Thursday, 23 April 2009

Industry Snapshots

Death knell for single hulled tankers? Hellenic shipping news reports that single hulled tanker owners will face particularly tough times in the present market. It quotes Gibson’s latest weekly report, “We are very close to the end for the single hull tanker age and preference have already steered many charterers away from single hulls, but over the recent boom years there have not been enough double hulls and so the singles have been needed. However, the problem now is that this position is changing rapidly. The drop in world oil demand despite OPEC moves to cut crude production to support prices has meant demand for crude and product tankers has fallen sharply over the past 3 months”. Demand for 2009 is expected to be around 80 million barrels per day, which is almost 2.5 million bpd below 2008 uptakes. Hellenic says that spot charter rates have dropped to sometimes even below operating costs, and quotes the Gibson report again, “If this is the case for modern, double hull tankers then the singles trading on the spot market can only expect to be operating at a discount to these already dire market conditions. With no immediate signs of a pickup in demand and a lot more new tankers to be delivered, the next two years could be a challenge to owners of double hull tankers; this and the IMO 2010 phaseout, means the position for owners of single hull spot tonnage may be impossible”. Other analysts have said that laying up single hulls will be suicidal in view of the impending IMO phaseout and so scrapping them will be the only alternative.

A different kind of confinement in Somalia ended recently as the ‘MV Jaikur I’ and 14 Indian crew in a complement of 21 were released from Mogadishu port. Detained in the Somali capital since Oct 2 last year due to an insurance dispute between the owners and cargo interests, the crew of the Panamanian registered vessel had recently gone on a hunger strike after corrupt harbour officials in league with local businessmen refused to release the ship[ despite instructions from the Prime Minister’s office in Mogadishu. The crew of 14 Indians, the Iraqi Captain and other crew (Pakistanis and Somalis) would undoubtedly be relieved after their six and a half month ordeal in Somalia. DNA reports that the Indian Embassy in Nairobi arranged the flights for the Indians back home, quoting Directorate General of Shipping sources as saying that all were in good health.

Philippines bans its own merchant ships from Gulf of Aden, reports Chinese agency Xinhua. Authorities are also pressurising foreign shipowners employing Filipinos to strictly follow security guidelines and safety zones. "The Department of Labour has also issued a ban to commercial ships against the travel to the Gulf of Aden or within 200 nautical miles or 300 kilometers from Somalia," a statement released by the Presidential office said. Press Secretary Cerge Remonde said shipowners and manning agencies are urged to follow these regulations or face sanctions. Filipinos constitute almost 40% of seafarers worldwide, so this move will have far reaching consequences. Currently, well over a hundred (almost half) of the hostages held by Somali pirates are Filipinos.

Karaikal port opens with the MV Beluga Fanfare, the first vessel’s call. An ancient port that dates back to the seventh century, MARG Ltd has now built an all weather deep water modern port close to the south of Pondicherry, 280 km from Chennai. Equity Bulls reports that “the port with 2 berths having a combined capacity of 5 MMTPA (Million Metric Tonne Per Annum) is ready, with a back up area of 2.4 lakh sq. metres. It is built on a BOT (Build Operate Transfer basis)

‘Dog overboard’ but back after more than four months. In November 2008, Sophie Tucker, an Australian cattle dog, fell overboard off a yacht as her owners were on a sailing holiday off Queensland, Australia. A house dog, she then swam five miles in shark infested waters to the largely deserted island of St. Bees where she lived off baby goats and until being discovered, more than four months later, by visiting park rangers. Sophie was captured by the rangers who thought that she was a wild dog. The Griffiths, Sophie’s owners, happened to contact the rangers and were overjoyed to hear the news. Sophie is now reunited with the Griffiths; although she affectionately ‘flattened them’ at the pier on her return, she had understandably become a little wild and vicious after her ordeal. Not for long, though. The canine castaway is now back to home comforts, including air conditioning, according to Australian news reports.


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