Petronas Restates Commitment to Canadian LNG

By MarEx 2015-10-09 17:02:35

Malaysia’s Petroliam Nasional Bhd (Petronas) said it is committed to its Canadian LNG project despite the tumble in oil and gas prices which has hurt the state-owned oil company’s profitability.

The project would see Petronas build an export terminal near the British Columbia port city of Prince Rupert, a natural gas pipeline and ongoing gas development. Petronas had reached a deal with British Columbia in May on the proposed project, drawing it closer to its final investment decision.

“Petronas would like to reaffirm its commitment to deliver long term LNG supply to its customers through the Pacific NorthWest LNG project in Canada, despite the current market volatility for oil and gas,” its chief executive officer for Upstream, Wee Yiaw Hin, said in an emailed statement.

The Malaysian Reserve, quoting analysts, said this week the project may be deferred due to the tumble in oil and gas prices.

Petronas and its partners are ready to proceed with the project if it receives clearance from Canada’s environmental regulator, the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (CEAA), Wee said.

“Pacific NorthWest LNG has fulfilled the required technical and commercial components of the project and is looking forward to meeting future LNG market demands,” he said.

Petronas said in June it will move forward with the LNG project on the condition that it is approved by the CEAA.

Pacific NorthWest LNG is majority-owned by Petronas. Japex, Sinopec/Huadian, Indian Oil and PetroleumBRUNEI are also partners in Pacific NorthWest LNG and its associated natural gas supply.

The project is part of a larger $36 billion investment by Petronas and its partners in Canadian natural gas. The proposed facility will comprise an initial development of two LNG trains of approximately six million tons per annum (MTPA) each, and a subsequent development of a third train of approximately six MTPA. It will liquefy and export natural gas produced by Progress Energy Canada in northeastern British Columbia.

The project development has been opposed by aboriginal communities and environmentalists, who say it will harm a salmon habitat next to the site.

Global oil prices have plunged by more than half since mid-2014 on a supply glut, leading Petronas’ net profit to fall by 47 percent in the April to June quarter.


Tote Creating Fund for Lost Mariners

By Reuters 2015-10-09 15:48:16

The owners of the cargo ship El Faro that sank after it was trapped in the path of Hurricane Joaquin off the Bahamas last week announced the creation of a family relief fund on Friday to support the 33 mostly-American families of the crew.

“Over the last few days we have had hundreds of employees, mariners, customers and individuals from around the country inquire about where to donate in support of the families,” Anthony Chiarello, chief executive of New Jersey-based Tote Inc, owners of the El Faro, said in a statement.

The U.S. Coast Guard on Wednesday called off its search for survivors of what authorities have called the worst cargo shipping disaster involving a U.S.-flagged vessel in more than 30 years.

The body of only one presumed crew member was found during the nearly week-long search. El Faro was carrying 28 U.S. crew members and five Polish contractors when it disappeared.

The family relief fund will be administered by the Seamen’s Church Institute, North America’s largest mariners’ service agency, Tote said.

“We continue to keep the families and loved ones of the crew of the El Faro in our thoughts and prayers,” Chiarello said.

Tote said it will also establish an education fund for the children of the El Faro crew members.

The 790-foot (240 meter) container ship vanished in ferocious winds and seas up to 50-feet (15 meters) high on October 1 while on a regular weekly cargo run between Jacksonville, Florida, and Puerto Rico, the Coast Guard said.

In a final distress call, before all communication with the ship was lost, El Faro reported that it had lost propulsion, was taking on water and listing. No reason was given for the loss of power.


Chinese Protest Deployment of U.S. Warships

By MarEx 2015-10-09 13:52:10

Beijing has warned the U.S. after announcing it would deploy warships in the South China Sea and close to the artificial islands recently built by the Chinese.

China and its South China Sea neighbors have disputing maritime territorial boundaries, in which China has been called an aggressor. Meanwhile, the U.S. says it does not acknowledge a lot of China’s maritime claims and navy will be operating in international waters.

The U.S. has recently participated in a number of military exercises in the South China Sea with a number of its allies this year, but Beijing has been vocal about what it calls the militarization by the U.S. of the region. Japan, Vietnam, Malaysia and the Philippines have all called for the Chinese to cease construction of artificial islands, which includes reclamation projects and offshore platforms in the South China Sea.

In August, the Japanese released 14 photos pinpointing 16 offshore construction projects located in disputed maritime territories between the Chinese and Japanese shorelines. While the structures appear to be in China’s territories, Japan raised concerns that the platforms could possibly serve as auxiliary military bases. The Chinese say the facilities are simply to be used natural gas production.

While the Chinese have said it will cease the reclamation projects, Japan pointed out that this was likely because the projects had been completed.

Last month, the U.S. released a report that Chinese are continuing to dredge in the Spratley archipelago. But Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said the construction work was needed to improve conditions on the island.

“The Nansha islands are China’s territory. In this regard, China possesses ample historical and legal basis,” Wang said, using the Chinese name for the Spratly Islands.

The U.S. and its allies have speculated that China could swiftly militarize these islands, though Beijing says it has no intention to do so. However, the U.S. reports that at least one of Chinese islands have already been outfitted with a hanger for fighter aircrafts.

Additionally, Chinese fishing vessels are continuing to press the outer boundaries of its territorial claims. And those vessels often clashed with Vietnamese and Filipino fishing boats in the region.

Ramping Up Funding

The U.S. announced this week that it was increasing funding for maritime law enforcement for Vietnam, the Philippines, Indonesia and Malaysia. The U.S. said it will contribute more than $100 million per year for maritime enforcement in Southeast Asia. The U.S previously spent about $25 million in the region.

Last month, Japan promised warships and a $1.7 billion donation to Vietnam to strengthen its maritime forces.

While not specifically naming China, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe cited stability-threatening, large-scale land reclamation projects and the building of outposts as the primary motivators for the donations.


New forwarding giant formed

Danish freight forwarding group DSV plans to push further up into the top league of global cargo agents with the signing of an agreement today to take over US-based logistics group UTi Worldwide. In the seafreight/container segment, the combined group will control aboit 1.4 million TEU of cargo,

Hsu Chih-chien exits Courage Marine

Taiwanese shipping veteran Hsu Chih-chien has sold his shares in Singapore-listed Courage Marine, ending his association with the company he founded.
Courage Marine, founded in 2001 at the start of the last shipping boom has been struggling in the last two years, posting losses from 2013-2014.