federal High Court for trial in January this year.

Plea of guilty

At the trial the crew pleaded guilty and elected voluntarily to enter into a plea bargain agreement with Nigeria.

“The vessel and its crew also agreed to make restitution to the Federal Government,” said Captain Mohammed Adamu, the Commanding officer, Forward Operating Base, Bonny, where the tanker had remained under detention.

After agreement to pay the fines and restitution, the vessel was handed back to the owners and the crew released from detention.

“The owners also agreed to make an apology to the Federal Republic of Nigeria both in print and electronic media as well as Lloyd’s List. On its part, the Federal Government agreed not to further criminally prosecute and/or investigate the vessel, her owners, charterers or her crew in the matter of her crime against the state,” Captain Adamu said.

The 336-metre long tanker has now sailed from Nigeria and is due off Cape Town on Tuesday, 6 June 2023. source: Ships & Ports and AP&S records

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DP World & Standard Bank partner to expand trade in Africa

.In a significant development, South Africa’s Standard Bank, the largest bank in Africa by assets, has partnered with DP World, a global leader in supply chain solutions, to offer trade finance solutions jointly with DP World Trade Finance.

It’s believed this partnership will help in closing the gap in unmet demand for working capital on the continent.

African companies looking for trade finance will now be able to seamlessly access working capital from Standard Bank via the DP World Trade Finance platform.

DP World Trade Finance connects business with financial institutions as a fintech platform while also directly offering trade finance facilities on its own.

It operates by making available a single window to access trade finance solutions – customers can apply for credit on the digital platform, which will present them with the best options from global financiers who may otherwise be out of their reach.

Access to finance is one of the biggest barriers for businesses seeking global trade opportunities, evidenced by the struggle that many businesses face in securing the upfront funds required to move cargo.

By partnering with Standard Bank on the platform, DP World Trade Finance can now offer an array of financing solutions to African businesses, which face an ever-growing need for logistics and financial support to connect to global trade routes.

Making the world’s trade flow better

“DP World exists to make the world’s trade flow better and this partnership with Standard Bank is testament to that goal,” said Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem, Group Chairman and CEO of DP World.

“Africa is a key market for us, with this partnership complementing our ongoing investment and development across the continent.

He said the recent acquisition of Imperial Logistics – another South African company – allowed DP World to enhance its logistics capabilities in Africa.

“With the addition of DP World Trade Finance into our offerings, we aim to support African businesses of all sizes for their working capital needs. Together with Standard Bank, we will help African businesses go from strength to strength and grow their exports to new markets.

The continent’s largest bank becomes the first African bank to partner with DP World Trade Finance!”

Sinan Ozcan, Senior Executive Officer of DP World Financial Services, explained that DP World offers Standard Bank access to data on cargo movements, enabling them to lend with confidence.

“We in turn plan to co-lend and share risk with Standard Bank on deals made via the platform, whilst Standard Bank will be able to support the many suppliers in DP World’s ecosystem across Africa with its strong financing capabilities.”

He added that the ecosystem has itself been strengthened by the acquisition of Imperial Logistics by DP World in 2022. “Standard Bank’s strong presence across countries like Nigeria, Kenya and Mozambique will see this partnership develop further in the African market.”

Digitally enabled organisation

Kenny Fihla, Chief Executive Officer, Corporate and Investment Banking at Standard Bank, said that as Standard Bank moves forward with the ambition of becoming a digitally enabled organisation, it seeks partnerships with global multinationals like DP World to deliver trade solutions to its clients across the continent.

“Partnering with DP World allows us to enhance how we facilitate cross-border transactions in growing key trade corridors,” Fihla said.

Since its launch in July 2021, DP World Trade Finance has partnered with 23 financial institutions and generated over $700 million in credit limit submissions. The registration process takes less than five minutes and over 57,000 global clients have already signed up for affordable access to trade finance through the platform.

DP World Trade Finance also started directly lending to businesses since 2022.

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WHARF TALK: When the Hunter Becomes the Hunted – SEA SHEPHERD

The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society’s ship, the Farley Mowat, in the Southern Ocean en-route to the Japanese whaling fleet in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary.  Picture: Sea Shepherd

Story by Jay Gates

Part One

There was a time at the turn of the century when the likes of DSTV, Cable and Satellite TV channels ran an ongoing documentary series about a bunch of so called eco-warriors as they took on a fleet of Japanese whalers in the depths of the Southern Ocean. The TV series ran over seven seasons, between 2008 and 2015, and it was known as ‘Whale Wars’.

The centre of attraction of the series was a conservation organisation known as the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, led by a charismatic man called Paul Watson. In the maritime world, both Paul Watson and Sea Shepherd were akin to Marmite, and you either loved them, or you hated them. There was no middle ground. From a professional, maritime, perspective the majority view was you hated them.

Paul Watson started his protest campaigns with Greenpeace, but he left them as they were not aggressive, or confrontational, enough for his tastes. Some say he was forced to leave as his desire to confront authority, if necessary with violent tactics, did not meet the ethos of the Greenpeace organisation.

Whilst the TV series took place on his flagship ‘Bob Barker’, this was not his first vessel, nor his first attempt at mixing it up with the Japanese in Antarctic waters. The original flagship of the Sea Shepherd fleet was the ‘Farley Mowat’, and she had a history that brought her to South Africa, and to Cape Town. It was a time when the hunter became the hunted.

Paul Watson on board Farley Mowat in Cape Town harbour. Picture: sea Shepherd

Built as far back as 1958 by the shipyard of Mjellem & Karlsen Verft AS, at Bergen in Norway, ‘Farley Mowat’ (IMO 5172602) was actually built as the Norwegian Government Fisheries Research and Enforcement vessel ‘Johan Hjort’. She was 53 metres in length and had a deadweight of 242 tons.

She was powered by a German built 1,400 bhp (1,000 kW) main engine, driving a controllable pitch propeller for a service speed of 10 knots. To operate in the waters of Northern Norway, and the Norwegian Arctic possessions of Spitzbergen and Bear Island, she also had an ice classification. She carried out her important work in fisheries research until 1983, when she was retired from service.

She was then converted into a standby vessel for the oil and gas industry in the Norwegian sector of the North Sea, and for the next thirteen years she saw service until August 1996, when she was sold to the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society and named ‘Sea Shepherd’. A name change to the more dramatic ‘Ocean Warrior’ took place in 2000, and two years later she received her final name of ‘Farley Mowat’. She was painted black all over, which gave her a sinister and militaristic look.

She was named after a famous Canadian author, Farley McGill Mowat (1921-2014). Farley Mowat wrote about life in the Canadian Arctic North, and his books sold over 17 million copies, and were translated into no less than 52 different languages. He championed conservation, and as a Canadian citizen, his name fitted perfectly that of the flagship of a fundamentally Canadian conservation movement.

Farley Mowat in Melbourne before sailing for Cape Town, November 2006. Picture: Wikipedia Commons

On 6th December 2005, the ‘Farley Mowat’ sailed from Melbourne in Australia, and headed deep into the South Indian Ocean, with a crew of 43 persons from 12 nations, in search of the Japanese research whaling fleet, who had sailed from Japan in search of Minke Whales. She found the fleet and spent fifteen days shadowing, and harassing, the Japanese whalers in the frigid waters of Antarctica, for a distance of over 4,000 nautical miles.

Called ‘Operation Leviathan’, the activities of ‘Farley Mowat’ were akin to that of Pirates. The vessel was accused of deliberately ramming a support vessel of the Japanese fleet, of deploying wires designed to wrap around the propellers of the Japanese vessels, and using giant cutting blades to breach the 4 hulls of the whaling vessels. Deliberately disabling vessels, and putting their crews at risk, in the harsh Antarctic environment is another reason why the Marmite analogy applies to Paul Watson.

She was out at sea for fifty days, which is almost beyond the far end of her endurance, and with only the equivalent of under one day’s fuel left in her tanks, which is yet one more example of why the professional, maritime Marmite view of him is negative, she arrived off Cape Town on the morning of 24th January 2006.

Paul Watson blamed the fuel issue on an arrangement they had made to refuel from a tanker, scheduled to supply a fishing fleet near the Southern Indian Ocean island of Kerguelen. However, he stated that the South African company supplying the tanker cancelled the tanker rendezvous, citing extreme weather conditions.

One can only assume that Paul Watson was referring to Unicorn’s ‘Oranjemund’ which was known to have been contracted to refuel the Greenpeace anti-whaling vessels that were also operating in Antarctica at the same time. The Greenpeace refueling operation with ‘Oranjemund’ did take place. Later, both Greenpeace vessels also called into Cape Town.

The little Unicorn tanker Oranjemund, entering Durban harbour 9 February 2005. Picture: Terry Hutson

The call in Cape Town was thus simply to take on bunkers and stores, with a view to sail back south to Antarctica, and back into the fray with the Japanese. Or so the crew thought. However, call it what you will, maritime safety intervention, political interference, or diplomatic pressure came to bear, and on 25th January the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) placed a detention order on ‘Farley Mowat’, and she was placed in lay-up at the 700 berths in the Ben Schoeman Dock.

Her stay there was to last for nigh-on six months. From hunting her prey, ‘Farley Mowat’ had herself been hunted down and her role was now thwarted. Paul Watson, and some of the crew, were detained indefinitely, with SAMSA placing a permanent guard on the gangway, and another guard on deck patrol. According to the authorities, ‘Farley Mowat’, which had been operating ‘on and off’ under the Canadian flag since 2002, was detained following a request from the Canadian government.

According to the Canadian Maritime Authority, Transport Canada, under Canadian law, both the Captain and the First Officer of ‘Farley Mowat’ should both have been Canadian nationals. Whilst Paul Watson, who called himself ‘Captain’ despite having no official maritime certification to hold command, and another reason for the negative Marmite connection, was a Canadian citizen, his First Officer Alex Cornelissen, was not. He was Dutch.

The indefinite detention ordered by SAMSA was because they stated a Port State Inspection of ‘Farley Mowat’ showed that she was not in possession of either an International Ship Security Certificate, nor a Ship Security Plan. This meant that she did not comply with the International Ship and Port Facility Security Code (ISPS Code).

Farley Mowat in Cape Town harbour, 2006. Picture: Seal Alert

The ISPS Code was, and still is, a comprehensive set of internationally agreed measures to enhance the security of ships and port facilities, developed in response to the perceived threats to ships and port facilities in the wake of the 9/11 attacks in the United States. It was based on universal regulations, agreed to by all maritime nations, and enacted by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) of the United Nations.

However, as would be expected, Paul Watson claimed that the ‘Farley Mowat’ was certified as a Yacht, and thus did not fall under the ISPS Code, and that SAMSA was reclassifying his vessel. SAMSA disputed this claim, stating that a Yacht was a pleasure craft, and the activities of ‘Farley Mowat’ were not that of a yacht.

The rationale of the SAMSA Operations Manager of the time, Saleem Modak, stated “Farley Mowat has been interfering with whaling vessels, and that has nothing to do with pleasure, as it does not fall within what is a pleasure craft definition. SAMSA has not reclassified the vessel, but we simply do not accept that ‘Farley Mowat’ is a pleasure craft.”

He went on to state that both the Captain, and the Mate did not have the correct certification for their ranks, and SAMSA cannot allow vessels into a designated Security Port if they do not have qualified people onboard’. The detention would remain in force until all international Safety and Security requirements had been met.

Paul Watson then claimed that the South African Government was acting under pressure from the Japanese Government to prevent ‘Farley Mowat’ from leaving port whilst the Japanese vessels were operating in Antarctica. The legal arguments continued for the next six months without any agreement reached, and ‘Farley Mowat’ languished in Cape Town harbour.

