Costa Rica Seeks Answers on Nicaragua Canal

By MarEx 2015-06-09 15:26:00

Costa Rica is looking for answers about the environmental impact of Nicaragua’s Grand Canal project, which is intended to rival the Panama Canal.

The $50 billion canal construction plan entails dredging Lake Nicaragua to 30m (98.5 feet) almost twice its current depth. This could cause sedimentation in the San Juan River, whose southern bank is Costa Rican territory. However, the Costa Rican government claims it has been left in the dark about environmental implications for its country.

“This is why we asked Nicaragua to tell us how they were planning to prevent the sedimentation of the San Juan River. We have not received that information,” President Luis Guillermo Solís Rivera said.

“The only thing we want is information on possible environmental impacts on Costa Rica, and other than that we wish them well,” Solis told a news conference in Geneva.

Nicaragua announced the start of work on the project in December, saying the proposed 172-mile (278-km) canal, due to be operational by around 2020, would raise annual economic growth to more than 10 percent. It would also give China a major foothold in Central America, a region that historically has been dominate by the United States.

Construction of the new waterway will be run by Hong Kong-based HK Nicaragua Canal Development Investment Co Ltd (HKND Group), which is controlled by Wang Jing, a Chinese telecom mogul.

“We understand that this is not a canal that is being supported by the government of Beijing,” Solis said.

In March scientist expressed concerns over the potential ecological impact the canal would have on Lake Nicaragua, the ninth largest tropical freshwater lake of the Americas.


Russia Hones in on North Sea Shipping

By Kathryn Stone 2015-06-09 13:47:29

Russia unveiled a new plan this week aimed at dramatically increasing the country’s shipping presence in the North Sea.

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev signed a comprehensive project that seeks to increase the amount of cargo passing through the North Sea Route (NSR) each year.

“This is the shortest route connecting Europe with the Far East, with the Asia-Pacific region, with the western part of North America,” Medvedev commented.

The northern shipping route reduces the shipping distance between Asia and Europe by about one-third, compared to the Southern route. Additionally, North Sea shipping is becoming more economically viable each year. This is due in large part to changing climatic conditions that extend the number of days a ship can operate in the Arctic.

The Prime Minister said that the use of the NSR has been so-so in recent years and that it is now necessary to increase transportation volumes beyond Soviet-era highs. Medvedev also claimed the plan would develop Russian transportation advantages and open a crucial path for mineral resources in the Arctic and throughout Asia.

Currently, the Russian government issues 600 annual permits to transport cargo in the Arctic region, and the volume of goods delivered is around 4 million tons. According to Russian figures, the volume of cargo has the potential to increase by 20 times over the course of the 15-year plan.

Medvedev stressed the need to establish of effective protocols to protect the marine environment, including eliminating risks from oil spills or other pollutants.

Work has already begun on setting up emergency preparedness centers in the Arctic and Russia has set its sights on building larger, more powerful icebreakers specifically for the region.


Brazil Launches Massive Infrastructure Plan

By Reuters 2015-06-09 12:07:52

President Dilma Rousseff of Brazil unveiled a concession program on Tuesday to draw 198.4 billion reais ($64 billion) in private investment over five years to upgrade and operate Brazilian roads, railways, airports and harbor terminals.

The logistics plan includes 4,371 kilometers of new highways, the extension of existing railway concessions and the private operation of airports in the cities of Porto Alegre, Fortaleza, Salvador and Florianopolis, according to a government presentation.

The new concessions will have access to less state bank financing in the midst of Brazil’s current drive to cut spending and reduce a bulging fiscal deficit. Bidders will be expected to partially fund projects with private financing.

The plan is meant to restore growth in Brazil’s faltering economy and boost Rousseff’s popularity which has been battered by high inflation and a corruption scandal at state-run oil company Petrobras.

The government expects 66.1 billion reais in investments in highways, 86.4 billion in railways, 37.4 billion in ports and 8.5 billion in airports. Auctions for the airport concessions will start in the first quarter of 2016.

Brazil will open 29 state-owned port terminals to private operators in Santos, the country’s largest port, and in the state of Para, and a second round of auctions will include terminals at Paranagua, Itaqui and other ports.

Brazilian development bank BNDES will continue to have a “relevant” role in financing infrastructure building, the government said, particularly railway projects that can be funded up to 90 percent by state bank BNDES.

Road concessions will have a maximum access to the BNDES’ low interest rate of up to 40 percent of the project cost as long as they raise at least 10 percent through the issue of infrastructure bonds.


US importers ratchet down box outlook

America’s largest retail trade group is reducing its growth forecast for summer container imports as port business returns to normal following ratification of a west coast dockworker contract.
The National Retail Federation (NRF) adjusted down box import growth estimates between June and September

DNV GL takes view on alternative fuels

DNV GL has released a position paper, The Fuel Trilemma: Next Generation of Marine Fuels, which examines a diversifying ship fuel market and the threefold problem of affordability, sustainability and safety.
These factors will govern choices for emissions that meet regulations for CO2, SOx and NOx