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Damen constructs the WaveMaster for Bibby Marine

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  • As Bureaux de Change plans to sack 30,000 workers

Ship construction giant, Damen Shipyards has flagged off the construction of the Bibby WaveMaster, an innovative support vessel, for UK-based client Bibby Marine Service, with the first steel cut this week.

This followed its recent contract signing for the first ever Damen Service Operations Vessel (SOV) with walk-to-work capability. The Bibby WaveMaster 1, may be deployed, on completion, in the North Sea to support forthcoming offshore wind construction and O&M projects.

Steel cutting ceremony

Steel cutting ceremony

“This is a significant moment for this vessel and for both Damen and Bibby Marine Services. The beginning of the physical construction process is a cause for celebration after years of planning and development. The SOV is the result of extensive consultation within the offshore wind industry that has led to the design of a completely new concept from the hull up. It is therefore great to see the project come to life today with cutting of the first steel exactly according to planning. Assembly of the hull will start in April and the launch of the vessel is planned for early next year”, Senior Project Manager, René Hooijman stated.

He indicated that the SOV design provides a bespoke solution for operators involved in the transfer and accommodation of offshore wind personnel. In consultation with its partners in the offshore industry; adding that Damen identified demand for a vessel capable of remaining at sea for long periods of time while continuously deploying and retrieving engineers and support workers along with their equipment and components; in addition to a capacity for keeping the personnel in good shape throughout the mission while operating in a wide range of weather conditions..

SOV Wavemaster 1 for Bibby Marine Services_LR

SOV Wavemaster 1 for Bibby Marine Services_LR

Speaking further of the vessel, he highlighted a development programme which ensured positioning of accommodation amidships, combined with a shallower draught, making the vessel more stable, in delivering optimal comfortable living conditions and more efficient dynamic positioning.

“Primary access to offshore structures is via a motion-compensated gangway. The vessel has been laid out in such a way that workflow is highly efficient, whilst remaining separated from accommodation areas. To ensure reliability and fuel efficiency, Damen refined the design leading to a significant reduction in installed power alongside increased redundancy.

“The overall result of this fresh approach to the design and layout of the SOV is a vessel that combines extreme efficiency with optimal comfort”, he noted further.

The Damen Shipyards Group operates 32 shipbuilding and repair yards, employing 9,000 people worldwide. Damen has delivered more than 5,000 vessels in more than 100 countries and delivers some 160 vessels annually to customers worldwide. Based on its unique, standardised ship-design concept Damen is able to guarantee consistent quality.

In the meantime, no fewer than 30,000 bureaux de change (BDC) workers are likely to be sacked within the first quarter of this year. About 200,000 workers are engaged in the sector.

The President, Association of Bureau De Change Operators of Nigeria (ABCON), Alhaji Aminu Gwadabe said yesterday, that the planned downsizing followed the continued loss of business by operators after the Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN’s) stoppage of  weekly dollar sales to its members.

The ABCON boss listed those to be affected as directors, auditors, operations managers and compliance officers, as well as chief executives.

CBN Governor Godwin Emefiele had announced  a new foreign exchange policy which included the stoppage of weekly dollar sales to BDCs.

“Operators in this segment of the market would now need to source their foreign exchange from autonomous sources. They must however, note that the CBN would deploy more resources to monitoring these sources to ensure that no operator is in violation of our anti-money laundering laws,” Emefiele said.

But Gwadabe said: “As law- abiding citizens and partners in progress with the CBN, we respect the decision of the apex bank as the regulator of the banking industry and foreign exchange market where we operate. While we are not totally surprised by the decision, we, however, believe there are better ways of addressing the challenges in the foreign exchange market.”

He regretted that the BDCs were being blamed whenever there was naira volatility. “Suffice to mention that before the CBN started selling dollars to BDCs in 2006, there were about 270 BDCs in the country. Despite the harsh operating environment, these operators were able to survive  by servicing their clients. Secondly, the BDC industry  was created by the CBN to fill a critical  gap in the retail segment of the foreign exchange market. Furthermore, the decision to sell  dollars to BDCs was in recognition of the role of BDCs to counter the effect of the illegal currency traffickers and the continued depreciation of the naira in the parallel market,” he said.

