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24 Jul 2017

Qatari embargo: implications for the shipping sector

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"On 5 June 2017, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt severed diplomatic ties with the State of Qatar. Reports indicate that the move against Qatar is also supported by Yemen, a secondary government in Libya and the Maldives. Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain have now closed their air space and territorial waters to Qatar. Saudi Arabia also closed its land border with Qatar, Qatar’s only land border with another country. Egypt has also closed its airspace to all flights to and from Qatar. A direct consequence is that ports operated by the alliance against Qatar are now blocking Qatar-flagged vessels, along with other vessels that are heading to and coming from Qatar. In particular: The Saudi and UAE port authorities have now banned from their territorial waters all ships flying Qatari flags or owned by Qatari companies or individuals. UAE ports, such as Fujairah or those operated by DP World UAE Region, have banned all vessels destined to or arriving from Qatari ports, regardless of the nature of their call. In addition, DP World UAE Region extended the ban to all vessels loading or discharging cargo destined to or coming from Qatar. Reports were made of the Ports and Maritime Affairs at Bahrain’s Ministry of Transportation and Telecommunications suspending all marine navigation from and to Qatar with immediate effect. The Petroleum Ports Authority in Abu Dhabi is also reported to have issued a notice that Qatari-flagged vessels would not be allowed entry into Abu Dhabi Petroleum Ports. Egypt has not yet indicated whether it intends to block Qatar-linked vessels/cargo from using the Suez Canal - a common route for tankers. Practical implications in shipping These developments mark an unprecedented change in Middle Eastern relations, which will undoubtedly affect companies with trade routes to or from Qatar. Analysts suggested that companies with large trade volumes or retail operations in Qatar are likely to be most affected. These include logistics and shipping companies. Whilst all the aspects which may result from the current restrictions on Qatar are not yet apparent, we envisage the following operational implications are likely to be the most immediate in the shipping sector, all of which will have cost repercussions on the affected parties: The shutting of the land border crossing between Saudi Arabia and Qatar is likely to create long queues/delays. This may particularly impact consignments bound by road transhipment to or from Qatar. In addition, reports suggest that vessel supplies in Qatar, which are largely transited by road through Saudi Arabia, may be affected. Qatar is a major exporter of condensate, an ultra-light form of crude oil. The trade ban may make the purchase of Qatari crude and condensate more difficult. Indeed, very large crude carriers regularly conduct multi-loads of crude at multiple Middle East ports. Barring vessels that have called at Qatar from entering other ports in the region could require traders to vary their trading patterns. Bunkering is also likely to be affected. For instance, major bunkering ports such as Fujairah, where some three-quarters of tankers sailing through the Gulf stop to refuel, are refusing all vessels sailing to or from Qatar. On the transhipment side, some reports indicate that cargo is not allowed to be discharged onto feeder vessels to Qatar. In Fujairah, any Qatari cargoes already in port must be cleared within 24 hours. Ship managers are indicating they are encountering difficulties related to crew/personnel. For instance, it is reported that the Fujairah port’s immigration is not allowing crews to join or to sign off vessels coming from or bound for Qatar. In parallel, it is proving difficult to extract crew members and other personnel based in Doha given the current blockade. In relation to charterparties, these should be reviewed to establish whether they include a provision which specifically addresses blockades - for example CONWARTIME 2013 refers to ""blockades (whether imposed against all vessels or imposed selectively against vessels of certain flags or ownership, or against certain cargoes or crews or otherwise howsoever)"". A number of international operators are bidding for new contracts and renewals to operate their FPSO and FSRU vessels in the various oil fields including Al Shaheen. The uncertainly from the events this week will cast a shadow on the underlying charters supporting ship financing. There have been reports that banks in the region will refuse to deal with Qatari banks or refuse to recognise the Qatari riyal. We understand that some Saudi, UAE and Egyptian banks are suspending business with Qatari banks, such as recognising letters of credit and other contingent payment instruments until they have received guidance from their respective central banks. The international currency of shipping is the US Dollar so we expect limited exposure on this front. However, it may be possible that a shipowner could have an exposure to Qatari riyals if for example, a supply contract requires payment in US Dollars whist the sales contract income for the service or goods is in Qatari riyals. There have been no statements today from the Saudi Central Bank or from the UAE Central Bank. It has been reported that the UAE Central Bank has asked all commercial banks to report on their exposure to Qatari banks by Thursday (8 June 2017) before it makes a decision on how to move forward. Of course, the exposure of businesses to the current Qatari trade restrictions may be covered by insurance. It may also be managed through applicable contractual and local legislative provisions within the Middle East, including those which deal with force majeure and deviation. We expect to have more visibility on the operational and legal implications of the restrictions against Qatar as the matter unfolds. In any event, for the time being, there is no indication of the dispute de-escalating."