Continued in Part Two tomorrow

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India and Kenya stage naval exercise off Mombasa

KNS Jasiri P3124. Picture: Kenya Defence Force

During the visit of the Indian Navy frigate, INS TRISHUL, to the Kenya port of Mombasa, the respective navies took the opportunity of conducting a joint Passage Exercise off the Kenya coast.

INS Trishul visited Mombasa over a three day period.

According to the Kenya Navy, the Passage Exercise (PASSEX) was conducted outside the port of Mombasa.

The exercise involved the Kenya Navy ship KNS JASIRI together with INS TRISHUL.

KNS Jasiri is an offshore patrol vessel and was built by Euromarine in Spain. The 1,400 tonne vessel is 85 metres long, 13 metres wide and has a maximum speed of 28 knots. It can carry between 60 and 81 personnel.

The Kenya Defence Force (KDF) said PASSEX was aimed at fostering interoperability and reflecting the commitments of both navies to build cooperative partnerships in combating emerging maritime threats.

“The PASSEX focused on combined command and control of naval drills such as Replenishment at Sea and Steam Past,” KDF said.

The exercise is conducted regularly with friendly foreign navies while visiting each other’s ports or during a rendezvous at sea, it was explained.

INS Trishul departed from the port of Mombasa on 29 May 2023. source: Capital FM

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Xeneta Container Update: Long-term ocean freight rates collapse by almost 30% in a month

Container ships in Chinese port

The ocean freight industry saw a slump in global long-term rates of unprecedented proportions in May, as the contracted cost of shipping containers dived by 27.5%. The development, detailed by Xeneta’s Shipping Index (XSI®), marks the ninth consecutive month of rates drops, and is the largest ever monthly fall recorded on the XSI®.

A new reality

“If industry observers were left wondering just how bad it could get for carriers after the 10% fall in long-term rates seen in April, here’s the answer,” comments Patrik Berglund, CEO of Oslo-based Xeneta.

Patrik Berglund, Xeneta CEO

“This is the largest drop we’ve ever experienced on the XSI®, which charts real-time global rates developments, and it paints a bleak picture of the state of the industry.”

He continues: “Monthly declines have become the ‘new normal’ at present, but this is a collapse. The reasons behind that are manifold, but the main driver is the fact that May marks the point when existing 12-month contracts in the US come to a conclusion and new agreements come into force.

“These reflect the reality of today’s subdued markets, so are priced much, much lower than their predecessors. The impact of that on the wider industry is here for all to see,” he explained.

End of an era

The decline is especially noteworthy as it marks the first time long-term rates have recorded a year-on-year decrease since late 2020. Carriers, Berglund notes, enjoyed a well-documented boost in revenues throughout the pandemic – thanks to disrupted supply chains, high demand, congestion and a lack of equipment – but that era, he says, is “well and truly over.”

“The global XSI® is now down 42% year-on-year,” Berglund says, “and with continued macroeconomic uncertainty, evaporating trade volumes, and a wider sense of geopolitical flux, short-term industry omens do not suggest a move ‘back into the black’ at any time soon.

“This is very worrying for carriers, who are working overtime to manage capacity – adjusting vessel speeds, restructuring services and blanking sailings – and all to no avail. Those that have the greatest exposure to long-term contracts will be feeling increasing financial pain.”

American nightmare

Looking at a regional perspective, long-term developments in the US grab the XSI® limelight. The US import sub-index collapsed 40.6% month-on-month, and has now lost 54.6% of its value since peaking in October last year.

In dollar-terms, this equates to the average contracted price of shipping containers between the Far East and the US West Coast falling by USD 6,140 per FEU year-on-year (a 76% drop on this leading global route).

Total import volumes reveal the parlous state of affairs, with volumes into the US down by 21.1% in Q1, while those originating from the Far East are down 25.9%. Conversely, the US export sub-index recorded limited growth (the only XSI® figure to do so), with a 5.1% month-on-month climb.

The only way is down

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the scale of the decline in the US import sub-index was matched only by that in Far East exports, with this sub-index falling 38.6% in May. This index has now lost more than half its value in 2023 alone and is 58.5% down year-on-year.

In terms of volume, containerized exports out of the Far East fell by 10.5% in Q1 and are now only 3.3% up against Q1 2019 figures. The XSI for Far East imports fared better, relatively speaking, with a fall of 6.9%, leaving the index down by 28.6% year-on-year.

Contacted agreements for Europe failed to escape a ‘bloody month’ for the industry, with both sub-indexes shedding value. The import benchmark moved down 11.1% from April (32.6% since the start of the year), while its export counterpart fell by 15.9% (matching the decline from the previous month).

The plot thickens

“With demand for containerized exports out of the Far East falling, and a lack of hunger for imports into the US, we have something of a ‘retreat’ in the two forces that traditionally drive global trade growth,” Berglund notes.

“There’s very little the carriers can do to protect their precious long-term rates in this kind of climate, especially when we consider that the vessels ordered during the pandemic ‘boom’ are now starting to swell overall industry capacity.

“This is a headline grabbing monthly drop in contracted rates,” he concludes, “but it’s not the end of the story. More developments await on the horizon in what will be a very challenging year for the carrier community. Watch this space.”
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Algeria to expand ship repair in port of Arzew

Algeria’s Port of Arzew. Picture:

Algeria has launched a project that will expand ship repair infrastructure and facilities in the port of Arzew.

The US$ 330 million project will result in two new ship repair berths, each with a length of 220-metres.

These will be dedicated to the maintenance and repair of ships of either domestic or international registry.

This was announced in the Arabic language newspaper, Elkhabar, which quoted Algeria’s Transport Minister, Youcef Cherfa.

According to the minister, the project also includes the construction of six workshops for ship painting, repair and general maintenance.

“These two berths and the workshops will allow the port to provide repair and maintenance services to all types of vessels,” Minister Cherfa said.

Construction and development of the ship repair wharves and workshops has been awarded to and Algerian-Chinese consortium and is expected to be completed within 15 months. source: Zarwya

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Pier One problems are over, promises TPT

Durban Container Terminal, Pier 1

by Terry Hutson

What is the problem with Transnet Port Terminals’ (TPT) maintenance programme of equipment and infrastructure at the Durban Container Terminal?

In particular the serviceability and availability of its fleet of rubber tyre gantries (RTGs) at Pier 1.

This question came up these past three weeks with ongoing delays at the terminal, part of Durban Container Terminal but operated separately from its neighbouring Pier 2 section.

Not that things are moving so smoothly at the adjacent Pier 2 either, if one has to judge by the time each container ship is required alongside.

It’s been pointed out on several occasions here in Africa Ports & Ships that ships take as much as 5 or 6 days to complete cargo working at DCT, while the same vessels will clear ports such as Rotterdam, London Gateway or Antwerp in between 24 and 36 hours.

But if matters are problematic at Durban and other South African container ports – as the latest World Bank rankings have indicated*, with Durban, Ngqura and Cape Town remaining among the worst performing container ports in the world, then surely the time has come for some really serious action to be taken.

Speed up the partnership/concessioning/privatisation – call it what you will, but let’s see it in action, and fast – but choose carefully the right terminal operator.

* For this click on our 15 May report  Latest World Bank container port rankings

In a written response to our queries about Pier 1, TPT placed the blame on RTG crane breakdowns over the previous three weeks.

“This was due to an unavailability of the correct components in the market as the current fleet of cranes were old generation,” TPT said.

So why don’t they maintain a supply of suitable spares?

But things are improving, and there is some light at the end of the tunnel, TPT seems to be saying.

“In focusing on reliability, the terminal will be upgrading its current fleet of RTG cranes to newer generation drives, smart rail and engines.

“DCT Pier 1 will also be acquiring a total of 16 RTG cranes in the 2024/2025 financial year,” TPT added.

That’s a long time to wait!


Can anyone remember a TPT general manager telling the country (this followed an outcry over delays at DCT) “Give us 18 months and see the difference.” That was a reference to the delivery time needed to import new RTGs and other equipment for DCT.

Also the promises made during several Durban port visits by the country’s president, Cyril Ramaphosa.

Yet here we are with the same set of questions and complaints, and a similar bad report card from the World Bank that no scholar would care to show to his or her parents, and the same declarations that things are/will be getting better, just as soon as new equipment arrives.

Transnet’s long-suffering customers repeat the age-old question: “Why don’t they maintain what they have?”

The last word is left to TPT: “Terminal management had prioritized engaging its stakeholders including shipping lines and transporter associations, advising on mitigation and recovery plans.”

* See also related report  Equipment breakdowns at Durban’s DCT leads to container move count limitations by shipping lines

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WHARF TALK: LR1 product tanker – NAVE CIELO

The LR1 products tanker Nave Cielo in port at Cape Town. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Pictures by ‘Dockrat’
Story by Jay Gates

The flow of Indian fuel products, almost certainly refined out of cheaply bought Russian crude oil, continues to makes its way across the Indian Ocean to South Africa. Whether South Africa gets its fuel from India at a discounted rate, similar to which India buys its oil from Russia, or whether they pay a full market price, is not known. Pricing is a statistic that is not readily available, not within the public domain, and not something openly discussed in South Africa.

On 24th May, at midday, the large LR1 product tanker ‘Nave Cielo’ (IMO 9301976) arrived at the Table Bay anchorage, from Vadinar in India, and went to anchor for just under two and half days. On 26th May, as 21h00 in the evening, she entered Cape Town harbour, and went alongside the inner tanker berth on the Eastern Mole to begin her discharge.

Nave Cielo, Cape Town 27 May 2023. Picture by ‘ Dockrat’


Built in 2007 by STX Shipbuilding at Jinhae in South Korea, ‘Nave Cielo’ is 228 metres in length and has a deadweight of 74,896 tons. She is powered by a single STX MAN-B&W 6S60MC-C six cylinder two stroke main engine, producing 15,482 bhp (11,545 kW) to drive a fixed pitch propeller for a service speed of 14 knots.

Her auxiliary machinery includes three generators providing 800 kW each. She has a single Kangrim EMC04 ST1197 exhaust gas boiler, and two Kangrim CHO oil fired boilers. She has 12 cargo tanks and her cargo carrying capacity is 83,202 m3.

Nominally owned by Ios Shipping Corporation, ‘Nave Cielo’ is controlled by Navios Maritime Holdings Incorporated, of Grand Cayman. She is operated and managed by Navios Tankers Management Incorporated of Athens. She is one of two sisterships, and was purchased from her previous owners in 2010 for US$43 million (ZAR845.93 million). Her current value was estimated to be US$14.9 million (ZAR293.12 million).

Nave Cielo, Cape Town 27 May 2023. Picture by ‘ Dockrat

In 2019, Navios Maritime entered into a sale and leaseback arrangement with Chinese buyers. The deal included six of the Navios product tankers, which included three LR1 class, and three MR2 class, all of which had been built at South Korean shipyards between 2007 and 2014. All six tankers were sold enbloc for US$90.8 million (ZAR1.79 billion), with an average time charter for each vessel of 4 years. The sale included that of ‘Nave Cielo’.

In December 2018 ‘Nave Cielo’ was involved in a serious pollution incident, and was taken to court in the United States of America (USA) as a result of a video, taken by a crew whistleblower aboard, being handed over to the United States Coast Guard (USCG). The pollution event occurred when she was en route from New Orleans, on the Mississippi River in the USA, to Antwerp in Belgium.

