Seacurus Daily: Top Ten Maritime News Stories 12/02/2019
1. Claims Ship Not Breaking Sanctions
One of the Middle East’s largest shipping lines, National Shipping Company of Saudi Arabia (Bahri), has clarified that its tanker Abqaiq was not breaching the US sanctions on Venezuela. The ship hit the headlines as it was alleged it was contravening sanctions placed on the Latin American nation. The ship is bound for Venezuela’s Port of Jose to load a shipment agreed on January 9, 19 days prior to the imposition of sanctions on Caracas, Bahri said. The vessel is expected to deliver the shipment to one of its permanent customers in India – before the end of the grace period set by the US sanctions.
2. Need to Ween off Fossil Fuels
The International Chamber of Shipping (ICS), the top global shipowning lobby group, has admitted the industry will need to wean itself off fossil fuels in the coming decade to meet ambitious decarbonisation goals set for 2050. The ICS board met last week to hammer out priorities with fuel choices topping the agenda. “The 2020 global sulphur cap will be the regulatory game changer of the decade with profound implications for the economics of shipping” said ICS chairman, Esben Poulsson.
3. Classification Clarification
Classification society Korean Register (KR) has clarified its position in relation into the ongoing investigation into the sinking of the Stellar Daisy VLOC. A court in South Korea last month rejected a request for an arrest warrant of a KR surveyor. The Busan Coast Guard had questioned the quality of the class employee’s annual survey of the converted VLOC, something that was dismissed by the court. A deepsea search is now underway in the South Atlantic to locate the Polaris Shipping vessel and to try and get its voyage data recorder at which point investigations are set to continue into the sinking.
4. OPEC Not Helping Maduro
Venezuela’s Nicolas Maduro has sought OPEC support against U.S. sanctions imposed on his country’s oil industry, citing their impact on oil prices and potential risks for other members of the producer group. But a source familiar with the matter said OPEC, of which Venezuela is a founding member, had declined to make any formal statement. OPEC says it is concerned with oil policy, not politics. More than 40 nations including the United States, European powers and most of Latin America have recognised Maduro’s rival, Juan Guaido, as the country’s rightful head of state, following disputed elections last year.
5. Discussing Autonomous Progress
Experts gathered recently to discuss uptake of fully autonomously-operated ships. Given inherent and unaddressed liability issues, most felt moves towards an unmanned future will be gradual and measured. Automation (increasingly monitored and controlled by shore-based crew) initially will be focused on dull, dirty and dangerous work. Technology uptake will be gradual, focusing first on automating simple processes on smaller ships, making repetitive journeys. While the absence of a legal framework to assess risk tied to potential failure of underlying autonomous shipping technology is a massive concern.
6. Strange Case of Seaborne
One of the most dysfunctional episodes in the UK government’s planning – or lack thereof – for Brexit seemingly came to an end over the weekend when the Department for Transport announced it was cancelling its award of a £13.8m contract to UK start-up company Seaborne Freight for a new ferry service between Ramsgate and Ostend. The reason given was that Seaborne’s backer, Arklow Shipping of Ireland, had walked away from the deal – a claim that has been flatly denied to the media. An Irish company, using Dutch Ferries to support an UK company post BREXIT was always an odd fix.
7. New Floors Address Flaws
Hapag-Lloyd has created a new steel floor container, which it claims can carry heavier cargoes than existing wood-floored boxes. “The steel floor container is the future. It was designed so that all types of cargo could continue to be transported in it . But it has one major advantage over wooden floors: Much larger loads can be loaded into it per running metre, which makes it particularly interesting for heavy goods like machines,” said the German line’s head of special cargoes in a release.
8. Deflagging Life Savers
The U.K.-based charity Human Rights at Sea (HRAS) has conducted an independent review of the legal and human rights ramifications of the de-flagging of the Aquarius Dignitus – a rescue vessel chartered by SOS Méditerranée and previously operated in partnership with the Amsterdam-based branch of Médecins Sans Frontières. It has been estimated that Aquarius Dignitus assisted more than 29,000 people in distress at sea. The de-flagging occurred first by the Gibraltar Maritime Administration (GMA) then by the Panama Maritime Authority, which appears to have been influenced by the Italian Government.
9. Record Cargo Boom for Panama
Cargo volume in Panamanian ports hit a record 7.01m teu last year, but only showed a slight growth of 1.7% compared to 6.89 teu the year before. While a record volume growth was much slower than the 10.1% increase in container throughput at Panama ports in 2017. Transhipment boxes accounted for the vast majority of volumes and increased to 6.09m teu. Topping the honour list was Manzanillo International Terminal (MIT-Panama) that posted cargo volume growth of 18.5% marking its return to the 2m teu milestone with 2.23m teu.
10. Accountant Merger Adds Up
The merger between accountants and advisers BDO LLP and Moore Stephens LLP in London was completed earlier this month. Clients of the merged firm, BDO, will have access to offices in over 160 countries with a presence in every major shipping location in the world, the parties informed. “Both BDO and Moore Stephens LLP have for many years been leading accountants and advisers to the shipping and transport sector. We are confident our clients will now benefit greatly from having access to the combined resources of the two firms,” Michael Simms, Partner and Head, Shipping & Transport at BDO, said.
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