Shen Neng 1 Owners Headed for Court

By Wendy Laursen 2015-05-27 18:34:02

On April 3, 2010, the Chinese-registered bulk carrier Shen Neng 1 caused the largest known direct impact on a coral reef by a ship grounding.

When the ship ran aground at Douglas Shoal, north-east of Gladstone, Australia, it damaged an area covering 0.4 square kilometers (0.15 square miles). Of this, the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) estimates 115,000 square meters (0.04 square miles) of the shoal were severely damaged or destroyed.

The vessel also left toxic anti-fouling paint on the reef and on substantial areas of loose coral rubble created by the grounding. The ship’s hull was seriously damaged by the grounding, with the engine room and six water ballast and fuel oil tanks being breached, resulting in a small amount of pollution into the water column as well.

Despite ongoing attempts to have the ship’s owner pay for damages, Australia has been unsuccessful in securing funds from the shipowner Shenzhen Energy Transportation or its insurer to clean-up and remediate the site.

The Australian government has therefore decided to take legal action in Federal Court. The proceeding has been listed for trial for 15 days commencing in April 2016 in Brisbane.

Australia is seeking damages from the shipowner for the cost of remediation of the shoal or, as an alternative, orders requiring remediation of the shoal by the shipowner.

GBRMPA has voiced its great disappointment over the need to involve court action, particularly given the nature and scale of the incident, and the authority remains concerned about the long-term health of the shoal.

GBRMPA’s first priority in remediating the shoal would be to attempt to remove the remaining anti-fouling paint and residue. This would allow some natural recovery processes to begin.

In the meantime, the government remains committed to making every attempt to obtain a negotiated outcome with the shipowner for the clean-up and remediation of the shoal, said GBRMPA in a statement.

Investigation Findings

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) investigation found that the grounding of Shen Neng 1 occurred because the chief mate did not alter the ship’s course at the designated course alteration position. His monitoring of the ship’s position was ineffective and his actions were affected by fatigue.

The ATSB identified four safety issues during the investigation:

• there was no effective fatigue management system in place to ensure that the bridge watchkeepers were fit to stand a navigational watch after they had supervised the loading of a cargo of coal in Gladstone;

• there was insufficient guidance in relation to the proper use of passage plans, including electronic route plans, in the ship’s safety management system;

• there were no visual cues to warn either the chief mate or the seaman on lookout duty, as to the underwater dangers directly ahead of the ship; and

• at the time of the grounding, the protections afforded by the requirement for compulsory pilotage and active monitoring of ships by REEFVTS, were not in place in the sea area off Gladstone.


Call to Ban California Drilling Expansion

By Reuters 2015-05-27 19:27:28

Environmentalists urged California regulators on Wednesday to reject a proposed expansion of the only offshore drilling operation still permitted in state waters along the Santa Barbara coastline, seizing on public outrage over last week’s nearby oil spill.

Privately owned Venoco Inc is seeking permission to drill on 3,400 acres (1,400 hectares) of the sea floor within a state-designated coastal sanctuary adjacent to the company’s current offshore lease site. It said the plan would increase petroleum production by 6,400 barrels a day.

That additional capacity, like the crude petroleum already being pumped from Venoco’s 50-year-old Platform Holly, would ultimately be added to oil supplies carried through the pipeline that burst on May 19 about 20 miles (32 km) west of Santa Barbara.

The spill last week dumped as much as 2,400 barrels (101,000 gallons, or 382,000 liters) of crude onto a pristine stretch of shoreline and into the Pacific, leaving slicks that stretched over nine miles (14 km) along the coast. Two state beaches were closed indefinitely, along with fishing in the area.

The spill also prompted the California Lands Commission to postpone its first public hearing on Venoco’s offshore drilling proposal, originally slated for Tuesday, to June 24.

On Wednesday, the conservation group Center for Biological Diversity sent a letter calling for the Lands Commission to deny Venoco’s application to drill on tracts of the sea floor placed off-limits to new energy development under a 1994 state law.

Venoco’s proposal cites an exception under the statute that allows for adjustment of an existing offshore mineral lease to encompass oil reserves left out of its original boundaries.

But opponents said the commission instead should order decommissioning of Platform Holly, which was built in 1965 and sends oil to shore through a subsea pipeline that is itself 45 years old.

Petroleum from Venoco’s rig ultimately is added to refinery-bound supplies that get pumped through the failed 28-year-old transmission line owned by Texas-based Plains All American Pipeline that caused last week’s spill.

“It would be a grave mistake for the state to approve a project that will feed more crude into a pipeline system that just spewed thousands of gallons of oil into the Pacific,” said Miyoko Sakashita, the Center for Biological Diversity’s oceans program director.

Venoco, which operates mostly in Southern California but is based in Denver, had no immediate comment.


NSA Looks to Maritime Laws for Internet Regulation

By Reuters 2015-05-27 15:00:09

The U.S. National Security Agency chief called on Wednesday for an “open, reliable and safe” Internet governed by international rules akin to the Law of the Sea, while deflecting critics who say NSA spying has undermined public trust in the cyberworld.

Admiral Michael Rogers spoke a few days after the U.S. Senate rejected a bill to extend spy agencies’ bulk collection of Americans’ telephone records, putting the programme in doubt shortly before its expiry on June 1.

Addressing a cyberwarfare conference in Estonia, Rogers adopted the diplomatic language of a grassroots online governance activist, hailing the Internet’s openness and value as a shared, public good.

“I’d like to see if we can create something equivalent to the maritime world in the cyber world that enables us to keep moving information, keep moving commerce, keep moving ideas on a global basis,” Rogers told a largely military audience.

