June's top stories: Panama Canal rival progresses, SHI wins FPSO vessel order
Nicaragua signs a deal with China's HKND Group to build a Panama Canal rival, while Samsung Heavy Industries is contracted to build a $3bn FPSO vessel. Ship-technology.com wraps up the key headlines from June 2013.
The Nicaraguan Government has signed an agreement with Chinese firm Hong Kong Nicaragua Canal Development Investment (HKND Group) to build a shipping channel across Nicaragua that would act as an alternative to the Panama Canal.
The move follows the National Assembly's agreement to grant the HKND Group a 50-year concession period to plan, design, build and operate the canal.
The 209km waterway would connect the Pacific Ocean and Caribbean Sea, and is expected to take 11 years to complete, generating around 40,000 construction jobs.
The Port of Melbourne Corporation (PoMC) in Australia has shortlisted bidders for maritime and civil works packages as part of the A$1.6bn ($1.5bn) Port Capacity Project.
Baulderstone, Leighton Contractors and Australia's McConnell Dowell Constructors have been shortlisted for the maritime work, while BMD Constructions, Fulton Hogan Construction and John Holland have been shortlisted for the civil works, including roads and services.
Work under the project will include the development of a third international container terminal and an import / export automotive facility within the port's Webb Dock.
South Korean shipbuilder Samsung Heavy Industries' (SHI) Nigerian subsidiary has secured a $3bn order from an unnamed ship-owner to build a floating production, storage and offloading facility (FPSO) in the country.
Out of the total amount, SHI will have a share of about $1.72bn for the construction of the hull and some upper parts, while the remaining will go to the Nigerian division.
The new FPSO, which will have a length of 330m, breadth of 61m, height of 34m, storage capacity of 23,000 barrels and 36,000t of topside, will reportedly be the world's largest FPSO unit and represents the world's biggest deal compared with other FPSOs on order.
Pirate attacks off the coast of West Africa's Gulf of Guinea almost doubled in 2012, with attacks in the region numbering higher than those in the waters around Somalia, according to a report from organisations including the International Maritime Bureau (IMB).
In 2012, about 966 sailors were attacked in West Africa, compared to 851 attacked off the Somali coast.
The report, 'The Human Cost of Maritime Piracy 2012', has been published by IMB, the Oceans Beyond Piracy (OBP) project and the Maritime Piracy Humanitarian Response Programme (MPHRP).
A container vessel owned and operated by Mitsui O.S.K. Lines has sunk about 200 nautical miles off Yemen in the Indian Ocean, after its hull cracked amidship.
The crack in the vessel, 'MOL Comfort', reportedly caused water to flow into the cargo hold during inclement weather.
There were 26 crew members onboard the 2008-built, Bahamas-flagged MOL Comfort when the incident occurred, including 11 Russians, one Ukrainian and 14 Filipinos.
Det Norske Veritas (DNV) has introduced revised rules for wind farm service vessels (WFSVs) to improve the safety standards of the specialised vessels.
According to DNV, the rules needed to be revised due to the emerging regulatory complexity and wide operating profile of the vessels.
Initially, the safety rules for WFSVs were published by DNV in January 2011 to offer an improved construction standard, which DNV said was well received by the wind farm industry.
The new rules include clarification of the requirements for equipment certification to reduce build costs and integrate key lessons from in-service inspections.
International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) believes the shipping industry is expected face environmental costs of around $500bn between 2015 and 2025, representing around $50bn of additional capital and operating costs per year during the period.
ICS attributed much of the rise in capital and operating costs to the requirement for vessels to change to low-sulphur distillate fuel.
New regulations, like the 0.5% global sulphur cap, are to come into force, as well as the 0.1% sulphur requirement that will be imposed in Emission Control Areas in north-west Europe and North America from 2015.
ICS said costs of equipping new ballast water treatment systems will also add to the capital costs, as well as the contribution the shipping industry might need to make towards the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Green Climate Fund.
Hong Kong has opened the new $1.1bn Kai Tak cruise terminal, which was built on the runway of its former airport.
The new terminal, which will be capable of accommodating the largest cruise ships in the world at sizes of around 220,000t, will open to the public in the third quarter of 2013, with its second berth scheduled to open in 2014.
Royal Caribbean's cruise liner Mariner of the Seas was the first vessel to dock at the new two-berth terminal.
Mining firm Bahia Mineracao (Bamin) has signed a concession agreement with the Brazilian state of Bahia to build and operate a $1bn maritime terminal.
Located north of the city of Ilheus in Bahia, the new terminal's 495 acres of land will be used for processing, storage and transport of iron ore coming from Bamin's Pedra de Ferro mine, in Caetité.
Under the deal, Bamin will be responsible for the construction of the terminal and surrounding infrastructure, including access roads and jetties.
According to Bamin, all necessary environmental permits are expected to be secured by late 2013 to commence construction of the terminal in early 2014.
Det Norske Veritas (DNV) and the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) have developed a concept design of a new research vessel called 'Spindrift' to clean up plastic waste in the world's ocean gyres.
According to DNV, the degradation processes of plastic in the ocean takes about ten to 500 years, and the specialised research vessel will demonstrate ways to address the problem.
According to estimates, about 230 million tonnes of plastic will be accumulated in the ocean by 2020, most of it coming from land sources or as a result of marine activities.
AIS data is part of the geo-positioning web that tracks vessels and keeps them safe from collision, but the data is publically available.
The maritime industry may be currently going through its biggest crisis for decades, but looking ahead to 2030 the future for shipping and seaborne trade looks much more promising.