Norwegian Shipowners to Stop Beaching

By MarEx 2015-08-17 23:07:21

In an op-ed in Dagens Næringsliv, the largest daily business paper in Norway, the Norwegian Shipowners Association and their CEO Sturla Henriksen have said a definite “no” to shipbreaking on beaches.

This is a major victory for Bellona and all other NGOs, Bellona advisor Sigurd Enge said.

“The turnaround by the Norwegian Shipowners shows us that they now agree with the principle advocated by NGOs for years. Hazardous beaching should not take place in 2015. It is a dinosaur way of doing things, knowing that there are modern and safe solutions,” Enge said.

Norway has become the first country in the world to discourage shipowners from scrapping ships on beaches.

“On behalf of the NGO Shipbreaking Platform I am happy to announce that the Norwegian Shipowners’ Association now is on our team. This is a breakthrough in the international efforts to end the beaching. Bellona will definitely say “Look to Norway” when it comes to taking a stand against this old fashioned way of dismantling ships,” Enge said.

Since 2005, Bellona has been working against hazardous shipbreaking on the beaches of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh.

In total, around 150 ships controlled by Norwegian shipowners have been scrapped on beaches since 2009 and until today.

“In recent years, we have seen that the number of Norwegian ships on beaches is decreasing,” said Enge. In 2014, for the first time, no Norwegian ships were scrapped on beaches in Bangladesh and Pakistan. Only seven Norwegian controlled vessels were scrapped on Indian beaches in 2014.

A Different View in Denmark

In contrast to Norway’s position, the Danish Shipowners’ Association visited Alang earlier this year and noted that positive developments are underway in some of the scrapping facilities.

Maria Bruun Skipper, Director of the Danish Shipowners’ Association (DR) said Alang is a place which has, rightly, been regularly subject to harsh international criticism for its lack of safety and environmental consideration.

“We visited four of the 175 or so scrapping facilities in the area, which it has to be said is a very small proportion and therefore not representative of Alang Beach as a whole. The aim was not to give Alang as a whole the thumbs up or down, but to take a closer look at the improvements that by all accounts some of the facilities in Alang have put in place,” said Skipper.

One conclusion she made is that some of the scrapping facilities in Alang Beach have undergone a positive development in order to comply with the requirements that will be set by the forthcoming Hong Kong Convention.

India implemented the Ship Recycling Code in 2013, which requires undertakings in relation to the environment and the working environment – especially handling of hazardous waste, sampling of water and soil, training of workers and health care.

Our visit was just one visit, but also an eye-opener that “Alang is not just Alang,” says Skipper.


Singapore Looks to IBM for Traffic Solutions

By MarEx 2015-08-17 19:38:16

IBM and the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) have announced a partnership to develop new analytics-based technologies aimed at improving operations in the face of increasing growth in vessel traffic in Singapore.

Singapore remains one of the busiest ports in the world and the region, with an estimated 1,000 vessels calling at the Port of Singapore at any one time. Every year, there are about 130,000 vessel calls at the Port of Singapore, which means there is a vessel arriving or leaving Singapore every two to three minutes.

As part of the two-year agreement, IBM will create a unified platform to integrate real time data and provide a consistent view of data points across MPA to empower port operators to make more informed decisions. For example, with vessel positional and weather data, the platform will report on any vessel path inferences to avoid accidents.

Using the IBM Traffic Prediction Tool, predictive analytics will be applied to forecast vessel arrival timings and potential traffic congestion. The partnership will also uncover new methods for sense-making and aid in event monitoring to detect unusual behavior of vessels and prevent illegal bunkering through fusion analytics, anomaly detection and data mining, leveraging the IBM Incident Detection Module and IBM System G. These digital capabilities are intended to improve port security and safety.

“MPA is happy to partner IBM on this important MOU to leverage new technologies and harness data analytics that not only enhance current maritime operations, but support our smart port initiatives for the Tuas Next Generation Port,” said Andrew Tan, Chief Executive, MPA.

