Singapore Funds LNG-Fuelled Newbuilds

By MarEx 2015-09-30 18:51:46

Singapore has launched a S$12 million ($8.44 million) fund to help shipping companies build vessels fuelled by LNG.

Companies will be able to tap the fund for up to S$2 million ($1.4 million) per vessel, the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) said in a statement on Wednesday.

Companies have to be incorporated in Singapore and the vessels must be flagged under the Singapore Registry or licensed for activity in the Port of Singapore for at least five years. The funding will be capped at two vessels per company.

Applications are now open, with the launch of the LNG Bunkering Pilot Programme (LBPP) targeted for early 2017.

MPA has been collaborating closely with partner agencies, industry stakeholders and technical experts to develop LNG bunkering standards, procedures and infrastructures. The port sought proposals on LNG bunker supplies in late July to complement the country’s profile of itself as an LNG hub and as a step towards meeting its own deadline of supplying the super-chilled fuel to ships by 2020.

In 2014, Singapore’s bunker industry recorded more than 42 million tons in bunkers sales volumes, maintaining its position as the world’s top bunkering port.

Cause of Panama Canal Leak Identified

By MarEx 2015-09-30 18:08:25

The Panama Canal Authority (ACP) has announced that the leak that occurred in the concrete sill between the lower and middle chamber of the Canal’s expanded Pacific Locks was the result of insufficient steel reinforcing.

The information came from Grupo Unidos por el Canal, S.A. (GUPC), the contractor responsible for the design and construction of the Third Set of Locks.

GUPC wrote that the localized seepage was the result of insufficient steel reinforcement in the area which was subjected to stress from extreme condition testing. After careful examination of all the other sills in both lock complexes, GUPC stated that in addition to reinforcing the sill that presented the issue, they would also reinforce the first and second sill in the Cocoli Locks and the first three sills in the Atlantic-facing Agua Clara Locks as a preventative measure, though these sills have not presented any issue.

GUPC also verbally indicated that the completion date for the Expansion Project will remain April 2016, as planned; however, the ACP is awaiting formal confirmation from GUPC, in the form of a comprehensive report.

GUPC’s contract with the ACP states that the group is responsible for all corrections that may be required. The contractor has an obligation to ensure the long-term performance on all aspects of the construction of the locks and to complete the Expansion Project following the quality standards established in the contract.

Filling of the locks began on June 22, and the ACP announced in late August that the canal had sprung a leak.

Maersk Joins Hapag-Lloyd in Dangerous Goods Initiative

By MarEx 2015-09-30 17:53:19

Hapag-Lloyd and Maersk Line have agreed to cooperate in increasing the safety of dangerous goods. In a meeting held in Hamburg on Wednesday, Maersk Line showed its desire to implement a tracing system similar to Hapag-Lloyd’s watchdog program.

This watchdog together with the Hapag-Lloyd FIS (Freight Information System) is continuously examining cargo data to identify anything conspicuous. It has a database of more than 6,000 keywords that is constantly being added to and refined. Dangerous goods that are declared imprecisely, incorrectly or not at all have the potential to pose a major risk to crews, ships, the environment and other cargo on board.

“By implementing a system similar to Hapag-Lloyd’s watchdog program, we will be able to increase safety on board of our 600 vessels and at the terminals we call,” says Soren Toft, Chief Operating Officer of Maersk Line. “We will also improve our risk profile and in the same time we will be sending a strong message to the shippers who put safety at risk.”

Hapag-Lloyd has been developing the watchdog program since 2011. With their many years of experience, Hapag-Lloyd’s dangerous goods and IT experts played a key role in creating effective search routines. The dangerous goods department was established almost 50 years ago and was the first in the shipping industry. Since then, Hapag-Lloyd’s internal specifications on dangerous goods have repeatedly formed the basis for statutory regulations and have thus become mandatory for the entire industry.

“Experience, know-how and secure processes are crucial for a safe transport of dangerous goods”, says Anthony J. Firmin, Chief Operating Officer of Hapag-Lloyd. “We are very happy that we were approached by other shipping lines to learn more about our watchdog program. The cooperation with Maersk Line is a very important step forward for increased safety and security of our entire industry.”

Last year, Hapag-Lloyd discovered 2,620 cases of incorrectly declared dangerous goods that were prevented from being shipped. Dangerous goods experts at Hapag-Lloyd investigated over 162,000 suspicious cases which were recorded using the watchdog software.

E.U. Allows Warships in Migrant Crisis Response

By MarEx 2015-09-30 16:42:57

In the latest attempt to stem the steady flow of migrants seeking European asylum, the E.U. will allow the use of warships to detain vessels and illegal human traffickers crossing the Mediterranean. Beginning October 7, Operation Sophia, named after a baby born at sea on August 22, will allow European warships to use all necessary measures to arrest human traffickers and seize vessels.

Operation Sophia’s one caveat is that E.U. warships are not allowed to cross into Libyan waters. Operating in Libyan waters would require an agreement from the Libyan government, which is in a state of civil unrest with two factions vying for international legitimacy.

The operation currently involves four ships including an Italian aircraft carrier and four planes, as well as 1,318 staff from 22 European countries.

The first phase of this E.U. operation began in late June as Greek, Italian and Swedish Coast Guard crews struggled to handle the influx of migrant ships transiting the Mediterranean on a daily basis. The phase included reconnaissance, surveillance and intelligence gathering by speaking to refugees rescued at sea to compile data regarding human trafficking networks.

Europe is in the midst of its greatest migrant crisis since World War II as political unrest in Libya and Africa has driven millions of people from their homelands onto often unseaworthy vessels in hopes of gaining European asylum.

Europe has received more than 700,000 asylum applications this year and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation predicts that number will exceed 1 million by December. Nearly 200,000 of those migrants have attempted to cross the Mediterranean this year and more than 2,500 of them have died trying.

The majority of the people crossing the Mediterranean this year have landed in Italy (about 97,000) and Greece (about 90,000). Despite the rapidly rising death toll, migrants are undeterred as they desperately line up hoping they will be the fortunate individuals who complete the journey unscathed.

Though many see the E.U.’s increased effort as a solution to Europe’s migrant issues, not everyone is convinced. Human rights activists contend that war, violence and political upheaval are the root of the crisis, not traffickers who will always find a way to illegally transport their desperate clients.