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Friday, 20 December 2013

AKD hails landmark European Court of Justice ruling

AKD hails landmark European Court of Justice ruling

ROTTERDAM-based law firm AKD says a recent landmark decision of the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg definitively puts its weight behind forum shopping to limit liability under the CMR Convention in carrier-friendly countries. This is a boon to the Dutch jurisdiction and specifically comes at the expense of the courts in Germany.

The ruling had its origins in a dispute between cargo interests and carriers involving the theft of four consignments of Canon cameras during road transportation under CMR (Convention on the Contract for the International Carriage of Goods by Road) terms from a warehouse at Schiphol Airport in the Netherlands to Willich, Germany, in 2007. The goods were only partly discharged by the cargo interest’s employees, the remainder being left in the trailer for discharge the next morning, when it was discovered that they had been stolen.

Carriers obtained a declaratory judgment from the Dutch courts, which was confirmed on appeal, that the carriers down the contractual chain were only liable up to the CMR limit, in this case Euros 50,000. There was then a judicial settlement between the cargo interests and the first contractual carrier for Euros 500,000. The first contractual carrier’s insurers then sought to recover this amount in the German courts from the carriers further down the contractual chain, who in turn challenged the jurisdiction of the German courts, pointing to the declaratory relief issued by the Dutch courts.

The German courts referred the dispute to the Court of Justice of the European Union which, on 19 December, 2013, ruled that the German courts cannot hide behind other international treaties so as to hinder the automatic recognition of judgments by courts in the EU (Nipponkoa Insurance Co (Europe) Ltd v Inter-Zuid Transport BV). The Court of Justice ensured the minimum standard within the EU for jurisdiction, recognition and enforcement of judgments that maintain the possibility to limit one's liability under the CMR. In effect, this is a licence for forum shopping in CMR matters to the benefit of Dutch jurisdiction.

Jos van der Meché, partner at AKD, says, “Simply put, Germany is a country of cargo interests, while the Netherlands is primarily a country of carrier and logistics interests. The German courts are therefore likely to award damages in full against CMR carriers, while the Dutch Supreme Court sets a very high bar for the breaking of limitation of liability under CMR.

“The judgment of the Court of Justice is very decisively in favour of the Dutch interpretation of CMR and the EU Brussels 1 Regulation. It effectively endorses the use of pre-emptive strikes in the Dutch courts by CMR carriers. It also specifically rejects the position of the Federal Court of Justice of Germany, and means that it is now much easier for CMR carriers to limit their liability by starting proceedings before the carrier-friendly Dutch courts, without the risk of being sued by the cargo-friendly German courts for the same claim at a later date. It furthermore emphasises the importance of starting proceedings and obtaining a judgment under Dutch jurisdiction as soon as possible after the occurrence of theft of or damage to cargo carried under CMR conditions.”

The carrier Inter-Zuid was represented by Jan Eckoldt and Carlijn ten Bruggencate of Amsterdam law firm Cox ten Bruggencate and carrier DTC was represented by Jos van der Meché and Annemieke Spijker of AKD.

AKD’s shipping and offshore team provides a full range of legal services to the shipping and offshore industry. The team is ranked top tier in both Chambers and Legal 500. AKD is a full-service firm with over 250 lawyers. www.akd.nl

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Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Shipping confidence hits three-year high

Overall confidence levels in the shipping industry rose to their highest level for more than three years over the three-month period to November 2013, according to the latest Shipping Confidence Survey from international accountant and shipping adviser Moore Stephens. There was encouraging news on freight rates, and evidence of an increased willingness to invest. But concern persists on overtonnaging, operating costs, and the cost of regulation.

In November 2013, the average confidence level expressed by respondents in the markets in which they operate was 6.1 on a scale of 1 (low) to 10 (high), compared to the 5.9 recorded in the previous survey in August 2013. This is the highest figure since the 6.2 recorded in August 2010. The survey was launched in May 2008 with a confidence rating of 6.8.