New Safety Council

The MPA has also announced the establishment of a National Maritime Safety at Sea Council (NMSSC), to spearhead the drive for maritime safety on a national level, and to ensure the sustainability of safety efforts.

“We all have a part to play in improving safety in our waters, and I am heartened by the strong collaborative effort between MPA, the private sector and the maritime industry to inculcate a safety-first culture. I am confident that the newly-formed National Maritime Safety at Sea Council will strengthen the efforts for safety at sea and ensure the sustainability of our safety efforts,” said Lucien Wong, Chairman of the MPA.

NMSSC is chaired by Professor Richard Lim and comprises 14 other professionals from across the industry with extensive maritime-related experience.

The Council has decided on the following aims:

• To serve as an advisory body to MPA Board on maritime safety

• To promote and build a progressive safety at sea culture by addressing both human and non-human elements that contribute to maritime safety

• To help raise the level of maritime safety and standards through public awareness campaigns, conferences, workshops and safety studies

• To endorse initiatives and projects proposed by MPA-Industry Safety Working Groups and maritime industry for follow-on implementation

• To recognize exemplary efforts and promote good practices in the maritime industry

The first priority of the Council is to address issues related to navigational safety and raise levels of maritime safety standards. In the long-term, the Council plans to collaborate with other organizations and countries to promote a culture of maritime safety in the region.


Tianjin: An Appalling Loss

By MarEx 2015-08-17 19:13:17

The death toll after the Tianjin port explosions last week has risen to 114.

Local officials report that 54 bodies have been identified and another 70 people are still missing. So far, 39 of the dead have been confirmed as fire fighters and five policemen.

As of Monday, 698 people are in hospital, 57 of them in critical condition.

Rescuers have carried out comprehensive searches through what they called “a maze of containers,” and search and rescue efforts are still under way.

A Series of Explosions

The Tianjin explosions were a series of explosions that occurred at a container storage station at the Port of Tianjin starting on Wednesday, August 12. The first two explosions occurred within 30 seconds of each other, and they were followed by another eight on August 15.

Chinese state media reported that the initial blast was from unknown hazardous materials in shipping containers at a plant warehouse owned by Ruihai Logistics, a firm specializing in handling hazardous materials.

Accumulated Risk

The International Union of Marine Insurance (IUMI) says it is far too early to speculate on the cause of the explosions which have left extensive physical damage as well as an appalling loss of life.

IUMI President, Dieter Berg says: “This extremely sad and regrettable incident demonstrates the persistent growth of accumulation of values in port and storage areas, particularly in highly industrialized regions. Recent examples include the floods in Thailand in 2011 and Hurricane Sandy on the East Coast of the United States in 2012 that caused the biggest marine cat loss ever.”

Berg continues: “Although we are focusing on losses caused by natural hazards such as flooding or hail, it is human error that is often to blame, particularly around industrial facilities. Man-made losses or damage caused by explosions are hard to model but they are comparable with acts of terrorism. To evaluate worst case scenarios we need to fully understand the value of the goods in the port and all potential exposures before we can calculate adequate premiums. This is becoming more of a challenge as these facilities continue to expand.”

Vehicle Insurers Hit

Early reports from Lloyd’s Agency Network state that more than 10,000 motor vehicles were destroyed at Tianjin.

Nick Derrick, Chairman of IUMI’s Cargo Committee said: “With average retail values of $30,000 this could result in a loss of $300 million for vehicles alone. Container losses are likely to be spread among many marine cargo insurers, but motor vehicle insurance is a specialist sector and so that market is likely to be hit hard.”


Shell Gets Final Nod of Approval

By MarEx 2015-08-17 17:28:03

U.S. Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) Director Brian Salerno has approved Shell’s request to drill into potential oil-bearing zones in the Chukchi Sea.