Nave Cielo, Cape Town 27 May 2023. Picture by ‘ Dockrat’

Whilst she was in international waters, after leaving the Gulf of Mexico, ‘Nave Cielo’ began a ten minute discharge over the vessel’s side, of pumping oily water directly into the sea from a 5 inch pipe located on her hull, some 15 feet above sea level. This entire pollution event was filmed by a member of the crew, and on the return of ‘Nave Cielo’ to the United States, the video was handed over to the USCG when one of their routine port state inspection teams boarded the vessel off the Delaware City refinery, in the US state of Delaware.

During the USCG inspection it was determined that the Oil Record Book, aboard ‘Nave Cielo’ did not hold any record of the oily waste discharge. Her owners were taken to court and fined US$2 million (ZAR39.35 million) for the pollution transgression, and for failing to record the event. The Federal district Court also placed the owning holding company, Navimax, on probation for a period of four years. It was the fact that the pollution incident was hidden, by non-disclosure in the Oil Record Book, that resulted in such a large fine.

Nave Cielo. Image taken from Pollution video, 2018

The fine was for violating the ‘Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships’ and obstructing a USCG investigation. The ‘Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships’ is a codification taken from the MARPOL Regulations, and ensures that oily waste is properly stored and processed at sea. The Act requires that all vessels entering any port in the USA must maintain an Oil Record Book, in which all transfers and discharges of oily waste, regardless of the ship’s location in international waters, are fully recorded.

The Assistant Attorney General of the US Department of Justice said “the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships helps protect the precious ocean, and marine resources, from harmful pollution and those who knowingly violate this law will be held accountable. The Department of Justice will continue to work with the USCG, and our other law enforcement partners, to ensure that individuals, and corporations alike, comply with the environmental laws of the USA.”

The Attorney for the District of Delaware went on to say “the defendant violated environmental laws that protect our marine environment from harmful pollution, and the conviction and criminal fine, reinforced by a four-year term of probation, during which the defendant’s fleet of ships will be monitored, ensures that Navimax are held accountable. The message to the shipping industry is clear: Environmental crimes at sea will not be tolerated.”

Nave Cielo, Cape Town 27 May 2023. Picture by ‘ Dockrat’ in Africa Ports & Ships

The casual maritime observer, and nomenclature fan, will have noted that vessels of the Navios Tankers Management fleet have a variety of name derivatives. In 1975, Navios Incorporated began a standard ship nomenclature policy, utilised throughout their fleet, of using the prefix ‘Navios’ followed by another word. The secondary word would be from a theme linked to that class of vessel, such as ‘Navios Lumen’, which is currently anchored off Saldanha Bay.

In recent years, the prefix ‘Navios’ was then, in a few cases, shortened to ‘N’ in some names, and used either as a prefix, or a suffix, as in ‘Hector N’, which is currently en route to Cape Town, from Durban. Then even more recently, the decision was taken that only Bulk Carriers within the fleet would use the ‘Navios’ prefix to their names, and that tankers in the fleet would, instead, use the ‘Nave’ prefix to their names, as with ‘Nave Cielo’.

For a vessel of the size of an LR1, and knowing how long all previous discharges in Cape Town are likely to take with such a vessel, it came as a surprise that ‘Nave Cielo’ was ready to sail after just a day and a half discharging in the Mother City. The indication was that Cape Town was not her only discharge port, but her next destination was not going to be a port along the Southern African coast, as might be expected.

Nave Cielo, Cape Town 27 May 2023. Picture by ‘ Dockrat’

On 28th May, at 03h00 in the morning, ‘Nave Cielo’ sailed from Cape Town, with her AIS indicating that her next destination was going to be Lomé, in the West African state of Togo. The anchorage at Lomé is known as a holding anchorage for shipowners, whilst waiting to fix the next cargo from either Europe, or West Africa.

However, the actual port of Lomé also has a single tanker berth, solely used for the import of domestic fuel products, which is the likely destination of ‘Nave Cielo’. The tanker berth at Lomé is 250 metres long, which can accommodate her, and has a published depth of 14 metres. On sailing from Cape Town, ‘Nave Cielo’ was promulgating that she had a draft of 11.7 metres.

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In Conversation: China in Africa: Kenya railway study shows investment projects aren’t a one-way street

Kenya Railways SGR container train

Gediminas Lesutis, University of Amsterdam and Zhengli Huang, Tongji University

China is an important economic player in Africa. In 2021 alone, China accounted for nearly US$5 billion in foreign direct investment in African countries. The rapidly increasing Chinese presence across Africa has become a contentious issue both for Beijing and African governments.

In particular, mega projects funded by China have resulted in public controversies about the relationship between external investments and public debt. China is Africa’s biggest bilateral lender. In 2020, it held over US$73 billion of Africa’s public debt and nearly US$9 billion of its private debt. Due to this, US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has accused China of leaving countries “trapped in debt”.

Kenya has been no exception. China’s involvement in the construction of Kenya’s Standard Gauge Railway is a typical example of controversies brought by China-supported investments. These include issues of increasing socio-economic inequalities between different population groups advanced by large-scale investments, local labour mistreatment by Chinese managers, accusations of neo-colonialism, and the long-term sustainability of loans issued by the Exim Bank of China for projects.

In 2022, with a total debt of US$6.83 billion, China was Kenya’s biggest bilateral creditor. Out of this amount, US$5.3 billion was advanced by the Exim Bank of China to finance the Standard Gauge Railway.

It is against this background that our study asked if Chinese actors indeed determined how mega-infrastructures are realised in African countries. We examined the specific ways in which Chinese state-owned enterprises are involved in the construction of Kenya’s Standard Gauge Railway. We analysed how infrastructure development was realised on the ground and how Chinese construction companies shaped the process.

The study showed that the decisions of Chinese state-owned enterprises in Kenya do not necessarily present a grand Chinese strategy. Instead, they result from changing political and economic circumstances in China, and reflect both state and private Chinese interests.

Acknowledging these dynamics is important because it demonstrates how narratives about China’s involvement in mega-infrastructure development might overemphasise the power of the Chinese state. Simultaneously, this highlights that African governments have more power to influence their industrial development and the sustainability of large-scale projects than mainstream narratives acknowledge.

Flagship projects

Alongside other large projects, such as the Lamu Port-South Sudan-Ethiopia Transport Corridor, the Standard Gauge Railway is central to Kenya’s national development programme Vision 2030. This is supposed to industrialise the country and advance socio-economic development.

But the sustainability of the railway project and its contribution to government debt has been widely debated. In 2022, according to the National Treasury, Kenya’s debt stood at KSh9.15 trillion (US$74.1 billion), equivalent to 67% of the country’s GDP. There are also concerns whether Chinese contracts protect national interests.

We took a closer look at the project to see if these fears were well founded. Between May 2019 and September 2020, we conducted interviews during multiple visits to Chinese construction camps alongside the railway construction sites.

We interviewed managers and employees in construction and operational departments of China Road and Bridge Corporation, the main railway project contractor. We interviewed informants from the public sector in Kenya, including from Kenya Railways Corporation and Kenya Ports Authority. We also spoke to local government workers, private sector representatives, lawyers and scholars.

Our research is unique because we directly engaged with the Chinese actors that built Kenya’s new railway. Their perspectives have been lacking in both public and academic debates. This is because public engagement of Chinese contractors is usually strictly guarded due to the state ownership of these enterprises.

Our interviews revealed that in Kenya, China Road and Bridge Corporation constantly shifted its strategies. It also adapted to local circumstances in the country and across East Africa, rather than only imposing its strategic priorities. This compromised its own interests of economic productivity and its public image. Our finding runs counter to any grand visions of transformative infrastructure development, the lens through which Kenya’s rail project has been interpreted.

The trade-offs

We found that the Chinese entity had adopted a method called the “Early Entry Scheme” to resolve issues of delayed land compensation. This involved direct, case-by-case negotiated payments to landowners. As a result, owners vacated land for project construction before the land settlement was officially approved by the National Land Commission of Kenya. This is uncommon among international contractors. Land compensation for a national infrastructure project is usually a responsibility of national governments. But with the delayed national compensation process, the China Road and Bridge Corporation resorted to the Early Entry Scheme.

In Kenya, this scheme was driven by various concerns. Cost-saving was one. The Chinese company had learnt from the first phase of the project that the late delivery of even a small parcel of land could raise the cost of the project if labour and equipment were idle.

Another concern was political. For a flagship project funded by the Chinese government, on-time delivery was crucial to promote China’s image as an efficient development partner.

Another interesting aspect of the project was how the Chinese company became the main operator of the Standard Gauge Railway – not just the construction contractor. According to our interviews, operating the railway would not benefit the company financially. But the stakes were too high to leave it to chance. Operational challenges that a new company could experience might have affected the public image of the project, as well as the corporation itself. Therefore, the company had to balance its short-term financial interests with long-term reputational concerns.

So far, there hasn’t been clear evidence of the Standard Gauge Railway contributing to Kenya’s national economic development. The current investment in the railway between Mombasa and Naivasha (120km away from Nairobi) is not enough to boost the economy. This could only be realised if the railway connected global maritime trade to the hinterland of East Africa, to accelerate transport efficiency at a regional scale. But the Kenyan and Ugandan governments did not manage to agree on financing terms to extend the project.

For this reason, in 2018, the Exim Bank discontinued funding for extending Kenya’s railway line to Uganda. This shows that Beijing’s strategies of infrastructure development are not set in stone but change, and can even be reversed, due to shifting circumstances in overseas regions.

Still, there are clear winners. Though the long-term profitability of Kenya’s Standard Gauge Railway remains in question, China Road and Bridge Corporation managed to enhance its global market position. In Kenya alone, despite the controversies that surround the new railway, the corporation was given new tenders to complete other key national projects, such as the Nairobi Expressway.

As we show in our study, this is not necessarily an outcome of a grand strategy in Beijing. Instead, this is a result of dynamic and ever-changing efforts of Chinese companies that try to align multiple demands between their own economic interests and various political priorities in China and across Africa.

This highlights that African countries are not passive recipients of Chinese-funded projects. They have an important role to play in counterbalancing Chinese actors to shape how these projects are realised on the ground.The Conversation

Gediminas Lesutis, Marie Curie Fellow, University of Amsterdam and Zhengli Huang, Post-doctoral Researcher, Tongji University

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

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Opinion Piece: Africa’s slowly expanding cast of LNG players

The Coral Sul FLNG now on station in the Rovuma Basin off the Mozambique coast

By NJ Ayuk
Executive Chairman
African Energy Chamber

A Closer Look at Africa’s Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) Industry: Established Players and Promising New Projects

Africa may not possess the vast conventional gas resources of the Middle East or Russia, and it may not be able to match the combined conventional and unconventional resources of North America. But it does have a sizeable amount of gas – at least 620 trillion cubic feet (tcf) — 17.56 trillion cubic meters (tcm) — in proven reserves.

That’s more than enough to make Africa a key player in the global gas industry. In fact, it puts Africa in a position to influence the course of the industry, especially in light of long-term trends, including the shift to more flexible contract and delivery terms, along with more recent developments such as the Russia-Ukraine conflict.

The African Energy Chamber (AEC) has outlined our expectations for Africa’s gas sector in the “The State of African Energy Q1 2023 Report”, a new publication available for download on our website. The report covers our outlook on both upstream and downstream trends. Here, I’d like to offer some extra insight into our take on downstream developments – that is, on African liquefied natural gas (LNG) projects, including the countries currently dominating the industry and those preparing to make their presence known.

African Gas Takes the Stage

First, some background.

I’ve already noted that Africa has significant gas reserves. And prior to last year, those reserves had already drawn a significant amount of attention from international oil companies (IOCs) and other entities involved in the global gas trade. Indeed, they hadn’t just attracted attention; they’d also attracted many billions of dollars in investment commitments from firms seeking access to large undeveloped gas deposits. IOCs were especially keen to enter offshore frontier provinces such as the Ruvuma basin, located off the coast of Mozambique, and the Senegal-Mauritania section of the MSGBC basin, located off the continent’s western coast.

