Stuart Edmonston, Loss Prevention Director, UK P&I Club comments on the increased demand for using low-sulphur fuels in shipping: "There are increasing demands on shipowners to comply with mandates regarding the use of low-sulphur fuels in ships. The move towards using cleaner fuels supports a global drive to reducing carbon emissions, with many countries forming new or reforming old regulations.
"Shipowners need to be aware of the differing rules and costs across jurisdictions as they face significant fines for non-compliance. Hong Kong and Australia are the latest to introduce their own bespoke requirements. Low sulphur fuel (0.1% or less) will be mandatory for all cruise ships berthing in Sydney Harbour after Oct. 1, 2015 and in all New South Wales (NSW) ports after July 1, 2016. Owners can be fined up to US$44,000 and the Master up to US$22,000. In Hong Kong, all ocean-going vessels (above 500gt) are required to switch to low-sulphur fuel (or LNG/or similar approved fuels) during the periods the ship is at a berth, excluding the first and last hour of the berthing period. The sulphur content of the fuel may not exceed 0.5%.
"The requirements impose criminal sanctions against the owners (including any bareboat charterers and ship manager) and the Master. A contravention of the provisions relating to fuel use attracts a maximum fine of HK$200,000 and a maximum imprisonment of six months.
"Industry concerns include technical issues such as low viscosity, lack of lubricity, low density, etc., of the new fuels. Other issues are the higher costs of these fuels, as well as difficulties in obtaining them in some parts of the world. To avoid such problems, shipowners should consult their engine and boiler manufacturers for advice on operating with low-sulphur fuels and the need for equipment and system modifications."
The Singapore Maritime Officers' Union (SMOU) has introduced a new programme to encourage Singaporeans to pursue careers as marine engineers.
Having worked for years to address the shortage of Singaporean seafarers, the SMOU and its training arm, Wavelink Maritime Institute, will team up with the government and industry partners to launch the Tripartite Engineering Training Award (TETA) Programme in the upcoming months.
This is also a place-and-train initiative, similar to the Tripartite Nautical Training Award (TNTA) for seafarers.
The TETA Programme was launched at the biennial Maritime Manpower Singapore event on July 16.
SMOU general secretary Mary Liew said, "The maritime industry contributes an astounding 7% of Singapore's GDP, and our aim is to continue to bring about greater awareness of well-paying career opportunities to young Singaporeans.
The Greek government has promised to hike taxes on shipping companies in its latest proposal submitted to its euro zone creditors.
The latest debt restructuring proposal comes as Greece struggles to avoid bankruptcy having defaulted on its US$1.7bn debt with the International Monetary Fund that led to a range of capital control measures as the country had ran out of Euro.
Under the latest proposal, Greece is asking for a US$59bn loan to refinance its debt until 2018 in turn for tax hikes to tourism and shipping sectors. Additional measures include defense spending cuts, privatization of state assets including the port of Piraeus and regional airports.
The chairman of Eurogroup finance ministers confirmed receiving the documents but refused to comment before an assessment of the proposal was made. The country's government is to determine a list of priority actions to be made before any funds get approved, according to Reuters.
Based on the system currently in place, the shipping companies are enjoying lucrative tax breaks which allow them to pay a voluntary amount, all with the aim of keeping owners in Greece. These include no taxes on profits from shipping operations, and no taxes on ship sales.
Greek owners make up 20 % stake in the global commercial shipping fleet and the industry has been a major profit source for the country as it makes up 7.5 % of the Greek economy.
Fears have been raised by the Greek shipowners union that should the tax hike move forward ship owners would flee the country and move somewhere else.
The global shipping industry will sit up and take notice of cuts to corporation tax, which are expected to be a huge boost for investment, the UK Chamber of Shipping commented following the tax cut announcement.
Namely, the UK Chancellor of the Exchequer and Second Lord of the Treasury, George Osborne, revealed in his budget that the UK government would cut tax for business from 20 to 18 percent.
