Maritime News Overview* *

Maritime News Overview* *

: Breaking News! Modern Express Heading for Shore, Tow Attempt Unsuccessful The drifting car carrier Modern Express is heading towards land and is now some 200 km away from Gironde, France, as weather continues to interfere with the salvage attempts, the French Maritime Authority said. A four-member team from the company SMIT Salvage boarded the 10,454 dwt vessel on Friday in an attempt to secure it for towing, however, they were unable to finish the task before nightfall. During the operation one of the team members suffered minor injuries and needed to be evacuated. According to the authority, the second attempt of boarding the 2001-built car carrier was delayed, as the weather worsened on Saturday. The team eventually managed to board the car carrier in the afternoon, making initial preparations for the towing operation. Another attempt to board Modern Express will be made on Monday when a favorable weather window is expected. If the team does not succeed to prepare the vessel for towing on Monday, Modern Express is expected to ground on the coast of the Landes department on Monday night. The Panamanian-flagged vessel was reported drifting east toward land at a speed of 2-3 nautical miles, while the measured winds at the site were of Force 6 and waves were up to 6 meters. Vessels including two Spanish tugs chartered by SMIT Salvage, French Navys frigate and Lynx helicopter, rescue tug Abeille Bourbon and a support and assistance ship Argonaute, are at the site monitoring the situation. Modern Express, loaded with 3600 tons of timber and construction machinery, ran into trouble on January 26 when it started listing some 240 km off Cape Ortegal, Galicia, in the Bay of Biscay. The vessels crew of 22 people was evacuated that afternoon. Due to inclement weather, and the shift of the cargo aboard the vessel, Modern Express reached a list of some 50 degrees.

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: New Panama Canal Locks to be Completed by June After more than a year-long delay, a new set of larger locks for the Panama Canal will be complete by the end of June, the waterway's administrator said on Wednesday, after builders repaired cracks that had formed in the concrete walls. The consortium building a third, bigger set of locks on one of the world's busiest maritime routes, headed by Italy's Salini Impregilo and Spain's Sacyr, is now in testing, the final step before the project's inauguration, said Jorge Quijano, who leads the Panama Canal Authority (ACP). Panama should start to benefit from the expansion in 2017, when the government foresees getting an extra $1.4 billion in revenue, a jump of 30 percent compared with this fiscal year. The project was initially set to be finished at the end of 2014, but the date was pushed back to April of this year due to a dispute between the administrator and the building consortium over costs. The plan was originally set at $5.25 billion, but the builders successfully argued for an extra $3.2 billion, of which the government has paid $250 million so far. Quijano told Reuters last year that he was now setting his sights on an even more ambitious project worth up to $17 billion that would allow the waterway to handle the world's biggest ships, via yet another even larger set of locks.

: The Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality's Marine Services Directorate will soon begin using drones to monitor the Bosporus for maritime pollution. The Directorate issued 2.8 million lira in fines to ship operators last year, equivalent to about one million dollars, for marine pollution violations related to solid and liquid waste discharges. 90 ships out of the approximately 55,000 that passed through the Bosporus were fined, the Directorate said. Their round-the-clock enforcement effort relies on multiple methods: patrol vessels, helicopter surveys and inspection of ships pierside and queued waiting to dock. When pollution . . . is detected, then it is photographed . . . [and] samples are obtained," said Mustafa Tahmaz, head of the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality Environmental Protection and Control Department, in statements to Turkish media Thursday. "The samples are analyzed and if the relevant ship is causing pollution above standard levels . . . then a penalty is imposed on the ship based on its size. Tahmaz said that the Department's Marine Services Directorate will soon add drones to the list of enforcement assets: staff are already being trained in their use, and the Directorate hopes to begin operations in March. Istanbul's environmental regulators are the latest in a growing number of agencies pursuing the use of drones for maritime purposes, such as maritime domain awareness, hull and offshore inspections, naval reconnaissance, and Emissions Control Area enforcement. ECA enforcement is the closest analogue to Istanbuls plan. Last year, the European Safety Monitoring Agency (EMSA) and the European Space Agency (ESA) jointly announced a pilot project for a remotely piloted maritime surveillance aircraft and, potentially, for at-sea SOx emissions detection. The program will evaluate the Tekever AR5 drone, a maritime UAV with a 14 foot wingspan and a 110 pound payload, and may add testing of a sensor package for remote measurement of SOx emissions..