These companies were interested in Africa not just because they wanted to add new assets to their portfolios. They also wanted to maximize their ability to serve customers seeking gas on flexible terms. This was in line with the long-term shift toward greater flexibility in the gas sector, which is shedding its previous reliance on overland pipeline deliveries and long-term, large-scale contracts with pricing formulae linked to crude oil.

That is, IOCs wanted African gas precisely because they saw it as an additional means of supporting alternative supply arrangements involving spot market purchases and tanker shipments of LNG. But they shifted from wanting African gas to needing it in late February of 2022, when conflict broke out between Russia and Ukraine. I continue to see this as a major topic requested by many to be on the agenda at African Energy Week taking place in Cape Town on 16 to 20 October.

African Gas Enters the Spotlight

This event – the Russian invasion of Ukraine – turned out to be a tipping point for Africa’s gas sector.

The conflict sent global energy markets into a frenzy. This was partly because it led the United States, the United Kingdom, and the European Union to introduce embargoes on Russian crude oil supplies and partly because it sparked concerns about possible interruptions in Russian gas deliveries to Europe via pipeline. (These concerns appeared to be valid, as Russian gas shipments to Europe became irregular last year despite the lack of a formal embargo such as the one imposed on oil.)

The conflict also led the EU to step up its long-standing campaign to reduce dependence on Russian gas. Russia has long been the largest outside supplier of gas to the European market, and up until the end of 2021, it was the source of at least a third of all volumes consumed within the EU. Uncertainty over these supplies heightened European interest in alternative supply sources — and a significant portion of that interest settled on Africa.

As a result, some IOCs and EU member states began pursuing deals with North African states that were already in a position to export gas to Southern Europe via pipeline. The Italian energy major Eni, for example, signed a deal with Libya’s National Oil Corp. (NOC) in January 2023 with the intent of investing USD8 billion in a gas project that could export its output via the Greenstream pipeline. Eni has also added a number of gas-producing assets in Algeria, which has pipeline connections to both Italy and Spain, to its portfolio over the last year.

However, some IOCs and EU states have focused on LNG-oriented endeavors that are in line with the growing flexibility of the global gas market. Italy is certainly set to benefit from Eni’s efforts on this front; over the last year, the company has arranged to import more LNG from two existing suppliers, Algeria and Angola, while also launching LNG exports from the Coral field offshore Mozambique and striking a deal with the Republic of Congo (ROC) on its floating LNG (FLNG) project for the Marine XII fields.

Eni is hardly alone. For example, the British giant BP said earlier this year that it anticipated making a final investment decision (FID) on the Yakaar-Teranga LNG project, which focuses on a group of fields off the coast of Senegal, before the end of 2023. Meanwhile, Shell (UK) and Equinor (Norway) revealed in mid-May that they had finished negotiations on the USD42billion Tanzania LNG project and expected to sign a host government agreement (HGA) and production-sharing agreement (PSA) within the next few weeks.

And there are plenty of other examples! Altogether, there have been enough new investment pledges made that Africa is now on track to see its total LNG export capacity rise from the current level of 80 million tonnes per year to around 110 million tons per year by 2030 and to more than 175 million tonnes per year by 2040.

Africa’s slowly expanding cast of LNG players

But as the AEC explains in The State of African Energy Q1 2023 Report,” these commitments are not going to change the picture for African LNG immediately. For the time being, the continent’s LNG business will continue to be dominated by the most established players: Egypt, Algeria, and Nigeria (and to a lesser extent, Equatorial Guinea and Angola).

Algeria and Egypt, our report notes, likely will maintain their existing LNG infrastructure capacity of about 29 million tonnes per year and 12.7 million tonnes per year respectively.

Nigeria, meanwhile, will increase its LNG infrastructure capacity from 22 million tonnes per annum (MMtpa) to 30 MMtpa when it completes the Nigeria LNG (NLNG) Train 7 development, our report states. The project by Nigeria LNG — a venture comprising the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Shell, TotalEnergies, and Eni — calls for the construction of an additional LNG train and a liquefaction unit for Nigeria’s six-train Bonny plant.

Train 7, which was about 32% complete in late 2022, is intended to meet local needs while increasing Nigerian LNG exports, diversifying Nigeria’s revenue portfolio, and helping the country better capitalize on its 200 tcf of natural gas reserves.

Nigerian maritime logistics company UTM Offshore, meanwhile, likely will nudge up Nigeria’s capacity to just over 31 MMtpa when it completes the FLING project I mentioned above. As of last November, the FLNG was expected to start operating in 2027.

True, BP is due to begin first-phase production at Grand Tortue/Ahmeyim (GTA) block in late 2023, and Eni and its partners are set to expand LNG production at the Coral field offshore Mozambique. Indeed, the AEC expects these projects to help push African LNG exports up to the equivalent of 66 billion cubic meters this year, up 5% on 2022.

However, it’s going to take time to bring the rest of the new projects on stream and to build all these new onshore and offshore LNG plants. Tanzania LNG, for example, is not expected to begin production until 2028, and Eni’s Marine XII project will not reach its full capacity of 3 million tonnes per year until late 2025. TotalEnergies of France is not likely to begin commercial operations on the Mozambique LNG project before 2025, and the U.S. giant ExxonMobil will need even more time to launch its Rovuma LNG project in Mozambique, since it has yet to reach the FID stage.

This means that Algeria, Egypt, and Nigeria will continue to account for the majority of the LNG coming out of Africa for the next few years — and that the balance won’t really start to shift until the end of the decade. IOCs and EU states are currently laying the groundwork for expanding production and opening up new basins to support LNG projects, but it will take a few years for their efforts to pay off.

For more insights on LNG projects and other developments in the African gas sector, download AEC’s The State of African Energy Q1 2023 Report

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Article d’opinion: Le casting d’acteurs du GNL en expansion lente en Afrique

Le FLNG Coral Sul maintenant en station dans le bassin de Rovuma au large des côtes du Mozambique

Par NJ Ayuk
Président exécutif
Chambre africaine de l’énergie

Un regard plus attentif sur l’industrie du gaz naturel liquéfié (GNL) en Afrique : acteurs établis et nouveaux projets prometteurs

L’Afrique ne possède peut-être pas les vastes ressources gazières conventionnelles du Moyen-Orient ou de la Russie, et elle peut ne pas être en mesure d’égaler les ressources conventionnelles et non conventionnelles combinées de l’Amérique du Nord. Mais il possède une quantité importante de gaz – au moins 620 billions de pieds cubes (tcf) – 17,56 billions de mètres cubes (tcm) – dans des réserves prouvées.

C’est plus que suffisant pour faire de l’Afrique un acteur clé de l’industrie mondiale du gaz. En fait, cela place l’Afrique en position d’influencer le cours de l’industrie, en particulier à la lumière des tendances à long terme, y compris le passage à des conditions de contrat et de livraison plus flexibles, ainsi que des développements plus récents tels que le conflit russo-ukrainien.

La Chambre africaine de l’énergie (AEC) a exposé nos attentes pour le secteur gazier africain dans le “Rapport sur l’état de l’énergie en Afrique au premier trimestre 2023”, une nouvelle publication disponible en téléchargement sur notre site Web. Le rapport couvre nos perspectives sur les tendances en amont et en aval. Ici, je voudrais offrir un aperçu supplémentaire de notre point de vue sur les développements en aval – c’est-à-dire sur les projets africains de gaz naturel liquéfié (GNL), y compris les pays qui dominent actuellement l’industrie et ceux qui se préparent à faire connaître leur présence.

Le gaz africain entre en scène

Tout d’abord, un peu de contexte.

J’ai déjà noté que l’Afrique a d’importantes réserves de gaz. Et avant l’année dernière, ces réserves avaient déjà attiré l’attention des compagnies pétrolières internationales (COI) et d’autres entités impliquées dans le commerce mondial du gaz. En effet, ils n’avaient pas seulement attiré l’attention; ils avaient également attiré plusieurs milliards de dollars en engagements d’investissement de la part d’entreprises cherchant à accéder à d’importants gisements de gaz non développés. Les IOC étaient particulièrement désireux d’entrer dans les provinces frontalières offshore telles que le bassin de Ruvuma, situé au large des côtes du Mozambique, et la section Sénégal-Mauritanie du bassin MSGBC, située au large de la côte ouest du continent.

Ces entreprises ne s’intéressaient pas à l’Afrique uniquement parce qu’elles souhaitaient ajouter de nouveaux actifs à leurs portefeuilles. Ils souhaitaient également maximiser leur capacité à servir les clients à la recherche de gaz à des conditions flexibles. Cela correspondait à l’évolution à long terme vers une plus grande flexibilité dans le secteur du gaz, qui abandonne sa dépendance antérieure aux livraisons par pipeline terrestre et aux contrats à long terme et à grande échelle avec des formules de tarification liées au pétrole brut.

Autrement dit, les IOC voulaient du gaz africain précisément parce qu’ils y voyaient un moyen supplémentaire de soutenir des accords d’approvisionnement alternatifs impliquant des achats sur le marché au comptant et des expéditions de GNL par pétroliers. Mais ils sont passés du désir de gaz africain à en avoir besoin fin février 2022, lorsque le conflit a éclaté entre la Russie et l’Ukraine. Je continue de voir cela comme un sujet majeur demandé par beaucoup d’être à l’ordre du jour de la Semaine africaine de l’énergie qui se tiendra au Cap du 16 au 20 octobre.

Le gaz africain entre en scène

Cet événement – l’invasion russe de l’Ukraine – s’est avéré être un tournant pour le secteur gazier africain.

Le conflit a plongé les marchés mondiaux de l’énergie dans une frénésie. Cela s’explique en partie parce qu’il a conduit les États-Unis, le Royaume-Uni et l’Union européenne à introduire des embargos sur les approvisionnements en pétrole brut russe et en partie parce qu’il a suscité des inquiétudes quant à d’éventuelles interruptions des livraisons de gaz russe vers l’Europe par pipeline. (Ces préoccupations semblaient fondées, car les expéditions de gaz russe vers l’Europe sont devenues irrégulières l’année dernière malgré l’absence d’embargo formel tel que celui imposé sur le pétrole.)

Le conflit a également conduit l’UE à intensifier sa campagne de longue date pour réduire la dépendance au gaz russe. La Russie a longtemps été le plus grand fournisseur extérieur de gaz sur le marché européen et, jusqu’à la fin de 2021, elle était la source d’au moins un tiers de tous les volumes consommés au sein de l’UE. L’incertitude sur ces approvisionnements a accru l’intérêt européen pour les sources d’approvisionnement alternatives – et une partie importante de cet intérêt s’est concentrée sur l’Afrique.

En conséquence, certains CIO et États membres de l’UE ont commencé à conclure des accords avec des États d’Afrique du Nord qui étaient déjà en mesure d’exporter du gaz vers l’Europe du Sud par gazoduc. Le géant italien de l’énergie Eni, par exemple, a signé un accord avec la National Oil Corp. (NOC) de Libye en janvier 2023 dans le but d’investir 8 milliards de dollars dans un projet gazier qui pourrait exporter sa production via le gazoduc Greenstream. Eni a également ajouté un certain nombre d’actifs de production de gaz en Algérie, qui dispose de connexions par gazoduc à la fois en Italie et en Espagne, à son portefeuille au cours de l’année dernière.

