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May 1, 2023

The US has accused China of harassing Philippine ships, affirming its defense commitment to the Philippines ahead of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s visit to Washington. The State Department has stated that the US stands with the Philippines, and any armed attack against Philippine armed forces, aircraft, or naval vessels would trigger US defense commitments. This statement comes in response to an incident on April 23, where two Chinese coast guard vessels blocked Philippine patrol boats in the Ayungin shoal, with one ship carrying out dangerous maneuvers. The Philippines and China have been locked in a territorial dispute over the resource-rich waters, with Marcos protesting China’s actions, and China claiming its presence in the area is legitimate.

Chinese and Philippine ships have been involved in a tense encounter in the South China Sea, with both sides accusing each other of provocation. On April 23, two Chinese coast guard vessels blocked Philippine patrol boats in the vicinity of Ayungin shoal, with one of the ships carrying out “dangerous maneuvers” and coming within 50 yards of the Southeast Asian nation’s boat. Similar incidents occurred on April 19 in the same area. China’s maneuvers were described as “professional and restrained” by China Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning, who accused the Philippine vessels of intruding into the waters. The Philippines’ foreign affairs department called on China to refrain from actions that may cause an untoward incident. The two nations have been locked in a territorial dispute over the resource-rich waters, with the Philippine government ramping up protests over Beijing’s actions.

An initial inquiry by the Spanish government found no evidence to support allegations that the country imported sanctioned Russian diesel. While documentation for the shipments was in order, the government will continue to check. The shipments have been outlawed in the European Union since February as part of measures to punish Russia for its invasion of Ukraine. The European Commission is also receiving significant amounts of fuel legally made from Russian oil at refineries outside of the bloc, with India on track to become Europe’s largest supplier of refined fuels this month while simultaneously buying record amounts of Russian crude.

Chevron has increased sales of Venezuelan crude oil to US refiners since receiving authorization from the US Treasury Department to expand its operations in Venezuela and resume oil shipments to the US. In mid-April, Chevron sold about 550,000 barrels of Venezuelan crude to PBF for its 185,000-bpd Chalmette refinery. Other US refiners, including Valero Energy Corp and Marathon Petroleum Corp, have also received cargoes from Chevron. Chevron conducts business in compliance with all laws, regulations, and a sanctions framework provided by the US Office of Foreign Assets Control.

Taiwan’s Evergreen has tendered for twenty-four 16,000 TEU methanol dual-fuel ships with a total cost estimated at $4.32 billion. The company plans to launch another tender for a large series of 3,000 TEU vessels once the contracts are concluded. This order comes amid the increasing trend of container ship orders, with 8.61 million TEUs worth of ships contracted globally during the last ten quarters, and the order book has increased for ten straight quarters, reaching a new record high in each of the last four quarters. BIMCO predicts that the global box fleet will soon exceed 30 million TEUs for the first time.

A fuel storage facility in the Crimean port of Sevastopol caught fire following a drone strike on April 23, sending a vast column of black smoke into the sky before it was extinguished. Mikhail Razvozhaev, the city’s Moscow-installed governor, stated that experts examined the site and “it became clear that only one drone was able to reach the oil reservoir,” adding that no one had been injured in the fire. Another drone was downed, with its wreckage found on the shore near the terminal. A Ukrainian military intelligence official claimed that more than 10 tanks of oil products with a capacity of about 40,000 tonnes intended for use by Russia’s Black Sea Fleet were destroyed, but did not claim that Ukraine was responsible for the explosion. Ukrainian officials generally do not claim responsibility for explosions at military sites in Crimea, although they sometimes celebrate them using euphemistic language.

The Gulf Coast Illegal Charter (GCIC) Task Force, led by the U.S. Coast Guard, has taken action against several voyages across the Gulf Coast throughout March and April for violations of the Vessel Passenger Safety Act and regulations governing passenger vessels. The task force is made up of over 10 partner agencies working together to combat illegal charter activities as the 2023 recreational boating season approaches. Capt. Ulysses S. Mullins, Sector Mobile commander, emphasized the importance of safety and enjoyment on the water, urging anyone paying for a trip on a passenger vessel to verify that their captain has a safety plan and a Merchant Mariner Credential. Illegal passenger vessel owners and operators could face civil penalties exceeding $60,000 for unauthorized passenger-for-hire operations.

Tankers International, a large crude tanker pool, has appointed Charlie Grey as Chief Executive Officer, replacing CEO Jonathan Lee, who will become Chairman of the board of directors. Grey, who was previously Chief Operating Officer, will lead the independent organization through its current phase of growth. The pool holds 64 vessels today, including an expansion of its specialist scrubber pool from 17 to 34 vessels compared to the start of 2022. Grey has played a pivotal role to date, alongside the existing board, in expanding Tankers International’s pool of Very Large Crude Carriers (VLCCs).

You can read previous issue of ‘Currents’ here.

Disclaimer: ‘Currents’ is an online shipping news service by Earl’s Rock Trading (Pvt) Ltd that reports on the latest developments and trends in the maritime industry. We do not take any responsibility for the accuracy or completeness of the information provided in our news stories or for any opinions expressed by the people quoted in them. Our aim is to provide our readers with up-to-date news and insights from reliable sources. However, we do not endorse or take any responsibility for any actions taken by our readers based on the information provided in our news articles. We also want to make it clear that we do not own any of the images used in our news stories, unless stated otherwise. All images belong to their respective owners, and we use them solely for illustrative purposes. If you are the owner of any image used in our news stories and want it to be removed or credited, please contact us, and we will take the necessary action.