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11 Nov 2017

China, Vietnam leaders reach South China Sea consensus

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"China claims nearly all of the strategically vital sea, through which $5 trillion in shipping trade passes annually. It is also believed to sit atop vast oil and gas deposits 1 1 SHARES The Communist leaders of China and Vietnam reached a “consensus” on handling the contested South China Sea, Chinese state media reported Sunday, hours after US President Donald Trump offered to mediate in the dispute. Chinese President Xi Jinping met with Vietnamese Communist Party chief Nguyen Phu Trong during a state visit to Hanoi on Sunday, after Trump also visited the country. Xinhua news agency reported that the Chinese and Vietnamese sides “reached an important consensus in accordance with leaders of the two parties and countries, to appropriately manage maritime issues, steadily advance all forms of maritime cooperation including joint development and jointly strive to uphold peace and stability in the South China Sea.” The report did not provide more details about the agreement. China claims nearly all of the strategically vital sea, through which $5 trillion in shipping trade passes annually. It is also believed to sit atop vast oil and gas deposits. Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan also have claims in the sea, and the dispute has long been seen as a potential trigger for conflict in Asia. Days after the US leader met with Xi in Beijing, Trump made a surprise offer to Vietnamese President Tran Dai Quang in Hanoi. “If I can help mediate or arbitrate, please let me know… I am a very good mediator,” Trump said. The offer could irritate the Chinese government as it has repeatedly said the United States has no role to play in what it insists is a series of bilateral issues. Vietnam has courted support from Washington in the row, in the face of Beijing’s efforts in recent years to cement its claims by building artificial islands in disputed areas. Those islands are capable of serving as military bases, and some of the rival claimants are concerned that China will soon establish de facto control of the waters. Tensions spiked this year when Vietnam suspended an oil exploration project in an area of the sea also claimed by Beijing, reportedly over pressure from its powerhouse communist neighbour. In 2014, China moved an oil rig into waters off Vietnam’s coast, sparking violent protests in several Vietnamese cities."

10 Nov 2017

ITF supports challenge to Boskalis over crew replacement plans

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"The ITF (International Transport Workers' Federation) is standing ready to support its Dutch affiliate Nautilus NL/FNV Waterbouw as it resists plans by marine services and dredging company Boskalis to ditch and replace 20 crew members on five vessels. The latest plans would lead to the likely removal of 20 Netherlands nationals and their replacement by agency workers from other countries. It brings back to life plans that were previously successfully resisted by the union, with international support. Nautilus NL/FNV Waterbouw national secretary Marcel van Dam explained: ‘Boskalis told us that between now and mid 2019 its Dutch Fairmount crew will be replaced by crew from cheap labour countries, employed by employment agency Anglo Eastern. If Boskalis continues to pursue these plans we will contemplate taking them to court, along with possible industrial action.” ITF inland navigation section chair Nick Bramley added: “We are appalled to see Boskalis turn back the clock and recycle plans that were so effectively challenged last time around. The company’s profits – projected to reach EUR 150 million for 2017 – have been built with the help of its many crews around the world, and it is scandalous to see crew members being threatened with job losses in return. It is difficult not to see this as a case of simple social dumping, and the use of potentially lower skilled, cheaper and less protected workers in safety-critical roles. The ITF is ready to support our colleagues in the Netherlands in resisting this.”"

07 Nov 2017

Port State control regimes move to boost collaboration, harmonization and information sharing

