Seacurus Daily: Top Ten Maritime News Stories 22/07/2015
1. Suez Canal Trials Channels
Trial operations will begin on the new Suez Canal expansion project this Saturday, before the new channel is officially inaugurated on August 6. During the trials, ships of unspecified different sizes will transit the new 72-km-long channel, which will allow convoys to head in both directions of the waterway for the first time. Workers have dredged 250m square meters of earth for the new route. Some 70m square meters have been dug for the expansion of the Ballah Bypass, on the western edge of the canal. The Suez Canal Authority expects its annual revenue to jump from $5.3bn in 2015 to $13.2bn in 2023, as a result of the expansion.
2. Tankers Banned from Nigeria Immediately
Nigeria’s national oil company NNPC has prohibited 113 oil tankers from its waters effective immediately, Reuters reports citing a letter circulated by the company. According to the letter, the ban has been ordered by President Muhammadu Buhari, but reasons behind the decision have not been disclosed. The letter, also obtained by Platts, energy trading information provider, said that 113 tankers were banned “from engaging in crude oil/gas loading activities in any of the terminals within the Nigerian territorial waters until further notice.” The letter, dated on July 15th, is signed by Gbenga O. Komolafe, the group general manager of NNPC’s crude oil marketing division.
3. Greek Owners Feel Pressure
As Greeks debate the fresh austerity measures that are a prerequisite for another bailout, the country’s world-leading shipping industry is coming under increasing pressure to carry more of the load. The government has agreed to raise taxes on the long-protected sector—one so much a part of Greek culture that it has tax breaks enshrined in the constitution. The industry is dominated by a small circle of family-run companies that control almost a fifth of the world’s shipping fleet—long a source of national pride. Yet recent years of economic pain have fed a deep-seated suspicion the shipping magnates haven’t been paying their fair share.
4. Spike in Tanker Rates
A spike in rates for Long Range 2 product tankers for shipping middle distillates from the Persian Gulf to Northwest Europe has led to charterers shifting to larger, Suezmax tankers, market sources said Tuesday. With Middle East refiners ramping up middle distillate production, charterers have run out of options to hire LR2 tankers, after the Yasref refinery sold five LR2-sized parcels of ULSD for the loading window of July 29-August 7, sources said. “Charterers are doing everything they can to avoid fixing LR2s, and at least two LR2 stems went on Suezmax tankers,” said a Singapore based broker.
5. Scrapping Stalls on Steel Lows
No ships were reported as sold for recycling into South Asia from 13-17 July as the Ramadan holidays and falling steel prices in India removed all appetite to purchase vessels. Scrap prices of bulkers deteriorated to USD310-315/ldt, compared with USD325-335/ldt from 6-10 July. Over the same period, scrap prices of tankers declined to USD340-345/ldt, from USD355-365/ldt. The Baltic Dry Index’s plunge to a historic low in February precipitated a rush by shipowners to scrap bulkers and forcing down prices. However, the slowing Chinese economy that resulted in exports of cheap steel also compounded the situation. In India, steel prices have fallen by about USD20/tonne.
6. Smart Ships Can Cut Costs
Ship owners could cut fuel costs and build more precise sailing schedules with "smart ship" technology now being developed by Hyundai Heavy Industries Co. Ltd. and the consulting firm Accenture, the companies said. The companies are designing a network of sensors to build into new cargo vessels, allowing fleet owners to capture ship voyage information including location, weather, and ocean-current data, as well as on-board equipment and cargo status data. By exchanging real-time data among vessels, ports, and land logistics, users could cut operational costs and gain visibility over the stages of each journey as well as the lifecycle of the ship itself.
7. Fast Ship, Slow Growth Future
Det Norske Veritas has held its hands up and admitted that it erred in a 2012 survey, when it underestimated the impact of Big Data on ships. Technology developed much faster than expected, said DNV GL’s outgoing Maritime CEO, Tor Svensen (the new Group Executive VP). “Everything became software-driven, from the chips on equipment to networks of equipment sharing with each other. It’s now taken for granted that we have onboard coms and massive data, where recently there was little.” There is still doubt about where the most value is in the “constant coms” used and generated by a ship (and its Internet of Things). Bandwidth to monitor motors and men isn’t loved.
8. Supporting Super Yachts
Damen Shipyards says it has just sold its first mega-yacht support vessel with a fully-enclosed helicopter hanger. That’s right, some people have so many toys that they when cruising on their super yacht they actually need another support vessel just to carry it all; things like tenders, jet skis, submarines and, of course, helicopters.
The Yacht Support series was developed by Damen in cooperation with Dutch luxury yacht builder AMELS and is based on Damen’s commercially produced high-speed Sea Axe patrol and offshore support vessel design, but tailored to the needs of private owners just looking to cut loose and have a good time.
9. Knock Knock Who’s There? Bulker…
Turkey’s Bosphorus Strait was closed to ship traffic Tuesday after a cargo ship ran into a shoreside villa. The accident occurred at 12:58 p.m. Tuesday when the 106-meter Sierra Leone-flagged Majed & Randy slammed into the villa near Istanbul’s Fatih Sultan Mehmet Bridge after experiencing a rudder malfunction. GAC Shipping said that cargo ship had no pilot on board at the time of the allision. Turkey’s General Directorate of Coast Safety dispatched two tugs and pilot for assistance. The cargo ship remains at anchor in the general vicinity of the accident. There were no reports of pollution or injuries.
10. Drunken Captain Guilty
A tanker captain was fined after pleading guilty to being drunk in charge of the 13,776 dwt "Quercianella" carrying 11,000 tonnes of petroleum. Sandro Carnemolla, 53 and from Sicily, was given a suspended four-month sentence and fined GBP1,000 (USD1,550) at Liverpool Crown Court. The United Kingdom court heard that Carnemolla had an exemplary record but had been drinking after ‘a stressful day’. A pilot onboard the tanker while it was leaving Merseyside’s Eastham docks thought that the captain was drunk and called the police, who breathalysed and arrested Carnemolla. The captain had his last drink more than two hours before the incident happened.
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