Competiviveness, Investment Keys To London’s Shipping Future

By MarEx 2015-09-11 14:35:38

A new survey by The Shipping Professional Network in London (SPNL) has identified key ways in which London can remain competitive as a relevant maritime global centre, and revealed a broad consensus that London’s credentials in this respect would be strengthened by the UK remaining part of the EU.

The survey, organised in conjunction with international accountant and shipping adviser Moore Stephens, canvassed the opinions of young professionals working primarily in the shipowning, shipbroking, ship management, chartering, advisory and associated industries in London. Respondents were asked for their views of the current state of the market, and how they believed it would perform over the next 12 months.

Respondents recorded an overall confidence level of 6.2, out of a maximum possible score of 10, in the markets in which they operate. This compares with the rating of 6.4 recorded when the survey was run previously, in September 2013.

On a scale of one to 10, respondents expressed an overall expectation of 5.8 when asked to gauge the likelihood of their business making a major investment or significant development over the next 12 months. This compares with the 6.4 recorded two years ago.

Demand trends, competition, and the cost and availability of finance were identified by respondents as the three leading factors most likely to affect their business performance over the next 12 months, as they were in 2013 too.

48% of respondents expected finance costs to increase over the coming year, compared to the 44% who thought likewise in 2013.

Respondents were also asked for their opinion of likely rate movements in the tanker, dry bulk and container ship markets over the course of the next year. 35 percent overall thought that tanker rates were likely to increase, as against 50% in the 2013 survey. In the dry bulk sector, 35 percent of respondents overall expected rates to increase, down on the 45 percent recorded in 2013. 29 percent of respondents overall expected rates to rise during the next 12 months in the container ship market, compared to 31 percent in 2013.

Respondents identified competitiveness, taxation and the ability to adapt to a fast-changing environment as the three leading challenges for London to remain a relevant global maritime centre, as they were in the 2013 survey. Some urged London to establish stronger partnerships with Asian maritime hubs such as Singapore and Hong Kong, and to use this as a springboard to the rest of Asia. At the same time, London was cautioned not to let its best, most experienced people migrate to Asian maritime centres, and to be aware of the effect on its competiveness of operating and employment costs. London was acknowledged as one of the few European centres not in decline.

The cost of office space, staff and services was identified by a number of respondents as the biggest challenge to London remaining competitive. It was also acknowledged that more needs to be done in respect of stimulating shipping investment and providing ship finance, as well as supporting smaller start-ups. Improvements in transport infrastructure were also deemed to be vital to maintaining London’s competitiveness.

No fewer than 80 percent of respondents felt that it was in the best interests of London’s standing as a global centre for maritime commerce for the UK to remain a member of the European Union.

Claudio Chistè, chairman of SPNL, says, “The past two years have been extremely difficult for the international shipping industry, with world economies generally struggling to climb out of recession. But shipping is a resilient and robust industry which has a history of finding solutions to problems. Today, those solutions are provided by a combination of vastly experienced professionals and by new, young talent coming into the industry.

“The level of confidence expressed by young shipping professionals working in the London market has declined over the past two years, since SPNL first canvassed their views. This is disappointing, although not surprising given the events of the past two years. But it is still a result which would please a lot of other industries.

“Shipping faces serious challenges on a wide variety of fronts – from overcapacity, competitive pressure and environmental concerns, to political unrest and strict regulatory oversight. The industry has responded well, with its traditional blend of practicality and entrepreneurialism, and will doubtless continue to do so. This is one of the things which continues to attract talented young professionals into the industry.

“There are reasons to be cheerful. The net sentiment gleaned from our survey in terms of the prospects for rate improvements over the next 12 months is positive in the three main tonnage categories. Over 45 percent of the young professionals who responded rated the prospect of their business making a major investment over the next 12 months at seven out of 10, or higher. That is not an indicator of a moribund industry; rather it is a vote of confidence.

“Shipping needs confident, young professionals willing to learn their trade at the ‘coal-face’. The question remains of where the coal-face should be located; the answer is that the industry needs more than one coal-face! It needs a number, in strategic parts of the world, with the ability to act both independently and in concert with each other.

