37 Rescued from Sinking Cargo Ship

By Kathryn Stone 2015-07-06 16:02:25

Thirty-seven people were rescued from a Ro-Ro cargo ship in the Red Sea on Sunday.

The 3,133 dwt Taba issued a distress call to the Safaga Naval base in Egypt after it started to sink. The Navy immediately dispatched rescue teams to the area early Sunday morning, recovering everyone onboard within a half-hour. Survivors were transported back to Safaga Port, where the vessel had disembarked.

According to Red Sea Ports Authority Spokesman, Abdel-Rehim Mostafa, the Taba became unstable because its truck cargo had been improperly balanced. The ship began to list heavily, due to an unequal distribution of weight, and subsequently sank.

No one was seriously injured, but nine passengers reported minor injuries including fractures and bruises. Among those rescued were thirty-five Egyptians as well as one citizen from the Sudan and Lebanon respectively.

The Taba was enroute to Saudi Arabia when it sunk.

Authorities have launched an investigation to determine the exact cause of the incident.

Owner, Crew Face Murder Charges in Ferry Tragedy

By Kathryn Stone 2015-07-06 14:51:22

Police in the Philippines have filed murder charges against the owner and crew of the M/V Kim Nirvana, which sank last Thursday killing over 60.

The charges were filed on Friday against a total of 19 people including the ferry owner Joge Bung Zarco and the captain Warren Oliverio. An initial police investigation has revealed that the M/V Kim Nirvana made a sharp turn just before it capsized off Ormoc port.

The ferry is believed to have been overloaded as over 204 people so far are known to have been aboard the vessel, while the actual capacity of the ferry was 194 according to the Philippine Coast Guard. Survivor accounts make mention of the M/V Kim Nirvana transporting 80 sacks of cement as well as rice cargo. Sudden swerving reported during the vessel’s last moments may have been the result of cargo shifting.

As of Monday the death toll for the incident has reached 61. The ferry capsized only minutes after leaving the Port of Ormoc. Over 140 people were rescued from the sunken vessel including three Americans. Two of the Americans were involved in bringing the homicide charges, while another was involved in filing charges for reckless imprudence.

In a statement released over the weekend, the United Filipino Seafarers criticized local maritime authorities for approving the design and accreditation of the ferry.

“By merely looking at the picture of M/V Kim Nirvana, you don’t have to be a maritime expert to say that this motorized banca is seaworthy or not. You can immediately see that the stability of this double decker vessel is questionable. How it passed the safety standards is the most controversial question of the day.”

The Philippine Star similarly listed over a dozen maritime accidents occurring in the past twenty years, all of which involve fatalities.

If found guilty the owner and crew of the M/V Kim Nirvana could face charges up to 40 years in prison for each count of murder.

Suez Canal Terrorist Attack Thwarted

By MarEx 2015-07-06 12:16:29

Egyptian authorities have arrested 13 members of the Muslim Brotherhood on suspicion of planting bombs around the Suez Canal to disrupt shipping, security sources said on Monday.

The security sources said the men formed a 13-member cell that included an employee at the Suez Canal Authority.

Prosecutors had ordered that suspected terrorists be detained for 15 days and said they had planted bombs in areas including sanitation and electricity facilities as well as on beaches, they said.

The Suez Canal is the fastest shipping route between Europe and Asia. Around 18,000 ships pass through the canal annually, which amounts to 10% of global maritime trade. Currently, the canal is in the midst of an $8 billion expansion that is set to begin operations August 6.

The Suez Canal represents a vital source of income earning Egypt around $5 billion per year. The new canal, which will allow two-way traffic of larger ships, is supposed to increase revenues by 2023 to $15 billion. Attacks against the canal have the potential to severely impeded Egypt’s economic development.

Egypt’s government has recently escalated rhetoric against the Brotherhood, which it regards as a terrorist group, since the assassination of the country’s top prosecutor last week.

The Muslim Brotherhood is a Pan-Islamic group, which has been implicated in terrorist activities. The group has one of its largest organizations in Egypt even though the government officially declared the Brotherhood a terrorist organization in 2014.

The army toppled President Mohamed Mursi of the Brotherhood in 2013 following mass protests against his rule.

The Brotherhood says it is committed to peaceful activism designed to reverse what it calls a military coup, after former army chief, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi ousted Mursi, and then went on to become elected president.

Security forces cracked down hard on Mursi’s supporters after he was ousted, killing hundreds in the streets at Cairo protest camps and arresting thousands of others in what human rights groups described as a return to repression.

Last week Egyptian security forces stormed an apartment in a western Cairo suburb and killed nine men whom they said were armed, the interior ministry said.

Among the dead was a prominent lawyer for the Brotherhood and a former lawmaker. The Brotherhood denied that the men were armed and said they were holding an “organizational meeting”.

Egypt does not distinguish between the Brotherhood and groups such as Islamic State, which has an affiliate in Sinai, epicenter of an Islamist militant insurgency that has killed hundreds of soldiers and police since Mursi’s fall.

Eni Begins Production on Massive Gas Field

Italian oil and gas giant Eni has started production of the massive gas field Perla, the largest offshore gas field in Latin America.

The first production well has been opened 50 kilometers (31 miles) offshore, in the Gulf of Venezuela, and is currently in the clean-up phase.

The field is located in the Cardón IV Block operated by “Cardón IV S.A.”, a company jointly owned by Eni (50%) and Repsol (50%). Perla is the largest offshore gas field discovered to date in Latin America and the first gas field to be brought to production offshore Venezuela.

Eni CEO, Claudio Descalzi, commented, “Eni has reached another milestone with the production start-up of the Perla offshore field, in line with the timing presented to the market in March during the Strategy presentation. Perla was for Eni one of the most significant start-up projects of 2015, and the today result confirms the validity of our development model that allowed us to reach production in an industry-leading time to market”.

The development of Perla has been planned in three phases to optimize time to market and investment pace. It includes four light offshore platforms linked by a 30” pipeline to a Central Processing Facility (CPF) located onshore at Punto Fijo (Paraguaná Peninsula) and 21 producer wells. In the CPF two treatment trains have been installed with the capability of handling 150 Mscfd and 300 Mscfd each.

The development of the field, discovered in late 2009, was completed in 5 years, an industry-leading time to market. This excellent performance was achieved thanks to an extensive use of pre-pack modules in the realization of the onshore gas treatment trains, in order to minimize construction works.

Perla currently holds 17 trillion cubic feet (Tcf) of gas in place, which corresponds to 3.1 billion of barrels of oil equivalent (boe), with additional potential. The best wells are estimated to produce over 150 million standard cubic feet per day (Mscfd) each.

Eni’s current net production in Venezuela is approximately 12,000 boed and is expected to exceed 50,000 boed by year end, mainly due to the increase in production from Perla.