He explained that it was the involvement of the BDCs through the direct sale of dollars that led to the historic convergence of exchange rates  in 2006.

“Thus, contrary to the impression created by the CBN, BDCs are not the problem of the foreign exchange market, rather they are solutions to deep rooted  problems in the market namely activities of illegal foreign exchange operators and the wide gap between the official  and the parallel market exchange rates. And they have performed creditably well in these regards. He explained that while there are over 3000 licensed BDCs, how many of them  does the CBN sell dollars to on a weekly basis?” he asked.

He added: “In the last one month, the CBN has been rationing dollar sales to BDCs, with less than half accessing the dollar windows.  The Governor should have  stated how much dollars the CBN actually sold to BDCs on an annual basis rather than estimating how much is been sold. For example, in 2014, according to the quarterly economic reports of the CBN, the CBN sold $4.4 billion to BDCs while it sold $43.65 billion to banks through the Retail Dutch Auction. This reveals that out of the $48.09 billion sold by the CBN, less than 10 per cent was sold to BDCs.”

Gwadabe said the decision of the CBN to stop dollar sales to BDCs has grave implications for the economy.  “First, is the spike in the parallel market exchange rate from N270 to over N290 per dollar within three days of its pronouncement. Over time this would lead to increased scarcity of dollars even for legitimate activities and further depreciation of the naira,” he said.

Additional report from Nation

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WAIVER CESSATION: Igbokwe urges NIMASA to evolve stronger collaboration with Ships owners

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…Stresses the need for timely disbursement of N44.6billion CVFF***

Highly revered Nigerian Maritime Lawyer, and Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Mike Igbokwe has urged the Nigeria Maritime Administration and safety Agency (NIMASA) to partner with ship owners and relevant association in the industry to evolving a more vibrant merchant shipping and cabotage trade regime.

Igbokwe gave the counsel during his paper presentation at the just concluded two-day stakeholders’ meeting on Cabotage waiver restrictions, organized by NIMASA.

“NIMASA and shipowners should develop merchant shipping including cabotage trade. A good start is to partner with the relevant associations in this field, such as the Nigeria Indigenous Shipowners Association (NISA), Shipowners Association of Nigeria (SOAN), Oil Trade Group & Maritime Trade Group of the Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA).

“A cursory look at their vision, mission and objectives, show that they are willing to improve the maritime sector, not just for their members but for stakeholders in the maritime economy and the country”.

Adding that it is of utmost importance for NIMASA to have a through briefing and regular consultation with ships owners, in other to have insight on the challenges facing the ship owners.

“It is of utmost importance for NIMASA to have a thorough briefing and regular consultations with shipowners, to receive insight on the challenges they face, and how the Agency can assist in solving them and encouraging them to invest and participate in the maritime sector, for its development. 

“NIMASA should see them as partners in progress because, if they do not invest in buying ships and registering them in Nigeria, there would be no Nigerian-owned ships in its Register and NIMASA would be unable to discharge its main objective.

The Maritime lawyer also urged NIMASA  to disburse the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (CVFF)that currently stands at about N44.6 billion.

“Lest it be forgotten, what is on the lips of almost every shipowner, is the need to disburse the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (the CVFF’), which was established by the Coastal and Inland Shipping Act, 2003. It was established to promote the development of indigenous ship acquisition capacity, by providing financial assistance to Nigerian citizens and shipping companies wholly owned by Nigerian operating in the domestic coastal shipping, to purchase and maintain vessels and build shipping capacity. 

“Research shows that this fund has grown to about N44.6billion; and that due to its non-disbursement, financial institutions have repossessed some vessels, resulting in a 43% reduction of the number of operational indigenous shipping companies in Nigeria, in the past few years. 

