Friday, April 25, 2014

Incoherent policies of Tamil Nadu Maritime Board take state backwards, warns analysts


Experts in Maritime sector think that the Tamil Nadu Maritime Board’s (TMB)’s incoherent policies for developing minor ports could push the developed state backwards in providing sea connectivity to other countries. 
According to sources, the willful backpedalling by the TMB from strongly concentrating on developing minor ports has put question marks over the growth of the very important sector in Tamil Nadu in future against the systematic growth of them in Gujarat (West Coast) and neighbouring states like Andhra Pradesh and Odisha in East Coast.

Experts also pointed out that despite  the state-controlled maritime board’s plan for  developing over 15 minor ports as well as captive ports in Tamil Nadu for years, only three of them were actually materialized in recent times.
Speaking to Sagar Sandesh on condition of anonymity, a senior port planner said that though the Tamil Nadu state has three Union government-managed major ports at Chennai, Ennore and Tuticorin, the delay in developing minor ports along the navigationally-suited coastline would prove shifting of industries and EXIM businesses in future to those states that provide all such comforts.

It may be worth recalling here that the state of Gujarat, though only with one union government-controlled major port at Kandla, has evolved itself as a main destination of all import and export activities in West Coast by developing several minor ports through Gujarat Maritime Board (GMB).
In the same logic, Tamil Nadu, given the vast coastline close to the international maritime routes, has immense potential to become a major trading hub in East Coast by having several active ports to give seamless connectivity to importers of coal and other important raw materials as well as for exporters to ship out their cargoes with much convenience.

Sensing the importance of equipping the port sector to increase its revenue as well as to the national exchequer, neighbouring Andhra Pradesh, which does not have even a maritime board, has divided its coastline into five different zones and is concentrating on them.  Due to its concerted efforts, today Krishnapatnam and Gangavaram ports in the state are flourishing with heavy cargo movements throughout the year.

Besides, Odisha has also chalked out well-planned strategies to develop minor ports in the state with more emphasis on latest cargo handling facilities.   While it is the case in other states, TMB, which has clearly lost its priority on minor ports according to port planners, proves its poor planning at time.


A classical example of its incoherent policy towards the sector can be better explained in recent step where the board has invited expression of interest (EOI) to develop minor ports and port related facilities or activities in the Silambimangalam region, located hardly a kilometer away from another such facility—Parangipettai Port, Cuddalore, being developed by Infrastructure Leasing & Financial Services Limited (IL&FS).

It is worth recalled here that the Board’s approval granted to Goodearth Shipbuilding Pvt Ltd, Chennai, for developing a port within Silambimangalam Shipyard port limits in July 2007 was cancelled in August 2012, for reasons best known to them.
According to port infrastructure analysts, when a company failed to develop port within three years of granting such permission, the order has to be cancelled automatically. However, the company, which failed to develop the project kept the land in its possession for two more years beyond the permitted three years, by reportedly greasing the palms of top officials in the Tamil Nadu Maritime Board.


On one hand, the board has been “proving” its worth by miserably failing in converting the already allocated minor ports to different companies in the state into active and bustling ports. On the other, its “eagerness” to develop a port facility that too less than kilometer’s distance is telling a different story.

According to sources in the industry, the decision to invite an EOI for Silambimangalam Port project by the Board may be an act to either kill the development of nearby ports or to favour a certain private company.
Besides, the industry sources also adds that unlike the maritime boards in other states, especially in Gujarat, which comes out in many ways to facilitate private players to set up new port in their areas, Tamil Nadu Maritime Board plays hardball with the potential investors.

 When Sagar Sandesh tried to get the version of Tamil Nadu Maritime Board on these allegations from the top officials, nobody was available for comment.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Myanmar’s Military: Back to the Barracks?