Despite the overall improvement in confidence, owners were the only category of individual respondent to post an increase this time, from 5.8 to 6.2, the highest figure recorded since May 2010. Confidence on the part of managers, however, was down from 6.2 to 6.1, while for charterers there was a drop from 6.3 to 5.7. Geographically, confidence was down in Asia (from 6.1 to 5.9) but up in Europe (from 5.9 to 6.1) and in North America, from 6.0 to 6.6.

The mood of optimism apparent in a number of responses was typified by the respondent who noted, “We clearly see an upswing in the markets when talking to various people at various locations in the last couple of months. There is, for the first time in a long while, a general feeling of optimism. Furthermore, the economic indicators, both small and large, all over the world, are pointing in the direction of recovery. We cannot expect it to reach the same levels as in 2007/2008, but a sustainable level of confidence is much better than skyrocketing markets because the higher you climb the lower you might fall.”

Another respondent pointed out, “The light we see at the end of the tunnel is not, as had been feared, a train coming towards us. We are quietly optimistic, with supply and demand seeming to come into balance, despite concerns over the amount of new orders being placed.”

One respondent emphasised, “A growing global economy, including the US and the EU, is crucial for an improved shipping market, and there are some good signs of that at the moment, which makes us hopeful for the future.” Another remarked, “We envisage the market growing in Asia, and in Brazil and Russia, typified by increasing imports of products for use in energy projects. We also see an increase in the use of gas as an alternative energy source, with many countries developing infrastructure and facilities to facilitate distribution.”

Others were slightly more guarded, such as the respondents who noted, “The shipping market will stay more or less at current levels well into next year as the world economic situation continues to fluctuate,” and, “The shipping industry in general is very weak at present, although we do expect improvements in 2014.” Others still remained pessimistic, such as the respondent who complained, “Shipping companies are facing a number of challenges, including low market rates caused by overtonnaging in a number of sectors, slow growth in the global economy, and increases in global ship operating costs.” Another noted, “Supply remains higher than demand, with significant falls in freight rates, while operating costs are always increasing. All this means that the shipping business is no longer attractive.”

Elsewhere it was noted, “Things are still pretty fragile, and it wouldn’t take much to knock many operators back into the hole again,” and, “We think the industry is stuck where it is for another year as available tonnage waits for an uplift in world trade.”

The overriding concern on the part of respondents once more related to the levels of excess tonnage both in the market and about to enter it. “There is too much shipbuilding capacity which, coupled with the entry of new investors, will lead to a continuation in the current oversupply of tonnage and low rates,” said one respondent. Another noted, “We need to convince owners to stop building ships, especially tankers,” while another observed, “There is a large surplus which is unlikely to be removed for two or three years.”

One respondent said, “Our principal concern is the perennial ability of owners to kill off improvements by increasing the supply of vessels in every sector,” while another feared, “The higher average rates we are likely to see in 2014 will be killed off by massive new deliveries in 2015.” Yet another observed, “Owners must be disciplined when placing new orders, even if they have the luxury of using other people’s money.”

Operating costs and the cost of regulatory compliance continued to concern respondents, one of whom noted, “Regulations to control emissions are commendable, and owners will have to adhere to them, but they will need financial support to compensate for the high cost of installing technologically advanced equipment to meet the requirements.” Another pointed out, “Regulatory requirements are still not fully factored into economic assessments, be they financing or investment decisions, and this will come back to haunt the industry.”

“Operating costs and the increasing cost of regulation are major factors,” noted one respondent, “and indeed the cost of additional regulation directly affects operating costs. There is a problem also with the supply of qualified crew, especially in certain niche markets, due to the ‘greying’ of the supply pool.” Another respondent simply said, “Low freight rates, high operating costs and costly regulations are killing us.”

The likelihood of respondents making a major investment or significant development over the next twelve months was up on the previous survey, on a scale of 1 to 10, from 5.5 to 5.8 which, as with overall confidence, is the highest figure recorded since August 2010. The figure for managers was up from 5.8 to its highest ever figure of 6.1, while that for owners was also up, from 5.8 to 6.0. Although charterers recorded a fall, from 6.7 to 6.4, they remain the most optimistic category of respondent in terms of the likelihood of making a new investment.