Under the plan, it is envisaged for the tax rate to be reduced to the new level by 2020, with a 1 percent interim cut in 2017.
"For big companies with profit over £20 million a year, we will bring forward corporation tax payments dates – so tax is paid closer to the point at which profits are earned.
This is fair, it's more in line with what we're doing in personal tax and is what almost all other G7 nations do. Banks make a key contribution to our economy, but also need to make a fair contribution," Osborne said.
According to Osborne, the move is based on previous reductions in Corporation tax from 28 percent to 20 percent which had brought both investment and created jobs.
"Further reductions in corporation tax will help maintain the UK's role as a global maritime leader," the Chamber said, adding that the budget was sending a clear message from government that it would reduce tax for business so long as businesses support their workforce.
"The budget for 2015 is unashamedly pro-business but also hugely supportive of workforce. Our economy will be more dynamic as a result," the Chamber added.
On the other hand, the Baltic Exchange said it would ask for a reversal of the UK government's decision on cutting non-domicile tax status as it could result in driving away foreign national shipowners from the UK.
Capital controls introduced by the Greek government could have a ripple effect on Greek shipowners leaving their ships stranded in port as they are unable to buy fuel.
The estimate relates to up to a fifth of the country's fleet, according to the Telegraph, which have been prevented from doing business outside the country due to the capital control implemented as the country had run out of Euros.
"There is a problem in the industry because many companies cannot buy any oil," a source at the Zouros Shipping Company in Piraeus told the UK newspapers. "Many ships are locked in harbours – maybe as many as 20pc – and are not allowed to make payments outside the country because of capital controls."
The effect of the capital controls is the biggest on smaller companies dependent on local banking system, Zouros said, whereas for bigger players with accounts outside Greece it is business as usual.
According to an update from Inchcape Shipping Services (ISS) on port operations in Greece and local conditions to July 7, 2015, there were no issues or changes of itinerary because of capital controls with respect to cruises.
Piraeus container terminal has not reported operational delays in port operations since capital controls were enforced and the only vessel supply operation presently affected is delivery of 'Cash to Master' for any vessel type.
ISS said that foreign bank card holders (tourist and cruise passengers) could use ATMs as normal. However, remittances outside Greece from a Greek bank account are still not possible.
As informed, there have been no incidents to date affecting port safety and/or security.
ISS said that imports are expected to be affected in the near future but initially only for local importers that do not have a non-Greek bank account.
With a new resolution, United Nations' International Maritime Organization (IMO) stresses the need for better regulation and fewer administrative burdens for the benefit of seafarers, shipowners and administrations alike.
At the IMO Council meeting held last week, agreement was reached about a draft resolution establishing that international shipping regulation must be sharper. Already when new regulations are being worded, it must be considered which requirements are imposed on both the seafarers on board the ships and the shipowners' shore-based offices. Unnecessary administrative difficulties must be weeded out before the regulations are written and adopted by the IMO.
The resolution lists five principles of better regulation: necessity, consistency, proportionality, flexibility and clarity. Bearing these principles in mind, all 171 IMO Member States are reminded of the obligation to carefully consider the situation before grabbing pen and paper and drawing up new regulations. Regulations should be goal-based and less prescriptive.
Denmark has actively kept the reduction of administrative burdens on the IMO agenda. In the Danish view, it is therefore positive that the IMO establishes the importance of better regulation through a resolution.
The resolution is to be adopted by the IMO Assembly that is to meet in November 2015.
Japan, Thailand and Myanmar have inked a Memorandum of Intent (MoI) to build the controversial Dawei Special Economic Zone in Myanmar as part of the "New Tokyo Strategy 2015 for Mekong-Japan Cooperation" adopted during the Seventh Mekong-Japan Summit on July 4.
Thailand and Myanmar signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to develop the Dawei Special Economic Zone in 2008, followed by another MOU in 2012.
