Ship safety centre opens in Vancouver

A shipping safety centre has been established in Vancouver, Canada, to promote research into the highest standards for safe and responsible maritime transportation.
The Clear Seas Centre for Responsible Marine Shipping has received contributions of more than USD3 million each from the Canadian
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Venezuela Recalls Ambassador Over Offshore Dispute

By Reuters 2015-07-07 16:53:58

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said this week he was recalling the country’s ambassador in neighboring Guyana for consultations amid an escalating row over oil exploration in a disputed offshore territory.

The OPEC nation in June demanded that Guyana halt exploration being carried out by Exxon Mobil Corp off the coast of the region known as the Essequibo, weeks after Exxon said it had found oil.

“It takes a lot of patience to process, digest and not vomit when one reads and hears the statements against Venezuela … by the current president (of Guyana),” Maduro said in a speech to parliament dedicated to the issue. He also ordered the foreign ministry to conduct a full review of bilateral relations.

He ruled out the possibility of armed conflict, but described recently elected Guyanese President David Granger as a “hostage of Exxon Mobil.”

Exxon, consulted about the issue in the past, has said its policy is to follow host countries’ and international law, and that border conflicts are a matter for governments to resolve.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Friday offered to help resolve the dispute.

The Essequibo, a sparsely populated region of thick jungle, encompasses an area equivalent to around two-thirds of Guyanese territory. It functions in practice as part of Guyana and shows no discernible trace of Venezuelan influence, according to visitors to the area.

Guyana says Caracas agreed to relinquish the Essequibo following a ruling by an international tribunal in 1899, but that Venezuela later backtracked on that decision.

Venezuela says the 1899 ruling was unfair and insists the territory is still in dispute. Maps in Venezuela usually describe the Essequibo as the “reclamation zone.”

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Damaged Icebreaker is Shell’s Latest Arctic Setback

By MarEx 2015-07-07 16:37:55

Royal Dutch Shell’s plan to drill in the Arctic hit another snag when the Finnish icebreaker M/V Fennika was forced to return to port after an underwater gash was found in its hull. The breech is three feet long and nearly half inch wide. The company is being advised if the repair can be done onsite or whether it will require drydocking

The setback is significant as the vessel was transporting the essential capping stack, which is used to contain an oil flow in the event of an accident. Oil experts say that if both primary and secondary blowout prevention equipment fails during drilling, the capping stack is the last line of defense against an oil spill. This vital piece of equipment is required to be onsite at Shell’s drilling activities in the Arctic.

The gash was discovered shortly after it left Dutch Harbor, Alaska last Friday, but the cause is still unknown. A Shell spokesman stated that damage to the vessel will most likely not interfere with its drilling plans, provided the repairs are minor. But, if the vessel’s repairs are extensive, it may require the oil company to obtain new drilling authorizations from the U.S. government.

The M/V Fennica is one of 29 vessels and one of two icebreakers that will operate in the Chukchi Sea during the summer months. The icebreakers are there to prevent floating ice from complicating drilling operations on the Noble Discoverer.

Shell’s Arctic drilling program has faced a number of setbacks including lawsuits and widespread environmentalist demonstrations. Over past two months, activists have staged frequent protests, which included efforts to prevent drilling equipment from arriving in Alaska.

In the most recent roadblock, the U.S. has forbidden Shell from drilling more than one well at a time due to a 15 mile buffer zone required between rigs. Shell is waiting for one final permit in order to begin drilling in the Arctic this month.

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Migrants from Deadliest Med Shipwreck Given Funeral

By Reuters 2015-07-07 13:59:49

Italy held a funeral service on Tuesday for 13 migrants who died in the worst shipwreck in the Mediterranean in recent history, while the navy continued its search for other victims of the disaster.

More than 700 people, most of them locked below deck, were believed to have drowned in April. Their overloaded fishing boat capsized after colliding with a ship that had come to their aid some 70 nautical miles off the coast of Libya.

The Italian navy last week retrieved the first bodies from the wreck, which is lying at a depth of about 370 meters (1,200 feet), using remote-controlled vehicles and a submersible basket to haul up the remains.

