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2015-09-29 14:41:37

Singapore's Sectoral Tripartite Committee for Transport (Sea) announced new initiatives to attract and help Singaporeans deepen skills and advance their careers in seafaring and shore-based sectors.

These initiatives were drawn up by the Sectoral Tripartite Committee for Transport (Sea) led by the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA). Comprising two task forces, the committee aims to address current gaps and recommend new initiatives to strengthen manpower development efforts for both seafaring and shore-based sectors.

In the next five years, they hope to attract more than 1,200 Singaporeans to join the maritime sector as seafarers and port operations officers. Funding for these initiatives will be drawn from the Maritime Cluster Fund and the national SkillsFuture budget.

In drawing up the initiatives, the committee focuses on three main areas; namely profiling and promoting maritime careers highlighting the multiple entry points and good career progression pathways; growing a pool of maritime talents through structured training programmes; and encouraging skills deepening and mastery.

Initial measures that will be rolled out are aimed at encouraging more Singaporeans to take up key positions in seafaring and in the port operations sector. Measures targeting other maritime sub-sectors, such as shipowning/operating, shipbroking, shipmanagement and ship agency, will be rolled out when ready.

"MPA is committed to working closely with our industry stakeholders, associations, unions and other government agencies to attract more Singaporeans into both the seafaring and shore-based sectors," said Andrew Tan, Chief Executive of MPA.

"This local core will support the growth of Singapore not only as a premier global hub port, but also a leading international maritime centre that offers a wide range of maritime services including chartering, broking, ship management, finance, legal and insurance."

2015-09-29 14:32:27

South Korean port city Busan has moved closer to its goal of becoming a shipping center with the completion of a maritime cluster Sept. 25.

A 610,000m² area in the city's Dongsam district was earmarked as a cluster for the domestic maritime and fisheries industry as part of the Busan Innovation City project.

Construction of the Dongsam-dong Innovation District began in 2012 and is expected to be fully completed by 2017.

Busan Port Authority announced that four organizations have moved into the zone, which is designated to be a research and education hub for the maritime and fisheries industry.

The Korea Marine Environment Research & Training Institute has moved in, while Busan Vessel Traffic System Center, and Korea Polar Research Institute have done likewise.

The Maritime Special Rescue Division, which was created last year as part of the Ministry of Public Safety and Security to support coast guard operations following the Sewol disaster, is the other organization that has moved into the site.

The Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries targeted these organizations for the move based on their requirements and business functions. Eventually, the organizations were asked to vote as to whether they wanted the move.

The Busan Vessel Traffic System Center is built on a 1,670m² site, with a floor area of 2,258m², while the Maritime Special Rescue Division is housed in a six-storey building with a 3,200m² gross floor area, including training facilities for rescue divers.

The relocation of these institutions would place them in close proximity with Busan Port Authority, Busan Maritime High School, and National Maritime Museum.

Busan Regional Oceans and Fisheries Administration said, "Going forward, public institutions in the oceans and fisheries sphere can maximise synergies through strengthening the network of the tenant organisations."

2015-09-28 14:00:36

Indian shipping needs a fund backed by the government to spur growth of the country's merchant fleet, David Rasquinha, deputy managing director of Export-Import Bank of India, told the INMEX-SMM Conference in Mumbai.

Indian-flagged ships carry barely 10% of the total export-import cargo of the country and the share is even less (7-8%) for Indian-built ships.

While Exim Bank finances shipbuilding projects, it has a broad portfolio and is not a specialist lender to the shipping industry.

The economic downturn has hit Indian shipbuilders hard but, Rasquinha argued during a panel discussion, some of them only had themselves to blame for their debt woes. He later clarified that "they mismanaged the funds, took on more orders than they could handle and even diverted part or all of the money borrowed for building vessels". He declined to name any particular examples.

However, some of the smaller yards have prospered.

"The economic downturn is a business opportunity. We have been able to cash in by building quality ships at low prices," said Suraj Dialani, business head of Vijai Marine Shipyards. "The downturn will not last forever. This is the best time to order."