21 Jul 2017

Maritime industry experts to discuss cyber security

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"* WannaCry cyberattack and other huge IT outages prompt warnings on vulnerability of shipping industry, as cost of average attack rises to US$4 million per incident IT protection and cyber security will take centre stage at the biennial Seatrade Offshore Marine and Workboats Middle East (SOMWME) exhibition and conference, taking place at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (ADNEC) from 25 – 27 September 2017. The focus on IT systems at sea follows the recent global WannaCry attack, which shut down computers used by Spanish ISP Telefonica, FedEX and the UK’s National Health Service, among others, affecting some 200,000 computers in 150 countries. This was followed later in May with the British Airways outage, which saw hundreds of flights cancelled over a holiday weekend and £500 million wiped of parent company IAG’s value. Peter Broadhurst, Senior Vice President Safety & Security Services, Inmarsat, the mobile satellite company, will deliver the keynote presentation in the Knowledge Theatre, “Cyber Security: Protecting the Industry”, assessing the new risk factors of an increasingly connected shipping industry and how industry players can protect themselves against cyber security threats. “Hacking, ransomware and system outages have long been a concern for the shipping industry, particularly with the advent of the Internet of Things (IoT) and the connected ship. These risks are heightened due to the significant growth in networks of physical objects accessed through the internet,” said Broadhurst. According to a 2016 global analysis report by the Ponemon Institute, which surveyed data collected from 383 companies in 12 countries, the average total cost of a data breach stands at US$4 million, a figure that has increased 29% since 2013. The average cost per lost or stolen record is $158, with a 15% average price increase since 2013. In total, the number of security incidents reported in 2015 stood 63% higher than in 2014. Emma Howell, Group Marketing Manager, Seatrade portfolio commented, “Over recent weeks and months, we have seen huge organisations crippled by ransomware attacks and IT meltdowns – compromising systems and costing some businesses many millions of dollars. The need for the shipping industry to tackle this growing menace head-on is greater than ever before and we look forward to welcoming decision makers and industry leaders to debate these important issues.” However, compounding the issue, insurance providers are yet to close all of the gaps in their policies, leaving shipping companies at even greater risk and facing huge financial losses. “Most insurance policies have Cyberattack exclusion clauses, for property damage and business interruption and this exposes shipping companies and ship owners to huge risks. We have seen some response from the insurance industry but until comprehensive products are rolled out the responsibility of backing up systems, protecting data and ensuring a network is robust and secure, very much remains with the shipping company and ship owner,” added Howell. Staying with the technological theme, the SOMWME 2017 programme will also feature sessions on SMART solutions, covering developing technologies such as automation and predictive maintenance, alongside design and development of a new generation of specialised offshore vessels, with confirmed speakers including; Arnstein Eknes, Business/Segment Director Special Ships, DNV GL, Oskar Levandar, SVP Concepts & Innovation, Rolls-Royce; and Alexander Nürnberg, Managing Director, MacGregor."

16 Jun 2017

Milaha Enhances India-Qatar Feeder Service

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"Milaha has announced the enhancement of its existing feeder service between Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT), India’s busiest container gateway, and Hamad Port, Qatar. The new weekly service, named the India-Qatar Express (IQX), will connect the ports of JNPT and Mundra to Hamad Port, and will accept local and transshipment cargo from all Indian ports, Southeast Asia, and the Far East via Mundra. Commenting on the new service, Milaha’s President and CEO Mr. Abdulrahman Essa Al- Mannai said: “Since we started the first ever direct service between JNPT and Qatar two years ago, we have seen growing demand from importers, exporters, and mainline operators for additional capacity, so we decided to act on this demand. The new service will further drive trade growth between India and Qatar, and build on the strong economic ties.” The IQX service will be operated with two 1,700 TEU vessels. Milaha is represented in India by Mumbai-based Poseidon Shipping Agency."

