Georgia Looks to China For Port and Trade

By Wendy Laursen 2015-09-16 21:03:33

Black Sea nation Georgia has plans for a new port designed to halve transit times between China and Europe.

Georgia’s Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili outlined the plan in an exclusive interview with China Daily over the weekend.

While in China, Garibashvili met with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, and the leaders have agreed to commence free trade agreement negotiations. China is Georgia’s third-largest trading partner, with bilateral trade of $820 million last year. Part of the ancient Silk Road, Garibashvili believes the nation can play a role in China’s new Silk Road Economic Belt initiative.

Located at the crossroads of Western Asia and Eastern Europe, Georgia is bounded to the west by the Black Sea, to the north by Russia, to the south by Turkey and Armenia and to the southeast by Azerbaijan.

Garibashvili wants to build a new port in Anaklia on the Black Sea but needs the participation of Chinese companies. Negotiations are underway, and the project is expected to start next year. He said that after the new port is built, it will take just 17 days for Chinese goods to be delivered to Europe, compared with the current shipping route, which takes about a month.

“We have ambition to become a logistics hub in the region,” Garibashvili told China Daily.

At the meeting, Li indicated that China is willing to be involved in infrastructure construction including the port, highways and railway. Li also said he hopes to deepen people-to-people exchanges between the two nations.


Australia Delays Shell BG Takeover Decision

By MarEx 2015-09-16 20:20:47

Australia’s competition watchdog flagged concerns on Thursday that Royal Dutch Shell’s proposed $70 billion takeover of BG Group may lessen gas supply competition in eastern Australia and delayed a final decision on the bid to November.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) said a large number of market participants had expressed concerns that the proposed takeover may lead Shell’s Arrow Energy to sell its gas into BG’s Queensland Curtis liquefied natural gas plant (QCLNG) for export.

Queensland Curtis LNG is one of Australia’s largest capital infrastructure projects, involving US$20.4 billion of investment from 2010-14.

“If the proposed acquisition resulted in less supply of gas to the domestic market, therefore, this could substantially lessen competition to supply domestic gas users and lead to higher domestic prices and more restrictive contractual terms,” ACCC Chairman Rod Sims said in a statement.

The commission said it now planned to issue a final decision on November 12.

In response to the regulator’s concern about gas sales by Arrow Energy, which is 50-50 owned by Shell and PetroChina, Shell said BG already had enough gas to meet all its commitments.

“Arrow and QCLNG collaboration could assist the development of Arrow’s undeveloped resources to potentially accelerate additional gas supplies into both the domestic and export market,” Shell said in an emailed statement.

The takeover has already been cleared by U.S. and Brazilian anti-trust authorities. It still needs approvals from Australia’s Foreign Investment Review Board and China to go ahead.

Shell said it remained confident the deal would be completed in early 2016.

Some of Australia’s biggest manufacturers fear Shell’s takeover of BG could worsen what they see as a lack of competition in the country’s eastern gas market, spurred by three new LNG export plants, including BG’s, in Queensland.

“This burst in demand for gas over a very short timeframe for the LNG industry is effectively upending the east coast gas market,” Sims said in a speech at a gas conference on Thursday, outlining the commission’s preliminary impressions on a review of the east coast gas market due in April 2016.

He said the commission had evidence that after the LNG projects were approved, many Australian industrial gas users went from a market where they received three to five offers of supply on negotiable terms, to a market where they received no offers or only one true offer on inflexible terms.


Shipbuilding Makes China’s Top 10

By Wendy Laursen 2015-09-16 18:59:32

Chinese media outlets are proudly announcing the nation’s top 10 manufacturing achievements, with shipbuilding making it in at position 10.

China released its 10-year national plan, Made in China 2025, earlier this year. The plan is designed to push the country’s manufacturing efforts up the value chain of industrialization.

The plan will be followed by two more with the aim of transforming China into a leading manufacturing power by the year 2049, which will be the 100th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China.

