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Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Bumbershoots exploded

Only the insurance industry could dream up a word as horrible as 'bumbershoot'. If you are in insurance, you may know what a bumbershoot is. If you are not in insurance, this is good luck.

The insurance team at Moore Stephens, however, has no such luck, and in its latest industry newsletter has decided to spill the beans on the bumbershoot. It explains that ‘bumbershoot’ is a fanciful American term from the nineteenth century for an umbrella. It is also a fanciful American term for an insurance policy covering all miscellaneous forms of liability.

While the rest of the world was happy to use Mrs Gamp in Martin Chuzzlewit as a slang term for the umbrella, America chose the bumbershoot, which is one of the few words never used by Dickens. Although you will still find brokers in London today trying to place them, bumbershoots, like baseball, have never really caught on outside the US. They may be the result of a glottal stop or a vowel merger, or perhaps neither.

The classic bumbershoot policy is exclusively marine - and non-marine - and covers amounts in excess of other existing underlying insurances. It can also be extended to cover liability not insured elsewhere. In other words, it is an ordinary insurance policy with a silly name.

Generally, an insurance company will offer umbrella insurance in amounts anywhere between one million and ten million dollars. Who has that much money these days, anyway? To decide if you need bumbershoots, add up your assets and then add up your umbrella covers. If assets exceed umbrellas, you may want to consider getting a policy, or a life.

In France, umbrellas are called parapluies, especially in Cherbourg.

Put by for a rainy day.


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Thursday, 26 May 2011

Liberia’s commitment to quality recognised by Qualship admittance

THE Liberian Registry has been admitted to the United States Coast Guard’s QUALSHIP programme for 2011/2012, providing further independent verification of its commitment to the highest standards of safety and quality.

The QUALSHIP(Quality Shipping for the 21st Century) programme is a quality incentive programme to which only a small percentage of foreign-flag ships calling at US ports are admitted, based on the excellence of their port state control record. The USCG developed Qualship 21 to provide an incentive for well-run, quality ships and ship operators. Designated ships are recognised and rewarded by the USCG for their commitment to safety and quality.

In admitting Liberia to the programme, the US Coast Guard congratulated Liberia on its “exceptional commitment to quality”, and highlighted its “excellent” detention ratio. The Liberian fleet is the largest register recognised by Qualship 21.

Scott Bergeron, Chief Operating Officer of the Liberian International Ship & Corporate Registry (LISCR), the US-based manager of the Liberian Registry, says, “This recognition of Liberia’s commitment to quality shipping is all the more significant because it comes at a time of major expansion for the registry. The Liberian-flag fleet has more than doubled in size since LISCR assumed management control in 2000, and now stands at 3,570 ships totalling 115 million gross tons.

“Qualship 21 recognition provides further confirmation of Liberia’s pre-eminent position in terms of safety and quality-driven shipping. This is good news for the ever-increasing numbers of shipowners who operate their ships under the Liberian flag. Any register can grow in size, but to do so while maintaining the highest standards of safety is more difficult, and must be the aim of any responsible ship registry.”

The Liberian Registry is one of the world’s largest and most active shipping registers, with a long-established track record of combining the highest standards for vessels and crews with the highest standards of responsive service to owners. It has recently surpassed all-time tonnage records.

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Friday, 20 May 2011

Implementing IFRS 4, Phase II

Moore Stephens seminar

LEADING insurance accountant Moore Stephens is hosting a seminar in London on June 8 to outline the key elements of International Financial Reporting Standards 4 Phase II. There is no charge for attendance.

Whilst the implementation date for the new IFRS for insurance contracts will not be until 2014, the impact on business processes and systems will be significant. Many organisations are at a critical stage of their Solvency II programmes, and with similarities in the requirements there is a small window of opportunity to understand the synergies, and to adapt existing programmes to manage the change simultaneously and in the most cost-effective way.

IFRS 4 also introduces a number of requirements that go beyond the scope of Solvency II so it is essential that insurers understand the implications of the conversion, take a strategic view of the impact of these changes and build in flexibility at this stage to ensure they meet the new requirements.

Planning is essential to understand the complexity and scale of change. Moore Stephens combines accounting expertise with Solvency II knowledge and experience to help you understand the requirements of IFRS 4, Phase II, and prepare for the proposed deadlines.

