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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.

2015-08-31 14:14:44

The strength and corrosion resistance of composite materials makes them widely used in fields such as aerospace, automobiles, and wind power generation, and their scope of application has been further expanded due to their usefulness.

The substitute composite material carbon fiber reinforced plastic (CFRP) weighs in at around just 1/5 of aluminum-bronze. Despite its ultra-light weight composition, CFRP exhibits the same or more strength compared to the aluminum-bronze composite materials used in conventional propellers. Due to its lightweight, CFRP propeller shafts can be manufactured with smaller diameters, reducing costs. In addition, by taking advantage of CFRP's strength, it is possible to produce thinner propellers with smaller blade areas, potentially increasing the propeller's efficiency.

In order to apply a composite propeller to ships, the material must have the required performance at least equal to existing aluminum-bronze composite materials, and it is necessary to confirm in advance that the composite propeller as an industrial product can be manufactured with uniform quality.

In May 2014, ClassNK granted approval for the design and manufacturing process of the CFRP propeller. The propeller was developed with support from the ClassNK Joint R&D for Industry Program and marked the world's first installation of a CFRP propeller on a merchant vessel.

Based on the knowledge obtained through this joint R&D project, ClassNK comprehensively summarized the requirements for the approval of the manufacturing process for composite propellers and the testing/inspection of the product in the form of guidelines to assist in the effective use of composite material propellers on ships.

2015-08-28 16:44:37

Lloyd's Register (LR) is classing the world's largest-ever container vessels – led by a recent contract to oversee the building of six ultra-large container ships (ULCS) of more than 20,000teu.

Technical teams at LR have investigated the rising heights and weights of the container stacks that today's ULCSs can carry and produced new guidelines to help designers, owners and masters handle the ever-growing cargos.

One of the teams' key findings is based on vessel speed. LR research demonstrates that the speed at which a ship is sailing has a significant and predictable effect on the rolling motions; this is a crucial factor in cargo-carrying. So instead of designing container stows as if a ship is sailing at full speed in the harshest seas of the Atlantic or Pacific oceans, LR has produced a methodology based on a combination of ship speed and stability and the height and direction of the prevailing waves.

Another crucial factor to managing the cargoes is the development of lashing twistlocks. Operators who use the latest fully automatic twistlocks will have the advantage of securing their cargos safely and effectively with minimum intervention from the stevedores. Combined with the introduction of high lashing bridges, they will be able to safely carry stacks of 10 or more tiers of containers on deck.

LR is currently classing four ULCS vessels of 20,150teu for the Japanese company Mitsui O.S.K. Lines which are being built by Samsung Heavy Industries. A further two 20,050teu ships are being built for Shoei Kisen Kaisha on long charter to MOL at Shoei's affiliate company Imabari Shipbuilding at Saijo shipyard, Japan.

The new vessels are due to be delivered in 2017 and have been earmarked to operate on the Asia-to-Europe service.

2015-08-17 13:31:02

The US government last Friday opened the door for the country's oil firms to have some limited right to trade crude oil with Mexico in what is essentially a swap deal.

The move marks the latest small step towards the US ending its four-decade-long ban on exporting crude.

Oil firms and politicians in the US, have been pointing to the glut of production domestically as justification for relaxing the restrictions on crude exports and the Obama administration has been edging in that direction. Once in effect the new rules could see around 100,000 barrels imported per day.

It is especially timely coming at a point when Mexico, too, is moving in a more liberal direction by opening up its previously heavily state regulated oil sector to overseas competition.

Permits should be issued by the US Commerce Department before the end of August and be good for a year. Under their terms Mexico will be able to receive oil but it must ship a similar quantity to the US.

Such a swap makes sense because of the differing qualities of the oil; Mexico's being of a lower quality heavy crude that is in demand at some US refineries.

Previously, only Canada was exempt from the ban on US exports.

2015-08-17 13:24:11

The Singapore government, in collaboration with maritime businesses and local seafarer unions, on Aug. 13 awarded SG$2.6m (US$1.86m) in maritime scholarships for students taking up maritime studies.

Fifty-eight students received the funding at an awards ceremony held at the Conrad Contennial Singapore Hotel.

The scholarships were distributed under two maritime programmes - Maritime Outreach Network (MaritimeOne) and Tripartite Maritime Scholarships (TMSS) - which aim to nurture young talents in the shipping industry.

"The maritime industry in Singapore has so much to offer in career opportunities and development for our young people. It is a key pillar of our economy, contributing 7% to our nation's GDP," said MaritimeOne chairman Michael Chia.

The state-driven initiatives in promoting maritime industry to young students are well-received by the shipping community, as several new shipping companies have pledged sponsorship for 2015.

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