Myanmar’s military, the Tatmadaw, has been the dominant institution in the country for most of its post-independence history. 
Picture courtesy:

After decades of military rule, it began the shift to a semi-civilian government. A new generation of leaders in the military and in government pushed the transition far further and much faster than anyone could have imagined.
Major questions remain, however, about the Tatmadaw’s intentions, its ongoing involvement in politics and the economy, and whether and within what timeframe it will accept to be brought under civilian control. Transforming from an all-powerful military to one that accepts democratic constraints on its power will be an enormous challenge.

The Tatmadaw’s institutional perspective is heavily influenced by its role in Myanmar’s anti-colonial struggle – the leaders of which founded the military – and its early post-independence experience. 
The new country was almost torn apart by communist insurrection in the centre and ethnic insurgency in the periphery. The early years of parliamentary democracy were characterised by factionalism and infighting, which many in the Tatmadaw saw as driven by self-serving politicians having little regard for the national interest. The upshot is that many in the military remain distrustful of civilian politics. This, together with fears about instability at a time of major political change, mean that the Tatmadaw is not yet ready to give up constitutional prerogatives that ensure, through guaranteed legislative representation, that it has a veto on changes to the charter, as well as control of key security ministries, among other things.

Those guarantees, far from entrenching stasis, are what have given the Tatmadaw the confidence to allow – and in many cases support – a major liberalisation of politics and the economy, even when many of the changes impact on its interests. Its proportion of the government budget has been significantly reduced, the huge military-owned conglomerates have lost lucrative monopolies and other economic privileges, and the Tatmadaw is subject to increasing scrutiny, including from the recently unshackled media, on issues such as land confiscation and the way it operates in ethnic areas.

Many observers have assumed that the Tatmadaw would be a spoiler on issues of key interest such as the peace process and economic reform. Yet, this has generally not been the case – although the military's actions in Kachin State, including current deadly clashes, have been deeply troubling. The Tatmadaw’s support for progress in these areas stems from its broader concerns about protecting Myanmar’s sovereignty and geo-strategic interests. 
Military leaders were deeply concerned in recent years by the country’s growing reliance on China, both politically and economically, and were worried about how they would be able to balance the influence of their giant neighbour.
They were also concerned that Myanmar was falling farther and farther behind the rest of the region economically, to them almost as an existential threat. They understood that rebooting the economy and building strategic relationships to balance China required engagement with the West that would only be possible if there were fundamental political reforms, as well as internal peace.

The fact that this is a planned, top-down transition is one of the reasons why it has been relatively untumultuous and may prove to be a sustained opening of the country. Yet, there are many possible future scenarios. Tatmadaw backing for the transition is indispensible, but by no means unproblematic. It too must undergo major internal reforms, to modernise and professionalise, and to transform the practices and institutional culture that give rise to [CO1] abuses of civilians. More fundamentally, it will have to change how it is viewed by many ethnic communities, from the enemy to a national security force that defends the interests of all Myanmar’s peoples.
he new doctrine that the Tatmadaw is reportedly preparing may seek to address some of these issues, but little is known about the process of drafting it, nor its content. Much more will need to be done to address the military’s legacy of abuse. If it can provide security for civilians rather than presenting a threat – as it has been more successful in doing, compared with the police, in its response to communal violence – its presence may even be welcomed.

The Tatmadaw’s constitutional prerogatives were no doubt critical in giving it the confidence to embark on this transition, and the commander-in-chief, Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, and key members of the political establishment have said that they will be gradually reduced. 
There is a strong possibility, however, that the military will want to preserve its political role longer than is healthy. If such undemocratic provisions are in place for anything more than a short transitional period, they risk becoming entrenched, which would be deeply damaging to the country’s future – by entrenching a political role for the Tatmadaw, leaving it permanently outside civilian control and able to privilege its institutional interests at the expense of the country.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

IMO and Bangladesh announce major collaboration to improve ship-recycling standards

Source: IMO

The International Maritime Organization (IMO) and the Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh have signed a landmark agreement to work together to improve safety and environmental standards in the country’s ship-recycling industry.