As part of the MoU, Myanmar granted Italian-Thai Development PCL (ITD) a 75-year concession in 2008 to construct the project, and attract investment. The project should have been completed by 2015, but was suspended due to the lack of financing. ITD lost the 75-year concession in 2013, with the governments of Thailand and Myanmar taking a 50% stake in the project each.
On Jan. 30, 2015, Japan agreed to participate in the project. It was revealed that they will hold equal partnership to Thailand and Burma in the Dawei Special Economic Zone Development Co, and intend to provide technical and financial support for the project.
The Dawei Special Economic Zone Development will include a deep-sea port with a capacity to hold 250 million tons of cargo, surrounded by an economic zone covering some 200 square kilometers.
China's Ministry of Transport and National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) have together unveiled a notice in which they have officially approved a total of seven berths in Dalian Port, Tangshan Port and Ningbo Port to receive 400,000dwt valemaxes.
The seven berths are located in Dagushan port area of Dalian, Caofeidian port area of Tangshan, Dongjiakou port area of Qingdao and Ningbo's Majishan terminal and Shulanghu terminal.
Lianyungang Port, which received a valemax in 2013, is not included in the notice.
The notice has warned port operators not to receive valemaxes and expand terminal capacity without permission.
The first of four 400,000dwt VLOCs acquired by China Ore Shipping from Brazilian ore giant Vale, Yuan Zhuo Hai, arrived at Dongjiakou Port in Qingdao this week and became the first valemax to unload at a Chinese port for two years.
Damage to ships and injuries or deaths involving seafarers are expected to be greatly cut once new overweight container regulations take in July 2016.
On July 1, the World Shipping Council (WSC) published guidelines that shippers, carriers, and terminal operators can use to meet the SOLAS weight verification scheme.
The WSC emphasised that starting next year, shippers will be required to verify the gross weight of a packed export container before the container is loaded aboard ship. The rules stipulate that packed containers received at a port for export without a verified gross weight shall not be loaded on a vessel until weight verification is obtained.
Any costs incurred by vessel or terminal operators for obtaining a gross weight if a shipper fails to provide it in a timely manner are commercial matters for the parties to determine, WSC noted.
The guidelines also stipulate that port facilities and vessel operators do not need to re-weigh a packed inbound container that is to be transshipped if the container was delivered with a verified weight on a vessel from the previous leg of the voyage.
The WSC said that the year-long period before the rules go into force should "allow time for regulated parties to prepare for required process and documentation changes and to test information transmission enhancements in advance of the effective date".
Egypt is keen on tapping into the potential offered by China's Silk Road Economic Belt trade union especially in the context of linking the project to the Suez Canal.
The country officially joined the initiative last week and will be represented by the Egyptian Businessmen Association (EBA).
According to EBA executive director Mohamed Youssef, China aims to raise US$2.5tn in trade volume to the Silk Road trade union in a decade and has already offered to link the project to the Suez Canal.
The move comes as Egypt gears up to attract more cargo with the opening of the New Suez Canal set for Aug. 6, 2015.
The expansion work has hit 85 percent completion, with 43 dredging machines working round the clock to meet the deadline for excavation completion scheduled for July 15.
Once the two-way highway is completed, Egypt expects that up to 20,000 ships will transit the route on an annual basis.
The expansion project will pave the way for a transit of ships of up to 20 meters in draft, thus increasing the revenue of the canal to up to US$17bn a year.
The US$40bn Silk Road Fund, proposed by the Chinese President Xi Jinping in December 2014, has been officially launched earlier this year. The fund is intended to revive maritime and land trade links between Asian countries by financing construction of infrastructural solutions and industrial and financial cooperation to reduce bottlenecks.
The Silk Road Economic Belt aims to link Asia, Africa and Europe by reopening the links between China and Europe though the Middle East, Central Asian, South China Sea, the Malacca Strait and the Indian Ocean, to East and South Africa.