: Maersk Drilling delivered a satisfactory result given the adverse market conditions. We continue to focus on operational performance and a competitive cost level, which are key factors in order to secure contracts for our rigs in this market, says Claus V. Hemmingsen, CEO in Maersk Drilling and member of the Executive Board in the Maersk Group. In 2015, Maersk Drilling signed 12 contracts, which added USD 2.0bn to Maersk Drillings backlog. However, the contracts signed are at significantly lower day rate than previously. The lower day rates underpin the need for a different cost level in the offshore drilling industry. "Given the new oil reality, we have to conduct our operation at a completely different cost level. We have to focus on not only being operational excellent, but also efficient. However, the new oil reality is also an opportunity to solve our customers needs and pain points. We have to prepare for the future by recalibrating to the new oil reality by differentiating from our competitors and focusing on value creation for our customers in order to bring down the total system costs, says Claus V. Hemmingsen. At the end of 2015, Maersk Drillings forward contract coverage was 77% for 2016 and 52% for 2017 and 43% for 2018. The total revenue backlog by end 2015 amounted to USD 5.4bn (USD 6.0bn). Maersk Drilling expects a significantly lower underlying result in 2016 than in 2015 mainly due to lower day rates on new contracts and more idle days.

: Iran has loaded its first oil cargo since the lifting of economic sanctions early January on board a tanker owned by Total SA and the cargo is now bound for Europe, according to the National Iranian Oil Company. Managing Director of Iranian Oil Terminals Company (IOTC), Pirouz Mousavi said that three oil tankers belonging to three European firms from France, Spain and Russia, berthed in Kharg oil Terminal on Sunday, February 14th, after 4 years of suspension due to the imposed sanctions on the countrys energy sector. According to Mousavi, it took 48 hours for tankers to be loaded, adding that all the jetties, crude oil reserves, piping, and Kharg oil facilities have been renovated and that there is not a single technical and operational difficulty for berthing, loading and separation of European and Asian tankers. NIOCs Roknodin Javadi explained that the first three shipments will transport a cargo of 4 million barrels of crude oil, adding that 2 million barrels of the cargo is due to be delivered to Frances Total and the rest will be received by Spanish refiners and a Russian company. Bloombergs data shows that the companies that booked the cargoes are Total, Spanish refiner Compania Espanola de Petroleos and Russias Lukoil PJSC, chartering the VLCC Atlantas, the Suezmax Monte Toledo and the Distya Akula vessel respectively. As informed, the Atlantas is scheduled to head for European ports, the Monte Toledo for Spain and the Distya Akula for Constantza, Romania. However,numerous uncertainties remain before Iran can return to the market in full scale. Namely, the countrys Energy Minister has announced that Tehran needs to attract USD 200 billion in international investment to modernize its existing oil infrastructure. What is more, discussions are underway over a new Iranian Petroleum Contract offering more flexible terms and conditions..

: Police Arrest Former Keppel Agent in Bribery Raids Brazilian police said on Monday they were looking into possible bribes paid in contracts signed by state-run oil company Petrobras and leasing firm Sete Brasil with the Singapore offshore rig builder Keppel Fels. Federal police carried out a fresh wave of searches and arrests on Monday in the ongoing "Operation Car Wash" corruption investigation that started nearly two years ago. Brazilian media reported that former Keppel agent Zwi Skorniki was arrested as part of Monday's sweep. He has attracted national attention for the details of his wealth, with press noting that his fortune had increased 35-fold in ten years; sources also said that police asset seizures included at least ten (and possibly more) valuable cars and many works of fine art. In 2015, in response to allegations against Mr. Skorniki relating to bribery, Keppel suspended his contract with the firm. According to recent media reports, Mr. Zwi Skornicki was arrested in Brazil on 22 February 2016. We are unable to comment further in view of the ongoing investigations in Brazil, Keppel said in a statement. Keppel and Sembcorp Marine, another Singaporean rig yard, deny that they have been involved in any of the alleged Petrobras bribery schemes. Keppel has been under pressure due to the falling price of oil, a tough environment for selling newbuilds, and trouble securing payment for the six rigs it has under construction for Sete Brasil; Sete has not paid anything for over a year. An analyst at Citi told clients earlier in February that Sete's orders are just shy of half of Keppel's and Sembcorp's order books, suggesting significant writedowns ahead if Sete won't take delivery. In its statement, Keppel said that it reiterates its zero-tolerance stance against any form of illegal activity, including bribery and corruption, involving its employees or associates, and will take all necessary steps to eradicate such conduct if discovered.