A Memorandum of Understandingformalizing the cooperation between the two was signed by Mr Nicolaos Charalambous, Director, Technical Cooperation Division, IMO and Mr Md. Ashadul Islam, Additional Secretary, Economic Relations Division of the Ministry of Finance of the Government of Bangladesh, on 10 April 2014.

IMO and Bangladesh will jointly implement a project entitled “Safe and Environmentally Sound Ship Recycling in Bangladesh – Phase I”. With an annual gross tonnage capacity of more than 8.8 million, the Bangladeshship recycling industry is one of the world’s most important, second only to neighbouring India in terms of volume.

The project, aimed at improving standards and sustainability within the industry,will consist of five work packages, covering studies on economic and environmental impacts and on the management of hazardous materials and wastes, recommendations on strengthening the Government’s One-Stop Service (in which all the various ministries with a responsibility for ship recycling – e.g.Industries, Environment, Labour, Shipping – offer a single point of contact for related matters), a review and upgrade of existing training courses and the development of a detailed project document for a possible follow-up project to implement the recommendations of phase I.

It will be executed by the Marine Environment Division of IMO, in partnership with the Ministry of Industries of Bangladesh, over the next 18 months. The Bangladeshi ministry will coordinate input from the different stakeholder ministries within the country, while IMO will also collaborate with other relevant UN agencies including the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) to ensure successful delivery of the project.

The principal funding for the project will come from the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (Norad), while the Secretariat of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions (BRS) will also support the project by mobilizing some EU funding towards the work package related to the management of hazardous materials, which will partly be implemented by BRS.

IMO, the Government of Bangladesh, Norad, and BRS have been working towards the establishment of this projectfor a number of years. It demonstrates a major commitment from the Government of Bangladesh to improve safety and environmental standards within this vital industry. 

Thursday, April 10, 2014

ICTSI to invest in Umm Qasr Port, Iraq


International Container Terminal Services, Inc. (ICTSI) is partnering with the Government of Iraq to invest in Umm Qasr Port, facilitating the unlocking of Iraq’s enormous economic potential by building the country’s port facilities of the future.
According to a media statement from the company, ICTSI will operate and expand container and general cargo facilities in the port.
Pic courtesy:

Phase 1 of the Umm Qasr expansion would include a new 200 meter quay wall and storage yard, with a capacity of 300,000 TEUs.  At full build, the facility would have 600 meters of quay and a 900,000 TEU capacity, the release further revealed.
Furthermore, ICTSI has been mandated to operate and manage the existing container terminal on Umm Qasr’s Berth 20 under the agreement. Initial investments are expected to exceed USD130 million.
Commenting on the new partnership, Mr Enrique K. Razon Jr., ICTSI chairman and president, said, “This is by far the largest ever private investment in Iraqi ports. We are excited about this opportunity, and we would like to thank the Government of Iraq for the continued support in this endeavor.”
Located on Iraq’s Gulf coast, Umm Qasr is the largest port in Iraq and the main gateway to the Iraqi market.  The port handles liquid and dry bulk, general cargo and containers.  It has 21 berths, with total berth length of 5,000 meters. 
The port has recorded a throughput of five lakhs containers (TEUs) in 2013.
Commenting on the development, Mr Hans-Ole Madsen, ICTSI Senior Vice President for Europe and Middle East Region, said, “The port has seen impressive growth over the past decade ago, and this is testimony to the spirit and skills of Umm Qasr Port’s management team.”

Madsen further added:  “But current cargo volumes are still only a fraction of what is expected in the future.  The Iraqi economy is being transformed as Iraq develops its industrial potential and catches up with its neighboring economies.  ICTSI will provide the world-class port infrastructure and cargo handling skills required to support Iraq’s economic transformation.”
ICTSI is a leading port management company involved in the operation and development of marine terminals and port projects worldwide.
The Company was among the first international terminal operators to take its expertise overseas.  ICTSI has received global acclaim for its public-private partnerships with economies divesting of its port assets to the private sector.