15 Jun 2017


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"* Kazakhstan at the crossroads of trade– efficient multimodal transport will be key, says DP World Group Chairman Two Memorandums of Understanding (MoU’s) were signed between global trade enabler DP World and the Kazakhstan government for the development of a Port Community System (PCS) and to integrate customs processes ahead of the Astana Economic Forum today. PCS is a one stop electronic platform developed by DP World company Dubai Trade, that enables the exchange of information between organisations involved in maritime, inland and airport processes. The aim is to improve ease of doing business in Kazakhstan’s ports and freezones through paperless transactions that remove long queues in administrative offices, delays and duplication. The first agreement was signed between DP World and the National Company ""Kazakhstan Temir Zholy” (KTZ) for the establishment of a joint venture company to implement and manage the PCS system with the aim of creating a multimodal transport corridor (the Eurasian Transcontinental Corridor), featuring automated logistics processes for cargo delivery and the unification of logistics centres, sea and dry ports into a single transport and logistics network. The second MoU was signed between DP World, KTZ and the Committee of State Revenues of the Ministry of Finance of the Republic of Kazakhstan (Customs) to ensure the integration of customs processes into the online portal. Kazakhstan’s potential as a key transit corridor for China’s One Belt, One Road initiative can be realised by focusing on soft and hard infrastructure development that supports multimodal transport links, according to DP World Group Chairman and CEO, Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem. Mr. Bin Sulayem was speaking at the Astana Economic Forum, an annual event that provides a platform for discussion on the world’s economic opportunities and challenges, and hosts government and business figures from more than 80 countries. During his panel discussion that focused on the New Silk Road, he said that multimodal connectivity is key to realising the Kazakhstan President’s ‘path to the future’ vision, which includes the ‘Nurly Zhol’ – a $9 billion infrastructure spending programme – to help prepare a future-ready economy. DP World Group Chairman and CEO Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem, said: “Our experience in Dubai and in the 40 countries where we operate globally has taught us that integrating services makes trade faster, safer and more efficient for our stakeholders attracting investment and helping business. That’s why these announcements today are important for Kazakhstan, providing smart trade solutions for the country and to increase efficiencies for business. “We have experience of delivering this at our flagship operation in Jebel Ali, where the Dubai Logistics Corridor connects road, rail, air and sea transport providing seamless cargo movement through the Dubai Trade Portal with more than 50,000 transactions conducted each day. “Kazakhstan has tremendous potential and its leadership is working hard for its people – putting in place the right policies and procedures. It is at the crossroads of Asia and although landlocked President Nazarbayev’s commitment to improve internal and external connectivity to avoid the ‘transportation trap’ will propel growth. We are proud to be working with the government to build one of the largest transport and logistics hubs in the region.” Earlier this year, DP World also announced its involvement in the development of a Special Economic Zone (SEZ) in Aktau to boost trade and logistics in the country. It builds on DP World’s management advisory services contract with the Port of Aktau, Kazakhstan’s main cargo and bulk terminal on the Caspian Sea. The company also provides advisory services under a separate contract with Kazakhstan Temir Zholy (KTZ), Kazakhstan’s national railway company, for the development of the Khorgos SEZ and Inland Container Depot. "

14 Jun 2017

India's engineering exports to Doha hit by Qatar crisis

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"India's engineering exports to Doha have been hit following sanctions imposed on Qatar by some nations including Saudi Arabia, EEPC India said today. Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain are among few other countries that announced suspension of all ties to Qatar last week over state's alleged support for extremist groups and its political proximity to Shiite Iran. Qatar however denies the allegations. ""Inputs from our engineering exporters indicate that shipping lines operating between India and Doha are keeping the containers on hold. A few such incidents have been reported from Jebel Ali and Krishnapatnam ports,"" EEPC India said. The Engineering Export Promotion Council (EEPC) of India said shipments from India were being affected as the Middle East and West Asia trade has a lot of inter-operability between different ports, observing that the banking channels particularly in Doha and some other parts of the region have also been disrupted. The Middle East and West Asia are one of the key destinations for Indian engineering exports, accounting for 13 per cent of the country's total engineering exports. Shipments worth USD 8.18 billion were destined for the countries in the region. India's major trading partners include the UAE, Oman and Saudi Arabia. Expressing concern over these disruptions, EEPC India Chairman T S Bhasin said the Indian business and trade have a big stake in the region and it is important to keep a close eye on the fast changing situation there. The engineering shipments to the region include products like iron and steel, non-ferrous metals, industrial and electrical machinery."