“Without beating around the bush, to promote indigenous maritime development, prompt action must be taken by NIMASA to commence the disbursement of this Fund to qualified shipowners pursuant to the extant Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (“CVFF”) Regulations.

Mike Igbokwe (SAN)

“Indeed, as part of its statutory functions, NIMASA is to enforce and administer the provisions of the Cabotage Act 2003 and develop and implement policies and programmes which will facilitate the growth of local capacity in ownership, manning and construction of ships and other maritime infrastructure. Disbursing the CVFF is one of the ways NIMASA can fulfill this mandate.

“To assist in this task, there must be collaboration between NIMASA, financial institutions, the Minister of Transportation, as contained in the CVFF Regulations that are yet to be implemented”, the legal guru highlighted further. 

He urged the agency to create the right environment for its stakeholders to build on and engender the needed capacities to fill the gaps; and ensure that steps are being taken to solve the challenges being faced by stakeholders.

“Lastly, which is the main reason why we are all here, cessation of ministerial waivers on some cabotage requirements, which I believe is worth applause in favour of NIMASA. 

“This is because it appears that the readiness to obtain/grant waivers had made some of the vessels and their owners engaged in cabotage trade, to become complacent and indifferent in quickly ensuring that they updated their capacities, so as not to require the waivers. 

“The cessation of waivers is a way of forcing the relevant stakeholders of the maritime sector, to find workable solutions within, for maritime development and fill the gaps in the local capacities in 100% Nigerian crewing, ship ownership, and ship building, that had necessitated the existence of the waivers since about 15 years ago, when the Cabotage Act came into being. 

“However, NIMASA must ensure that the right environment is provided for its stakeholders to build and possess the needed capacities to fill the gaps; and ensure that steps are being taken to solve the challenges being faced by stakeholders. Or better still, that they are solved within the next 5 years of its intention to stop granting waivers”, he further explained. 

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Breaking News: The Funeral Rites of Matriarch C. Ogbeifun is Live

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The Burial Ceremony of Engr. Greg Ogbeifun’s mother is live. Watch on the website: www.maritimefirstnewspaper.com and on Youtube: Maritimefirst Newspaper.

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Wind Farm Vessel Collision Leaves 15 Injured

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…As Valles Steamship Orders 112,000 dwt Tanker from South Korea***

A wind farm supply vessel and a cargo ship collided in the Baltic Sea on Tuesday leaving 15 injured.

The Cyprus-flagged 80-meter general cargo ship Raba collided with Denmark-flagged 31-meter wind farm supply vessel World Bora near Rügen Island, about three nautical miles off the coast of Hamburg. 

Many of those injured were service engineers on the wind farm vessel, and 10 were seriously hurt. 

They were headed to Iberdrola’s 350MW Wikinger wind farm. Nine of the people on board the World Bora were employees of Siemens Gamesa, two were employees of Iberdrola and four were crew.

The cause of the incident is not yet known, and no pollution has been reported.

After the collision, the two ships were able to proceed to Rügen under their own power, and the injured were then taken to hospital. 

Lifeboat crews from the German Maritime Search and Rescue Service tended to them prior to their transport to hospital via ambulance and helicopter.

“Iberdrola wishes to thank the rescue services for their diligence and professionalism,” the company said in a statement.

In the meantime, the Hong Kong-based shipowner Valles Steamship has ordered a new 112,000 dwt crude oil tanker from South Korea’s Sumitomo Heavy Industries Marine & Engineering.

Sumitomo is to deliver the Aframax to Valles Steamship by the end of 2020, according to data provided by Asiasis.

The newbuild Aframax will join seven other Aframaxes in Valles Steamship’s fleet. Other ships operated by the company include Panamax bulkers and medium and long range product tankers.

The company’s most-recently delivered unit is the 114,426 dwt Aframax tanker Seagalaxy. The naming and delivery of the tanker took place in February 2019, at Namura Shipbuilding’s yard in Japan.

Maritime Executive with additional report from World Maritime News

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