Piracy and sea robbery summit sets target on emerging challenges

Pic courtesy: AdvanFort

The Piracy and Sea Robbery Conference 2014, the sixth event in the series that was held in conjunction with the Singapore Maritime Week, jointly organised by the ReCAAP Information Sharing Centre (ISC), the Baltic and International Maritime Council (BIMCO), International Association of Independent Tanker Owners (INTERTANKO) and  S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), was held in Singapore on April 8 with the theme — Piracy and Sea Robbery: Emerging Challenges.

According to a joint Media statement released after the event, the aim of this conference was to provide a platform for all to be apprised of the latest trends and assessments of piracy and sea robbery situation in Asia in 2014 that included sharing of case studies for best management practices and lessons learned, and to express views on the current situation and propose possible solutions to address the challenges.

The theme was very timely given the expansion of membership of ReCAAP and the discussion on the “Future of the ReCAAP ISC” as an agenda item of the ReCAAP ISC Governing Council Meeting.

Delivering the opening remarks at the conference, Ambassador Dr. Pornchai Danvivathana, Governor (Thailand), also the Chairperson of the ReCAAP ISC Governing Council, noted the emergence of certain patterns and trends and the modus operandi of pirates and robbers. He emphasized the need for timely and accurate situation awareness.

“This would empower the authorities and shipping industry to derive appropriate counter-measures to tackle the emerging threats and challenges at sea,” he added. 
He stated that although the overall improvement of piracy and sea robbery situation in Asia has continued in 2014 first quarter since 2010, there is however no room for complacency.
For the first time, the conference offered two interactive panel discussions with distinguished and renowned panelists who were experts in their own fields. These panel discussions, moderated by Dr. Euan Graham of RSIS, focussed on evolving challenges and converging solutions respectively. Audiences participated actively at both the discussions posing numerous thought-provoking questions based on different perspectives.

In the closing remarks delivered by Mr. Yoshihisa Endo, the Executive Director of the ReCAAP ISC, he appreciated the turn-out rate of 170 participants. These included Heads of Diplomatic mission of ReCAAP’s Contracting Parties, Government agencies from Malaysia and Singapore, ASF1, distinguished national shipping associations of Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore (INSA2, MASA3 and SSA4), higher learning institutes (CIL5 and SMA6), research institutes (KAS7 and NAMARIN8), other stakeholders and like-minded individuals.

He reiterated the paramount importance of cooperation among all stakeholders and the essentiality of information-sharing in supporting ReCAAP ISC’s continued development as the foremost organisation in promoting and enhancing regional cooperation against piracy and armed robbery in Asia

China Shipping Group Company Chairman honoured


Mr. Xu Lirong, Chairman of China Shipping (Group) Company, was honoured with the Seatrade Personality of the Year award at the 7th Seatrade Asia Awards held in Singapore on April 7. 
Just over 350 top shipping executives from the local and regional shipping community gathered at the glittering ceremony, where 16 awards were presented in total.
Commenting on the honour, Mr. Chris Hayman, Chairman of Seatrade, said: “Mr. Xu is an outstanding leader in China’s shipping industry, with extensive experience in container shipping and corporate management and a strong commitment to corporate social responsibility.”

Besides, Mr. Patrick Phoon, President of the Singapore Shipping Association and Deputy MD of Evergreen Shipping Agency (Singapore) Pte Ltd., was presented with the Seatrade Lifetime Achievement Award. 
“Seatrade is delighted to recognise the achievements and dedication of Mr. Patrick Phoon, to the shipping community,” added Mr. Hayman.
“In 40 years’ service in shipping, Mr. Patrick has been a major contributor to the development to the maritime community here in Singapore and across Asia,” he stated.

Seatrade also honoured Mr. Sean Lee, Group CEO of Marco Polo Marine Limited, who spearheaded the Singapore public listing of Marco Polo Marine which is today very active in vessel owning and chartering, shipyard operations and recently made its foray into owning drillingrigs.

