Guyana Lashes Back Over Disputed Maritime Territory

By Reuters 2015-06-08 14:56:47

Guyana’s new government on Monday attacked a decree by Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro which it said seeks to annex Guyanese maritime space in the wake of an oil discovery.

The dispute between the South American neighbors goes back to the early 19th Century and has resurged after an offshore oil discovery by ExxonMobil Corp last month.

The decree creates a theoretical new “defense” zone offshore that would, in Venezuela’s eyes, leave the former British colony with no direct access to the Atlantic.

Guyana’s foreign ministry described the decree as a “flagrant violation of international law.”

“Guyana rejects this illegality which seeks to undermine our development through the exploitation of our natural resources offshore,” added the statement.

In April, Venezuela’s Foreign Minister Delcy Rodriguez wrote a letter to Exxon’s Guyana country manager Jeff Simon saying Venezuela would not accept the incursion or interference of any multinational company in the disputed territory.

The controversy centers on land to the west of Guyana’s Essequibo River, encompassing around two-thirds of the small English-speaking nation on the shoulder of South America.

Maduro’s decree changes a more conciliatory stance towards Guyana from his predecessor Hugo Chavez, who was friendly with the previous government and sold Guyana fuel on advantageous terms under the Petrocaribe initiative.

However, elections last month unseated the party that had run Guyana for 23 years and gave former brigadier David Granger the presidency.

“I am convinced that the site which they (Exxon) are drilling is well within our exclusive economic zone,” he told Reuters days after his win. “It’s our territory. I don’t see that Venezuela – of all the countries on the continent – should oppose the extraction of petroleum from one of our sites.”

Venezuela has the world’s largest oil reserves, according to OPEC, and earns 96 percent of foreign income from oil.

Exxon, which is drilling in the so-called Stabroek Block, around 190 kilometers (120 miles) off Guyana’s coast, had no immediate comment on the diplomatic controversy.

In the last flare-up, Venezuela’s navy in 2013 evicted a ship used by Texas-based Anadarko Petroleum Corp to explore for oil in the offshore Roraima block.

The disputed land has long been denoted on Venezuelan maps as a “reclamation zone. Beneath its jungle and savannah lie gold, diamond and bauxite – staples of Guyana’s economy.


Panamanian Authorities Thwart Attempted Hijacking

By Kathryn Stone 2015-06-08 10:45:59

Panamanian authorities have thwarted an attempted hijacking onboard a cargo vessel bound for scrapping.

Local authorities received a report early morning, June 8 that pirates had boarded the Venezuelan-flagged VFM Alita near the Atlantic entrance to the Panama Canal, about 80km (50 miles) north of Panama City. The two crew members onboard the ship were held for approximately two hours while the thieves searched the vessel for valuables.

Panama’s National Air-Naval Service (SENAN) dispatched a BPC-4506 coastal patrol boat to investigate the incident. They found five assailants aboard the cargo vessel, which included four adults and one child.

The pirates were brought aboard the patrol boat and transferred to the Christopher Columbus SENAN naval base to be processed by authorities.

The VFM Alita is owned by Venezuela-based Feeder Maritime and has been in-lay up since last year. The 4,250dwt general cargo vessel was headed for scrapping when the incident occurred.


Paragon resumes covenant waiver talks

With rates at historic lows and asset pricing depressed, public dry bulk companies such as Paragon Shipping are entering another round of negotiations with their lenders on loan covenants.
On 8 June NASDAQ-listed Paragon confirmed it had agreed with some of its lenders to defer quarterly

China Sets Sights on Shipping Pollution

By Reuters 2015-06-08 08:33:15

China is considering regulating emissions from boats and ships, the environment ministry said on Monday, as it tries to clamp down on pollution.

Facing mounting public pressure, leaders in Beijing have declared a war on pollution, vowing to abandon a decades-old growth-at-all-costs economic model that has spoiled much of China’s water, skies and soil.

The Ministry of Environmental Protection said it was seeking public feedback on whether to pass the regulation, which could include new standards on marine fuel quality and usage.

“Environmental pollution problems caused by shipping are becoming more evident,” Xiong Yuehui, an official with the ministry, said in a statement on the ministry’s website, adding that China had 172,600 vessels at the end of 2013.

He estimated that the shipping sector accounted for 8.4 percent of China’s sulphur dioxide emissions and 11.3 percent of nitrogen oxide emissions in 2013.

Environmental regulations for ships are overseen globally by the International Maritime Organization. But while the IMO has cut pollution with emissions controls in America and Europe, which use low-sulfur marine fuels as standard, Asia has been left untouched.

Last October, a U.S. environmental group said shipping was a significant source of air pollution in China and that one container ship along the country’s coast emitted as much diesel pollution as 500,000 Chinese trucks a day.


Bintulu Port foresees softer market ahead

Malaysian port operator Bintulu Port Holdings expects a softer market in 2015, due to the seasonal and cyclical factors of the respective industries in the market.
Bintulu is Malaysia’s main LNG port.
“Nonetheless, LNG vessel calls and cargoes will still remain as the main revenue contributor to