Seacurus Daily: Top Ten Maritime News Stories 06/08/2015
1. Tanker Ban Confusion Reigns
The Nigerian president’s sudden, unexpected and seemingly unilateral decision to ban nearly 100 oil tankers has sown confusion in the operations of Africa’s largest crude exporter. The disarray it has caused, even three weeks on, underscores the problems Buhari faces in trying, as an oil industry outsider, to tackle problems in the sector head on. “It’s a mess,” one trader said of the ban. “Nobody knows anything concrete.” Buhari has kept the oil portfolio for himself for now, and said that he would not appoint ministers until September. Some warn the ban could hurt the country’s near-term oil revenue more than the thieves it aims to stop.
2. Only Limited Non Compliance
The use of non-compliant fuel in European Union sulphur emissions control areas (SECAs) has been "rather limited", according to data communicated to IHS Maritime by the European Commission. Following the introduction of a 0.1% limit on the sulphur content of marine fuel in the SECAs on 1 January, a total of 231 cases of non-compliance have been reported out of a total of 4,000 inspections recorded under Thetis-S voluntary reporting system used by EU member states. The commission told the media that the majority of non-compliance cases involved incorrect or missing data in ship logbooks and other documents.
3. Tanker Catches Alight
A China Shipping Tanker-owned product tanker caught fire off Dayangshan Island, Shanghai, on 3 August, killing one crew member and injuring five others, announced the Shanghai Maritime Safety Administration. "Ye Chi", carrying 29,000 tonnes of diesel from Jinshan, Shanghai, to Singapore, was sailing 8.8 n miles off Dayangshan Island when fire broke out in its accommodation area. There were 25 crew members on board the 46,000 dwt tanker. The fire was completely put out at 03:28 h local time on 4 August. China Shipping Industry (Jiangsu)-built Ye Chi was delivered to China Shipping Tanker in November 2011..
4. Campaign Against Cruise Terminal
Campaigners opposed to plans for London’s first large cruise ship terminal in 34 years have asked Mayor Boris Johnson to overturn a decision to approve the “dirty” scheme. Residents’ groups in Greenwich and Tower Hamlets say diesel generators will add to already high levels of pollution while ships are berthed at Enderby Wharf in Greenwich. An average cruise ship can burn 700 litres of diesel an hour, equivalent to 400 idling lorries. Westcourt Real Estate, which is overseeing the development, said the council had decided the project “would have no material impact on air quality levels” in the area.
5. Searchers Fear Migrant Losses
Search teams in the Mediterranean say they don’t expect to find any more survivors from a boat carrying around 600 migrants which sank off Libya. Officials initially feared hundreds had drowned but the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) said 400 people were rescued. The Italian coast guard said 25 bodies have been recovered so far but it is unclear how many people are missing. More than 2,000 migrants are said to have died in 2015 trying to cross the Mediterranean to reach Europe. Wednesday’s incident occurred when the packed fishing boat ran into rough weather about 15 miles (25km) from Libya’s coast.
6. Cruise Employee Prison Sentence
A cruise ship employee who entered a cabin and molested a sleeping passenger has been sentenced to 13 months in prison. Twenty-five-year-old Karan Seechurn was sentenced Wednesday in federal court in Newark, New Jersey. He pleaded guilty in April to abusive sexual contact. Federal prosecutors say Seechurn was responsible for restocking guest room minibars on the five-day cruise from Bayonne, New Jersey, to the Bahamas. He admitted he was off-duty when he entered the cabin and touched the woman and then threatened to burn down the ship if the woman reported it.
7. Smaller Ports Suffering
Small and mid-size U.S. ports are beginning to suffer as the industry moves towards mega-containerships and ports that can support larger vessels, the Wall Street Journal reports. According to reports, smaller ports such as the Port of Portland have seen container traffic move away to larger port complexes with deeper harbours and the necessary infrastructure to accommodate larger ships. Both Hapag-Lloyd and Hanjin Shipping Co. Ltd decided to stop calling on the port earlier this year, which reportedly left Portland without a regular ocean-bound container service for the first time in four decades.
8. Good Year for Oldendorff
So far, 2015 has been a year to forget for most dry-bulk operators, and following warnings in early February that the market was "collapsing" there has been little positive news for the sector since. However Oldendorff Carriers says that so far 2015 has exceeded expectations and, much like its 2014 year, is now fully expecting a positive full year result, ShippingWatch reports. "The year is developing better than expected so far. We expect 2015 to be a profitable year," said Oldendorff Carriers in statement. With about 500 vessels in its fleet, Oldendorff Carriers is one of the largest dry bulk carriers in the business.
9. Hoovering Up Bad Shipping Debt
Distressed debt investors are looking to buy shipping loans from Italian banks, encouraged by legal and regulatory changes that could reduce the chances of them getting embroiled in drawn-out bankruptcy proceedings. U.S. hedge funds including Davidson Kempner, King Street Capital, York Capital and private equity firm Z Capital, have set their sights on an estimated $13 billion of shipping loans portfolios held by Italian banks, six sources said, speaking on condition of anonymity. Some of the loans are bad debts. Some of the U.S. hedge funds, often described as “vulture funds” as they buy assets cheaply before selling them on in a rising market.
10. Teekay On the Rise
Teekay Tankers has agreed to acquire a fleet of twelve modern Suezmax tankers currently owned by Principal Maritime Tankers, a portfolio company of private equity firm Apollo Global Management. The 12 represent the entire crude oil fleet of Principle Maritime. Teekay said the aggregate purchase price for the vessels is $662 million and that the acquisition is fully financed. The addition of 12 ships will make Teekay Tankers one of the largest owners of Suezmax tankers in the world with a total 22 ships. With an average age of only 5.5 years, the 12 Suezmax’s will also help reduce the average age of Teekay Tankers’ fleet by 1.2 years.
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