“London has always been a leading centre of maritime commerce and expertise. In recent years, with the growth in technological innovation and the determination of other regional centres of expertise to expand their remit, London has had to face challenges to its pre-eminence as a global maritime centre, and our survey has helped to identify what are the most important of those challenges.

“Costs, on a number of different levels, must be addressed, and a global view taken at all times. In identifying these issues, SPNL hopes to help the UK address them. London’s maritime community needs a group of young professionals, and those professionals testify by their very presence in London that they want to be here. But they need to be in a London which is properly connected to the rest of the world, able to compete on a global stage and, moreover, in a London which is part of the EU.”


U.S. Navy, Indian Scientists Conducting Joint Research

By MarEx 2015-09-11 12:47:29

Answering the call from the Chief of Naval Operations to help build and strengthen international partnerships, the Office of Naval Research (ONR) and ONR Global have increased scientific cooperation with the Indian government in recent weeks, including a series of high-profile meetings in India held from August 21 to 23.

All of this was taking place while a U.S. Navy research vessel carries scientists from both nations into the dark, choppy waters of the Bay of Bengal to find new ways to forecast monsoons.

Among the recent developments are Assistant Chief of Naval Research (ACNR) Captain Rob Palisin’s return from Bengaluru, India last week after meeingt with scientists to advance new ways to address blast mitigation.

“This trip was a superb example of international cooperation amongst the top scientists in blast mitigation methodologies from the U.S. and India,” said Palisin. “The technical acumen of India’s scientists, professors and students was quite impressive-their expertise can definitely help our science and technology efforts to continue advancing in this research area.

“I had the opportunity to tour some of their world-class research facilities and anticipate there will be additional opportunities to expand the collaborative engagement between our countries.”

The ACNR’s visit comes on the heels of recent meetings with Indian researchers in Arlington, Virginia, where topics ranged from traumatic brain injury to high-altitude fatigue and the effects of the atmosphere on high-energy lasers. Those meetings included naval officers, scientists, ONR Global leadership and other U.S. officials Aug. 12-14.

Called the India-U.S. Joint Technical Group (JTG), the tri-service program (including Navy, Army and Air Force participation) represents another example of the growing partnerships between the U.S. and Indian scientific communities.

“Our work with the science and technology community from India has been important and mutually beneficial,” said Dr. Walter Jones, executive director at ONR, who spoke to the JTG. “To truly push the frontiers of knowledge in the sciences-to give our Sailors and Marines the technological edge-we rely on collaborative efforts like these.”

Long recognized for forging scientific partnerships and fostering outreach around the world, ONR Global works with the international scientific community to advance open-source, unclassified knowledge and promote international collaboration.

ONR Global Commanding Officer Capt. Clark Troyer emphasized that U.S.-India collaboration has taken on increased prominence.

“Cooperation in science and technology is the lifeblood of scientific advancement,” he said. “Cutting-edge work in cognitive science, autonomy, and advanced materials was discussed at these recent meetings-and the collaboration with our Indian colleagues has proven invaluable.”

In late August, the research vessel Roger Revelle, a ship owned by ONR, set out with U.S. and Indian scientists on a month-long mission in the Bay of Bengal, centered on monsoon prediction.

Officials affiliated with the voyage noted that ONR efforts in basic research lead to better understanding of the processes which control prediction of the ocean and atmosphere.

Finally, recent meetings of the Joint Working Group on Aircraft Carrier Cooperation, which seeks to strengthen U.S.-India cooperation in carrier and related defense matters, included an appearance by Chief of Naval Research Rear Adm. Mat Winter, who emphasized the importance of advancing science and technology collaborations with India.

Overall, officials say, all of these efforts further develop key partnerships that provide cutting-edge technologies to Sailors and Marines today and in the future; greatly benefit the general public of both nations; and support the Pacific Pivot announced by the Obama administration in 2013.


Keppel to Deliver 3 Ice-Class Vessels to Bumi Armada

By MarEx 2015-09-11 10:17:53

Specialized shipbuilder Keppel Singmarine Pte Ltd (Keppel Singmarine), a wholly-owned subsidiary of Keppel Offshore & Marine Ltd (Keppel O&M), is on track to deliver three ice-class vessels on schedule and with a perfect safety record to Bumi Armada Offshore Holdings Limited – a subsidiary of Bumi Armada Berhad (Bumi Armada) in September.

