Top Ten Maritime News Stories 23/12/2015

Seacurus Daily: Top Ten Maritime News Stories 23/12/2015


1. Expanded Canal Almost Ready

The Panama Canal Authority (ACP) announced that the first-ever expansion is 96 percent complete. In line with this, ACP CEO/Administrator Jorge L. Quijano provided a next-step update at an industry event in Panama City. The key points: Locks reinforcements are scheduled to be completed mid-January 2016. Testing of locks reinforcements and additional testing will occur next. In April, transit trial tests with a chartered vessel in the Atlantic locks will occur (following conversations with GUPC). A date for the expansion’s inauguration will be then be selected, expected to be in the second quarter of 2016. Subsequently, the commercial opening date will be selected.



2. Great Year for Tankers

2015 has easily been defined as one of the best years for the tanker market, as a number of factors came into play, to boost freight rates and increase profitability, with returns reaching multi-year highs. For instance, oil prices kept on retreating, leading bunker prices to a dramatic fall, further boosting earnings. At the same time, as the weekly report from shipbroker Gibson pointed out, “low oil prices have stimulated world oil consumption, which according to the lEA increased by 1.8 million bid in 2015. Overall, this year has been especially favourable for VLCC owners as returns gradually increased over the course of the year, except a seasonal downturn in August.



3. Djibouti Security Concerns

The government in the strategic Horn of Africa nation of Djibouti said Tuesday that nine people were wounded when gunmen attacked security forces, but an opposition party said 19 people were killed in the clashes. The opposition Union for National Salvation party also said the wounded included its president Ahmed Youssouf, who is in hospital. Interior Minister Hassan Omar said that an insurgent force had launched an attack before dawn on Monday in Buldhoqo district, close to the capital Djibouti. Djibouti, a strategic port on the Gulf of Aden with a key position on one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes, hosts several foreign military bases.



4. Ballast Convention Edges Closer

Ratification of the Ballast Water Management (BWM) Convention by Morocco, Indonesia and Ghana during November 2015 has brought the convention ever closer to meeting the requirements for entry into force. Forty-seven countries have now ratified the convention, substantially more than the 30 required, but whether the requirement for Parties to hold 35% of the world’s tonnage has been met is still being calculated. The Convention will enter into force twelve months after the tonnage requirement has been met. The compiled 2015 assessment tonnages contained some unverified data, so conditions for entry into force of the BWM Convention might have been met.



5. Mooring Woes Continue

Why do seafarers still get injured during mooring operations? Why do seafarers still suffocate when entering into enclosed spaces and carrying out other standard operations? Luckily, in most cases they are safe – but they are safe by accident. As a result, we tend to think that a good safety record mirrors a safe work process. Therefore, ship managers and officers must be aware of the dangers of behavioural safety complacency and over confidence. Some time ago Green-Jakobsen was asked to carry out an accident investigation after a very serious incident. This article sets out some of its post-investigation reflections on how crews can be misled in their risk perception.



6. Rotterdam Threatens Dock Strike

Dockworkers in Rotterdam voted overwhelmingly to reject a contract offer from port employers on Sunday and threatened to three-day strikes in January and February unless they get a better deal.  The threatened actions would disrupt Europe’s biggest freight gateway. At the heart of the dispute is an aggressive automation program that has arguably made Rotterdam the most technologically advanced port in the world. But the union estimates that the push will lead to the elimination of nearly 20% of jobs at the port within two years. The vote is just the latest chapter in negotiations that have been ongoing for months.



7. Skuld Insurance on the Rise

Norwegian marine insurer Skuld delivered a result of USD 20 million in the first nine months of the year, a USD 5 million increase from the same period last year. Overcapacity is still putting pressure on premium levels, says CEO. Skuld president and CEO Ståle Hansen said: "After nine months the bottom-line ended at USD 20 million, which includes provision for a mutual members’ credit of USD 5 million. This is a USD 11 million improvement since the six months figures and a USD 15 million improvement compared with the same period last year. Skuld’s contingency reserves now stand at a record high of USD 354 million."


8. Breakbulk Expected to Remain Weak

Global shipping consultancy Drewry Maritime Research said the breakbulk shipping market is expected to remain weak until 2017, citing low freight rates and high competition.   Although demand growth is expected to recover next year after a very poor 2015, and supply growth is likely to be minimal, competition from other sectors will maintain pressure on the breakbulk shipping market, according to the latest edition of the Multipurpose Shipping Market Review and Forecaster, published by global shipping consultancy Drewry. The IMF has downgraded its expectations for both GDP and trade volume growth for 2015 and 2016.




9. Crew Remains Unaccounted For

The six crew members of the Antigua and Barbuda-flagged freighter "Thorco Cloud" that went missing after their ship sank in the Singapore Strait in the evening hours of December 16 remain unaccounted for despite ongoing search and rescue efforts, according to the Mission of Seafarers responding to the tragedy. “Search and rescue operations have been continuing to try and locate a further 6 missing seafarers but so far no-one else has been found. The incident, which took place in Indonesian waters close to Batam, left the other vessel involved – the chemical tanker the MV Stolt Commitment- with minor damage and in a stable condition,” the charity organization said.


10. Seafarer Being Cared For

A seafarer who had a narrow escape and fell overboard has been supported by Catholic charity Apostleship of the Sea (AoS). The Filipino man was working on a vessel at Felixstowe port and had an accident which resulted in him falling off the ship into the water. His colleagues who were working nearby were able to throw him a lifebuoy and with their help he was able to reach the pilot ladder located on the quayside wall. He managed to get ashore using whatever little strength he had left, assisted by his crew mates. He was then taken to hospital where he received medical attention and observation overnight.




Daily news feed from Seacurus Ltd – providers of MLC crew insurance solutions


Best regards,

S Jones
Seacurus Ltd


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