The 7th Seatrade Asia Awards was certainly a night of celebrations and recognition of positive contributions and efforts of many individuals and Corporates. The mood at the ceremony was buoyant and upbeat and suitably lifted when Editor of Seatrade Global and Seatrade Asia Week Marcus Hand shared his keen analysis and observations, noting that the overall picture of the shipping industry is getting more positive.

As in previous years, the awards were adjudicated by an independent panel of judges who are all experienced senior executives in Asian shipping. Launched in 2008, the Seatrade Asia Awards is organised by Seatrade, the pioneer of shipping award schemes since 1988. The awards serve to recognise and reward achievements and meritorious activities in the Asian shipping industry.

Winners of the Seatrade Asia Awards 2014

The Education & Training Award:
Singapore Maritime Academy, Singapore Polytechnic

The Environment Protection Award 

The Technical Innovation Award 
Nippon Paint Marine Coatings Co., Ltd.

The Corporate Social Responsibility Award 
Magsaysay Maritime Corporation

The Safety Award 
Berge Bulk Maritime Pte. Ltd.

The Ship Manager Award 
Wallem Group

The Ship Owner/Operator Award 
Swire Shipping

The Emerging Terminal Operator Award 
Pusan Newport International Terminal

The Ship Finance Award 
Standard Chartered Bank

The Maritime Law Award 
Ince & Co

The Shipbuilding & Repair Yard Award 
Keppel Shipyard Limited

Deal of the Year 
ICBC Financial Leasing Co., Ltd

Special Commendation presented by Seatrade
Leadership in Offshore Technology and Training 
China Classification Society

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Governor lauds India's growing role in ship management solutions

senior mariner Capt Syed Yousuf Shah being felicitated by Tamil Nadu Governor Dr K Rosaiah during the 51st National Maritime Day Celebrations, organised in Chennai on April 5.

Indians play an important part in providing third party ship management solutions to the ship owners, Tamil Nadu Governor Dr. K. Rosaiah has said. 
Delivering the special address at the 51st National Maritime Day celebrations, organised in Chennai on April 5, he said: “It is heartening to note that global shipping is increasingly relying on India as a favoured source of its current and future seafarer demand.”

Dr. Rosaiah stated: “Providing the strongest foundation for building high standards of skills, initiatives, professionalism and leadership skills is required. Enhancing ocean management, ports, logistics, shipbuilding, supply chain management, personnel recruitment and ship-management skills is the need of the hour.

Elaborating about the celebration, the Governor added: “April 5 marks a historical occasion in Indian maritime history. It was on this day in 1919 navigation history was created when SS Loyalty, the first Indian owned ship of Scindia Steam Navigation Company, journeyed to United Kingdom, crossing many hurdles placed by the British.” “It is befitting that to commemorate this event, the Government of India has declared April 5 as the National Maritime Day in 1964,” he added.

Speaking about the growing prominence of the country in international arena, Dr. Rosaiah observed: “It is a matter of great pride that India has positioned herself as a major manpower supplying nation to the world’s maritime industry. Seaborne trade continues to expand, bringing benefits to consumers across the world through low and decreasing freight costs. Thanks to the growing efficiency of shipping as a mode of transport and increased economic liberalization, the prospects for the industry’s further growth continue to be strong.” 
Exhorting the maritime fraternity to keep up the standards in the sector, Dr. Rosaiah appealed: “Let us on the Maritime Day renew our abiding faith in the importance of maritime zone as well as sea route to bring about an all-round development and also resolve to protect, preserve and defend our Maritime Zone and underline our right to navigate in the high seas and International zones.”

Earlier, the Governor felicitated senior mariner Capt. Syed Yousuf Shah, Prof. Venugopal, Seaman John Babu and Seaman Thulsidas for their contribution to the maritime sector. Dr. Rosaiah also distributed prizes and trophies to award-winning cadets of different competitions organised as part of NMD celebrations and to cricket players, who won matches organised in connection with the day.