The vessels – two supply vessels and one multi-purpose duty-rescue vessel – were named Bumi Uray, Bumi Pokachi & Bumi Naryan-Mar respectively in a ceremony at Keppel Singmarine on 10 September 2015.

When delivered, these vessels will support offshore platforms at the Filanovsky oil field in the northern part of the Caspian Sea, off the coast of Russia, providing year-round services such as the delivery of cargoes, salvage, search and rescue functions, fire-fighting operations, and towing and tanker mooring operations.

Mr. Michael Chia, Managing Director (Marine & Technology), Keppel O&M, said, “We are pleased to once again support Bumi Armada with three highly sophisticated vessels. We were able to leverage our expertise in ice-class technology and in-depth knowledge of the Caspian region to customise these three high specification ice-class vessels to suit their needs. We are confident that they will be a success in the harsh environments of the Caspian Sea.

“With the completion of the vessels, Keppel Singmarine would have delivered a total of 10 ice-class vessels, helping us to further strengthen our position in the specialised market of ice-class vessels.

“In building the vessels, we were able to maximise resources and increase efficiencies by harnessing the synergy of Keppel’s network of yards. Two of the 2 supply vessels were built at Keppel Nantong in China while the multi-purpose vessel was constructed in Keppel Singmarine’s yard in Singapore.”

The ice-class supply vessels and the multi-purpose duty rescue vessel are built to the MTD 8060-TS and MTD 8060-RV designs respectively, which are developed by Keppel O&M’s ship design and development arm, Marine Technology Development.

Keppel Singmarine was the first company in Asia to build icebreakers when it won the contract from LUKOIL-Kaliningradmorneft in 2006 to build two of such units. Apart from the three ice-class vessels that will be delivered to Bumi Armada, Keppel Singmarine is currently also constructing another ice-class multi-purpose vessel of its proprietary design for Maritime Construction Services SA.


Strike to close Finland ports

Finland’s ports are set to shut on Friday 18 September as the country’s three big trade union federations protest against the government’s labour reform programme.
Work is expected to halt from 0800 with day-long demonstrations set to start at 1100.
Transport Workers Union (ATK) head Marko

House Subcommittee Passes Bill to Lift Export Ban

By Reuters 2015-09-11 09:28:25

A bill to repeal the U.S. ban on oil exports gained momentum on Thursday, when it passed a House of Representatives subcommittee, an intial step to overturn the 40-year-old trade restriction in the full chamber.

The House Energy and Power subcommittee passed the bill by a voice vote. The legislation, sponsored by Republican Representative Joe Barton of Texas, is expected to go to a vote by the full Energy and Commerce committee next week.

Passage by the full panel would set it up for a wider vote by the Republican-led House, where it is expected to pass. The measure, however, still faces an uphill battle in the U.S. Senate.

Barton said the energy landscape has changed since 1975 when the ban was imposed and a repeal would provide jobs and help allies diversify their oil supplies.

The bill is supported by oil producers who say they need access to global markets to keep the domestic drilling boom alive.

But several Democrats on the panel expressed reservations about the measure.

Representative Frank Pallone, a New Jersey Democrat, said repealing the ban would lead to a “significant pay day for oil producers,” but it was less certain that it would benefit U.S. consumers and that a repeal would put oil refinery jobs in jeopardy.

Democratic Representative Mike Doyle of Pennsylvania said repealing the ban would shift U.S. refinery jobs overseas.

Barton’s bill has 123 co-sponsors in the 435-member House, with only 14 Democrats signing on.

Backers of a similar bill in the Senate, including Senators Lisa Murkowski, a Republican from Alaska, and Heidi Heitkamp, a Democrat from North Dakota, need to garner more support for the legislation to pass.

A bill sponsored by Murkowski, the chair of the Senate Energy Committee, passed in her panel in July, but no Democrats voted for it. Although Republicans also lead the Senate, the measure would need support from at least six Democrats to reach the 60 needed to pass that chamber.