: French liner giant CMA CGM Group said that it will deploy its flagship fleet of six 18,000 TEU vessels between Asia and the West Coast of the U.S. starting end of May. The company said that the decision to send its flagship fleet on the most active and dynamic market to date the trans-Pacific market is in line with both the growth strategy set by the group in the United States and around the world and the optimization of its fleet. In total, 6 ships of 18,000 TEUS will join the Pearl River Express service; those being ships bearing the names of great explorers: CMA CGM Bougainville, CMA CGM Kerguelen, CMA CGM Georg Forster, CMA CGM Vasco de Gama, CMA CGM Zheng He and CMA CGM Benjamin Franklin. The CMA CGM Benjamin Franklin became the largest ship ever to call in the United States last December and was inaugurated on February 19 in Long Beach, in the presence of Jacques Saadé, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of CMA CGM.

: Fincantieris Norwegian subsidiary Vard Holdings Limited (VARD), specializing in the design and shipbuilding of offshore and specialized vessels, has signed a Letter of Intent with the French ship owner Ponant, a subsidiary of Artemis Group, for the construction of four small-sized luxury cruise vessels. The letter, signed during the Seatrade Cruise Global currently underway in Fort Lauderdale, the United States, subject to several conditions including satisfactory ship owner financing, marks the entrance of VARD in the cruise shipbuilding sector. The four luxurious exploration cruise vessels, to be built by VARD Groups production network, will be 128 meters long, 18 meters wide, and will be approximately 10,000 gross tons. The newbuilds will have a cruise speed of 15 knots and accommodate 180 passengers on board (92 cabins) with a 110-member crew. The deliveries are scheduled in Norway in the period summer 2018 to the summer 2019. Featuring the latest environmentally-friendly technologies, the ships will be able to reach ports and destinations inaccessible to larger vessels. In the past Fincantieri has already built four vessels for Ponant, Le Boréal, LAustral, Le Soléal and Le Lyrial, delivered respectively in 2010, 2011, 2013, and 2015.

: Brittle crack arrest steel plates with a thickness of 100mm used in ultra-large container vessels (ULCVs) must have a minimum required brittle crack arrest toughness value (Kca) of 8,000 N/mm3/2 or more at -10C, according to data issued by Japanese classification society ClassNK. In order to clarify the required brittle crack arrest toughness value (Kca) for extremely thick steel plates exceeding 80mm, ClassNK carried out a research through a joint R&D project in collaboration with Japan Welding Engineering Society (JWES). The results were obtained through verification tests by ultra-large-scale test specimens simulating the actual construction of the hatch side coaming and upper deck of ultra-large container ships. Based on these results, and as part of its response to the ever-increasing size of the design and construction of container vessels, ClassNK said that it will require brittle crack arrest steel plates with a thickness of more than 80mm and not exceeding 100mm to have a brittle crack arrest toughness value (Kca) of 8,000 N/mm3/2 or more at -10C, as the severest conditions. IACS released its Unified Requirements on brittle crack arrest design for the use of extremely thick steel plates in January 2013 to enhance the structural reliability of large container vessels, outlining the necessary measures to be taken for the prevention of brittle crack propagation in the event of occurrence of a crack. The requirements state that brittle crack arrest steel plates with a thickness of 80mm or less must have a brittle crack arrest toughness value (Kca) of 6,000 N/mm3/2 or more at -10C. However, as there are no specific rules for cases where the thickness of brittle crack arrest steel exceeds 80mm, the required Kca value is to be specifically agreed with each Classification Society.