Permission has been given for the deep drilling at one of the wells at the Burger Prospect, Burger J, and the company remains limited to the top section of the Burger V well.

Shell was required to wait until a well capping stack was available and deployable within 24 hours in case of a loss of well control. The stack is staged on the vessel M/V Fennica which has now returned to the site after undergoing repairs after grounding on a reef in the area.

Shell broke ground on its first exploration well on July 30, and has been given permission to continue drilling until the season ends on September 28. This is the final permit that Shell required for its drilling campaign this summer.

“Activities conducted offshore Alaska are being held to the highest safety, environmental protection and emergency response standards,” said Salerno. “We will continue to monitor their work around the clock to ensure the utmost safety and environmental stewardship.”

Shell is still prohibited from simultaneous drilling at Burger J and V. The company is required to maintain a minimum spacing of 15 miles between active drill rigs during exploration activities to avoid significant effects on walruses in the region.

Under the terms set by BSEE, Shell is also required to have trained wildlife observers on all drilling units and support vessels to minimize impacts to protected species. Shell must stay within explicitly outlined vessel operating speeds and report daily regarding all vessel transits.

To ensure compliance with this and other conditions, BSEE safety inspectors have been present on the drilling units Noble Discoverer and Transocean Polar Pioneer 24 hours a day, seven days a week to provide continuous oversight and monitoring of all approved activities. The inspectors are authorized to take immediate action to ensure compliance and safety, including cessation of all drilling activities, if necessary.

The drilling plan includes the precautions:

• A shortened drilling season to allow time for open-water emergency response and relief rig operations late in the drilling season before projected ice encroachment;

• Capping stack must be pre-staged and available for use within 24 hours;

• A tested subsea containment system must be deployable within eight days;

• The capability to drill a same season relief well;

• A robust suite of measures to avoid and minimize adverse impacts to marine mammals and their habitat, impacts to Native subsistence activities, and other environmental impacts; and

• Drilling units and their supporting vessels must depart the Chukchi Sea at the conclusion of each exploration drilling season.

NOIA Praises Drilling Approval

U.S. industry body NOIA President Randall Luthi has issued a statement saying, “Secretary Jewell and the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement are to be commended for the logical decision allowing Shell to safely proceed with exploratory drilling in the Chukchi Sea. Other nations are pursuing their offshore Arctic oil and natural gas programs, and as Chair of the Arctic Council, the U.S. should be leading the way.

“Shell has stationed safety and support equipment on site and has done everything asked and more, with the approval of federal regulators, to set up for this short drilling season, with no guarantee of success.

“Many agree that there is huge potential for oil and natural gas in the Arctic, but the only way to prove such resources exist is to actually explore. It is time to move forward so that Alaskans can benefit from increased economic and energy development off their shores, and the U.S. can reap the rewards of increased energy security.”

Friends of the Earth Disappointed

Friends of the Earth Climate Campaigner Marissa Knodel issued the following response:

“Today’s decision makes it final: President Obama is willing to allow the pristine Chukchi Sea to become an energy sacrifice zone and worsen climate disruption. When President Obama announced his Clean Power Plan last week, he committed the U.S. to leading the world in addressing climate change, but giving Shell the green light to exploit the Arctic Ocean for profit completely contradicts that commitment.

“President Obama should know better. Shell has no business in our Arctic Ocean, and he will bear responsibility for the damage that Shell wreaks there.

“When President Obama visits the Arctic this month, he must face the communities he is sacrificing to Shell’s profits. As the brave climbers and kayaktivists that blocked the Fennica demonstrated, the fight to protect the Arctic Ocean is not over until President Obama hears the message, loud and clear: the only path to a safe climate future is to leave Arctic Ocean oil and gas in the ground.”


Former Petrobras Executive Sentenced To 12 Years

By Reuters 2015-08-17 16:10:51

A Brazilian judge sentenced Nestor Cervero, former international chief of state-run oil firm Petrobras, to just over 12 years in prison on Monday for corruption and money laundering related to a bribe allegedly paid to the speaker of Brazil’s lower house of Congress.

