New Panama lock cracked

One of the newly constructed locks in the Panama Canal has sprung a leak, raising fresh questions on the expansion project’s already delayed timetable.
A publicly posted video ( reveals water leaking through cracks in the Cocoli Locks on the waterway’s Pacific side. Asked by IHS

PCTC Flexibility Wins Out

By Wendy Laursen 2015-08-24 17:21:21

Conventional deepsea ro-ro vessels are fading from importance largely due to global economic development in, for example, the nations of Africa. The contraction of this market has been balanced by a rise in pure care and truck carrier (PCTC) orders, including the largest one built to date.

Conventional ro-ro vessel does not need extensive shoreside handling facilities, making them ideal ship for serving the developing world. Their often heavy-duty ramps also allow heavy and other project cargoes to be rolled on and off the ship. Basically every kind of cargo can be put on wheel, using different types of chassis. Therefore, they can be used for cars, trucks, high and heavy cargo, special product cargo and the transport of steel or paper.

However, as port, terminal and hinterland infrastructure develops around the world, the ability to operate without significant shore-side equipment is not as important as it was.

This is obvious in West Africa, until fairly recently one of the more popular ro-ro trades, reports shipping analyst Dynamar based in The Netherlands. Operators such as Delmas (CMA CGM) and NileDutch now completely focus on box ships in the region after having operated ro-ros for many years.

Just a few operators, Bahri, Grimaldi (including subsidiary ACL), Messina and Nordana have been responsible for most (24) of the conventional (deepsea) ro-ros ordered during the last five years, says Dynamar. The global fleet declined has by nearly six percent over that time.

Where the conventional deepsea ro-ro fleet has shrunk by nearly 100 units over the last five years, the number of vehicle carriers has increased by 40 ships. This equates to a growth rate of three percent per year over the last five years.

More than just cars

Conventional ro-ro vessels and vehicle carriers both have ramps and both carry cars and high and heavy cargo, an industry term for such rolling stock as buses, trucks and agricultural machinery, as well as road building and construction equipment.

However, while automobiles are a vehicle carrier’s base cargo, the conventional ro-ro vessel is basically a breakbulk-ship-extra, says Dynamar, for which cars is just one of the many different cargoes carried. The modern PCTC is a specialist, ungeared vehicle carrier with multiple decks, in part adjustable for flexible clearance and reinforced to handle heavier loads. For some of the PCTC operators, other-than-car cargoes make up for up to 50 percent of their overall income.

More orders in 2015

This year has seen further PCTC orders including a K Line vessel that will carry railcars to the U.K. A series of K Line’s 7500-unit size ro-ro vessels are now under construction in Japan. Some of these vessels from the order of 10 will be deployed into this Japan – Europe trade, which the company expects to grow. The new vessels will also give K Line an increased car-carrying capacity of 20 percent as well as much more space for high and heavy cargo, including construction machinery.

In July, Grmaldi signed an agreement for the construction of three new PCTCs with the shipyard Jinling of China. With delivery expected in 2017, the new vessels will be deployed on the group’s regular service linking the Mediterranean with North America. This service is mainly dedicated to the transport of brand new vehicles produced by Fiat Chrysler Automobiles destined for U.S. and Canadian markets. The order follows another in June for the construction of five new PCTCs at Chinese shipyard Yangfan. The vessels, also expected by 2017, will be deployed on the same route.

Höegh Target, named in June, is the first in a series of six Post Panamax vessels that Höegh Autoliners will take delivery of in the next 18 months. With its deck space of 71,400 square meters and carrying capacity of 8,500 car equivalent units, the vessel is the world’s largest PCTC. The vessel also has a higher door opening than Höegh Autoliners’ current vessels, enabling cargo up to 6.5 meters high and 12 meters wide to be loaded. Extra ramp strength allows for cargo weighing up to 375 tons to be loaded over the stern ramp and 22 tons over the side ramp.

In contrast to the PCTC news, investment in newbuilds for the deepsea ro-ro segment remains slow.


Obama Building Support For Energy and Iran Deals

By Reuters 2015-08-24 16:40:15

President Barack Obama, fresh from vacation and nine rounds of golf on Martha’s Vineyard, is launching into a busy two weeks promoting renewable energy and his nuclear deal with Iran.

With the U.S. presidential election campaign and China’s stock market dominating headlines, Obama was set to speak on Monday in Las Vegas on clean energy, then travel to New Orleans on Thursday to mark the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.

