Top Ten Maritime News Stories 17/12/2014

Seacurus Daily: Top Ten Maritime News Stories 17/12/2014


1. Killer Container Ship Confirmed

The containership involved in a tragic collision with a fishing vessel on the Suez Canal was the 6,921-teu vessel "Al Safat", operated by United Arab Shipping Co (UASC), sources have confirmed. "She is presently detained by the Egyptian Navy, pending completion of the investigation with the crew, which just started yesterday," the source reported. The collision has resulted in as many as 20 deaths from the 40 people who were onboard the fishing vessel. Searches continued Tuesday to try and find missing crewmembers. This is the second such recent collision involving vessels passing through the Suez Canal.



2. Crew Held Pending Investigations

The captain and first officer of the Kuwaiti container ship (now understood to be the UASC operated "Al Safat") have been detained for four days after their ship collided with a fishing vessel in the Red Sea, killing 13 Egyptians, a public prosecutor said on Tuesday. The prosecutor said initial enquiries showed the fishing boat had capsized following the collision with the Kuwaiti ship, which had just passed through the Suez Canal on its way south. The prosecutor is also questioning the rest of the container ship’s crew about the collision, which occurred near Ras Ghareb about halfway down the Gulf of Suez.



3. Armed Clashes Force Libyan Ports to Shut Down

The ports of Es Sider, Ras Lanuf and Benghazi in Libya are currently closed due to armed clashes, as informed by Inchcape Shipping Services. Es Sider and Ras Lanuf are Libya’s key oil ports that account for approximately 300,000 barrels of oil exports per day. The latest outburst of armed conflicts erupted when Libya’s Air Force launched air strikes against militias from the city of Misurata that tried to seize major oil ports in the east and against targets in the west on Monday, local witnesses told Reuters. Libya declared force majeure on both ports so as to shield them against damage claims from oil buyers caused by the shutdown.



4. Freight Contracts Modified for Ebola

Some of the shipping industry’s biggest trade associations are modifying freight contracts to reduce commercial exposure for companies whose ships travel to countries affected by the Ebola outbreak and to protect crews from the deadly virus. Uncertainty about the spread of Ebola is adding to legal and financial issues for those involved in shipping oil, cocoa and minerals from the region. Last month, Reuters reported that individual shipping lines and traders were starting to tweak contracts to protect themselves. INTERTANKO has now introduced an Ebola clause including stipulations to find alternative ports if there is risk to the crew.



5. Greek Embracing Gas in Big Way

Greek shipowners, closely followed in the shipping industry for their investment choices, have splashed a record $1.8 billion this year to buy 11 new LNG carriers. The owners are betting that falling energy prices will spur demand for such vessels as European countries move to became less dependent on Russian gas pipelines. The U.S. is also expected to start exporting liquefied natural gas in substantial volumes in 2018.  At around $200 million apiece, LNG carriers cost at least three times as much as other types of vessels of similar size. But are usually linked to lucrative contracts that stretch to more than 10 years, racking in substantial earnings.



6. Chicken Baron Become Shipping Tycoon

South Korean poultry processor Harim Co. is set to become the owner of Pan Ocean as it emerged as the sole bidder for the dry bulk shipowner and operator. Harim bid KRW1.06trn ($968m) for Pan Ocean Yonhap reported. The company, formerly part of the STX Group, has been undergoing debt rehabilitation proceedings.

Contrary to earlier reports global private equity fund Kohlberg Kravis Roberts (KKR) did not bid and a consortium led by Korea Line Corp., Deutsche Securities Korea and Korea Investment Partners Co dropped out after making a preliminary bid. In the third quarter Pan Ocean reported a $189m profit.



7. EU Pushed for Tighter Fuel Controls

Danish Shipowners Association is pushing for the EU to adopt a general requirement for stricter controls on ships’ fuel. The requirement is connected with the sulfur directive, which will go into force very soon. The Sulphur Directive could mean an additional expenditure of nearly 600,000 kroner for a single voyage. “So if the new requirements are not followed up with effective control, weak persons are tempted to proceed as before to the detriment of both the environment and the law-abiding companies. This must not happen. We must make sure that the ships are checked – both in Danish and international waters", a spokesperson said.



8. Bunker Brokers Jump Ship

Swiss commodities trader Mercuria has confirmed hiring over 40 staff from bankrupt OW Bunker and opening new offices in Korea, Japan and Greece as result. Mercuria is making a major expansion in the marine fuels business, filling part of the gap left by the collapse OW Bunker.  The trader said it was hiring over 40 former OW Bunker staff who will be based in new offices in Korea, Japan and Greece as well as existing Mercuria offices in Geneva and Houston. It also was exploring setting up a standalone subsidiary Minerva which would focus on the marine fuels business. "This is a natural expansion of our robust fuel oil trading", they said.



9. MLC Intermediate Inspections Loom

Ship owners and managers are being reminded that in accordance with MLC, an intermediate inspection of a vessel must be carried out for compliance with the convention. This must be between the second and third anniversary dates of the date of expiry of the Maritime Labour Certificate. Thus, for the ships, which have already undergone inspection, in June 2013 a “window” for intermediate inspection is open from June 2015 and it will be valid for a year, until June 2016. Class societies are encouraging ship owners to schedule the inspections in advance to avoid excessive stress on themselves and their recognised organisations.




10. More Somali Pirates Set Free

The Seychelles Court of Appeal has acquitted and ordered the repatriation of 3 Somali pirates back to their homeland. The highest court in the land overturned a previous ruling citing “insufficient evidence”. Two of the three men were appealing against their 21 year sentence while the third one, a juvenile aged 16 was appealing against his 14 year sentence. According to reports, the Court of Appeal judges “severely warned” the prosecution when delivering their ruling “to make sure they have concrete evidence before prosecuting suspects.”



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