03 May 2017

Qatargas Delivers Inaugural Cargo to Yuedong LNG Terminal

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"Qatargas, the World’s Premier LNG Company, recently delivered the inaugural cargo of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) to China National Oil Corporation’s (CNOOC) Yuedong LNG terminal. The LNG cargo, delivered on board the Qatargas-chartered Q-Flex LNG vessel ‘Al Kharaitiyat’, was used to safely commission CNOOC’s latest LNG terminal. Commenting on the occasion, Khalid Bin Khalifa Al-Thani, Chief Executive Officer, Qatargas said: “Qatargas is delighted to supply the commissioning cargo to CNOOC’s Yuedong Terminal. We are also pleased to see Qatari LNG playing an increasingly important role in meeting the growing demand for LNG in the People’s Republic of China. We believe that this delivery will further strengthen the relationship between Qatargas and CNOOC, and we look forward to continuing to supply reliable, clean energy to China and countries all over the world who seek to diversify their energy supplies."" Qatargas is the world’s largest LNG producing company with a production capacity of 42 million tonnes per annum (MTPA). The State of Qatar, as the world’s leading LNG producer, anticipates that China will become one of the world’s largest gas markets. The Yuedong LNG receiving terminal, which has an initial receiving capacity of 2 MTPA, is owned and operated by CNOOC. The new terminal is the latest addition to CNOOC’s LNG receiving terminal portfolio, joining existing terminals in Shanghai, Guangdong, Fujian, Zhejiang and Hainan. This is the fourth commissioning cargo from Qatargas to CNOOC’s LNG receiving terminals, bringing Qatargas’ total number of commissioning cargoes to LNG receiving terminals in the People’s Republic of China to seven."

31 Mar 2017

Khalifa Port in Abu Dhabi set to become largest port in the world

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Abu Dhabi Ports, the master developer, operator and manager of the emirate’s ports and Khalifa Industrial Zone, has announced a major expansion plan for its Khalifa Port Free Trade Zone (KPFTZ) to accommodate more industries. Currently, 40 companies operate in the free trade zone in a range of sectors including industrial, trading and services. The new free trade zone will be connected to the future rail network for the transport of goods. The 100 sq km Khalifa Port Free Trade Zone, located next to Khalifa Port, is the second fastest growing port in the world, and poised to become the future of trade in Abu Dhabi. While addressing media at the Global Manufacturing and Industrialisation Summit on Tuesday, Captain Mohammad Juma Al Shamisi, CEO of Abu Dhabi Ports, said: “KPFTZ provides numerous advantages to investors, including competitive lease prices and some of the lowest utility costs in the world, all under tax free umbrella.” The expansion will offer significant value to investors, while strengthening Abu Dhabi’s position as a thriving maritime hub in the Middle East, Africa, and South Asia region. Mana Mohammad Saeed Al Mulla, CEO at Khalifa Industrial Zone Abu Dhabi (Kizad) said: “With this new addition of free zone land, we intend to attract global interest from manufacturing investors that will ring technology, product diversification and increased trade through our ports.” The rise of Khalifa Port Last year, the Khalifa Port container terminal intensified expansion efforts to accommodate the world’s largest ships. The development at the port, one of the world’s fastest growing container, bulk cargo and roll-on roll-off vehicle transport ports, will add 1,000 metres of quay wall to the port and deepen its main channel and basin to 18m from the current 16m. The new quay wall will add an additional 600,000 sqm for cargo handling. The port’s container terminal currently has a capacity of some 2.5m twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) a year, while its general cargo handling capacity stands at about 12m tonnes per annum, according to Abu Dhabi Ports. The container facility is the first semi-automated container terminal in the Middle East region. Captain Mohammed Juma Al Shamisi, CEO of Abu Dhabi Ports, said: “Building on recent growth at Khalifa Port, we are future proofing our operations to ensure we can continue to attract the world’s leading operators to use our world-class facilities that will see Capesize vessels, the largest in the cargo industry, come directly into an Abu Dhabi port for the very first time. Initial step in implementing this plan has been the signing of a contract with the National Marine Dredging Company (NMDC) which will start preparatory work on dredging the channels and using this material to build up the new 1,000-m-long quay wall and the adjacent yard behind it. About 250 workers will be involved in the expansion project work, which is scheduled for completion in mid-2018. Engineer Yaser Zaghlool, CEO of NMDC, said: “We see Abu Dhabi Ports as a strategic partner with the important role of actively enhancing the UAE maritime sector. We will build upon that by providing our services while maintaining the highest standards through the employment of a specialised and experienced workforce.” These measures will ensure the port can accommodate anticipated growth in the short to medium term and handle the world’s largest ships, solidifying the emirate as a logistics and maritime hub while also serving major industries across the UAE. Abu Dhabi Ports has also signed a concession agreement with the China based Cosco Shipping Ports Limited to build and operate a terminal at Khalifa Port. Older ports shift focus Zayed Port, located next to Abu Dhabi City’s centre, was formerly the emirate’s principal maritime facility, this changed following the opening of Khalifa Port. Zayed Port no longer handles container and ro-ro operations, but it continues to hold general, bulk and project cargo and has observed growth in some types of traffic. The emirate’s third major commercial terminal, Musaffah Port, is situated near the industrial zone of the same name close to Abu Dhabi city. The port has nearly 40 km of waterfront and is made up mostly of private terminals, including an iron ore terminal operated by Emirates Steel, as well as hydrocarbons-focused operations. Abu Dhabi Ports also operates a general cargo terminal at the facility.

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