Come along to a FREE seminar where Moore Stephens experts will outline the key elements of IFRS 4 Phase II and give practical advice on the steps you need to take to be ready for its implementation.

The seminar will be chaired by Simon Gallagher, head of the Moore Stephens Insurance Industry Group, wnd will include contributions from Moore Stephens partners David Chopping and Michael Butler.

The seminar will be held in the Minster Suite at Balls Bros in Mincing Lane. Registration starts at 1600hrs, and the seminar will run from 1630hrs to 1730hrs.

If you would like to attend, contact Shona Conacher at:


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Wikborg Rein expands capabilities with Brazil alliance

LEADING international law firm Wikborg Rein has concluded an alliance with one of Brazil’s leading law firms, Vieira, Rezende, Barbosa e Guerreiro Advogados (VRBG), which will have significant benefits for the international clients of both firms.

The best friend alliance agreement between the two firms will include co-operation on client referrals and joint assignments, and will also involve the exchange of lawyers and competence building.

Wikborg Rein Global Managing Partner, Susanne Munch Thore, says, “Brazil has developed into a high-priority market for many of our clients, and it is important that, as a leading provider of international legal services, we have the capacity to support our clients wherever business takes them.

“This is the first time one of the top international shipping and offshore oil & gas firms has made a commitment like this. It demonstrates our understanding of the commercial realities of the market, and where growth will come from for our clients.”

Partner Finn Bjørnstad, who will shortly be taking up the role of managing partner in Wikborg Rein's London office, has considerable experience in supporting clients in Brazil. He says, “VRBG is internationally recognised as one of Brazil’s leading law firms, with an excellent track record in the offshore oil and gas sector. It is ideally placed to work with international clients looking to develop opportunities in a market with such great potential.”

For a number of years, Wikborg Rein has supported its clients as they have developed their Brazilian business interests, specifically in the offshore oil & gas sector. However, with an increase in offshore oil & gas investment in Brazil, it recognised that there was a need to provide high-quality ‘on the ground’ legal support.

From June 2011, Wikborg Rein will have one senior lawyer working out of the VRBG office in Rio de Janeiro, and VRBG will have one lawyer working out of the Wikborg Rein office in Shanghai.

The alliance will have major benefits for the international clients of both firms. Geir Sviggum, the partner who heads up Wikborg Rein’s Shanghai office, sees significant advantages in this relationship as links between China and Brazil develop. He says, “The transfer of skills, knowledge, and people will provide both firms’ clients with access to advisers who have extensive offshore oil and gas experience, and who really understand the key issues in two of the world’s most significant developing markets - China and Brazil.

"Our Shanghai office already provides support to Chinese clients looking to develop their interests in Brazil. This agreement cements our position as global leaders in this area.”

Chris Grieveson, a partner in Wikborg Rein’s Singapore office, meanwhile notes, “I believe we are now in a position to provide an unrivalled service. If you are based in wider Asia and are looking to develop your business in Brazil, come and discuss it with us. We have a Brazilian expert sitting in our offices.”

This agreement secures Wikborg Rein’s clients access to the best legal resources in Brazil, and will be a platform for Wikborg Rein to continue to add value to its clients’ business interests.

Read more about Wikborg Rein's Brazil team at http://www.wr.no/ and about VRBG at http://www.vrbg.com.br/

About Wikborg Rein

Established in 1923 with large offices in Oslo and Bergen, and employing 215 lawyers worldwide, Wikborg Rein is one of Norway’s leading full service commercial law firms. It is a pre-eminent law firm in the shipping and offshore sector, and a major player on the international scene. Services to the maritime industry include ship, project and lease finance, corporate, contract negotiation, offshore and construction projects, sale and purchase, ship registration, insurance, casualty response, carriage of goods, ship arrest and international dispute resolution. More information on the firm and its partners can be found at www.wr.no

For further information:

Susanne Munch Thore
Managing Partner, Wikborg Rein (Norway)
Tel: (+47) 22 82 76 18
Mobile: (+47) 911 36 899 Email: smt@wr.no

Geir Sviggum
Partner (Shanghai)
Tel: (+86) 21 6339
Mobile: (+86) 13 9186 13473 Email: gsv@wrco.com.cn

Chris Grieveson
Partner (Singapore)
Tel: (+65) 6438 4498Mobile: (+65) 9112 8445 Email: cjg@wr.com.sg

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Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Green with ennui

A recent article in Lloyd’s List entitled ‘We can’t afford green ambition’ has brought forth an angry riposte from a shipbroker, who describes it as “a very poor piece of journalism” of which he feels “pretty ashamed”.