Cervero and two other defendants are accused of organizing bribes from Korean shipbuilder Samsung Heavy Industries in exchange for two drillship contracts, the Petrobras 10000, which was leased jointly by Petrobras and Mitsui in 2006, and the Vitoria 10000, hired by Petrobras in 2007.

Consultant Julio Camargo, who said in plea bargain testimony that Speaker Eduardo Cunha asked him for a $5 million bribe, was given a 14-year sentence that was reduced to reporting to police twice monthly and doing community service because he collaborated.

Lobbyist Fernando Soares, accused of funneling bribes to Cunha’s Brazilian Democratic Movement Party (PMDB), was sentenced to just over 16 years in jail.

Cunha, who quit President Dilma Rousseff’s ruling coalition last month, accused her government of framing him in the broadening scandal focused on Petroleo Brasileiro SA, or Petrobras.

He was not a defendant. But the sentences handed down by federal judge Sergio Moro could give federal prosecutors in Brasilia more ammunition to bring charges against Cunha and other politicians thought to have benefited from the price-fixing and political kickback scheme.

Cervero’s lawyer, Edson Ribeiro, did not immediately respond to request for comment but had previously tried to move the case away from Judge Moro in the southern city of Curitiba, arguing the Supreme Court should take the case after Cunha’s name was mentioned. Only Brazil’s high court can legally try sitting lawmakers and ministers.

Moro, who has become the face of an anti-corruption movement, defended his right to try the case. The broader scheme was discovered in his state and related facts are required to remain with the same judge, he wrote.

Cervero’s 12 years and three-month sentence was the second he has received from Moro. In May he was sentenced to five years in prison for using a front company to launder money stolen from Petrobras and buy a luxury apartment in Rio de Janeiro. He was fired from Petrobras in 2014 and arrested in January as he stepped off a plane from Europe.

Executives at Samsung Heavy Industries are not being charged and the company has not responded to request for comment about the case.


South China Sea Nations Clash Over Maritime Territories

By MarEx 2015-08-17 15:56:58

China claims that it is a sovereign nation and that the U.S. has no right to patrol near its territorial waters. The U.S. insists that it is simply protecting its Allies interests in Asia.

Meanwhile, tensions and maritime territorial disputes are mounting in the South China Sea. But, Beijing has been downplaying its neighbors concerns. In the August 6 meeting of China-ASEAN Foreign Ministers, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi stated that all is well in the region and any issues should be resolved without outside interference.

Japan, Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan have been the most vocal as China has constructed offshore platforms, conducted air drills and reclamation projects in the region.

On August 3, the Japanese government released 14 photos of newly constructed offshore platforms by the Chinese. The photos identified 16 locations where China erected platforms in the disputed maritime territories.

For more information, you can read MarEx’s report here.

During the China-ASEAN meeting, the ministers stressed all parties should exercise constraint and avoid actions that could escalate tensions.

China’s primary issue is that the U.S. has conducted drills in the region and claims the U.S. is trying to militarize the region.

Wang says there is no possibility of conflict in the region and any unrest is due to the media’s portrayal of the situation. He also outlined China’s historical claims to the South China Sea islands and ridiculed Japan and the Philippines for creating discord.

Wang refuted claims that China restricts navigation and overflights in the South China Sea. He states that China has now ceased its reclamations projects. But, other nations say it is only because China completed its offshore platforms.

Japan has recently joined the U.S. in military exercises off the coast of the Philippines. On August 14, a Japanese Navy replenishment ship was in Subic Bay to refuel a U.S. Navy floating hospital. Subic Bay is a former U.S. military installation. This is the first time ever that the Japanese were involved in military exercise.

The military exercise was ongoing trilateral engagement between the U.S., Japan and the Philippines. U.S. Navy officials said that the Japanese are interested in conducting future exercises with the Philippines.