Seacurus Daily: Top Ten Maritime News Stories 19/08/2015
1. Migrant Murder Master
Italian officials said on Tuesday that they had arrested the captain and crew of a boat in which 49 migrants suffocated over the weekend after they were blocked from leaving the ship’s hold. The eight men, who said they were from Libya, Morocco and Syria, are accused of multiple homicide and illegal immigration, officials said at a news conference in Catania, Sicily, where the Norwegian ship that transported the 312 survivors of Saturday’s rescue remains docked. The boat’s other passengers identified the crew members during questioning with rescuers and officials, in which they described a nightmarish crossing.
2. Pool for Gas Owners
Three of the top liquefied natural gas (LNG) tanker owners have decided to market 14 vessels jointly on a spot charter basis, part of a new pooling arrangement that is aimed at cutting operating costs in a depressed market. The pool, consisting of eight modern vessels from Norwegian shipper Golar LNG and three each from Gaslog and Dynagas, will commence chartering operations in September, a statement from Gaslog said on Tuesday. A glut of newly built LNG vessels emerging from shipyards in Asia has been one factor driving down daily charter rates to around $30,000/day, compared with $130,000 two years ago.
3. Norwegians End Beach Scrapping
The Norwegian Shipowners Association and their CEO Sturla Henriksen have said a definite “no” to shipbreaking on beaches. This is a major victory for environmental NGOs. According to one, “The turnaround by the Norwegian Shipowners shows us that they now agree with the principle advocated by NGOs for years. Hazardous beaching should not take place in 2015. It is a dinosaur way of doing things, knowing that there are modern and safe solutions,” Enge said. Norway has become the first country in the world to discourage shipowners from scrapping ships on beaches.
4. IBM Data Deal for Singapore
The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) has announced a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with technology giant IBM to develop new analytics-based technologies to help tackle illegal bunkering, and improve overall maritime and port operations. Under the two-year agreement, IBM will develop "a unified platform" of real-time data and analysis tools all aimed at helping port operators make better operational choices. One part of the platform intends to monitor and detect unusual vessel behaviour in an effort to prevent illegal bunkering through a combination of analytical, anomaly detection, and data mining techniques.
5. Tianjin Bans Dangerous Goods
Tianjin Transportation Commission has issued a notice ordering Tianjin Port to suspend all container import and export operations for hazardous cargo, under the central government’s call to run a full investigation on hazardous cargo operations, following the huge chemical explosion at the port last week. According to an official from a local chemical trading company, currently the authority has banned the unloading of hazardous cargo from ships at Tianjin Port, and they have to adjust the import port to Shanghai Port or Dalian Port, which will bring lots of losses for the company. Currently tankers are still not allowed to call at the port.
6. Optimising Maersk’s Voyages
ABB, is working with MeteoGroup to equip 140 container ships from Maersk Line with advisory software to optimize routes, boost maritime safety and protect precious cargo based on factors including the hull design and the weather; helping them avoid conditions that could be harmful to the ship, its crew or its cargo. The deal will see ABB combine its Octopus motion-monitoring, forecasting and decision-support software, which improves vessel availability and safety, with MeteoGroup’s SPOS Seekeeping plug-in. Maersk ships will be able to define on-board loading conditions, and plot against weather.
7. Oil Prices Fall Further
Oil closed at the lowest level in more than six years in New York amid speculation that demand may slip as economies slow, and Iran said OPEC output may climb to a record. West Texas Intermediate futures fell 1.5 percent after manufacturing in the New York region unexpectedly shrank, and Japan’s economy contracted last quarter. OPEC may boost production to 33 million barrels a day after Iran’s international export restrictions are removed, according to the nation’s OPEC representative. Oil has slumped more than 30 percent from this year’s peak in June on speculation the global surplus will be prolonged.
8. China Wrestles with Mergers
Having blocked the P3 Alliance on competition grounds, China could now merge China Cosco and CSCL and, as a result, cause a domino effect on existing carrier alliances and further carrier mergers in Asia damaging to industry competition. Shares in China Cosco, China Shipping Development (CSD) and China Shipping Container Lines (CSCL) were suspended from trading on Monday 10 August following news reports that the Chinese government is preparing to merge these state-owned shipping entities. Details remain patchy but it seems Cosco and CSCL are part of a much broader effort to consolidate China’s state-owned enterprises.
9. VLCC Rate Woes Contextualised
VLCC rates may have halved from the start of the year but ship owners should see the situation in context, brokers have said. Rates for the benchmark Gulf-Far East route averaged Worldscale 39.14 or USD39,000 on 14 August, a fall of almost 20 points from 31 July, when rates averaged W56.04 or USD57,865/day.
In January, when tankers were being booked to store oil in anticipation of oil prices recovering, daily rates were USD80,000. A Singapore-based, "Rates today are still profitable. If you like at this time last year, daily earnings were USD15,000 and bunker prices were over USD600 a tonne". Glass half full or empty…
10. Nuclear Breaker Gets Through
Nuclear-powered icebreaker "50 Let Pobedy" reached the North Pole on August 16, 2015. According to Rosatomflot, it is the hundredth arrival of Russia’s surface ships to the Pole. “It is notable that the arrival took place a day before August 17 – it was on that day in 1977 when nuclear icebreaker Arctic became the first surface ship to reach the North Pole,” the statement says. This season’s seventh voyage of the icebreaker started in Murmansk on August 11. It lasted for 99 hours. The North Pole has seen surface ships there 118 times including 100 visits by ships flying the flag of USSR and Russia.
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