“Can we create a ‘global commons’, so to speak, that enables open, reliable, safe and resilient communications, a flow of information and ideas?” he said. “(This should be) in a framework that maximises its use for all of us.”

He contrasted his view, which he said reflected U.S. government policy, to those of countries which argue that the Internet should be governed by the same rules of national control prevailing in sovereign states for centuries.

The deeply secretive NSA’s brief is to monitor information and data from foreign countries, and the Internet has given it unprecedented insights into the daily activities of billions of phone and computer users worldwide.

But the Internet’s decentralised and anonymous nature has also left citizens vulnerable to cyberattack by everyone from teenage vandals to criminals to military forces.

Critics in the audience welcomed Rogers’ embrace of certain open Internet principles but questioned the NSA’s role in massive surveillance of web surfing habits around the world.#

They also challenged calls by Rogers and other top U.S. and British officials to weaken encryption by enabling legally authorised wiretapping of the Internet.

Richard Hill, a former staff member of the United Nations’ International Telecommunications Union, said Roger’s comments were “exactly contrary” to U.S. policy that seeks only cooperation furthering Washington’s security agenda.

Rogers acknowledged that U.S. military strategy views cyberspace as another theatre of operations similar to land, sea and outer space.

Asked to respond to a recently announced cyber warfare non-aggression pact between China and Russia, he said he had not read the details but was not too concerned since nation states routinely entered into agreements on a variety of subjects.


Chilean Strike Hits Imports and Exports

By MarEx 2015-05-27 14:31:02

A customs strike in Chile that began last week has started to affect exports and imports, particularly in the perishable goods markets.

The strike by customs officials, who say they want the government to approximately double their workforce, began on May 20, and the union says it will continue indefinitely until an agreement is reached.

It rejected a government proposal for a smaller increase in the workforce at the weekend.

“We have had dialogue but it has been tense … what we want is a signal that this will be resolved in the short term but that hasn’t arrived,” Jorge Thibaut, secretary general of the national association of customs workers (ANFACH) said to journalists on Wednesday.

Ports in particular have been affected by the strike. Last Friday there were reports of up to 900 trucks with problems accessing Valparaiso port facilities and wait times for truck drivers were estimated at over 30 hours.

The president of the Fruit Exporters Association of Chile (Asoex) Ronald Bown Fernandez expressed his concern over the situation by urging the government and custom officials to find a quick solution to conflict. According to Asoex, Chile exported over two million tons of fresh fruit last season through the Port of Valparaiso and neighboring Port of San Antonio. Fernandez estimated that the financial losses due to shipping problems were around $16 million. Chilean exporters of fruit such as apples and grapes were hit in February by a port strike on the U.S. West Coast.

Additionally, the Salmon Chile Group has stated that their industry has seen over $30 million in losses as a result of the strike.

Miners said late on Tuesday that the impact to their industry to date had been minimal.

“In the northern zone there have been no great difficulties and in the central zone, the move has led to delays in loading our products, but we have been able to comply with our contracts,” said a spokeswoman for Codelco, the world’s No. 1 copper producer.

Codelco’s main mines in central Chile are El Teniente and Andina.

Small business owners in the South American country have also complained that crucial import stocks were being held up.


Efficient Technology: Just Add Oil and Water

By Kathryn Stone 2015-05-27 13:17:10

A New Zealand ferry company is bending the old rule of never mixing oil with water in an effort to find more fuel efficient technology.

The Interislander ferry Arahura is currently running trails using Fuel Oil Emulsion (FOE) technology, which combines oil and water in a process that leads to more complete engine combustion with less harmful waste discharge. The company is experimenting with the technology in the hopes of increasing the operating efficiency of vessels across its entire fleet.

Multiple industry studies have shown that FOE significantly reduces NOX and particulate matter emissions in engines using the technology. In addition to the environmental and financial saving associated with FOE, the reduced emissions also contributes to safer working conditions and results in cooler running engines that require less maintenance.

Malcom Sims, the engineer in charge of the project seemed hopeful about FOE’s capabilities saying “The outcome looks as though it could reduce our use of fuel and the level of emissions as well as giving a significant financial saving.”

The current trial will take place over a three month period and is a follow-up to a 2013 demonstration, which showed significant promise for the technology. In the first trial FOE showed fuel savings between three to five percent, which could slash fuel consumption by up to 2 million liters a year.

If the trials prove successful, Interislander may look into adopting the technology across all its vessels. Sims stated that, “While these are still early days, there is definitely scope for potentially installing the technology across the fleet.”

The 13,621 gross-ton Arahura was chosen for the study because of its over three-decade operational history. According to Interislander, the vessel provides a reliable platform that will allow the tests to be carried out in a controlled manner.

FOE technology can be easily applied to already existing vessels as no engine modification is required to utilize the technology. Additionally, the fuel emulsion can created just prior to combustion by combining oil and water with an additive that allows the emulsion to form and remain stable.

Funding for the project is being provided by an Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority grant, which encourages business to carry out demonstration projects on emerging efficient technologies that could have widespread applications. The current trial is being independently monitored and consists of a one-month baseline test with traditional fuel to use as a comparison.


Union: Callao box ops affected

Replacement labour used by APM Terminals (APMT) to fill in for striking dockworkers at Peru’s Port of Callao has started to affect container operations, according to the labour union’s spokesman.
Juan Carlos Vargas, spokesman for the Peruvian dockworkers’ union SUTRAMPORPC, disputes APMT’s