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"The port State control regimes which carry out inspections on ships to monitor and enforce compliance with international regulations have pledged to strengthen their collaboration with the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and amongst themselves. A recent workshop (24-26 October) for port State control (PSC) MoU/Agreement Secretaries and Database Managers and Member States, the seventh of its kind, was held at IMO headquarters in London, United Kingdom. Participants shared experiences, highlighted new projects and approved a wide range of recommendations, which are aimed at further collaboration, harmonization and information sharing. The recommendations will be forwarded for review by IMO and the regional governing bodies of PSC regimes. Since the first regional PSC agreement was signed in 1982 (the Paris MoU), IMO has supported the establishment of eight other regional PSC regimes, achieving a global maritime network. The areas of responsibility of the nine regional regimes cover all (or part of) Europe and the north Atlantic (Paris MoU); Asia and the Pacific (Tokyo MoU); Latin America (Acuerdo de Viña del Mar); Caribbean (Caribbean MoU); West and Central Africa (Abuja MoU); Black Sea (Black Sea MoU); Mediterranean Sea (Mediterranean MoU); Indian Ocean (Indian Ocean MoU); and Persian Gulf (Riyadh MoU). The United States Coast Guard maintains the tenth PSC regime. The Workshop noted the growing number of PSC regimes implementing targeted inspections mechanisms, as well as incentive schemes, so that ships found in compliance with international standards are subject to fewer inspections, while substandard ships are targeted more. The regimes feed IMO with PSC information, which has potential significant relevance to the IMO regulatory process. Specifically, annual reports on inspections and the outcome of concentrated inspection campaigns are reported to the IMO Sub-Committee on the Implementation of IMO Instruments (III). Furthermore, data exchange agreements enable a PSC module on the Global Integrated Shipping Information System (GISIS) to be populated. Among the recommendations made by the meeting, the PSC regimes agreed to explore the development of statistical output and to look into the compatibility of their systems. They also agreed to consider moving away from “black/grey/white lists” towards expanding an individual ship risk profile approach. As a potential step towards mutual recognition of other regimes’ activities, the PSC regimes agreed to convey to their regional governing bodies the recommended use of the results of interregional information exchanges in their internal procedures, including their targeting systems. The Workshop recommended that PSC regimes consider developing and maintaining, in their information systems, a coordinated list of under-performing ships. The possible development of a common platform for interregional exchange to facilitate informal exchange among PSC regimes, as well as the development of joint working policies, were also recommended. The Workshop considered the possibility of establishing an outreach partnership between IMO and PSC regimes, the objectives of which would be to disseminate the outcome of the work of IMO; to collect first-hand feedback on implementation; and to develop technical cooperation and capacity building activities. Appropriate fora at IMO and in PSC regimes will be invited to consider this matter. Existing technical cooperation activities, partially supported by IMO in order to encourage the sharing of expertise among PSC regimes, should be enhanced under IMO’s Integrated Technical Cooperation Programme (ITCP). Recognizing the need for training of new entrants in port State and flag State personnel, the Workshop recommended that IMO consider developing a harmonized training manual for use by flag State inspectors and PSC officers. To support the implementation of the Code of Good Practice included in the IMO Procedures for PSC, the III Sub-committee will be invited to consider developing a format for a “PSC letter to the Master”. This would set out how an inspection would be carried out and would be signed by both the PSC officer and the Master. The Workshop also recommended that a dedicated GISIS facility for complaints could be developed. The Workshop considered the simplification of reporting procedures for port States, in the context of practical data management involving both IMO and the International Labour Organization (ILO). The meeting requested the IMO Secretariat to liaise with the ILO Secretariat, with a view to establishing a “single window” system, through GISIS. Finally, the meeting recommended that future workshops be held every two years. The agenda should include discussion on the use of body cameras by PSC officers. Funding from the IMO “Voyage Together Trust Fund” supported the participation of representatives of the nine regional PSC regimes at the seventh IMO Workshop for PSC MoU/Agreement Secretaries and Database Managers, with an increased focus on Member States’ representatives. The meeting was chaired by Dr. Vitaly Klyuev (Russian Federation), and Ms. Carien Droppers (Paris MoU) was Vice-Chair."

07 Nov 2017

UNCTAD releases World fleet details

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"The recently released UNCTAD Review of Maritime Transport 2017 offers a snapshot of the world fleet which, at the beginning of 2017, had a commercial value of $829 billion. For the fifth year in a row, world fleet growth has been decelerating. The commercial shipping fleet grew by 3.15 percent in 2016, compared with 3.5 percent in 2015. Three countries – South Korea, China and Japan – built 91.8 percent of world gross tonnage in 2016. Among these, the South Korea had the largest share, with 38.1 percent. Four countries – India, Bangladesh, Pakistan and China – together accounted for 94.9 percent of ship scrapping in 2016. The top five shipowners in terms of cargo carrying capacity (dwt) are Greece (309 million dwt), Japan, China, Germany and Singapore. Together, these five countries have a market share of 49.5 percent of dwt. Only one country from Latin America, Brazil, is among the top 35 shipowning countries; none are from Africa. In terms of vessel numbers, China is the leading shipowning country (5,206 ships of 1,000 gross tons and above), including many smaller ships deployed in coastal shipping. The share of shipowning by the traditional maritime nations in Europe and North America has continued to decrease, while that of middle-income developing countries, especially from Asia, has increased. Shipowning is not a high-technology industry that would require the latest, most sophisticated technologies and thus provides opportunities for emerging economies. At the same time, shipowning is not a labor-intensive business, where low-wage countries could benefit from any cost advantage – as is the case for ship scrapping. It is for this reason that middle-income countries in particular have increased their market share over the last decades, while the least developed countries are not among the world’s major shipowners. A somewhat different picture emerges if the estimated commercial value of the fleet is considered. Here, the U.S. fleet leads with $96 billion, followed by Japan, Greece, China and Norway. The average value per ship of owners from Qatar is $75 million, reflecting its fleet of expensive liquefied natural gas tankers and other specialized tankers. In comparison, Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam own fleets with low unit values. Indonesian-owned fleets have an average commercial value of $3.6 million per vessel, reflecting the large number of smaller and older general cargo ships and ferries that are employed in inter-island transport. Gas carriers of LNG recorded continued high growth (+9.7 percent); growth was also recorded in the oil tanker (5.8 percent) and chemical tanker (4.7 percent) segments. In contrast, a long-term decline continued in the general cargo ship segment, which experienced negative growth (-0.2 percent); its share of world’s tonnage is currently four percent, down from 17 percent in 1980. At the beginning of 2017, the average age of the commercial fleet was 20.6 years, representing a slight increase over the previous year. Fewer newbuildings than at the beginning of the decade, combined with similar scrapping levels, have led to an aging fleet. Compared with historical averages, however, the world fleet is still relatively young, especially in the bulker and container segments. Ships flagged in the developing economies are on average 10 years older than those flagged in developed economies, and among the different vessel types, general cargo ships are the oldest (more than 25 years), and dry bulk carriers are the youngest (less than nine years)."