It was actually a very good piece of journalism, of the type we cannot have enough of in the shipping industry. We need writers who make us think differently about things, and who make us smile. We don’t have to agree with them.

The basic premise of the article was that we should maintain a proper perspective about the warming of the planet, and not believe everything the scientists tell us and start planning pell-mell for a better world in a thousand years’ time. We should take what scientists tell us with a pinch of salt, although not too much because that isn’t good for us.

The author of the article refers to the Green Party having seized control of the council in the town of Brighton, on England’s south coast. Walk the streets of Brighton today and you will see the results of a singular policy on refuse disposal which is only a step away from emptying our chamber pots out of the window.

Of course we cannot ignore scientists. It is obvious, for example, that if you subsist exclusively on a diet of offal and beer, and smoke 200 a day, you might not live long enough to be run over by a bus. But we should keep things in perspective.

There is nothing more tedious than reading wilfully extreme views about the effects of modern living on our planet. (Well, there is, actually, but this is neither the time nor the place).

We can be green without being extreme, and without ruining our own lives.


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Going for a song

It is easy to get hooked on the Eurovision Song Contest, even if you are not in Europe - a status which seems to apply to at least half of those nations entered in the competition.

The 2011 event, played out last weekend, made for the usual compulsive television viewing, even if they have shortened the voting process (which is the only really interesting bit) to make time for the huge number of countries now entitled to vote.

The UK entry wiped its face without troubling the leaders, but at least it was a decent song – the first for many years. The winner was Azerbaijan. It was a catchy enough tune, although hardly Cole Porter.

Azerbaijan will now host the 2012 contest, which has led to threats of a boycott on the grounds of Azerbaijan’s reportedly intolerant attitude towards homosexuals.

“Eurovision is the gay World Cup,” chorus the protesters. No it isn’t. The World Cup is the gay World Cup. Life was so much simpler back in the 1960s when The Allisons represented the UK at Eurovision, and when neither ‘gay’ (in the way that the word is now used), nor Azerbaijan, existed.

Are you sure?


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Cut short

Times change. A schoolboy in England recently wore a skirt to school in protest at the school’s refusal to allow boys to wear short trousers in the hot weather.

Time was, schoolboys in England couldn’t wait to get out of short trousers and into long ones, even their older brothers’ cast-offs. They would have done so much sooner if their mothers had been less mindful of the cost involved. A wipe of Savlon on a cut knee is a lot cheaper than having to buy a new pair of bags gone through at the knee as the result of playground football.

Any boy caught wearing a skirt at our school would have found his head coming into contact with the facilities. As for hot weather, it was hot all the time.


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Monday, 16 May 2011

Bureau Veritas says it is time for a new meaning of efficiency

LEADING international classification society Bureau Veritas says continuing pressure on environmental emissions, coupled with rising oil prices, puts a new focus on operational efficiency.

Writing in the Bureau Veritas Marine Business Review 2011 Bernard Anne, managing director of BV’s Marine Division says, “Efficiency has to take on a new meaning. To be efficient means more than optimising a ship to burn less fuel when loaded and at its design service speed. It must burn less fuel and cleaner fuel across a wide range of loading conditions and a wide range of speeds.

“To be efficient means more than saving fuel, it means burning the right fuel in the right place, making a pathway for the use of gas, nuclear and fuel cell solutions. To be efficient means operating the ship in the optimum way for every environmental condition, and that means having crew with the right training, the right support and the right feedback on operating conditions to make the right judgements. And to be efficient above all means operating without incident, without pollution, without breakdown, and without loss of life.

“Class can help with that quest for new levels of efficiency. We can facilitate and act as a catalyst at every level, measuring what happens now, predicting what effect changes will have, injecting knowledge and technical expertise and sharing development with academics and industry. And we can verify the outcomes, making sure they are safe. It is easy to build an underpowered, slow and fuel-efficient ship, but much more difficult to build a safe and fuel-efficient ship. And that is the role of class, at its most basic - to keep thing safe. We are there.”