The number of managers rating the likelihood of making a new investment over the next twelve months at 7.0 out of 10.0, or higher, was up from 45 per cent to 51 per cent, while the number of owners who thought likewise was up by one percentage point from 47 per cent to 48 per cent. The percentage of charterers of like mind, however, was down from 72 per cent to 45 per cent. Geographically, expectation levels of major investments were up in both Asia and Europe, from 5.5 to 5.7 and from 5.6 to 5.8 respectively, and in North America from 5.0 to 5.8.

One respondent said, “While earnings and income are low, there is still a great deal of activity involving planning and preparing for the future, and indeed we are investing with a very positive attitude.” Another noted, “Some major owners have the funds available to acquire tonnage. But the key is timing, and too many big shipping companies are intent on looking good on paper despite the fact that they are actually drowning.”

A number of respondents referred to the increasing involvement in the industry of non-shipping investors. One said, “The risk of overcapacity in all sectors has increased now that so many non-shipping investors have discovered the shipping market”, while another noted, “Over the past five years we have seen a lot of non-shipping investors enter the market, and they have now seen that shipping is not an easy business. But we are hopeful for the future, and now is certainly not the time to leave the table.”

Demand trends, competition and finance costs once again featured as the top three factors cited by respondents overall as those likely to influence performance most significantly over the coming twelve months. The overall numbers for demand trends and finance costs were down by one percentage point to 23 per cent and 15 per cent respectively, while competition was unchanged at 19 per cent. Tonnage supply (unchanged at 13 per cent) featured in fourth place, ahead of fuel costs (static at 10 per cent) and operating costs, another non-mover, at 9 per cent.

Demand trends remained the number one performance-affecting factor for owners, unchanged at 25 per cent. Tonnage supply, meanwhile, was up one percentage point to 17 per cent in joint-second place with finance costs, up 2 percentage points. For managers, meanwhile, competition was in first place, up 2 percentage points to 22 per cent, the highest figure in the life of the survey. Demand trends, unchanged at 15 per cent, featured in second place ahead of finance costs, down four percentage points to 14 per cent.
For charterers, demand trends, although down by 7 percentage points to 26 per cent, featured in first place, ahead of competition (up 2 percentage points to 22 per cent), and tonnage supply, unchanged at 16 per cent.

Geographically, demand trends were the most significant factor for respondents in Asia (up by one percentage point to 24 per cent), Europe (down to 22 per cent from 24 per cent) and North America (up by 3 percentage points to 35 per cent, the highest figure recorded since the survey was launched). Competition and finance costs, in that order, made up the top three performance-affecting factors in both Asia and Europe, while in North America it was competition and tonnage supply.

There was a one percentage-point fall (from 41 per cent to 40 per cent) in the number of respondents overall who expected finance costs to increase over the next twelve months. The number of respondents expecting finance costs to come down, meanwhile, fell by two percentage points to 9 per cent, which was nevertheless still the second-highest figure recorded in this regard since August 2011. Owners were the only main category to record an increase in the numbers of respondents expecting higher finance costs (up from 36 per cent to 41 per cent). The figure for brokers was down from 50 per cent to 36 per cent, while both managers (down from 44 per cent to 40 per cent) and charterers (down ten percentage points to 28 per cent) recorded all-time survey lows in this respect.

The number of respondents in Asia anticipating an increase in the cost of finance fell by 4 percentage points to 49 per cent, while in Europe the numbers were up from 33 per cent to 35 per cent. In North America, meanwhile, the numbers anticipating higher finance costs fell sharply from 57 per cent to 33 per cent.

One respondent said, “Financing is a big problem”, while another noted, “It is difficult to finance new projects, given unsatisfactory returns on investment and perceived risk levels on the part of banks.”

Turning to the freight markets, there was, for the second survey in succession, an increased expectation of higher rates in the tanker and dry bulk sectors. One respondent claimed, “Rates have not reached this level since October 2008.” In the container ship market, meanwhile, confidence was maintained at existing levels.