Cependant, certains IOC et États de l’UE se sont concentrés sur des efforts axés sur le GNL qui sont conformes à la flexibilité croissante du marché mondial du gaz. L’Italie devrait certainement bénéficier des efforts d’Eni sur ce front ; au cours de l’année dernière, la société s’est arrangée pour importer plus de GNL de deux fournisseurs existants, l’Algérie et l’Angola, tout en lançant des exportations de GNL à partir du champ Coral au large du Mozambique et en concluant un accord avec la République du Congo (ROC) sur son GNL flottant ( FLNG) pour les champs Marine XII.

Eni n’est pas seul. Par exemple, le géant britannique BP a déclaré plus tôt cette année qu’il prévoyait de prendre une décision finale d’investissement (FID) sur le projet Yakaar-Teranga LNG, qui se concentre sur un groupe de champs au large du Sénégal, avant la fin de 2023. , Shell (Royaume-Uni) et Equinor (Norvège) ont révélé à la mi-mai qu’ils avaient terminé les négociations sur le projet de GNL tanzanien de 42 milliards de dollars et qu’ils prévoyaient de signer un accord avec le gouvernement hôte (HGA) et un accord de partage de production (PSA) dans les prochaines semaines. .

Et il y a plein d’autres exemples ! Au total, il y a eu suffisamment de nouvelles promesses d’investissement pour que l’Afrique soit désormais sur la bonne voie pour voir sa capacité totale d’exportation de GNL passer du niveau actuel de 80 millions de tonnes par an à environ 110 millions de tonnes par an d’ici 2030 et à plus de 175 millions de tonnes. par an d’ici 2040.

Le casting d’acteurs du GNL en expansion lente en Afrique

Mais comme l’explique l’AEC dans le rapport sur l’état de l’énergie en Afrique pour le premier trimestre 2023, « ces engagements ne vont pas changer la situation pour le GNL africain dans l’immédiat. Pour l’instant, l’activité GNL du continent continuera d’être dominée par les acteurs les plus établis : l’Égypte, l’Algérie et le Nigéria (et dans une moindre mesure, la Guinée équatoriale et l’Angola).

L’Algérie et l’Égypte, note notre rapport, maintiendront probablement leur capacité d’infrastructure GNL existante d’environ 29 millions de tonnes par an et 12,7 millions de tonnes par an respectivement.

Le Nigéria, quant à lui, augmentera sa capacité d’infrastructure de GNL de 22 millions de tonnes par an (MMtpa) à 30 MMtpa lorsqu’il aura achevé le développement du train 7 de Nigeria LNG (NLNG), indique notre rapport. Le projet de Nigeria LNG – une entreprise comprenant la Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Shell, TotalEnergies et Eni – prévoit la construction d’un train de GNL supplémentaire et d’une unité de liquéfaction pour l’usine nigériane de Bonny à six trains.

Le train 7, qui était achevé à environ 32 % fin 2022, est destiné à répondre aux besoins locaux tout en augmentant les exportations de GNL nigérian, en diversifiant le portefeuille de revenus du Nigéria et en aidant le pays à mieux capitaliser sur ses 200 tcf de réserves de gaz naturel.

La société nigériane de logistique maritime UTM Offshore, quant à elle, augmentera probablement la capacité du Nigeria à un peu plus de 31 MMtpa lorsqu’elle achèvera le projet FLING que j’ai mentionné ci-dessus. En novembre dernier, le FLNG devait entrer en service en 2027.

Certes, BP devrait commencer la production de la première phase sur le bloc Grand Tortue/Ahmeyim (GTA) fin 2023, et Eni et ses partenaires devraient étendre la production de GNL sur le champ Coral au large du Mozambique. En effet, l’AEC s’attend à ce que ces projets contribuent à faire passer les exportations africaines de GNL à l’équivalent de 66 milliards de mètres cubes cette année, en hausse de 5 % par rapport à 2022.

Cependant, il faudra du temps pour mettre en service le reste des nouveaux projets et construire toutes ces nouvelles usines de GNL onshore et offshore. Le GNL tanzanien, par exemple, ne devrait pas commencer sa production avant 2028, et le projet Marine XII d’Eni n’atteindra sa pleine capacité de 3 millions de tonnes par an qu’à la fin de 2025. TotalEnergies de France ne devrait pas commencer ses opérations commerciales sur le GNL mozambicain. projet avant 2025, et le géant américain ExxonMobil aura besoin d’encore plus de temps pour lancer son projet Rovuma LNG au Mozambique, puisqu’il n’a pas encore atteint le stade FID.

Cela signifie que l’Algérie, l’Égypte et le Nigéria continueront de représenter la majorité du GNL sortant d’Afrique au cours des prochaines années – et que l’équilibre ne commencera pas vraiment à changer avant la fin de la décennie. Les COI et les États de l’UE préparent actuellement le terrain pour augmenter la production et ouvrir de nouveaux bassins pour soutenir les projets de GNL, mais il faudra quelques années pour que leurs efforts portent leurs fruits.

Pour plus d’informations sur les projets de GNL et d’autres développements dans le secteur du gaz en Afrique, téléchargez notre Rapport sur l’état de l’énergie en Afrique au premier trimestre 2023

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Added 31 May 2023


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Protests close major road routes in Durban and Van Reenen

Durban’s Spaghetti Junction, N2 running left (north) to right (south) and N3 top (east) to right corner (west) with Durban port and Indian Ocean in top of frame. Picture: Pinterest

Protest action has closed several KZN roads since the weekend.

In Durban the N2 highway outer ring road section was closed to traffic on Monday evening on account of protest action taking place.

The action occurred at Spaghetti Junction where the N2 (North-South) meets with the N3 (East-West) highways.

The reason for the protest was not immediately clear, but appeared to be in connection with the lack of service delivery by the Durban municipality.

All lanes on this busy section were affected. At least one vehicle, a car carrier was set alight during the protest. Tyres were also placed across the road and set alight.

Spaghetti Junction is used by most of the long-distance trucks loaded with containers, bulk ores and other commodities, arriving or departing from the Durban port.

According to the Durban Metro Police the highway was later reopened and there were no further disruptions.

Close-up of Spaghetti Junction N3 left to right and N2 corner to corner. Picture: faceBook

Van Reenen’s Pass closure

On the border between KZN and the Free State Van Reenen’s Pass through the Drakensberg Mountains was closed on Sunday by protesters.

The N3 Toll Concession which manages the toll road, issued warnings to motorists to avoid using the pass, which is main route by road between KZN and the Free State and Gauteng provinces.

The majority of trucks heading towards or coming from the port at Durban, make use of Van Reenen Pass.

The closure resulted in large amounts of traffic on both sides of the pass being held up.

The N3 Toll Route starts at the Cedara interchange outside of Pietermaritzburg in KwaZulu-Natal and ends 415km away at the Heidelberg South interchange in Gauteng.

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Added 31 May 2023


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Runaway coal train collision – negligence or something else?

One of four locomotives involved in the runaway collision on the Richards Bay coal line

On 22 May we reported here in Africa Ports & Ships of the reopening of the Richards Bay coal line at the Mqwabe bypass near Vryheid.

One half of the double track had been completely blocked when 49 loaded wagons on a coal train heading towards the port at Richards Bay, were derailed on 11 May. While Line 01 was completely blocked, trains were able, with reduced load, to pass the scene using Line 02.

After six days of work, on 17 May at 13h43, Line 01 was handed back to TFR to resume use.

On that same day, Wednesday 17 May 2023, a second unrelated ‘incident’ took place, when according to Transnet Freight Rail, “loaded wagons from the siding entered the mainline without authorisation. A train with runaway wagons from a siding managed by a third party at Koornfontein near Witbank collided with a parked TFR train, resulting in coal spillage and the derailment of 48 loaded wagons.”

TFR said it was unclear at that stage what may have caused the runaway wagons from the third party siding. “The coal spillage on Line 2 has since been cleared. Repair work on Line 1 and 2 is expected to take several days.”

No information has been made available as to the cause of these derailments, or the extent of damage to wagons and locomotives. All of these accidents are contributing towards an annualised figure of less than 50 million tons of export coal this year for Richards Bay, well below any target set by Transnet and even less than the just over 50 million tons achieved in 2022, the lowest figure for the port in over 30 years.

Gone are the days when in excess of 70mt was achievable on this line, considered to be among the very best heavy-haul railways in the world, and the expectation was for even higher exports in the future. Instead, coal exports have regressed and appear to be worsening, purely a result of Transnet’s inability to rail sufficient volumes from the mines to the port.

Scene of the collision and derailment on the Richards Bay coal line

Against this background is an eyewitness report of the latest 17 May accident, referred to above:

“50 loaded wagons started rolling out of a siding – brakes not engaged – onto the main line to Richards Bay into a loaded 100-wagon train pulled by four locos. Power shut to stop the train, drivers told to evacuate and wham: four locos on top of the crash, all near Broodsnyersplaas. Line closed without expected resumption date yet.”

That’s somewhat more dramatic than the bland statement from TFR, which made no mention of brakes not being applied. It does however explain how “loaded wagons from the siding entered the mainline without authorisation.”

The runaway 50-wagon train then collided with a parked train with devastating effect, as seen from photographs allegedly of this ‘incident’.

Some are calling this another act of sabotage.

The Broodsnyersplaas area where this occurred is near Witbank and was originally the official ‘starting point’ of the Richards Bay Coal Line.

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Added 30 May 2023


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WHARF TALK: general cargo vessel – BLUE MASTER II

Maritime Carrier Shipping’s (MACS) lovely general cargo ship, Blue Master II, arriving in Cape Town on her May 2023 visit. Picture is by ‘Dockrat’

Pictures by ‘Dockrat
Story by Jay Gates

4th to 28th MAY 2023

The days of well known shipping companies running scheduled breakbulk and general cargo shipping services from Europe, and elsewhere, to South Africa are long gone. The likes of Union Castle Line, Clan Line, Ellerman Lines, T&J Harrison, Nedlloyd, Royal Interocean Lines, Deutsche Afrika Line, and Moore-McCormack Line have all now disappeared, now consigned to the shipping history books, and but a distant memory.

However, there is still one such company that is carrying on that tradition, and with a fleet of vessels that tries to be all things to all men. The vessels are the modern version of general cargo vessels, and can carry breakbulk cargo, bulk cargoes, containers, heavylift deck cargo, and even the odd passenger or two. Their vessels run on two separate scheduled services from South Africa to Europe, and from South Africa to Gulf of Mexico ports in the United States of America.

Back on 4th May, at 11h00 in the morning, the general cargo vessel ‘Blue Master II’ (IMO 9465411) arrived off Cape Town, from Walvis Bay in Namibia, and entered Cape Town harbour, proceeding into the Duncan Dock and taking her usual place at one of the FPT berths, on this occasion it was B Berth, where she began her discharge.

Blue Master II, Cape Town 4 May 2023. Picture is by ‘Dockrat’

Built in 2013 by Changjiang Qingshan Shipyard at Wuhan in China, ‘Blue Master II’ is 200 metres in length, and has a deadweight of 37,444 tons. She is powered by a single Wärtsilä 7RT-Flex50B seven cylinder two stroke main engine producing 15,885 bhp (11,620 kW), driving a fixed pitch propeller for a service speed of 15 knots.

Her auxiliary machinery includes three Wärtsilä W6L26 generators providing 1,800 kW each, and a single Volvo-Penta D9AMG EME/RC emergency generator providing 205 kW. She has a single Qingdao GFL140-0.7 exhaust gas boiler, and a single Qingdao LSK1.2-0.7 oil fired boiler. For added manoeuvrability she has a Nakashima TCT-200 bow transverses thruster providing 1,200 kW.

