IMO’s Marine Environment Protection Committee 71, due to gather in London in July, may well have the last chance to ensure that the long-delayed Ballast Water Convention is implemented when ships undergo their special surveys.
This would ultimately decide whether the Convention’s requirements are finally fulfilled across the many thousands of ships which require ballast water treatment system installations.
“It is a couple of minutes to midnight for this Convention,” Andrew Marshall, Coldharbour Chief Executive, said, adding that the outcome of this next MEPC meeting “will surely decide its fate.”
The Coldharbour CEO reports that some flag states are now actively marketing a decoupling of the special survey, the time when practically all ballast water treatment system retrofit installations will take place, from renewal of the International Oil Pollution Prevention Certificate (IOPPC).
This is the point in time that IMO set as the trigger for system installations because the IOPPC renewal normally takes place during a ship’s special survey. Decoupling of the two events “is a cynical means of enabling ship owners to buy more time,” Marshall believes, which flies in the face of the IMO’s intentions.
The Committee will discuss a two-year postponement of the Convention’s entry into force, which could prove helpful for the industry in several ways, Marshall said, however, he insists that any postponement must come as part of a package which sees shipboard treatment system installations timed to coincide with renewal of the IOPPC at the next special survey.
“If a two-year postponement is agreed at MEPC 71, and the decoupling process is not stopped, the IMO’s most-delayed Convention will have no impact on many ships for possibly another seven years from today,” Marshall informed.
“I urge delegates at MEPC 71 to take a strong line on these issues which will ultimately seal the fate of the Ballast Water Convention. As an industry, we must have an unambiguous timeline and a chance to see through the IMO’s best intentions to completion,” he concluded.
The dry bulk market's recovery will be a long and arduous road with a few bumps on the way. We are currently amid such bumps as it turns out, as the latest consecutive drops of the dry bulk freight market, evidenced by the course of the Baltic Dry Index (BDI), have shaken the confidence in said recovery. The BDI has marked 22 days of consecutive losses, having lost as much as 520 points from its peak of 1,338 points noted on the 29th of March 2017.
In its latest weekly report, Allied Shipbroking noted that "it is not so much the intensity of the drop as it is the number of days of decreases noted in the general index and the fact that this has taken place during a period of the year where we typically see a at least a slight firming of the market which is primarily driven by seasonal flows such as those from grain cargoes. There is also the fact that optimism had been overinflated by the sharp rise in the index during March".
According to Allied's Head of Market Research & Asset Valuations, Mr. George Lazaridis, "the reality that has hit is one that was always visible to some extent in the details. The truth of the matter is that we have only just started to see a re-balancing of sorts in the demand and supply and given that trade growth is still sluggish, the improvement seems to be driven more so by the slow fleet growth. As such, what makes sense is that the recovery will come in slow steps, with freight rates gradually improving over several years, rather than skyrocketing in a matter of months".
Lazaridis added that "what the main issue is, is that many fear that even the possibility of a slow-paced growth is faltering. Taking a comparative look of the BDI trend this year against what was being noted last year, it becomes clear that a significant improvement has been made even when looking at the level the index stands at today. We are currently at a level which is higher than anything we witnessed in the first 9 months of 2016 or the first 5 months of 2015. Of course, when taking into consideration that these were also the most difficult months noted in the history of the dry bulk market it's not exactly something to cheer about when you are saying that you are at a better state now. At the same time given that the summer months are typically subdued there is also fears that the current downward cycle could continue over the next 2-3 months, before finding some footing in the Autumn period.
Allied's analyst mentioned though, that "taking a view that the recent drop might be propelled to some degree by traders which are holding back volumes due to commodity prices, we may well see a fair flow of cargoes coming through during the summer months as well, something which if nothing else should help keep freight levels buoyant. In any case, it appears as though the focus should be that the market has outperformed both 2015 and 2016 to date and that could be taken as a good indication that we are still on a recovery path albeit a more gradual one", Lazaridis concluded.
