Seacurus Daily: Top Ten Maritime News Stories 11/02/2016
1. Gard Concerns over Nigerian Tanker Ban
Norwegian maritime insurer Gard has released an alert over a revised "Letter of Comfort" regarding the banning of tankers in Nigerian waters, which has been issued by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC). Gard says the revised letter "addresses some earlier concerns" but suggests "problems remain." Issues cited by Gard include confusion over who is required to sign a Letter of Comfort and what activity would be considered a breach of a Letter of Comfort. "The Letters of Comfort may go well beyond what Nigerian law would otherwise impose," Gard says, and what owners on the list of banned vessels need to do. http://goo.gl/wX5Wat
2. Shipping Shares Asian Tumble
On a terrible day for the Tokyo Stock Exchange, shipping shares came in for a particular battering as the market became spooked by the spectre of further bankruptcies. The dire state of the dry bulk markets has put a number of mid-sized Japanese operators closer to restructuring, sources in the Japanese capital tell Splash. The Baltic Dry Index hit a new low of 293 points yesterday, continuing a dire spiral seen throughout the first weeks of 2016. Already Japan, home to the world’s third largest merchant fleet, has suffered two very high profile bankruptcies in recent years – Sanko Steamship (for the second time) and Daiichi Chuo Kisen Kaisha.
3. New Alliance in Talks
The newly-formed shipping giant China Cosco Shipping Corporation and CMA CGM met recently in Shanghai to discuss the possibility of a new French-Asian alliance, say local Chinese media. According to sources, the alliance would also include Orient Overseas Container Line (OOCL). If it happens it would be shake-up the present structure of maritime alliances of container companies. China Cosco Shipping Corporation – which is made up of Cosco and CSCL – is likely to own 832 ships including containers, dry-bulk vessels and tankers amounting to almost $22 billion.
4. The Market Will Always Win
Khalid Hashim, the veteran managing director of Thailand dry bulk firm Precious Shipping, has warned in his firm’s annual review than unless there’s a record amount of bulker scrappings this year, the supply/demand balance will not return. Hashim said prospects in the first half in particular do not look good with new supply coming in and demand not growing “in any significant fashion”. Despite most bulker segments operating at a loss, the situation might not reverse any time soon, Hashim said, quoting economist John Maynard Keynes: “Markets can stay irrational far longer than you can stay solvent!”
5. Fake Trader and The Massive Scam
A court yesterday heard more salacious details of the conman who managed to fleece Dutch shipping line Allseas out of $105m posing as the Pope’s banker. Luis Nobre, one of a gang of conmen claiming to be international financiers with access to a secret trading platform in the Vatican, was found guilty on different fraud-related crimes at a UK court hearing yesterday. The trial has overrun by three months. Prosecutor David Durose said: “Allseas were seeking to raise capital in order to fund the building of a new ship and had available the enormous sum of EUR100m to invest…" Ultimately the ‘A1’ trader they used was seemingly anything but. http://goo.gl/79hT9a
6. Less Than a Big Mac Price for Mercator
$2.16. That’s the nominal US dollar sum India’s Mercator has sold its dry bulk subsidiary for in Singapore at a time where the Baltic Dry Index stands at an all time low of 291 points. The 9m shares in the Mittal family controlled Singapore subsidiary were sold today with three entities paying S$1 each for the firm, which announced it was entering judicial management last month. The deal still has to be cleared by the Singapore Exchange. Singapore’s Bellerophon Holdings, MIB Investments, and Wroclaw Holdings will also be taking on $147.2m of debts and six owned ships plus one on charter.
7. US Waves Goodbye to Paper Charts
The U.S. Coast Guard published guidance February 5th that allows mariners to use electronic charts and publications instead of paper charts, maps and publications. The Navigation and Vessel Inspection Circular, NVIC 01-16 establishes uniform guidance on what is now considered equivalent to chart and publication carriage requirements. Combining the suite of electronic charts from the U.S. hydrographic authorities and the Electronic Charting System (ECS) standards published this past summer by the Radio Technical Commission for Maritime Services, the Coast Guard believes official electronic charts provide mariners with a substitute.
8. Top Ten Shipowning Nations
Vessels Values has produced its latest industry infographic showing Top 10 Shipowning Nations by Value (USD Millions), including the percentage change difference against 2015. This year the order may not have changed but the stand out winner appears to be Denmark, being the only country to increase in values over the last 12 months. The data in this infographic contains all live and on order vessels. The Top Ten in descending order are Greece, Japan, China, Germany, Singapore, USA, Norway, S Korea, Denmark and UK.
9. Renamed After Break up
Cash-strapped Western Bulk has become Bulk Invest following the sale of its chartering arm, and is still seeking solutions to its financial woes with its creditors. Western Bulk Chartering has been sold to Kistefos Equity Operations, owned by Kistefos, the largest shareholder in Western Bulk. On 8 February the company transferred all its shares in Western Bulk and all its bonds in a NOK300m unsecured bond issue. Bulk Invest has received the first installment of $10m for the shares, with remainder to be paid on 2 March. Bulk Invest will continue to focus on a survival, which could include a rights offering.
10. Fake US Port Id Fears
Maritime and port security in the United States has come under intense scrutiny after what has been described as a “document mill” was found producing fake IDs – including the credentials used to access secure areas of the Port of Los Angeles. A man has been arrested on federal charges of illegally manufacturing the counterfeit documents. A TWIC is a worker identification card issued by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) that allows individuals to access secure areas of the Port of Los Angeles. Those who are issued TWICs undergo a security background check. The idea of fakes being widely available is a major concern. http://goo.gl/KYkM2g
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