She has five cargo holds, with a cargo carrying capacity of 55,095 m3, which are serviced by no less than six cranes capable of lifting 60 tons each, any two of which can be used in tandem for a combined lift of 120 tons. The amidships cranes can also be buddied up as a foursome, to give a heavylift capability of lifting 240 tons. The container carrying capacity of ‘Blue Master II’ is 2,225 TEU, and she has deck plugs for the carriage of 150 reefers.

Blue Master II, Cape Town 4 May 2023. Picture is by ‘Dockrat’

Owned, and operated by Maritime Carrier Shipping (MACS) GmbH, of Hamburg in Germany, ‘Blue Master II’ carries the famous MACS name and Rhinoceros logo on her hull, and the MACS Rhinoceros logo on her funnel. MACS was founded in 1979, at a time when many conventional cargo shipping companies of Europe were disappearing from the South African shipping scene. She is managed by Vineta Bereederungs GmbH, the MACS holding company, also of Hamburg.

Operating on the MACS Europe-South Africa service, ‘Blue Master II’ is one of four sisterships, all of which operate on this service. The general port rotation of the MACS service is Hamburg- Antwerp (Belgium)- Leixoes (Portugal)- Walvis Bay- Cape Town- Port Elizabeth- Durban- Maputo- Durban- Cape Town- Walvis Bay- Vigo (Spain)- Rotterdam (Holland)- Hamburg.

The MACS Europe-South Africa service is fortnightly, with all vessels calling at Walvis Bay, Cape Town and Durban on the southbound leg of the voyage. However, every second vessel on the service makes two additional calls at Port Elizabeth and Maputo on the southbound leg. On the northbound return voyage to Europe, all of the vessels call again at Durban, Cape Town and Walvis Bay before heading back to Europe as per the published schedule.

On this current voyage, ‘Blue Master II’ spent 36 hours discharging her southbound containers and cargo, and at Midnight on 5th May, she sailed from Cape Town, bound for Port Elizabeth, where she arrived on 7th May at Midday. Just 24 hours later, at 11h00 on 7th May, she sailed not for Durban as expected, but directly for Maputo in Mozambique, where she arrived on 12th May at 1100. She required just 48 hours alongside to both discharge, and then load her northbound containers and cargo.

Blue Master II, Cape Town 4 May 2023. Picture is by ‘Dockrat’

Her northbound voyage then began with her scheduled call at Durban, where she unexpectedly was sent to the anchorage off Umhlanga, due to her normal berth not being available. She remained out at anchor for just under three days, and eventually entered Durban harbour on 18th May at 08h00, where she went alongside her usual berth at Maydon Wharf 12.

By making only one call at Durban on this voyage, it meant that her time in Durban was extended to allow for a full discharge, followed by a full loading for Europe. She remained in Durban for a full week, and on 25th May at 04h00 in the morning ‘Blue Master II’ sailed from Durban bound for her second stop at Cape Town.

She made a fast passage, at her maximum service speed, along the South African coast, but her ETA at Cape Town kept being amended, first from 08h00, then to 15h00, then to 20h00 on the 27th May. By the early afternoon of 27th May, she was forced to slow down to just over 10 knots, as her normal berth at Cape Town was still occupied, and unavailable for her new scheduled arrival time.

She slow steamed off Cape Town port limits (OPL) until 23h00 in the late evening, when she was finally brought into Cape Town, once more entering the Duncan Dock and going alongside her now vacated berth on the FPT at A berth. Her time alongside in Cape Town was short, after just 18 hours of cargo loading, she was ready to sail. She departed Cape Town at 17h00 on 28th May, once more bound for her northbound call at Walvis Bay.

Blue Master II, Cape Town 4 May 2023. Picture is by ‘Dockrat’

She had spent a total of 24 days on the South African coast, which is very reminiscent of a port call schedule of the cargo vessels of old, with plenty of time to get ashore for those of her crew who wanted to. The combined delays at both Durban and Cape Town mean that she is currently running one day late on her published schedule. It is expected that she will catch that time up, and return to her schedule, on the long 18 day leg between Walvis Bay and Vigo.

Her ongoing published schedule, for her next MACS Europe-South Africa voyage will bring ‘Blue Master II’ back to South Africa in late July, with her next Cape Town call scheduled for 27th July, with onward port calls at Port Elizabeth on 30th July, and Durban on 2nd August.

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Added 30 May 2023


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Libyan port attacked by drones, patrol vessels destroyed

Map showing the port of town of al-Zawiya west of Tripoli and 30km from al-Maya

Aerial attacks using Turkish-made drones on al-Zawiya and the fishing port of al-Maya some 30-km further east from al-Zawiya, resulted in a number of deaths, some damage to infrastructure and the destruction of patrol boats.

The facts of this attack at the weekend emerged via social media sources, including video footage of the attacks and aftermath.

It appears five people lost their lives during an aerial drone attack by the Libyan Army forces loyal to GNU.

Dryad Global reports that within recent weeks Eastern Libya has seen an increase in sectarian violence as a result of inter-militia clashes as well as clashes with state security forces.

This has resulted in a series of airstrikes throughout the al Zawiya region across the past three days. Early indications suggest that the strikes are targeting illicit fuel smuggling networks which are believed to operate along the coast.

Footage believed to be of the incident appears to indicate a vessel being struck whilst alongside at the al-Maya port.

Whilst details remain unclear, the risk level for commercial vessels calling at al Zawiya is assessed to be critical in the short term.

However, reports Dryad Global, an attack on either of the main Libyan ports by forces loyal to the interim Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibeh is not assessed at this time to be in any way beneficial to the wider strategic aims of power consolidation and uprooting problematic non-state actors.

Drone attack:

The video footage appearing on Twitter on 28 May shows what is believed to be one of the drones bombing the port in al-Maya together with the damage that resulted.

The media states that GNU, with the use of Turkish Intelligence Service drones, had conducted airstrikes on Sunday (28 May) against a number of sites in Western Libya. One of the targets was against the Libyan Coast Security base and port in Al-Maya.

During the airstrike a patrol boat was damaged and five Coast Security officers were killed. The targeting of port in Al-Maya by the GNU is claimed to be politically motivated and intended as the “elimination” of political opposition.

The media report said that 10 marine vessels were destroyed, five officers at the Security base killed, and an unspecified number of personnel injured. This has not been positively verified.

To watch the video clips:   CLICK HERE

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IMO:  Mauritius – Strengthening oil spill preparedness plans

Picture: IMO

Edited by Paul Ridgway

The impacts of oil pollution and its effect on the marine environment, and the importance of having in place an effective national framework for responding to oil spills were the focus of a national workshop held in Port Louis, Mauritius, from 22 to 24 May.

An example of IMO’s support

This workshop was part of IMO’s work to support parties to the International Convention on Oil Pollution Preparedness, Response and Co-operation (OPRC) with their National Oil Spill Contingency Plan (NOSCP).

Twenty-eight senior managers and administrators involved in the country’s response to oil pollution incidents took part with in-person lectures and discussions. Principal of these was the need for rapid decision-making to mitigate the impact of any oil spill.

Furthermore, emphasis was placed on the importance of cooperation between stakeholders at a national level, as well as with those in neighbouring countries and the wider international community.

Roles of all parties

Also covered were roles and responsibilities prior to, and during the response to, a pollution incident; relevant regulations and conventions; and liability and compensation.

Over three days the workshop incorporated table-top and discussion-based exercises to build capacity and test response systems so as to identify areas requiring improvement or development. Support was also provided in the updating of the Mauritius NOSCP following an incident involving the bulk carrier mv Wakashio in an ecologically sensitive area off the coast of Mauritius in 2020.

Draft action plan

A draft action plan was produced to facilitate ongoing development of an effective national oil spill preparedness and response framework.

This event gave participants a networking opportunity to enhance cooperation and to stimulate a collaborative approach to oil spill preparedness and response.

Commitment to SIDs and LDCs

With IMO the workshop was co-organised with the Ministry of Blue Economy, Marine Resources, Fisheries & Shipping, Mauritius.

It was hosted by the Ministry of Local Government and Disaster Risk Management and financed by the Government of the People’s Republic of China through the IMO’s Integrated Technical Cooperation Programme (ITCP).

It is part of IMO’s ongoing commitment to supporting African Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and Least Developed Countries (LDCs) in the effective implementation of the OPRC Convention.

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Added 30 May 2023


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Boluda Maritime Corporation renforce son partenariat avec le Togo et Afrique de l’Ouest

VB Jamsah, l’un des remorqueurs portuaires de Boluda Towage en Afrique Ports & Navires

Boluda Corporación Marítima, leader du remorquage maritime, a récemment rencontré la ministre togolaise de l’Economie maritime, de la Pêche et de la Protection du littoral, Kokou Edem Tengue, pour discuter de la situation concurrentielle des ports ouest-africains et renforcer son partenariat avec le Togo.

La rencontre a notamment permis de mettre en exergue la capacité d’expansion, de croissance et d’internationalisation du Togo.

Boluda a déclaré après la réunion que l’objectif principal de la réunion était d’évaluer l’efficacité du partenariat public-privé entre Boluda et le Togo, dans le cadre des activités de remorqueur dans le port autonome de Lomé.

De gauche à droite : Mathieu Le Moal, directeur général de Boluda Towage France en Afrique subsaharienne, Vicente Boluda Fos, président de Boluda Corporación Marítima, Kokou Edem Tengue, ministre de l’Économie maritime, de la Pêche et de la Protection du littoral, Caroline Vonie , directeur général de Boluda Lomé et Antonio Bordils, PDG de Boluda Towage. Photo par MEMPPC

L’occasion a également été saisie par Boluda Towage pour annoncer l’arrivée d’un nouveau remorqueur au port de Lomé.

Selon Boluda, le nouveau remorqueur représente une étape importante pour le Port autonome de Lomé et en particulier pour le terminal à conteneurs de Lomé.

“En autorisant l’accès à des navires plus grands, cela contribuera à augmenter la capacité du port et à renforcer sa compétitivité dans la région”, a déclaré la société.

“L’arrivée de ce remorqueur démontre l’engagement continu du Togo et de Boluda Corporación Marítima à travailler ensemble pour améliorer les services de remorquage et soutenir le développement du Port Autonome de Lomé.”

Le port continue de jouer un rôle crucial dans l’économie du Togo et dans la compétitivité de la région. En renforçant leur partenariat, Boluda Corporación marítima et le Togo se sont engagés à améliorer encore les services de remorquage et à accompagner la croissance du port.

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Ajouté le 29 mai 2023


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Boluda Maritime Corporation strengthens its partnership with Togo and West Africa

VB Jamsah, one of Boluda Towage’s harbour tugs, for illustrative purposes

Boluda Corporación Marítima, a leading maritime towing company, recently held a meeting with Togo’s Minister of Maritime Economy, Fisheries and Coastal Protection, Kokou Edem Tengue, to discuss the competitive situation of West African ports and to strengthen its partnership with Togo.

In particular the meeting was used to highlight Togo’s capacity for expansion, growth and internationalisation.

Boluda said after the meeting that the main purpose of the meeting was to evaluate the effectiveness of the public-private partnership between Boluda and Togo, in the framework of the tugboat activities in the Autonomous Port of Lomé.

From left to right: Mathieu Le Moal, General Manager of Boluda Towage France in Sub-Saharan Africa, Vicente Boluda Fos, President of Boluda Corporación Marítima, Kokou Edem Tengue, Minister of Maritime Economy, Fisheries and Coastal Protection, Caroline Vonie, General Manager of Boluda Lomé and Antonio Bordils, CEO of Boluda Towage. Photo by MEMPPC

The opportunity was also used by Boluda Towage to announce the arrival of a new tugboat at the port of Lomé.