Dutch banks ABN AMRO, ING Bank and NIBC, together with the Scandinavian counterparts SEB and DNB, announced today at NOR-Shipping in Oslo that they are all introducing Responsible Ship Recycling Standards (RSRS) for their ship financing.
The announcement was made during the biannual industry gathering with the aim of including more banks into the initiative. The Norwegian fund, KLP, which in 2016 commissioned a report by the International Law and Policy Institute on shipbreaking, had also already taken a stance to reject beaching practices.
The collective move to include ship recycling conditions on loans by leading banks and financial institutions with large shipping portfolios has been described as a positive step to imposing responsible practices on shipowners by NGO Shipbreaking Platform.
"When there is pressure for change coming from shipping financers, who understand that they have a direct tangible impact on the shipping industry, shipowners, rather than finding crafty loopholes in the law, will feel the bite if they do not choose to recycle responsibly off the beach," the NGO said.
"We welcome the leading role taken by the banks to ensure a departure from the unnecessarily dirty and dangerous practice of beaching, and expect that investors and clients of shipping that are increasingly pushing for higher standards for ship recycling will join the initiative," said Ingvild Jenssen, Founder and Director of the NGO Shipbreaking Platform.
Majority of ships are still scrapped in South Asia to beaching yards notorious for their low working standards and high incident rates.
A total of 128 end-of-life ships were sold for scrap to the South Asian beaches during the first quarter of 2017, according to the data by the NGO Shipbreaking Platform.
The number represents 65 percent of ships which reached the shores of Bangladesh, India and Pakistan, out of a total of 196 vessels sold for demolition worldwide during the three-month period.
The 30th IAPH World Ports Conference 2017 will be hosted in Bali, Indonesia on 7–12 of May 2017, in which this will be the biggest maritime event in 2017.
This event is expected to have more than 500 attendees from the field of port, logistics, shipping and maritime industry. Under the main conference theme of "Enabling Trade. Energizing The World", this event aims to bring together all stakeholders in discussing various maritime issues and its solutions in order to deliver positive impacts for global maritime transport.
Another six shipbuilders are set to enjoy financial support from China in the forthcoming period as they have been added to the country's White List of shipbuilders, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology informed.
The shipbuilders in question are the Huatai Heavy industry (Nantong), Jiangsu Dajin Heavy Industry, Tsuneishi Group (Zhoushan) Shipbuilding, Zhejiang Xinle Shipbuilding, Fujian Changxing Shipbuilding Heavy Industry, and Shanghai Zhenhua Heavy Industry.
Additionally, after conducting a review of the assessment of the enterprises already on the list, the Chinese authorities decided to remove seven shipbuilders from the list. These include Dalian Liaoning Shipyard, Nantong Mingde Heavy Industry, Jiangsu Eastern Marine Equipment, Jiangsu Rongsheng Heavy Industries, Zhejiang Shipbuilding, Zhejiang Zhenghe Shipbuilding and Qingdao Yangfan.
Following these changes, China's White List includes a total of 70 shipbuilders.
In late 2016, Clarksons Research informed that China introduced a set of revised criteria for its White List of domestic shipyards, under which builders can be dropped from the list if they suspend production or declare bankruptcy, merge with or be acquired by other yards, fail to win a new order and deliver a vessel over a two year period, or fail to deliver a ship, receive a contract, and have no units under construction over a one year period.
Furthermore, Clarksons Research added that the White List could be shortened to 59 yards taking into account the yards which have declared bankruptcy and merged with others.
The list was introduced in 2013 by the Chinese government, as an additional incentive for shipyards which comply with the country's requirements in areas such as ship emissions, offering the rule-abiding shipyards benefits such as tax rebates and bank credits.
The first batch of shipyard names was released in September 2014 and included some 50 companies.
China's Ministry of Transport has announced today that it has decided to punish 14 container lines for either not reporting their freight rates to the ministry or not carrying out the freight rates as reported.
The total fines dished out to the 14 companies amounts to RMB2.39m(US$347,212).
The ministry has talked with the China representatives of eight container lines that have severely breached the regulations. Hamburg Süd, Gold Star Line, Wan Hai Lines, Wan Hai Lines (Singapore), Heung-A Shipping, KMTC, Evergreen and CMA CGM have been asked to submit rectification reports to the ministry.