Vijai Marine has so far delivered 75 vessels and claims to have built India's first river-sea vessel.

2015-09-25 13:59:58

India has begun to phase out archaic shipping rules and procedures in earnest, Director-General of Shipping Deepak Shetty told the INMEX SMM India 2015 Conference in Mumbai on Sept. 23. The country is keen to improve its image in terms of making it easy to establish and run businesses, Shetty said adding that as many as 13 provisions deemed unnecessary have been struck down.

"The Directorate-General of Shipping will be acting more as a facilitator than a regulator," Shetty stressed.

Steps in this direction include the provision of a one-time licence for the life cycle of a vessel and decentralisation of licensing, under which six more centres have been opened against the earlier practice of handing out licences from the DG headquarters in Mumbai.

Speaking to IHS Maritime on the sidelines, Shetty, however, ruled out removal of cabotage restrictions.

"We have relaxed these restrictions selectively, but in the interests of the growth of the domestic merchant shipping fleet coastal cargo must be reserved for national tonnage," he emphasised referring to demands by ports seeking to attract transshipment cargo to enable foreign container lines to operate on the Indian coast.

"Also in times of emergency the country should be able to muster sufficient merchant ships to move cargo," Shetty pointed out.

As reported in IHS Maritime India has exempted foreign ro-ro ships and project cargo vessels from cabotage restrictions. However, Captain Gur Prasad Kohli, managing director, Wallenius Wilhelmsen Logistics (India) pointed out during a panel discussion that the fuel subsidy given to Indian car carriers were not applicable to foreign vessels.

"Therefore foreign ships cannot be competitive. So opening up the Indian coast to foreign ro-ro vessels is meaningless," he observed.

2015-09-21 13:03:23

The U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee voted 31-19 in favor of approving legislation to lift the nearly 40-year-old ban on crude oil exports from the U.S.A.

The bill is expected to be considered and passed by the full House later this month.

"The ban on exporting crude oil imposes an estimated USD 200-USD 600 billion cost to the U.S. economy, discourages crude oil production, prevents the creation of jobs, and causes higher gasoline prices for U.S. consumers," said the Committee Chairman Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX).

"We need to use our abundant resources for the highest and best causes – creating jobs, encouraging innovation, supporting our allies and being a leading player in the world market."

The supporters of the bill claim that studies have shown that lifting the ban would create nearly one million new jobs across the United States and help keep prices lower at the pump.

However, the bill has yet to face its biggest tests following the expected approval by the full House in the following weeks, as it still needs to secure support of several Democrats to clear the U.S. Senate.

The White House said it wouldn't back the bill because that is "a policy decision that is made over at the Commerce Department."

Instead, the administration expressed its belief in pursuing an approach that also invests in renewable energy.

2015-09-15 16:03:28

The heads of 7 of the 8 political groups of the European Parliament's environment committee wrote yesterday to the Environment Ministers of the 28 EU countries urging them to include international shipping and aviation in a global climate deal at Paris.

"To promote increased climate ambition from ICAO and IMO, like all the other sectors of the global economy, aviation and international shipping require an emissions reduction target. There is no reasonable excuse to continue exempting these two economy sectors from the global policy framework. Aviation and shipping need to contribute in the same way that is required of all UNFCCC Parties, large and small," the MEP letter reads.

The Environment Ministers of the 28 European member states will be meeting on Sept. 18 to finalize the EU position for COP21.

Sotiris Raptis, clean shipping officer at sustainable transport group Transport & Environment, commented, "It's simply fair to demand from two economic sectors with emissions the size of Germany and South Korea to reduce CO2 emissions in line with keeping the global temperature increase below 2 degrees celsius. The IMO and ICAO have been procrastinating so far. The time for action has come."

The European Parliament called last week for the establishment of an EU 2030 emissions reduction target for shipping and measures for the reduction of ships' speed (slow steaming).

International aviation and shipping already account for up to 8% of the global climate change problem and their emissions are expected to grow by 2050 by 200-300% for aviation and 50-250% for shipping. It is believed that such increases would undermine efforts to limit the rise of global temperature to under 2 degrees.