According to Boluda, the new tug represents an important milestone for the Autonomous Port of Lomé and especially for the Lomé Container Terminal.

“By allowing access for larger vessels, it will contribute to increasing the capacity of the port and strengthen its competitiveness in the region,” the company said.

“The arrival of this tug demonstrates the continued commitment of Togo and Boluda Corporación Marítima to work together to improve towage services and support the development of the Autonomous Port of Lomé.”

The port continues to play a crucial role in the economy of Togo and in the competitiveness of the region. By strengthening their partnership, Boluda Corporación marítima and Togo have committed to further improving towage services and supporting the growth of the port.

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Added 30 May 2023


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Constitutional Court orders the extradition of Manuel Chang to the USA

Longliner tuna fishing vessels built for Mozambque under the so-called ‘hidden debts’ scandal

The 63-year old Manuel Chang, who was arrested in December 2018 at O.R. Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg, while en route to Dubai, remains held in a South African prison awaiting a decision on his extradition.

Mozambique has also applied for Chang’s extradition and has challenged his transfer to the USA, which is part of the reason for the long delay.

Chang was arrested in the South African airport on the basis of an international arrest warrant issued by the US for his alleged involvement in the so-called process of hidden debts of 2.7 billion dollars (2.5 billion euros). These were secretly contracted in Mozambique and involved a fleet of tuna-trawlers and fast patrol boats built by Privinvest.

Chang was Mozambique’s finance minister at the time of the loan transaction which involved Swiss and Russian banks.

South Africa is now awaiting instructions from Interpol on the extradition process, according to a ministerial source.

Chrispin Piri, a spokesman for South Africa’s Minister of Justice and Correctional Services, told Lusa, the Mozambican Portuguese language news service that they took note of the Constitutional Court’s order and will comply with it accordingly. “We will be guided by Interpol regarding the next steps,” he said.

The South African Constitutional Court, South Africa’s highest legal authority, issued its verdict last week (for the second time), that Chang must be extradited to the USA, rejecting an appeal by Mozambique’s Attorney General against the extradition.

Following the Concourt’s decision, the lawyer for the Mozambican attorney-general’s office in South Africa, Busani Mabunda, confirmed to Lusa that “following the trial, Mr Chang will be extradited to the USA”.

The US intends prosecuting Chang for his alleged involvement in the case of the undeclared debts contracted by the government of the then Mozambican President Armando Guebuza.

In appealing to the South African authorities against the extradition, Mozambique was claiming that the only jurisdiction to try Manuel Chang is the Mozambican one. This. it claimed, was because it was in Mozambique that the facts occurred and the injured parties are the State and the Mozambican people.

An ‘Ocean Eagle’ trimaran patrol vessel of which several were supplied to Mozambique under the scheme

Chang has already been charged in Mozambique, but was out of the country at the time (already in a South African jail).

The ‘hidden debts’ case involves a sum of over US$ 2 billion dollars which was secretly contracted in 2013 and 2014 for the tuna-trawlers and patrol boats at what is alleged to be inflated prices through middlemen and facilitated by the respective banks.

The vessels were built and delivered and for years lay unused on the wharfside in Maputo.

It is alleged that certain individuals were the recipients of large sums of money from the international shipbuilding company, Privinvest. Guebuza’s son is among the accused of being involved in convincing his father, then president of the country, into approving the corrupt project, for which he is said to have received $33 million. He denies this.

The ‘secret debts’ affair plunged Mozambique into a debt crisis from which it is still struggling to emerge.

An independent audit later discovered that $500 million of the bank loans remains unaccounted for.

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WHARF TALK: two small bespoke tugs – FRANQUE TIDE & IGIRAN TIDE

Damen Sharjah-built tugs, Igarin Tide and Franque Tide at 703 lay-up berth in Cape Town harbour. Picture is by ‘Dockrat’

Pictures by ‘Dockrat’
Story by Jay Gates

For most observers of the offshore oil and gas industry in Africa, most will be aware that one of the largest offshore support companies is Tidewater Marine, headquartered in the Texas city of Houston in the USA. Again, most folk in the know will also be aware that Tidewater Marine provides a vast fleet of Platform Supply Vessels (PSV) as their business mainstay. Such vessels are seen regularly in South African ports, arriving from West Africa for periods of maintenance and refit.

As well as providing PSVs in support of offshore oil and gas rigs, what is lesser known is that Tidewater Marine also provide support for offshore construction barges, crane barges, accommodation barges, floating rig moves, FPSO Shuttle Tanker docking, and towage of coastal pipe laying and cable laying barges. For all that support work, you don’t need a PSV. What you do need is a tug.

Throughout the second half of April, and on through May, two small bespoke tugs have been making their way slowly down the length of East Africa, from the shipyard where they were built, and headed for their formal introduction for an existing client, into an offshore oil and gas operation, supported by Tidewater Marine, and located in West Africa.

On 22nd May, at 20h00 in the evening, the small tug ‘Franque Tide’ (IMO 9958509) arrived off Cape Town, from Durban, and entered Cape Town harbour, but going neither into the Duncan Dock, nor the Ben Schoeman Dock, but rather to one of the inner breakwater lay-up 703 berths, located at the far outer end of the Ben Schoeman Dock, beyond the dock breakwater.

Franque Tide, Cape Town 23 May 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

She was followed the next day by another identical small tug, ‘Igiran Tide’ (IMO 9958511), which arrived off Cape Town harbour on 23rd May, at 10h00 in the morning, also at the end of a coastal voyage from Durban, and which also entered Cape Town harbour, to berth alongside her sistership on the outside 703 lay-up berths.

Both ‘Franque Tide’ and ‘Igiran Tide’ are newbuilds, built in 2023 by the Damen Albwardy Shipyard at Sharjah in the UAE. They are both 23 metres in length and have a displacement tonnage of 300 tons. They are each powered by two Caterpillar 3512B V12 cylinder 4 stroke main engines producing 2,720 bhp (2,030 kW), to drive two fixed pitch propellers, both contained within Kort Nozzles, giving her a maximum sea speed of 11 knots.

Her auxiliary machinery includes two Caterpillar generators providing 64 kW each. Both have an endurance of 1,100 nautical miles. They are equipped with a Fifi1 fighting capability with two fire monitors capable of throwing water and foam at a rate of 150 m3/hour. For anti-pollution operations they have two 7 metre oil dispersant booms. There is accommodation for 8 persons.

Franque Tide, Cape Town 23 May 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

For the towing requirements of both ‘Franque Tide’ and ‘Igiran Tide’, they have bollard pulls of 40 tons. The aft deck has a working area of 45 m2, and the deck strength is 2 tons/m2. They are equipped with single drum towing winches holding 300 metres of 44 mm towing wire.

Both tugs are based on the well-known Damen Stan 2309 Tug design, and were built with additional firefighting capability than the basic 2309 tug, and fitted with an extra aft work platform, and additional aft capstans to enable for them to conduct hose maintenance. Both vessels were built as towing, mooring, firefighting, harbour, and coastal tugs.

Owned, operated and managed by Tidewater Marine, of Houston in the USA, both ‘Franque Tide’, and ‘Igiran Tide’ display the Tidewater logo, aft on their accommodation block. Both vessels are just two of more than 25 Damen vessels in the Tidewater fleet. Their delivery journey started from Sharjah on 14th April, and included three 24 hour stopovers, for bunkers and stores, en route to Cape Town.

Igiran Tide, Cape Town 23 May 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

The stopovers included Victoria in the Seychelles (1st/2nd May), Nacala in Mozambique (9th/10th May), and Durban, where they both arrived on 16th May at 20h00 in the evening, with a departure at 07h00 on 17th May, bound for Cape Town. Despite both departing within one hour of each other from Durban, ‘Franque Tide’ had built up a 14 hour gap on ‘Igiran Tide’ during the week long voyage along the South African coast.

What is also apparent in their design is that they are both fitted with protective cages, over their monkey island deck, in order to protect their radar and antenna array, presumably from damage based on the close contact work that they will be expected to undertake in the offshore oil and gas working environment. The 2022 annual returns of Tidewater Marine give what may be an insight as to the reason for the fitting of the protective cages.

When one looks at the latest figures provided by Tidewater Marine in their annual returns, it becomes apparent that their operations in the West Africa region result in the highest level of costs, worldwide, for vessel repair and maintenance, which in 2022 totaled US$14 million (ZAR275.24 million). This is compared with their North Sea operation, the next largest of Tidewater operational areas, where repair and maintenance costs only totaled US$9 million (ZAR176.94 million).

Igiran Tide, Cape Town 23 May 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

The 2020 annual returns for Tidewater Marine also posted their West Africa operations as providing the highest level of profits of all their global operations, at US$43 million (ZAR845.38 million). This also compares to the North Sea operation, where competition is much fiercer, and thus profit margins are tighter, and where annual profits were US$18 million (ZAR353.88 million).

As mentioned earlier, Tidewater Marine have one of the largest offshore support fleets in the world, and includes not only Platform Supply Vessels (PSV), but also Anchor Handling Supply Tugs (AHST), Harbour Tugs, Crew Boats, and Work Boats. The current fleet totals no less than 186 operational vessels, operating worldwide.

Their West African operations stretches from Angola in the South, to Nigeria in the North, and their major clients in the West African region includes the French oil major, Total, and the American construction giant, McDermott. In April 2022 Tidewater Marine purchased the 50 vessel fleet of Singapore based Swire Pacific Offshore, which are currently being fully integrated into the Tidewater fleet.

Igiran Tide & Franque Tide, Cape Town 23 May 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

The latest acquisition of Tidewater Marine is the 37 Platform Supply Vessel (PSV) fleet of Solstad Offshore ASA, of Norway. Once integrated, this will bring the Tidewater fleet up to an expected 228 vessels, including 5 vessels currently in lay-up.

As always, with any new Damen vessels that transit through Cape Town on delivery voyages, the stopover is longer than elsewhere. This is due to the fact that Damen have a shipyard and engineering division located within Cape Town harbour. Whilst there is a service hub in Nigeria, the Cape Town shipyard is the only such Damen facility in Africa.

This allows all Damen newbuilds, which develop any snags, or maintenance issues, on their delivery voyage, to have them resolved by trained, local, Damen engineers before they continue on their journey to their new home. Both ‘Franque Tide’ and ‘Igiran Tide’ are expected to sail up the West coast shortly, once their bunkers, stores, and snagging requirements are both complete, and sorted out to their satisfaction.

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Europe’s first new-build zero-emission tug on its way

Vicente Boluda Ceballos (left) and Arnout Damen who are collaborating in building Europe’s first new-build methanol-powered tug

Damen Shipyards and Boluda Towage have joined forces to bring into service Europe’s first new-build zero-emission tug.

The first vessel is intended to be a Damen RSD-E Tug 2513 and the partners are now working together to identify the potential harbour that will be best matched to its operational profile.

Damen is currently developing the methanol powered tug as part of its mission to be the world’s most sustainable shipbuilder.

This completely new design is based on Damen’s experience and knowledge thanks to its extensive R&D capability in alternative sustainable propulsion systems.

Boluda Towage as a global towage company has been investing for years in order to achieve cleaner and greener operations in the ports in which it operates.

An important milestone towards this ambition to work towards lower emissions has been a multiple order of IMO Tier III tugs in 2020. These pioneering vessels set a new standard for all its subsequent newbuilds

In a statement the two companies said they look forward to working with other maritime stakeholders to accelerate the transition to cleaner vessels, particularly those operating in or close to urban areas.

In the harbour and towage sector, electric and methanol-fueled propulsion systems currently offer the best and most available route to achieve this.