Besides others, Mr. M. A. Bhaskarachar, Chairman-Cum-Managing Director, Kamarajar Port Ltd.;  Mr. A. K. Choudhary, Chairman, National Maritime Day Celebrations Committee; Mr. S. C. Tyagi, Commander Coast Guard  District Tamil Nadu Puducherry; Mr. R. M. Elango, Secretary;  Capt. K. Vivekanand, Vice Chairman, and Mr. V. Mohanan, Convener, participated in the celebrations.

Friday, April 4, 2014

NMPT positions itself on positive trajectory

Source: NMPT

Strongly cementing its position as one of the fast growing major ports in the country, New Mangalore Port in Karnataka has clocked a cargo throughput of 39.36 million tonnes during 2013-14 financial year period.
According to NMPT sources, the West coast port, which has been maintaining its positive growth in a sustained manner over the past few years, has recorded 6.29 percent growth over last financial year cargo throughput.
It may be noted here that in 2012-13 period, NMPT has handled about 37.04 million tonnes of cargo, which includes both breakbulk and containerized cargo.
While imports for the period  (2013-14) remained 29.31 million tonnes,  about 10.04 million tonnes of cargo, both in breakbulk and containers, were exported in the same period via NMPT.
Though the West Coast’s fast growing major port has enough captive cargoes like crude, LPG, edible oil, coal, fertilizer and cement given the close proximity to various industrious clusters in the region, steady increase in container volumes (TEUs) year after years was the outcome of the sustained marketing campaign by the NMPT management for the past few years in cargo originating regions in South India.
It may be recalled that the port management conducts regular road shows at different cargo originating areas in the region to capture the containered import and export market.
In containers throughput, NMPT has handled 50,126 TEUs against the last year’s figure of 48,409 TEUs, thus registering modest growth year-on-year.
The main exports in containerized cargo during the period were coffee, cashew kernels, fish meal, fish oil, lead ingots and food items, whereas in imports, it were raw cashew, wooden logs, salt, tiles and chemicals.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Maersk sells Danbor to NorSea Group


Maersk Group and NorSea Group have agreed on the sale of Danbor's core business activities in logistics and services for the wind and oil and gas industries. According to a Maersk media statement released on April 2, the sale from Maersk to NorSea Group is expected to be completed by April 30. 

NorSea Group has a strong position in the market for logistics and services to the Norwegian oil and gas industries, but also has offices in Scotland and Australia. The acquisition of Danbor means the company can now serve customers in all parts of the North Sea. 

Commenting on the development, Mr John Stangeland, CEO of NorSea Group, said, "International expansion is part of NorSea Group's stated strategy. Danbor is an established and solid company in our core business and fits in well with the other companies that form part of the NorSea Group. NorSea Group sees many similarities between the companies and great opportunities to create synergies between Danbor and NorSea Group's other companies and operations." 

Danbor was established in 1974. It is an international company with 500 employees and a turnover in 2013 of over DKK 500 million. The company, which is headquartered in Esbjerg, is today one of the world's largest providers of on and offshore solutions to the international oil and gas industry. It also provides logistics and component handling to the wind turbine industry. 

Mr Jakob Thomasen, member of the Maersk Executive Board, said, "Danbor is a healthy and well-managed company, which is not part of our strategic focus and therefore deserves a dedicated owner who will be able to develop the business further. NorSea Group is a recognised player in the industry, and I am confident that they will drive the business forward with the right spirit and a long-term perspective in mind."

Danbor's subsidiary Maersk H2S Safety Services A/S, which provides safety services to the offshore industry, will now become part of Maersk Training.

Mr Søren Fløe Knudsen, CEO of Danbor, said, "I am convinced that Maersk has found the right owners to ensure that our two companies continue to grow and that we are able to maintain quality and the excellent service our staff provide. The incorporation into the new companies will have no immediate impact either on daily operations or existing contractual obligations. We will strive to create as positive a transition as possible and look forward to pursuing our strategic objectives in the new set-up."