Looking back over the previous year’s performance, Anne said, “We invested heavily in Arctic and offshore research and development to ensure that the best tools and experienced people were right there with the offshore operators and developers, helping them quantify and control risks, finding the optimum solutions that meet all the definitions of efficiency. Not the fastest, not the easiest, but the best and safest way to do things. That’s what we delivered in 2010.”

During 2010, BV’s classed fleet grew strongly to over 9,400 ships. “Our newbuilding order book doubled on the new orders from the year before. And we were entrusted with key contracts in the offshore field, such as the verification of the northern Norway Goliat FPSO and field, including all subsea systems. Our investment in research and development and links with key universities grew strongly, as we aligned the interests of academics, industry and class to work towards new and more efficient ways to do things at sea and in offshore energy,” continued Anne.

Key points from the Marine Business review include:

During 2010, BV’s classed fleet grew to a record 9,493 vessels totalling over 76.46m gt. The growth came from a large number of newbuildings and also a substantial transfer-in of ships in service. The ships in service being moved to BV class were of a low average age, which brought down the average age of the fleet once more.

Newbuilding orders entrusted to BV class doubled on 2009 to 9.5m gt, with a healthy presence in every ship type, every shipbuilding country and with every significant cluster of owners.

BV published new Rules for Offshore Floating Gas Units and saw several major FLNG projects come to fruition with BV assistance.

BV updated its AIMS asset integrity management system and delivered the first integrated AIMS plan covering topsides and hull with risk-based inspection and maintenance, on the FPSO Pazflor.

BV published guidance on Risk-Based Verification and Classification of Offshore Units and won a major third party verification contract from ENI Norway for the development of the Goliat field off northern Norway. The verification covers an innovative FPSO design, subsea systems and risers and electrification.

A Green Rating system based on BV’s experience in rating energy-efficient buildings adapted for shipping was published to help owners and charterers rate and manage the energy efficiency of ships.

The first MLC certificate was issued to a Greek owner, preparing the way for implementation of the MLC2006 maritime labour convention.

BV published new Polar Rules and guidance on ice structure interaction. The rules cover vessels able to operate without icebreaker assistance in the high Arctic and Caspian Sea and are intended to speed oil and gas development. A new ice loading and structural interaction tool, IceSTAR, was developed with St Petersburg University.

Guidelines for Offshore Floating Wind Turbines were developed and published and BV invested in a number of renewable energy development projects.

Guidelines for Ultra Large Containerships were devised and published, and BV took leadership of key projects investigating whipping and springing in very large open ship structures.

BV published rules on the classification of mooring systems for offshore structures, and its consultancy arm Tecnitas won contracts to design anchors and moorings for deepwater offshore units.

BV worked on projects to bring gas fuel for ships into reality, and on a specific project to help cruise vessels use LNG in ports.

Work began on developing a nuclear-powered bulk carrier.

The Marine Business Review contains a sector-by-sector breakdown of the activities of the Bureau Veritas Marine Division for 2010, and a look ahead to future developments. For a PDF or print copy please e mail chris@merlinco.com

Bureau Veritas is a leading international service provider, dedicated to quality assurance, environmental, health, and safety, (QEHS) management services across a wide range of economic activities, including marine, industry and facilities, government services, and consumer products. By far the largest classification and certification society in the world, Bureau Veritas has over 48,000 employees and 900 offices in over 140 countries throughout the world.

http://www.bureauveritas.comfor corporate information, http://www.veritas.comfor marine information.

For more information: Philippe Boisson Bureau Veritas +33 1 55 24 71 98

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Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Moore Stephens calls on HMRC to consult on tonnage tax

Leading accountant and shipping adviser, Moore Stephens says companies operating within UK tonnage tax could consider leaving the UK, as a result of HMRC’s decision to unilaterally reinterpret the regime rules.

Sue Bill, a tax partner with Moore Stephens, says, “Given the substantial increase in the UK fleet since 2000, it is widely considered that UK tonnage tax has been a success. At the outset, the regime promised clarity and stability, but HMRC’s unilateral reinterpretation of the rules could be detrimental.”

HMRC’s decision to reinterpret the legislation results from comments in the 2004 EU guidelines on state aid to maritime transport. The changes, set out in HMRC’s tonnage tax manual, focus in particular on the strategic and commercial management tests that are fundamental to qualification for the regime.