With the recovery mission still in full swing, simple wooden coffins carrying the bodies of 13 unidentified migrants were carried into the Palazzo della Cultura in Catania, in eastern Sicily, for an inter-religious service.

“Today, we are gathering here to mark the loss of the lives of other human beings, taken away by the sea. Every time it happens we think it is the last time, but unfortunately that is not the case,” said Ismail Bouchafa, the imam of Catania.

The bodies were later taken to Catania cemetery but were not immediately buried. The authorities are still deciding where all the victims should be interred.

Tens of thousands of migrants have crossed the Mediterranean so far this year in the hope of reaching Italy or Greece. An estimated 2,000 have drowned.

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Carnival Gets Green Light for Cuban Cruises

By MarEx 2015-07-07 12:21:26

The U.S. Government has authorized Carnival Corporation to operate between U.S. ports and Cuba beginning in 2016. Currently, the U.S. Department of Treasury allows licensed travel companies to transport approved travelers to Cuba provided they engage in activities that support the Cuban people.

Carnival is expected to begin service May 2016 using its Fathom brand. Fathom provides travelers the experience of working with nationals to assist in the development of regional areas. The Fathom brand is expected to about 40,000 travelers annually that will volunteer and engage in educational and cultural exchanges in local Cuban communities.

In April 2016 Carnival will inaugural voyages to the Dominican Republic as well, and Fathom will offer both Dominican and Cuban itineraries on a regular basis.

“We’re very interested in exploring the prospects of expanding our partnership with Fathom to now include Cuba,’ said David Luther, founder and executive director of Dominican International Integal Development (IDDI). act programs and lending our assistance to strengthen existing initiatives that will help educational, cultural and humanitarian efforts already going on in Cuba,” said David Luther, founder and executive director of IDDI, a non-profit organization with the mission to help alleviate poverty in rural and urban areas in the Caribbean.

Over the last year, the Obama administration has taken major steps to improve relations with Cuba. It eliminated the need for US travelers to obtain a license from the Treasury Department to travel to the island nation. And, last week the administration announced it would restore diplomatic ties between the two countries by reopening the U.S. embassy in Havana and a Cuban embassy in Washington D.C.

The cruise industry has welcomed the possibilityt for U.S. tourism in Cuba. Arnold Donald president and CEO of Carnival Corp said in a press release taht Fathom represents Carnival’s first efforts in Cuba, which will pave the way for the company when the embargo is lifted. Fathom’s seven day Cuba cruises will accommodate 710 passengers.

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US authorises cruises to Cuba

Carnival has become the first cruise line to receive approval to operate cruises directly between the United States and Cuba in more than 50 years.
The cruise giant announced on 7 July that the licences, granted by the US Treasury and Commerce departments, authorise travel itineraries to Cuba “for
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Maersk to Sell Esvagt for $610m

By MarEx 2015-07-07 11:18:54

A.P. Moller-Maersk announced it will be selling its stake in Danish shipping company ESVAGT, an offshore support company involved in emergency response and rescue, oil spill response and escort services, to 3i Investments and AMP Capital. The sale will be valued at DKK 4.1 billion ($610 million). Moller-Maersk owns 75% and ESE Holding has the remaining 25%. ESVAGT operates 43 vessels and works primarily in and around the North Sea and the Barents Sea.

Maersk Group CFO and Chairman in ESVAGT, Trond Westlie commented, ”ESVAGT is a sound, well-run company with an exceptional operational excellence, and we have assessed how we best serve ESVAGT’s long-term interest, as they are not part of the Maersk Group’s core business. The sale to 3i Infrastructure plc and AMP Capital has proven to be the best way of ensuring that ESVAGT can continue its development based on a strong culture and heritage, while at the same time creating value for the shareholders,”

Since 2010, Esvagt has been servicing the Bligh Bank Offshore Wind Farm for Danish wind turbine maker Vestas. This year, it has put two specially built service operation vessels for offshore wind turbine farms into operation for Siemens Wind Power.

A.P. Moller-Maersk has offloaded a string of companies and stakes in subsidiaries in recent years to focus on container shipping, oil, port operations and drilling. It has booked more than $11 billion from divestments since 2009.

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