06 Nov 2017

FACEBOOK CHATBOT LAST MILE CONTAINER TRACKER BY ARL-SHIPPING.COM

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"Transport provider servicing it’s customers by live tracking of container, last mile from discharge port to warehouse via Facebook chatbot, powered by arl-shipping.com. arl-shipping.com just lauched it’s Facebook chatbot tracking of containers on the road enroute from discharge port to import warehouse, giving real-time visibility of the truck(s) on the road. Import customer and warehouse operator follows the trucks in real-time and prepare for speedy container unstuffing upon arrival to the warehouse. The tracking is facilitated by truck drivers using arl-shipping.com’s free app, tracking the shipment and OCR’ed container numbers via driver’s smartphone GPS location services. The Facebook tracking service is fully embedded into the transport provider’s Facebook page as an integral service. “On top of Facebook chatbot cargo tracking, we are soon launching also Skype and WeChat Last Mile Container Tracking for shipping line agents, freight forwarders, warehouse operators or other intermediaries via the arl-shipping.com powered chatbot” says arl-shipping.com director, René Bendt. And he supplements: “we explore maturing technologies, which can be deployed with little effort to the benefit of real life shipping scenarios like container number OCR, GPS trackers and other IoT devices, drones and blockchain technology”. The Facebook chatbot Last Mile Container Tracker tracks shipment enroute from discharge port to warehouse, prepping the warehouse operator for warehouse dock, unstuffing gang and x-docking operation readiness. Upon providing the warehouse’s location to the chatbot via smartphones’ built-in location sharing services, Last Mile Container Tracker alerts in Facebook messenger when container(s) is close to the warehouse, as well as giving hourly status messages while container(s) is on the road, enroute to the warehouse. Soon the chatbot will also advise warehouse ETA imbedding online traffic pattern services into the Last Mile Container Tracker. "