2015-09-15 13:36:14

"The central government has decided to relax cabotage for special vessels such as Roll-On Roll-Off (Ro-Ro), Hybrid Ro-Ro, Ro-Ro cum Passenger, Pure Car Carriers, Pure Car and Truck Carriers, LNG vessels and Over-Dimensional cargo or Project Cargo Carriers for a period of five years," the Shipping Ministry said in a statement.

Vessel operators will be allowed to bring foreign flagged vessels of this category to ply on the coastal routes, it said.

"Such special vessels are in short supply in the country but since they cater to specific class of cargo, their availability will make it possible to shift cargo movement for these commodities from road and rail to coastal shipping," it added.

2015-09-09 14:42:30

China issued a plan to cut sulphur dioxide emissions from vessels in the Bohai Sea, the Pearl River Delta, and the Yangtze River Delta by 65% by 2020, and announced another plan by year's end which will propose turning the two deltas and the Bohai Rim into Emission Control Areas (ECAs).

'The Ship and Port Pollution Prevention Special Action Plan (2015-2020),' issued by the country's Ministry of Transport on Sept. 8, also aims to reduce the emission of nitrogen oxides by 20%, and other particulate matter by 30% compared to the statistics from 2015.

90% of working vessels in the area will have to use shore power when berthing by 2020, the plan says. Half of the container, cruise and ro-ro terminals in the regions will have to provide shore power to berthing ships.

The plan also actively promotes the use of liquefied natural gas (LNG) as primary marine fuel.

According to the latest statistics issued by the country's Ministry of Environmental Protection, SO2 and NOx emissions from ships accounted for 8.4% and 11.3%, respectively, of China's total emissions.

2015-09-09 14:40:25

The government of Sweden has proposed the introduction of a tonnage tax system aiming to level the playing field between domestic and shipping companies from other European countries, according to the Gothenburg Port Authority (GPA).

Sweden's Minister for Infrastructure Anna Johansson presented the government's maritime strategy at Donsö Shipping Meet 2015, revealing that the Swedish tonnage tax will be introduced in summer of 2016.

Swedish ships have been registered under flags of convenience for many years. Last year, the Swedish merchant fleet decreased further by six ships, making it 320 in all, GPA says.

Sweship, formerly the Swedish Shipowners' Association, estimates that the introduction of the tonnage tax will over the next ten years result in 300 new ships sailing under the Swedish flag and 17,000 new jobs.

"The tonnage tax is an important element in achieving a more equitable level of competition for the Swedish merchant fleet. This will reinforce the whole of the shipping industry in Sweden," said Magnus Kårestedt, Port of Gothenburg Chief Executive.

"In purely concrete terms this means that we will see more ships sailing under the Swedish flag at the Port of Gothenburg and at the same time an increase in peripheral shipping operations."

The Swedish government regards the introduction of the tonnage tax as an integral part of the country's ambition to have the lowest level of unemployment in the EU by 2020.

2015-09-02 16:19:47

The Indian government is about to consider a subsidy scheme intended for the domestic shipbuilding industry prepared by the Union Ministry for Shipping.

The subsidy scheme is set to be reviewed by the government this week and underlies a 10-year program aimed at helping boost the competitiveness of local shipyards and facilitate their debt restructuring activities.

If approved, the scheme would pave the way for shipyards to attain infrastructure status. Additionally, it would seek to introduce a special dispensation for repeat restructuring of ailing shipyards such as Bharati Shipyard, ABG Shipyard and Pipavav Defence and Offshore Engineering up to 2020, Live Mint reports.

The proposed subsidy would cover for the 30% of extra costs Indian shipbuilders have to pay stemming from "higher bank rates on working capital loans for purchasing raw materials and other inputs," M. Jitendran, former Chairman of Cochin Shipyard Ltd, is reported as saying by the newspaper.

The move aimed at introducing the subsidy comes eight years after the expiration of the previous subsidy scheme.

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