The final 16 months of Obama’s presidency will likely be overshadowed by the 2016 presidential campaign and while Congress does not appear willing to tackle difficult issues, Obama has a to-do list.

At Senator Harry Reid’s National Clean Energy Summit in Las Vegas, Obama will promote steps that the White House announced on Monday to try to shift U.S. energy away from carbon-producing sources such as coal and toward renewables such as solar.

The steps, taken as executive actions, include increased loan guarantees for renewable energy developers and help for homeowners with solar power installations.

Taking his climate change message further afield, Obama will leave on Aug. 31 for a four-day trip to Alaska to focus on the effects of a warming climate on the Arctic.

Back in Washington, Congress will not return from its long summer vacation for two more weeks. When it does, lawmakers will have until Sept. 17 to act on a U.S.-led international deal backed by Obama to limit Iran’s nuclear capabilities in exchange for easing economic sanctions on that country.

Obama has steadily built support for the agreement in the Senate. On Sunday, it won the endorsement of Reid, the Democrats’ leader in the Senate. On Monday, Democratic Senator Debbie Stabenow also came out in favor of it.

In coming weeks, the White House was also expected to send to Congress a plan for transitioning detainees out of the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.


Colombia Offshore Hydrocarbon Discovery

By MarEx 2015-08-24 15:49:47

Anadarko Petroleum and Ecopetrol have discovered hydrocarbon in the ultra-deepwater surrounding Colombia in the South Caribbean Sea. The discovery took place in a previously unexplored area and proves the region has high hydrocarbon potential.

Ecopetrol, Colombia’s state-owned oil company, and Anadarko Petroleum, an American oil and gas exploration company, integrated their research teams and discovered the Kronos-1 well. The Kronos-1 discovery was found at a water depth of 5,195 feet, and the well reached a total depth of 12,200 feet. The operators encountered a net pay thickness between 130 and 230 feet of gas-bearing sandstones.

Ecopetrol and Anadarko’s teams are continuing to evaluate the results. The drilling operations are ongoing as both companies aim to reach deeper targets.

Colombia has sought to increase its offshore development recently, and this is its second discovery in less than a year. In December 2014, Ecopetrol discovered the Orca-1 well located in the deepwater of Tayrona Block offshore Guajira.

Colombia currently produces about one million barrels per of oil per day and the Ministry of Mines and Energy has set a goal of 1.3 million by 2020. To encourage investment, Colombia has offered tax breaks to energy companies and has allowed private firms to own 100 percent of their upstream activities.

In September, Andrew Wright, CEO of UK Colombia Trade will meet with Colombia’s National Hydrocarbons Agency and the Colombian Oil Association to strengthen bilateral ties with the nation’s growing offshore industry.

UK Colombia Trade aims to assist British service and integrate supply chain firms into the Colombian hydrocarbons market.

Said Andrew Wright in a statement: “The Orca-1 discovery opened our minds about the realistic size of opportunity for specialist UK firms in Offshore exploration and services, but with the latest Kronos find it is now clear that Colombia could host the next Latin America Offshore boom and should be on the radar of British companies already looking at Brazil and Mexico.”


South Korean Yards – Two Killed and Strike Looms

By MarEx 2015-08-24 12:00:17

Shipyard accident:

Two workers were killed and seven were injured in a fire at Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering’s (DSME) dry dock 8.

Authorities say the fire was caused by a welding spark inside an LPG vessel being constructed. The two victims were found dead several hours after the fire occurred.

The seven survivors were transported to the hospital and are being treated. The remaining 38 yard workers were unharmed in the incident. The extent of the damage to the LPG carrier and dry dock are unknown.

Workers to Strike:

About 28,000 workers at South Korea’s top three shipyards intend to strike September 9 in protest of a wage freeze.

Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI), Samsung Heavy Industries (SHI) and Daewoo Shipping & Marine Engineering (DSME) reported a combined Q2 loss of nearly $4 billion. Union officials feel the companies are blaming the workforce for the losses rather than management. Each of the shipyards failed to reach agreements with unions on salary negotiations in July.

On August 19, DSME announced that 13 executives had resigned following the record Q2 losses. The company also announced that it would release about 1,300 members of senior management staff before 2016.

HHI has released about 31 percent of its senior staff since 2014 and replaced 25 executives in July.

This is the first time each of South Korea’s top three shipping yards have recorded losses in the same period and this is also the first time the unions are planning concurrent strikes