China Daily reports that the plan highlights the main sectors that will be focused on: new information technology, numerical control tools and robotics, aerospace equipment, ocean engineering equipment and ships, railway equipment, energy saving and new energy vehicles, power equipment, new materials, biological medicine and medical devices, and agricultural machinery.

No. 10: ships

China builds around 766 million tons of vessels annually, nearly half of the world’s total.

No. 9: coal

Around 1.8 billion tons of coal (oil equivalent) is produced annually, nearly half of the world’s total.

No. 8: pork

Pigs bred for meat in China produce about 1.5 million tons of pork, about half of the world’s total.

No. 7: cement

China annually produces 1.8 billion tons of cement, 60 percent of the world’s total.

No. 6: shoes

China manufactures around 12.6 billion shoes each year, about 60 percent of the world’s total.

No. 5: mobile phones

At around 1.8 billion phones, China makes about 70 percent of the world’s total.

No. 4: solar cells

Solar cell production is around 21.8 million kW annually, 80 percent of the world’s total.

No. 3: energy-saving lamps

China makes 4.3 billion energy-saving lamps annually, 80 percent of the world’s total.

No. 2: air conditioners

China produces over 100 billion air conditioners each year, 80 percent of the world’s total.

No. 1: personal computers

China produced 286 million personal computers last year, about 90 percent of the world’s total.


Scientists to Study Ship Noise Impact on Marine Life

By MarEx 2015-09-16 17:02:41

Port Metro Vancouver has partnered with the University of Victoria’s Ocean Networks Canada (ONC) and JASCO Applied Sciences to deploy a hydrophone listening station in Canada’s Strait of Georgia. The listening station will monitor underwater noise caused by shipping vessels, which has been identified as a threat to whales.

The hydrophone listening station project is part of the Enhancing Cetacean Habitat and Observation (ECHO) Program, which aims to manage the impact of shipping activities on at-risk whales.

The hydrophones have been installed about 170 meters below a Strait of Georgia inbound shipping lane, and monitors ambient noise levels, marine mammal detections and passing vessel noise. Working with the Pacific Pilotage Authority and the British Columbia Coast Pilots, the aim is to reroute as many commercial vessels as possible over designated areas to accurately capture vessel noise.

Researchers say that capturing the noise will aid them to understanding the different levels of underwater noise created by various types of vessels and their effects on marine life.

Underwater noise, for instance, has been identified as a threat to the orcas in the region. Orcas communicate with each other with a variety of clicks, chirps, squeaks and whistles and also use echolocation to locate prey and navigate. Port Metro Vancouver hopes to determine short and long-term impacts noise pollution has on orcas in terms of behavioral changes or any reductions in population health.

The hydrophone listening station was maneuvered into position on September 14 during Ocean Networks Canada’s annual expedition using the exploration vessel, Nautilus and its ROV Hercules­.

“Monitoring and understanding sound and its impact on marine mammals is a crucial aspect of good ocean management. Ocean Networks Canada is delighted to be partnering with JASCO and Port Metro Vancouver to deliver this world class sound detection, analysis, and reporting system,” said Kate Moran, President and Chief Executive Officer of ONC.


Death Rays Next for British Navy

By MarEx 2015-09-16 16:48:03

The British Ministry of Defence, in an effort to become more cost-effective in warfare, has revealed plans to equip its warships with laser cannons. The Royal Navy hopes to demonstrate a functional prototype of the directed laser weapon on its ships by 2020. The ministry also aims to develop a land-based laser cannon by 2017.

Speaking at the Defence and Security Equipment International (DSEI) fair in London earlier this week, Admiral Sir George Zambellas stated that the “death ray” could potentially strike multiple targets at once and represent a solution to addressing rapidly rising missile development and production costs and reduce supply chain demands.

The Royal Navy is still exploring how the still-in-developmental lasers would be powered and have not decided if they would be mounted on their new type-26 frigate vessels.

The U.S. Navy demonstrated its own 30 KW laser aboard the USS Ponce in the Gulf last December. The U.S. Navy expects its laser to be deployed on ships by 2017.