HMRC says that this follows ‘ten years of experience and legal advice received’. But, as Sue Bill points out, “The Revenue has not consulted with the shipping industry. And, although HMRC’s interpretation is widely disputed, it has not released a detailed explanation of this legal advice.

“The UK government has emphasised the need for a stable UK tax regime to both support British business and to encourage international businesses to operate and stay in the UK. Throughout the regime’s history, it has taken care to ensure stability and to minimise as far as possible any unexpected changes, treating fairly those shipowners operating within tonnage tax.

"But the reinterpretation by HMRC means that some groups no longer qualify for the UK regime despite having previously received HMRC clearance.

“These fundamental changes may have a detrimental effect on UK shipping as internationally mobile shipping groups consider leaving the UK. They do not appear to arise from government policy, but from changes in HMRC’s views that were finalised without consultation with the shipping industry.

“In considering their effect, HMRC needs to ensure that it continues to act fairly and reasonably by protecting shipowners who elected into the regime for a ten-year period based on the original HMRC rules and clearances, which in some cases now no longer apply, at least in HMRC’s view.

"HMRC should also now consult on the reasons for its changed interpretation of the tonnage tax rules.

“It is time for HMRC to work in concert with the shipping industry in order to safeguard British shipping.”

Moore Stephens LLP is noted for a number of industry specialisations and is widely acknowledged as a leading shipping and insurance adviser. Moore Stephens LLP is a member firm of Moore Stephens International Limited, one of the world's leading accounting and consulting associations, with 638 offices of independent member firms in 97 countries, employing 20,588 people and generating revenues in 2010 of $2.15 billion.

For more information:
Sue Bill
Moore Stephens LLP
Tel: +44 (0)20 7334 9191

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Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Size matters

IJmuiden-based Offshore Ship Designers is to design a new compact but powerful AHT offshore support vessel for Netherlands-based Neptune Marine Service BV.

The order follows a recent contract for the design of two Azistern24/56 tugs for Singapore-based Pacific Offshore Engineering and Trading Pte. The key to both designs is that although the vessels will have the capabilities of much larger tugs and offshore support vessels, their smaller size reduces both capital outlay and on-going operational costs.

Michiel Wijsmuller, managing director of OSD, says, “Size certainly matters, especially when it is related to costs. What wind farm operators need is compact but versatile vessels, and the offshore sector needs vessels that are less expensive to operate but equally capable. The answer in both cases is to find a way to squeeze more out of a smaller platform, and that is what these two new designs will do.”

The Neptune contract is for the basic and detailed design of a 44 m AHT offshore support vessel which will be used for anchor handling, ocean towage and wind farm construction support duties. The 70 tonne BP vessel is designed for worldwide operation, high reliability and low maintenance costs. There is accommodation for 22 persons. Two main propellers with nozzles and three transverse thrusters will give the vessel DP-1 station keeping ability. The detailed design will be ready by October and the vessel is intended to enter service in the second half of 2012.

The Azistern24/56 vessels to be designed for POET are the first in a series of fuel efficient designs developed by OSD Holland. Based on a load line length of less than 24 m, the design range can be upgraded to 70 tonnes BP. The POET vessels will have a LOA of 25.85 m, beam 10.8 m and be powered by twin Cummins QSK-60 main engines and Rolls Royce azimuthing thrusters delivering 56 tonnes BP and a speed of 11.5 knots. The vessels will have a very high degree of maneuverability and be suitable for working in tight spots. Construction of the vessels will start at the end of May 2011, and delivery will be early 2012. Both vessels will be outfitted with class 1 fire-fighting equipment.

• Offshore Ship Designers Group (OSD) is a global one-stop resource delivering naval architecture and marine engineering skills to the shipping and offshore energy industries. It draws on an experienced global workforce to provide high quality feasibility studies, conceptual and detailed designs for tugs and offshore support vessels of all types. OSD is based in IJmuiden, The Netherlands, and has offices in Montrose, York, Appledore, Shanghai and Singapore. www.offshoreshipdesigners.com

For a PDF graphic of the Neptune tug or the Azistern2400 e mail: john@merlinco.com

For more information:

Merijn Brusselers
Offshore Ship Designers
+31 (0)255 54 50 70

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