The names of the other six companies fined for lesser offences were not revealed.
The ministry said it will further tighten regulation in the international container shipping market to maintain a healthy market environment, threatening to impose heavier fines on those who breach regulations.
The demolition of tankers and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) carriers at Pakistan's Gadani shipbreaking yards has been banned, local media said citing the Chief Minister of Balochistan, Sardar Sanaullah Khan Zehri.
Following two incidents which caused dozens of fatalities, the shipbreaking activities were stopped until proper safety arrangements are made.
The minister informed that these breaking activities would be banned until further orders, however, dismantling of tankers and LPG carriers which are already at the yards would continue after proper cleaning.
"The two recent catastrophes in the shipbreaking yards of Gadani, Pakistan – the explosion on November 1, killing at least 28 workers, and the fire on January 9, with another 5 victims – are direct consequences of the total absence of safety measures," said Patrizia Heidegger, NGO Shipbreaking Platform's Executive Director.
"We welcome the fact that the Government of Balochistan seems finally willing to crack down on these appalling conditions. It is shameful that ship owners, cash buyers and shipbreaking yards have been able to make a fortune while workers' lives are deliberately put at risk," added Heidegger.
Gadani yards were also closed in November after the series of explosions aboard the oil tanker Aces, reportedly caused by gas wielding processes undertaken during the dismantling work.
However, the Pakistan Ship Breakers Association called on federal and provincial bodies to restart the activities and, following an order by the High Court of Balochistan in December, the works at the site resumed.
"Is this another empty promise or a real turning point? It is time for the government to drastically modernize its shipbreaking industry and to shift it away from the beaches to modern, clean and safe ship recycling facilities that can offer decent jobs," Heidegger said.
Polar Code, the new regulation for ships operating in Arctic and Antarctic waters, has taken effect on Jan. 1, 2017, marking a milestone in addressing international concern about the protection of the polar environment, according to the International Maritime Organization (IMO).
With more and more ships expected to start navigating in polar waters, IMO has designed the Polar Code with requirements specifically tailored for the polar environments, going above and beyond those of existing IMO conventions such as MARPOL and SOLAS, which are applicable globally and will still apply to shipping in polar waters.
In the Arctic, commercial shipping can make significant reductions in voyage distances between Europe and the Far East by sailing northern routes, while both the Arctic and Antarctic are becoming increasingly popular tourist destinations.
"Ships operating in the polar regions face a number of unique risks. Poor weather conditions and the relative lack of good charts, communication systems and other navigational aids pose challenges for mariners. And if accidents do occur, the remoteness of the areas makes rescue or clean-up operations difficult and costly," added the organization.
To address all these issues, the Polar Code sets out mandatory standards that cover the full range of design, construction, equipment, operational, training and environmental protection matters that apply to ships operating in the inhospitable waters surrounding the two poles.
"The Polar Code will make operating in these waters safer, helping to protect the lives of crews and passengers. It will also provide a strong regime to minimise the impact of shipping operations on the pristine polar regions," said IMO.
The Singapore government has stepped in to protect the country's hard-hit offshore marine segment.
The measures include boosting International Enterprise (IE) Singapore's finance scheme and the reintroduction of government-backed bridging loans.
The bridging loan reintroduction will help Singapore-based companies borrow S$5m each for up to six years to finance their operations and bridge short-term cash flow gaps.
Additionally, IE's existing Internationalization Finance Scheme (IFS), which provides project/asset financing support for companies, will be enhanced.
International shipping association BIMCO's Documentary Committee approved the use of a standard term sheet in ship financing transactions on Nov. 17, 2016. It has been developed by a subcommittee consisting of representatives from five banks, five shipping companies and three law firms.
BIMCO thinks that A BIMCO standard will serve as an important tool for shipowners, banks and lawyers when they draw up term sheets in the process of ship financing transactions. It is said to be particularly useful for small- and medium- sized companies with not so much experience in such transactions.
The term sheet will be published in early 2017.