Seacurus Daily: Top Ten Maritime News Stories 26/04/2016
1. V Group Sale Rumours
Clive Richardson, president and ceo of V.Group, has denied UK press reports that the company is up for sale. The Sunday Times claimed yesterday that the Canadian owner of V. Group, Omers Private Equity, had put the shipmanager on the market with a price tag of around £500m. Omers bought V. Group for £347m in 2011. V. Group is the world’s largest shipmanager, a sector that has undergone notable consolidation of late. “Contrary to the article appearing in some Sunday papers in the UK, our shareholders have not initiated a sale process. Sale or not, however, as far as V.Group is concerned, it’s business as usual,” Richardson said.
2. P&I Merger Signs
The merger of the UK P&I Club and the Britannia P&I Club is perhaps a sign of the times. Mergers all round! This is the first merger of P&I Clubs that I can recall which is not in effect a take over of a weakened Club by a stronger one, if we discount the aborted merger of the Britannia and the Standard, a few years back – a deal which was reputedly put together by the managers of both clubs but torpedoed by – legend has it – the board of the Britannia. Neither Club is in a position of weakness, but one might say – at risk of being cold shouldered by both parties – that neither Club is quite in the position that it was a couple of decades back.
3. Piracy Heating Up
A Private Maritime Security Company, SAPU has flagged concerns for a new emerging piracy threat – one which has deep links to terrorism. According to the company, the Yemeni port of Mukalla, which had been allegedly overrun by Al Qaeda for some time now, has become home to seafaring terror groups. Recently assailants approached an anchored vessel off Mukalla at relatively low speed with 2 Yemeni type skiffs, single outboard engine and with app. 3 men on board each at a distance of app. Armed guard responded, and the skiffs were deterred from closing further.
4. US Fears of Nigerian Piracy
The United States has warned that piracy and armed robbery are increasing at an alarming rate in the Gulf of Guinea, pointing to reports by industry experts of at least 32 attacks off the coast of Nigeria alone so far this year. U.S. Ambassador Michele Sison singled out two pirate attacks off the Nigerian coast on April 11 that led to the apparent kidnapping of a total of eight crew members including the captain of one vessel, a Turkish cargo ship. She told a U.N. Security Council meeting ineffective government operations, weak rule of law and inadequate maritime law enforcement all contributed to the increase in piracy in the Gulf of Guinea.
5. Seafarers Unhappy Bunch
Seafarers do not go to sea for laughs. They are there to make money, or they endure the life because of their inability to find decent work in their own countries. But when you listen to them, or read what they are saying, you have to be struck with the increasing cheerlessness of their existence in modern shipping.
This is not a moan from the past, from somebody who recalls the so-called “golden age” of seafaring, before containerisation, mega-ships and the identification of seagoing labour as a commodity. It is what contemporary seafarers are saying today, and it is really very depressing,
6. ITF Launches MLC Study
The ITF (International Transport Workers Federation) has commissioned an in depth study into the implementation and enforcement of the ILO Maritime Labour Convention 2006 (MLC), which came into force in August 2013. The study will be carried out by Seafarers’ Rights International (SRI). ITF seafarers’ section chair Dave Heindel explained: “Although the ITF is delighted that the convention is now in force, there is a clear need for a critical evaluation of its implementation and enforcement. Both port state control and ITF inspectors have reported numerous breaches of the MLC. That’s why we’ve decided to commission a thorough study.
7. Greeks Stop Buying
Greek shipowners are now fully abstaining from ordering new vessels. Last month not a single order was placed by Greek shippers with international shipyards, a first since early 2009, when the global maritime trade experienced its worst ever crisis. Data compiled by Golden Destiny shipbrokers also showed that only two vessels were ordered in February. This compares with 30 vessels of various types ordered in March last year. The current picture of abstention from purchases is attributed to shipowners’ lack of confidence in the chartering markets’ recovery prospects, particularly when it comes to dry-bulkers and containers.
8. Finding Free Tankers
Iran faces a struggle to increase oil exports because many of its tankers are tied up storing crude, some are not seaworthy, and foreign shipowners remain reluctant to carry its cargoes. Tehran is seeking to make up for lost trade to Europe following the lifting of EU sanctions imposed in 2011 and 2012, which deprived it of a market that accounted for over a third of its exports and left it relying completely on Asian buyers. Iran has 55-60 oil tankers in its fleet, a senior Iranian government official told Reuters. He declined to say how many were being used to store unsold cargoes, but industry sources said 25-27 tankers were laid up.
9. Navig8 Taps Credit Seam
Navig8 Product Tankers has announced that it has entered into a $130.3m senior secured credit facility agreement with Citibank and Caixabank to provide post-delivery financing for four of the company’s 74,000dwt product tankers constructed or under construction at STX Offshore & Shipbuilding, including the Navig8 Experience, which was delivered to the company in March 2016. The facility provides financing for around 65% of the contract price of the four vessels. “With a blended margin over LIBOR below 2%, we are pleased to have secured attractively priced financing for these vessels,” said Nicolas Busch, CEO of Navig8.
10. Tanker Burns and Kills Crew
A Russian oil tanker caught fire in the Caspian Sea on Saturday killing one crew member. The Ministry of Emergency Situations in Azerbaijan confirmed the incident aboard the Russian-flagged Palflot-2 tanker as the vessel was underway to Alaja Port, Turkmenistan from Azerbaijan. The ship was approximately 70 miles from the Azerbaijan coast in the Caspian Sea. The ministry said ten of the eleven crew members on board have been rescued. One crew member, identified as the mechanic, was killed in the incident. Some video of the incident shows the tanker on fire with black smoke pouring from the vessel as crews fought the fire.
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