06 Nov 2017

Terminal Operators Face A Biomass Challenge

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"The challenges facing bulk terminal operators looking to make the transition from coal to biomass were put into sharp focus at the Association of Bulk Terminal Operators’ inaugural conference, Bulk Terminals 2017, which took place last week in London. “Biomass is not one material,” said Professor Mike Bradley, Director of the Wolfson Centre, urging terminal operator delegates at the conference to carefully evaluate the various types of biomass products before investing in new handling and storage facilities. “Different biomass products have different requirements,” he said, explaining that biomass products can be made up of anything from organic residues, food waste, sewage, straw, cereal and olive stones to chipped wood, elephant grass, wet leaves and paper. “The key is to understand the properties of the particular range of materials involved since no one handling system can deal with all types of biomass.” Going on to highlight some of the unloading and handling challenges faced by operators looking to adapt their terminals for biomass, he advised operators to keep a close eye on their quality control and safety procedures. Biomass dust, he said, is a particular challenge. “Dust has caught more people out in biomass handling,” he said. “It’s more mobile, it’s lighter and will stay suspended for longer.” He said there is a danger that if not dealt with appropriately, it could result in terminal workers inhaling the dust and contracting “farmer’s lung”, the accumulation of mould spores in the lungs. Bradley also said that the accumulation of biomass dust can increase the fire and explosion risks, particularly as some biomass cargoes are self-heating. “If you can write your name in the dust, you have an accident waiting to happen.” The storage of biomass products, specifically wood pellets, was a key point raised by TBA’s Dr Mi-Rong (Kimberly) Wu. She informed more than 50 bulk industry leaders that biomass volume, rather than weight, has to be taken into account when considering silos and storage facilities. She said that because of its bulk density, more volume of solid biomass needs to be stored compared to coal and this would require about 1.3 times more land to accommodate the higher volumes. Wu also said that solid biomass is sensitive towards degradation and should not be stored for more than three months. “Silos have been known to explode because of incorrect handling. For solid biomass products, temperature and CO emissions must be constantly monitored,” she told delegates. Summing up her presentation, she said: “Solid biomass properties are in a wide variation range. For solid biomass handling, the volumetric performance should be the main benchmark rather than tonnage performance.” For those terminal operators considering a transition from coal to biomass, she said adjustments in terms of handling processes and storage requirement are necessary, along with in-depth investigations into logistics and material characteristics. The biomass sessions were nicely rounded off by David Wragg, Business Development Director at Hargreaves Industrial Services, and Gary Sharpe, Project Director (Mersey) Peel Ports Group, both of whom provided insightful case studies of terminals that have successfully made the transition to biomass. Wragg’s presentation focused on the safety systems and technologies Hargreaves has installed in the Port of Tyne’s new biomass-handling facility, while Sharpe detailed the infrastructure developments required of Merseyside's Gladstone Biomass facility to handle 3Mtpa of wood pellets. The latter project required three 100,000t capacity silos, 1.2km x 1.8m wide belt conveyors rated at 2000t/h, and rail infrastructure for ten trains each capable of handing1700t per day. Commenting on the success of the Bulk Terminals 2017 conference, ABTO CE Ian Adams said: “The topics explored over the two-days provided operators with a great deal of information on how best to optimise operations for greater energy, environmental and cost efficiencies. It was very satisfying to know that all delegates left the conference – our first event since establishing the Association 18 months ago – commenting on the high quality of the papers presented. We have seen a significant growth in ABTO membership over the last few months and anticipate this continuing.”"

06 Nov 2017

UN Climate Conference – ICS has Vision for Zero Carbon Shipping Future

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"The International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) is representing the world’s national shipowners’ associations and over 80 percent of the world merchant fleet at the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP 23) in Bonn this week. ICS will emphasise how the shipping industry is supporting the UN International Maritime Organization (IMO) to develop an ambitious CO2 reduction strategy. ICS Director of Policy, Simon Bennett explained: “ICS has a vision of zero CO2 emissions from shipping in the second half of the century. We are confident this will be achievable with alternative fuels and new propulsion technologies.” ICS says its vision might be delivered with batteries or fuel cells using renewable energy, other new technologies such as hydrogen or even something not yet anticipated. In the meantime, the shipping industry has proposed that IMO Member States should adopt a suitably ambitious goal for reducing total emissions from the entire international shipping sector by an agreed percentage by 2050. ICS is pleased that a large number of IMO Member States have already come forward with detailed proposals. Several EU and Pacific island nations have jointly proposed that the sector should reduce total CO2 by as much as 70 percent by 2050. Mr Bennett commented: “Japan has set out in detail to IMO how a 50 percent total cut by 2060 might be achieved. In view of projections for future trade growth, an objective in this range, while still incredibly ambitious, therefore seems more realistic.” He added: “It will be for governments to agree the actual reduction number when they adopt an initial IMO strategy next April. And this is also going to have to address the legitimate concerns of major economies such as China and India about the implications for future trade and their sustainable development.” Whatever is decided, ICS says that the entire world fleet is probably unlikely to enjoy global access to new alternative fuels for at least another 20 or 30 years. Moreover, population growth and further improvements to global living standards will probably determine that demand for shipping must continue to increase, as it is already by far the most carbon efficient form of commercial transport. ICS says that, using a combination of technical and operational measures, the international shipping sector already appears to have reduced and held its total annual CO2 emissions at about 8 percent below its 2008 peak. This is despite an increase of about 30 percent in maritime trade, estimated in tonnes of cargo transported one nautical mile (tonne-miles) over the period up to the end of 2015. ICS cautions that these latest estimates by third parties will have to be verified by the next official IMO Greenhouse Study in 2019 using the new IMO CO2 Data Collection System. “They are nevertheless encouraging especially given the dramatic reduction in fuel prices since 2014. Moreover, a significant increase in marine fuel costs is expected in 2020 due to the mandatory global switch by the entire world fleet to low sulphur fuels. This should greatly incentivise, to the extent this is possible, the further reduction of fuel consumption and CO2 emissions by ships.” said Mr Bennett. "

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