Top Ten Maritime News Stories 30/12/2016

Seacurus Daily: Top Ten Maritime News Stories 30/12/2016
1. A Tumultuous Year
Be it be in shipping, the economy or politics 2016 has been a tumultuous year. Seatrade Maritime News takes a look back at the year and top stories in the world of shipping and maritime. 2016 was not to start with much good cheer. The first week of the year saw oil prices drop to an 11 year low and what was to become a wave of restructurings in the offshore and marine industry were already underway. February saw the dry bulk shipping market in freefall, March saw Iran bring serious investment opportunities, while the year brought major re-alignments of major container shipping alliances – and many other changes.
2. There May be Trouble Ahead
Tonnage growth in the global crude oil tanker market is signalling trouble as the demand-supply balance is being threatened, according to a recent report by Bimco. From January to October this year, the crude oil tanker segment composing of VLCC, suezmax and aframax ships, recorded a net fleet growth of 7.3%, equalling to 24.3m dwt. The VLCC segment, with 20.7m dwt or net fleet growth rate of 11% took the lion’s share during the ten-month period, followed by the suezmax segment with 4.4m dwt of 5.5%. The aframax segment, however, decreased by 0.8m dwt or 1%, according to Bimco figures.

3. Marco Polo in Trouble
The auditor of distressed Marco Polo Marine has cast “significant doubt” on the ability of the company to continue as a going concern in view of its net liabilities and losses. In an auditor report issued by Singapore-listed Marco Polo Marine, Mazars LLP wrote an “emphasis of matter” stating the offshore services firm’s challenging future as it reported net current liabilities of SGD25.98m ($17.94m) and loss before tax of SGD16.94m as at 30 September 2016. Mazars said these numbers indicate the “existence of material uncertainty which may cast significant doubt on the ability of the group to continue as a going concern.”
4. Europe List of Recylers
The European Commission (EC) has published the initial list of approved ship recycling facilities. All the 18 facilities in the list belong to the European Union. Out of this, France, Lithuania and the UK accounted for half of the approved facilities. Other countries in the region that featured in the list of approved facilities include Belgium, Denmark, Latvia, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal and Spain. The applications received from ship recycling yards located in third countries are currently under review, the Commission said.

5. New STCW Rules
Certification for seafarers is verified during each PSC inspection. On 1 January 2017 new STCW requirements enter into force and seafarers may need new certificates. In line with a recommendation from the International Maritime Organization (MSC.1/Circ.1560), the Paris MoU has agreed on a harmonized approach.
In cases where a seafarer’s documentation complied with the requirements in force immediately before 1 January 2017, but was not in accordance with the requirements of the 2010 Manila Amendments to the STCW Convention, PSCOs should take a pragmatic and practical approach during inspections until 1 July 2017.
6. Migrant Charity Push Back
The German charity Sea-Watch is pushing back against the EU border agency Frontex’s charges that maritime rescue NGOs are facilitating migrant smuggling on the Libya-Italy route. In leaked documents first reported by the Financial Times, the newly created border agency alleged that maritime rescue NGOs were facilitating the business of human smuggling. Specifically, Frontex contended that migrants had been informed of the location of rescue vessels prior to departure and that lighting on the vessels acted as a beacon for migrant boats.
7. Major Stowaway Find
No fewer than 47 stowaways have been rescued from a merchant ship by the Nigerian Navy in an operation in the Apapa area of Lagos State. It was learnt that the persons, who had attempted to leave the country illegally by hiding in merchant ship, were rescued by the NNS Beecroft, Apapa area, after a tip-off on Saturday, December 24. The stowaways were thereafter handed over to the Lagos State Task Force on Environmental and Special Offences (Enforcement) Unit, Alausa, for prosecution.
8. No Merger of Builders
The big three South Korean shipbuilders, which are all going through a restructuring, are not in a position to merge, according to reports citing Korea’s Financial Services Commission (FSC). At a recent briefing to reporters, FSC chairman Yim Jong-yong shrugged off the merger of Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI), Samsung Heavy Industries (SHI) and Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering (DSME). “Those big three companies are all under restructuring and a potential big deal will harm all of them,” Yim was quoted saying.
9. Supply Discipline is Key
Supply discipline will be a major factor driving seaborne iron ore prices in 2017, after the world’s three biggest producers abandoned the aggressive expansion plans that have cost them billions of dollars in losses in recent years. Brazilian mining company Vale and UK-Australian resources firms Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton cut a collective 70mn t from their annual output targets in the first half of 2016. The cuts, together with surprise upside in Chinese steel demand, stabilised iron ore prices in the second half of this year. Most bank analysts had forecast iron ore price drops but prices have instead nearly doubled since the start of the year.
10. Review of Human Rights Year
When asked to provide an annual review of the charity Human Rights at Sea, the temptation according to CEO David Hammond, is to list every subjective 2016 success to polish the corporate image and put one’s best foot forward. In a review of the year, Hammond has looked at what the charity could have been done better. He strongly believes that honesty and transparency drives long-term support and says the charity needs to do more to continue to raise the profile of the international platform, their successes and innovations, which are many.

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