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May 19, 2023

A multinational search effort is currently taking place in a remote section of the Indian Ocean as authorities strive to locate a capsized Chinese fishing vessel, Lu Peng – Yuan Yu, carrying 39 crew members of Chinese, Indonesian, and Filipino nationalities. Despite adverse weather conditions and the challenges posed by the vessel’s remote location, joint rescue operations involving multiple nations are ongoing. Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) is coordinating the extensive search, which involves Chinese naval ships, Australian vessels, and aircraft. The search area has been strategically determined based on drift modeling, and collaboration with countries in the Indo-Pacific region has been instrumental. While weather conditions have slightly improved, the rescue operation remains a significant challenge, and commercial shipping’s crucial role in search and rescue at sea is appreciated.

Brazil’s environmental authority, Ibama, has delivered a significant blow to Petrobras by rejecting the state-controlled oil company’s request to drill its first well at the Equatorial Margin, an environmentally sensitive offshore oil frontier.

The region, with its rich biodiversity encompassing indigenous lands, mangroves, coral reefs, and endangered species, has sparked controversy and raised concerns among environmentalists and Brazil’s environment minister, Marina Silva. Ibama’s decision, citing social and environmental vulnerabilities, underscores worrying inconsistencies in Petrobras’s project and emphasizes the need for safe operations. Petrobras, awaiting approval since early December, has incurred substantial costs with an oil rig on site. The Equatorial Margin’s geological similarities to nearby Guyana, where Exxon Mobil has made significant oil discoveries, have positioned it as a vital area for the future development of Brazil’s North and Northeast regions.

Karpowership, the Turkish company aiming to supply electricity to South Africa, has obtained government permission to dock its ship-mounted power plants at three harbors. However, a disagreement with the port operator may hinder or jeopardize one of the projects. The Department of Transport issued a Section 79 notice in February, granting consent for the installation of gas-fired plants after Karpowership won a majority of a tender for emergency power supply in 2021.

Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) intends to utilize one of the designated mooring sites in the southern Port of Ngqura for a liquid bulk terminal relocation. Finding an alternative location would require a new environmental impact assessment, which could take several months. While TNPA confirmed receiving the Section 79 notice, it did not clarify whether it granted permission for hosting Karpowership’s vessels. Karpowership is currently seeking environmental approvals for its operations in Richards Bay and Saldanha ports, along with a plant at the Port of Ngqura. Lawsuits and environmental challenges have also slowed down the company’s plans, initially scheduled for implementation in August of the previous year. The duration of the emergency power supply contracts, a subject of criticism from environmentalists, may be reduced, but discussions on the matter have not yet commenced.

MSC Mediterranean Shipping Company, the world’s largest container shipping company, has surpassed 5 million TEU fleet capacity for the first time. As part of its commitment to sustainability, the company is now partnering with Lloyd’s Register (LR), Shanghai Merchant Ship Design & Research Institute (SDARI), and MAN Energy Solutions (MAN-ES) to develop an ammonia dual-fuel system for its newbuild containerships. Under the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), an ammonia dual-fuel variant of SDARI’s 8,200 TEU design will be created, with LR overseeing compliance with safety standards and regulations.

MAN-ES will contribute to the engine design and provide data on ammonia fuel supply and emission abatement systems. Ammonia is gaining recognition as a zero-carbon fuel option, emitting no CO2 when burned and being suitable for long-distance transportation. The collaboration marks an important step in the maritime industry’s energy transition to meet emission reduction targets set by the International Maritime Organization (IMO). MSC aims to assess the safety and operational implications of adopting ammonia as a zero-carbon fuel, emphasizing the significance of cross-supply chain collaboration and knowledge sharing. MAN-ES highlights the importance of exploring diverse fuel solutions to achieve industry decarbonization goals.

Amsterdam-based Hilco Industrial Acquisitions is conducting an auction for the old equipment of Hanjin Subic shipyard ahead of potential new tenants. The shipyard, established by Hanjin Heavy Industries & Construction almost two decades ago, is located in the northern part of the Philippines. US private equity firm Cerberus Global Investment, which acquired the bankrupt Subic shipyard last year, has refurbished the facility and reached an agreement with the Philippine navy for its utilization. HD Hyundai, previously known as Hyundai Heavy Industries, is considering overseas expansion and has shown interest in using two drydocks at the site. In light of the shipyard’s transformation into a multi-purpose facility, surplus assets, including a Goliath crane, tugboats, forklifts, and welding equipment installed between 2007 and 2009, are now being sold on HilcoBid.com. Robert Bouland, CEO of Hilco Industrial Acquisitions, expects significant interest from buyers in Asia and the Americas, presenting them with an excellent opportunity to acquire high-quality shipbuilding equipment.

Korean shipyard Samsung Heavy Industries, faced with a substantial backlog of vessel orders, has opted to subcontract hull assembly to Chinese shipyards. One of the yards involved is Hengli Shipbuilding, formerly known as STX Dalian, which has been assigned the construction of blocks for a series of 15,000 TEU containerships commissioned by Taiwan’s Evergreen. Korea’s major shipyards currently have full orderbooks until 2027, primarily consisting of containerships and LNG carriers. To manage the workload, Samsung Heavy Industries has sought support from Chinese yards for hull assembly, allowing them to meet their commitments efficiently.

CBED, an offshore accommodation specialist, has secured additional work for its walk-to-work service operation vessel, Wind Innovation, in the German North Sea. The vessel, built in 1999, will be utilized for Ørsted’s Gode Wind 3 and Borkum Riffgrund 3 wind farms from Q1 2024 until Q4 2024. This contract follows the vessel’s current deployment on Vattenfall-operated DanTysk and Sandbank offshore wind farms. The Gode Wind 3 farm is expected to be fully commissioned by the end of 2024, while Borkum Riffgrund 3, with a capacity of 900 MW, will become Germany’s largest wind farm to date, commencing operations in early 2025.

Abu Dhabi’s AD Ports Group and the Karachi Port Trust of Pakistan have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to enhance collaboration in infrastructure development, expansion, and digitalization of port projects in Pakistan. A senior delegation from the UAE, led by Mohamed Juma Al Shamisi, visited Karachi and met with Faisal Sabzwari, Federal Minister for Maritime Affairs of Pakistan. The agreement aims to drive sustainable growth, promote trade diversification, and strengthen bilateral ties between the UAE and Pakistan. AD Ports Group plans to transform Karachi port’s container terminal into a premier hub for transshipment and cargo handling, contributing to its global trade significance and economic prosperity in the region. AD Ports Group has been actively expanding its presence, engaging in various port and shipping ventures globally.

You can read previous issue of ‘Currents’ here.

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