More LNG Spot Trading Expected

By Reuters 2015-09-10 21:08:00

CME Group said on Thursday it will begin development and clearing of a Japanese LNG contract later this year, as the world’s biggest importer of the fuel seeks to break a decade-long reliance on oil-linked pricing.

The contract aims to give importers, including power utilities and city-gas suppliers, an opportunity to hedge risks as Japan prepares to liberalize its power market next year, and could kickstart spot trading of the world’s fastest growing energy source.

The move could also deal a blow to Singapore’s ambitions to become a hub for LNG trading in the region. Already Asia’s main oil trading hub, Singapore is building LNG storage facilities, while the SGX Singapore stock exchange plans to launch LNG futures, but has given no timeframe.

Japan, which buys about a third of global LNG shipments, is trying to cut fuel costs and gain more control over prices after the shutdown of the country’s nuclear plants in the wake of the 2011 Fukushima disaster pushed demand for gas to record levels.

With a wave of new supply from Australia and the United States due to hit global markets in coming years, buyers have voiced concern that an oil-linked price doesn’t reflect LNG market fundamentals.

The contract was initially launched last year, but has failed to gain traction, as the fuel is usually bought on long-term contracts with restricted shipping terms, while the spot market is illiquid and lacks transparency.

The relaunch with the backing of CME Group is aimed at kickstarting interest in the contract by making it easier for global players to take part, boosting liquidity.

LNG supply contracts have traditionally spanned decades and are based on the price of oil.

CME Group, the world’s largest futures exchange operator, said it will work with Japan’s RIM Intelligence, a provider of energy price and information services, on the non-deliverable forward LNG contract.

It will be available for submission to clearing by CME via the Japan OTC Exchange (JOE) and through over-the-counter brokers by the end of the year, CME Group said.


Vessel Records Should Go to New Owner

By MarEx 2015-09-10 18:03:11

The International Union of Marine Insurance (IUMI) is calling for vessel owners and technical managers to make records available that provide important information on the condition of the ship and its machinery when a ship changes owner.

“The current trend to remove these records has the potential to impact on the new owner’s ability to operate the vessel effectively on takeover,” says Helle Hammer, Chairman of IUMI’s Political Forum.

“Without continuity of information, it could be some months before the new crew and management are fully familiar with the vessel and machinery plant. During this time, there is an increased risk of machinery breakdown leading to inability or impairment to navigate, fire and explosion or personal injury from component failure. This, of course, affects the risk profile of the vessel,” she says.

A position paper, released by IUMI, states that non-transfer and destruction of records is commonplace and the organization questions why this practice is seemingly accepted by new owners. Failing to handover these important documents puts the incoming vessel managers, owners and underwriters at a serious disadvantage.

The position paper cites a number of reported incidents. In one case, a management company flew their fleet manager to the ship, specifically to go through all the maintenance records and remove everything they did not want the new owner to see.

In another case, insurance representatives were visiting on board during a change of management and arrived in time to see the outgoing managers removing all records. When those taking the records were asked to leave everything for the benefit of the new managers, they agreed.

IUMI believes that insurers are being exposed to claims that could be avoided if adequate maintenance records had been provided. It says that a significant improvement to the vessel’s risk profile would be achieved by requiring the maintenance records, operating reports, and spares inventory to be part of the permanent service history of the ship and covered by the regulatory regime, possibly through additional clauses in the sale and purchase agreement.

However, IUMI is not hopeful of achieving an early resolution to this ongoing issue despite having jointly (with the Joint Hull Committee) petitioned IACS with a suggested rule change to require the maintenance of ship records as a condition of classification.

The full position paper is available here.


Ship Detained Over Crew Wages, Food, Hygiene

By MarEx 2015-09-10 17:52:30

The Australian Maritime Safety Authority has detained the Panama flagged bulk carrier MV Apellis after an inspection revealed a number of deficiencies relating to the working conditions of the crew.

The MV Apellis is operated by Pyrsos Shipping Co Ltd and chartered by Hudson Shipping Lines.

AMSA inspected the vessel at Esperance grain jetty after receiving a complaint from the International Transport Workers Federation raising concerns about the welfare of the crew. Once on board, the AMSA surveyor discovered a number of deficiencies including:

• Seafarers not being repatriated as required by their employment agreements;

• Seafarers not being provided a monthly account of wages for the month of August;

• One crew member found to working beyond medical restrictions;

• No working washing machine in crew laundry;

• Inadequate quality or nutritional value of food; and

• Seafarers not paid monthly as required by their employment agreements.

The vessel has been detained on the matter of non-payment of wages. The MV Apellis will remain under detention by AMSA until this deficiency is rectified.

AMSA’s General Manager of Ship Safety, Allan Schwartz, said that the proper treatment of seafarers is just as important as the proper maintenance of ships’ equipment – a failure in either system can lead to serious accidents.

“All ships in Australian waters need to comply with Australian standards,” Schwartz said. “Seafarers live difficult lives often spending many months at sea away from their families and friends. Any vessel which is found to be in breach of the MLC or other Australian standards will be detained by AMSA and repeat offenders risk being banned from Australian waters.”

The vessel is crewed by a mix of Indonesians and Ukrainians.

The maritime union, ITF’s Assistant National Coordinator Matt Purcell said a volunteer ITF inspector boarded the ship to meet with the crew after receiving a complaint.

“The person we sent up the gangway was distressed by what he saw and said the crew were fearful of repercussions,” Purcell said.

“Food and water is being rationed, which as well as being an outright contravention of MLC, it’s also inhumane.

“We have one crewmember, the steward on $200-a-month, another the, chief engineer, claims he hasn’t received a single cent in eight months. The majority of the crew just want to go home to their families after their ordeal.

“There is also a concern that there is not enough stores to sustain the crew on their scheduled voyage to Indonesia.”

ITF President Paddy Crumlin said he was worried there would be an increase in these incidents of exploitation as Australia’s Abbott Government moved towards further relaxing shipping regulation through amendments to the Coastal Trading Act.