“We know that we are in an increasingly complex environment that requires us to always be at the leading edge of solutions to increase safety in our operations, limit our environmental carbon footprint and meet the needs of our customers,” said Vicente Boluda Ceballos, Vice Chairman of Boluda Towage.

“With that purpose in mind, we are eager to continue our journey towards the future as a leader in the towage and maritime industry.”

Arnout Damen, CEO of Damen Shipyards Group, said that apart from being delighted to be working with Boluda Towage on what will be a new chapter in European towage, “we also aim to give added momentum to the transition to sustainable harbor towage as the benefits that both electric and methanol-driven vessels deliver will be there for all to see.”

He said that to aid this process Damen was already building RSD-E Tugs 2513 for stock and a number will be available for delivery in 2024/25.

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Gibraltar’s Gibdock dockyard: Balaena celebrates first year anniversary

Baleana’s Gibdock

Edited by Paul Ridgway

Towards the end of May Baleana, a leading maritime engineering provider, marked the first anniversary of its ownership of the renowned Gibdock shipyard in Gibraltar.

Since assuming ownership of Gibdock, Balaena has implemented a comprehensive revitalisation plan, focusing on enhancing operational efficiency, expanding service capabilities, and fostering collaboration with key stakeholders. Its strategic commitment has, it is reported, consolidated Gibdock’s position as a preferred destination for vessel maintenance, repair, and refurbishment in the Mediterranean region.

Over the past year, Balaena has made substantial investments in infrastructure, health and safety procedures and technology at the dockyard. These developments have not only elevated the yard’s capabilities but have also enabled the completion of more extensive and complex projects. With a strong emphasis on safety, sustainability, and quality, Balaena has successfully delivered numerous projects, reconfirming Gibdock’s reputation for excellence in the maritime industry.

In the words of Balaena CEO Simon Gillett: “Balaena is proud to commemorate one year of ownership of Gibdock. This milestone marks our unwavering commitment to providing world-class maritime solutions and driving the growth of the Gibraltar maritime industry.

“We are grateful for the support and trust placed in us by our valued clients, partners, and the local community. Together, we will continue to shape the future of Gibdock as a premier destination for vessel maintenance and repair.”

Balaena remains dedicated to further enhancing the dockyard’s capabilities and expanding its service offerings, added Gillett, by focusing on strengthening strategic partnerships, attracting new clients, and fostering sustainable growth.

It is understood that in addition to the physical improvements, Balaena will also prioritise the development of its workforce. Through comprehensive training programmes and skill enhancement initiatives, the dockyard’s talented team will continue to be equipped with the necessary expertise to handle a wide range of vessel types, including naval vessels, offshore structures, and commercial ships.

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Less containers lost at sea in 2022 – WSC report

Picture: Sailweb

The World Shipping Council (WSC) has released its annual report on containers lost at sea, revealing positive developments in container safety within the international liner shipping industry. The report covers the year 2022, showing that 661 containers were lost overboard during the year.

“The reduction in containers lost at sea in 2022 is positive news, but there is no time for complacency,” says John Butler, President & CEO of the WSC.

“Every container lost at sea will always be one too many and we will continue with our efforts to make the sea a safer place to work, and to protect the environment and cargo by reducing the number of containers lost at sea.”

Proper packing, stowage and securing of containers, and reporting of correct weight are key to the safety of a container ship, its crew, and its cargo, to shore-based workers, and to the environment. The responsibility for container safety is shared across the supply chain, and every day liner carriers work with their partners to prevent incidents and ensure safe container transport.

250 million containers shipped in 2022

The WSC Containers Lost at Sea Report – 2023 Update reports that in 2022, 661 containers were lost at sea. This represents less than one thousandth of 1% (0.00026%) of the 250 million containers currently shipped each year, with cargo transported valued at more than $7 trillion.

Reviewing the results of the total fifteen-year period surveyed (2008-2022), on average 1,566 containers were lost at sea each year.

Continued focus on improving safety

The liner shipping industry works continuously to further enhance container safety, partnering with governments and other stakeholders to reduce the number of containers lost at sea.

To this end, WSC, several member lines and a range of maritime stakeholder started the MARIN Top Tier project in 2021.

The research undertaken has already delivered concrete data on the causes of containers overboard and how to prevent further incidents.

This includes training materials to raise awareness of the risk of various kinds of parametric rolling, as well as tools such as videos and calculators to help prevent and, if necessary, manage such dangerous situations.

TopTier research is currently taking place into container and lashing gear strength, stowage planning and optimization, guidelines for vessel operations, and voyage planning. More results are to come in the form of industry best practices, updated safety standards, and recommendations as the project enters its third and final year.

TopTier will continue reporting on progress and to share insights on a regular basis on its website, through the IMO and in other forums.

Progress on regulatory efforts

On the regulatory side, there has been progress on two key regulatory efforts for container safety that WSC is engaged in at the IMO. The Maritime Safety Committee (MSC 105) approved a revision of IMO’s guidelines for container inspection programs, among other clarifying that it applies to all cargo, adding guidance from the CTU Code, as well as inspections for visible pest contamination.

WSC has also for many years been advocating mandatory reporting of containers lost at sea, and have contributed in the IMO CCC 8, to the development of a system for mandatory reporting of containers lost at sea. The proposal will be considered by MSC 107 in May-June this year.

If approved, the system can be adopted at MSC 108 next spring, making international mandatory reporting requirements for containers lost as sea effective as of 2026.

Annual updates for improved data

Correct data plays an important part in the work to enhance container safety. As a part of its advocacy for mandatory international reporting of containers overboard, WSC has been reporting on the number of Containers Lost at Sea since 2011, with data starting 2008.

Originally the Report was updated every three years. To provide more timely updates MSC has now increased the frequency of the Containers Lost at Sea Report and will, as of this year, survey members and report their findings on an annual basis.

Since its inception, WSC has worked to increase safety in container handling and transport. A strong focus has been to reduce the number of incidents with containers lost at sea to limit related injuries and harm to seafarers, possible pollution and navigational safety issues.

Many improvements have been achieved over the years including improvements to the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) convention, creation and promotion of the Code of Practice for Packing of Cargo Transport Units (CTU Code) and ISO standards for container lashing equipment and corner castings. This work continues.

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TRADE NEWS: Fluent Cargo Makes Route Planning Easy

launch of its multi-modal routing engine and platform

The company’s launch reflects strong demand from shipment planners in the global logistics industry.

Fluent Cargo, an Australian technology company specializing in international shipment planning and research, announces the launch of its multi-modal routing engine and platform.

The solution helps logistics professionals find the best ways to get any shipment to and from any location in the world using available modes of transport.

Users simply input an origin and destination country, city, port or address, and the system will immediately provide multiple shipping options.

Whether the shipment requires air freight, ocean freight, trucking, or other services, Fluent Cargo displays multiple route options, single or multiple combinations of modes of transport along with transit times, carrier information, and detailed specifics including the type of plane or ship used, capacity and more from thousands of service providers.

Fluent Cargo aims to democratize the planning and scheduling of the movements of international shipments and make the process as easy as planning a holiday.

“With Fluent Cargo, customers can plan their shipments with ease, accessing vital information on schedules, port-level details, and other factors impacting their shipping choices,” said Fluent Cargo CTO Andy Greig.

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

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Women in Maritime: 2024 IMO Gender Equality Award

IMO banner

Closure for submission: 17 July 2023

Edited by Paul Ridgway

The International Day for Women in Maritime, 18 May, was celebrated around the world at the commencement of the Global Conference of the IMO Women in Maritime Associations (WIMAs) held on 18 and 19 May.

The IMO Council, at its 128th session, approved a proposal to establish the IMO Gender Equality Award, to accord an international recognition to those individuals, irrespective of their gender, who, either in their personal capacity or as representatives of their respective institutions, have made significant contributions to advancing gender equality and the empowerment of women
in the maritime sector.

Nominations invited

With regard to this award we have been informed that nominations are being invited for the 2024 IMO Gender Equality Award.

To learn more readers are invited to see IMO Circular No 4699 which can be FOUND HERE

It is understood that the deadline for submissions for the Award is 17 July 2023.

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Sixteen bodies found after Chinese fishing vessel Lu Peng Yuan Yu 028 capsizes

YouTube video HERE [0:36]

A week after the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) announced it was suspending the search for crew of the Chinese fishing vessel LU PENG YUAN YU 028, which capsized in mid Indian Ocean after departing from Cape Town for Busan in South Korea, comes news that 16 of the crew have been discovered. Fourteen of these were found in their cabins or compartments on board the capsized vessel, while another two were recovered by a Chinese naval ship.

The fishing vessel, with a crew of 39 on board – 17 Chinese, 17 Indonesians and five Filipino nationals, was caught in severe weather conditions in mid ocean, south of the Maldives. The first news of a possible disaster came via a distress signal picked up by AMSA’s Joint Rescue Coordination Centre (JRCC) in Canberra.

The Australian safety authority assumed responsibility for the search and rescue effort and sent an aircraft in the direction of the signal, some 5,000 kilomtres north-east of Perth. The following morning the Australan Navy dispatched a long-range Poseidon aircraft to conduct an aerial search. Meanwhile an all ships alert was issued.

AMSA desribed the weather conditions at the time when the distress signal was received as extreme, with the passage of Cyclone Fabian, causing 120km/h winds and 7 metre seas. It said it was likely that the vessel may have capsized due to the cyclonic conditions.

A bulk carrier, Navios Taurus, was the first to see the upturned hull of what was suspected, and later confirmed as the missing Chinese vessel. There were no signs of survivors even after an Indian naval ship arrived on scene to carry out a search.

Other naval and merchant ships joined the search for survivors. It was reported that a liferaft was found while a Chinese ship reported having picked up two bodies from the sea.

AMSA maintained a continuous contact with the Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre (MRCC) in Beijing to coordinate search activities and plans.

Australian authorities were also in close communication through Rescue Coordination Centres and diplomatic channels on the transition beyond the search phase of operations, with ongoing recovery efforts being passed to the People’s Republic of China.

Meanwhile liaison was maintained with search and rescue agencies in India and with with the Sri Lanka Navy. Authorities in the Maldives and Diego Garcia provided access to their airspace and airports and extended valuable search time for the Australian aircraft.

In addition, Australia worked closely with authorities in Diego Garcia, the Philippines, Indonesia, United States and La Reunion throughout the search.


The latest news is that 14 bodies have been found trapped on board the upturned hull of the fishing vessel. Because of the dangerous conditions that divers from the Sri Lanka Navy found themselves in while searching through the ship, it was decided not to attempt any recovery of the decomposing bodies.

Reports say the divers identified the bodies within the vessel during multiple dives into the 70-metre hull. Two of these were found in the captain’s cabin. Another 14 were located in other parts of the vessel but due to decomposition and the potential health hazards posed by operating in contaminated waters with limited protective gear, it was determined that retrieving the bodies would be exceedingly dangerous, said the Sri Lankan Navy in a statement.

For the safety of the divers it was then decided not to attempt any recovery of the other bodies. The SRi Lankan team was then withdrawn from the scene.

Late last week seven vessels remained on scene. Chinese officials said steps would be taken to improve the safety of its deep-sea fishing boats but in Indonesia there are calls for a thorough investigation. As many as 70,000 Indonesians are believed to be working on Chinese fishing vessels around the world.

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Port Louis – Indian Ocean gateway port

Ports & Ships publishes regularly updated SHIP MOVEMENT reports including ETAs for ports extending from West Africa to South Africa to East Africa and including Port Louis in Mauritius.

In the case of South Africa’s container ports of Durban, Ngqura, Ports Elizabeth and Cape Town links to container Stack Dates are also available.

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