The number of respondents overall who expressed an expectation of higher rates in the tanker sector over the next twelve months was up by 5 percentage points to 43 per cent, the highest figure since May 2011. Owners led the way, with 52 per cent anticipating higher rates, as opposed to 37 per cent last time. Managers’ expectations in this regard were up by one percentage point to 37 per cent, but 40 per cent of brokers (as opposed to 35 per cent last time) thought that tanker rates were likely to go up over the coming year. Charterers, however, were of a different mind, with the number anticipating higher tanker rates falling from 43 per cent to 36 per cent.

Geographically, the prospects for increased tanker rates were deemed higher this time by respondents in Asia (up from 39 per cent to 46 per cent), in Europe (up from 36 per cent to 40 per cent) and in North America (up by 40 percentage points to 83 per cent).

In the dry bulk sector, meanwhile, there was a 14 percentage-point increase, to 56 per cent, in the overall numbers of those anticipating rate increases. This is the highest figure recorded in the life of the survey, and 100 per cent up on the corresponding figure when the survey was launched in 2008. Managers, up by 22 percentage points to a survey high of 60 per cent, led the way, followed by owners, up 6 percentage points to 58 per cent, another all-time high. Even charterers, recording a 5 percentage-point increase to 47 per cent, and brokers (up by 25 percentage points to 46 per cent) were looking on the bright side.

Expectations of higher dry bulk rates over the next twelve months were up to all-time survey highs in both Asia and Europe, rising by 21 per cent and 13 per cent respectively to levels of 63 per cent and 55 per cent. The numbers were also up, by 8 percentage points to 64 per cent, in North America.

One respondent said, “The dry cargo market is coming into balance and, with the new eco-ships on the way, everything looks very positive for those owners who have the right fleet profile and minimal counter-party risk.” Elsewhere, however, it was noted, “Strong dry bulk markets can only last for a very short time, making it difficult to compensate for the poor market conditions we have seen in recent years.”

In the container ship market, the numbers expecting rates to increase over the coming twelve months was unchanged at 30 per cent. Owners’ expectations were up by 3 percentage points on last time to 30 per cent, while optimism in this regard on the part of brokers rose from 25 per cent to 29 per cent. The expectations of managers rose two percentage points to 30 per cent, while those of charterers held steady, also at 30 per cent. Geographically, expectations of improved container ship rates were up by 3 percentage points in Asia to 36 per cent, by 9 percentage points in North America to 44 per cent, and unchanged in Europe at 27 per cent.

One respondent made the extravagant claim that, “All non-operator-owned container ships need to be removed from the market, so that over-supply can be corrected.”

Moore Stephens shipping partner, Richard Greiner, says, “The findings of this latest survey provide more good news for the shipping industry. It is now fifteen months since we recorded a decline in shipping confidence. There is an old adage which says that confidence is contagious. If that is true, shipping certainly seems to have caught the bug.

“It was noticeable on this occasion that, in contrast to previous surveys, very few of our respondents referred to the effect that the global economic and political situation is having on their business. This does not mean, of course, that those problems have gone away. But it is a clear indication that they are perceived to be improving, to the extent that the industry is now focusing on issues closer to home, and moreover on problems where they can realistically contribute towards helping to find a solution.

“Those problems represent a significant challenge for the shipping industry. Moreover, they continue to have a familiar ring to them. There are still too many ships for the cargoes available on many trades. There is not the ready access to bank finance that many would like. Operating costs are expected to rise over the next two years, following the fall for 2012 recorded by Moore Stephens’ ship operating costs benchmark study OpCost. Crew wages are only moving in one direction. The cost of keeping up with regulatory compliance is now a big-ticket item. And P&I premiums are on the increase.

“These problems will not go away. But the prospect of being able to fund them properly is brighter now than for some time. Expectations of improved rates in the dry bulk sector are now higher than at any time in the last five years, while in the tanker market the mood is at its most bullish for two and a half years. In the container trades, things are meanwhile holding up well. In short, there should be more money about next year, although no shortage of things to spend it on.

“Some of that money will have to be spent on compliance and on increased operating costs, but there could be some over for new investment, expectations of which are running at their highest survey levels for two and a half years. That is good news, particularly when viewed together with indications of the increasing interest being shown in shipping by non-industry investors. The latter, of course, can bring problems of its own, but in principle the prospect of new money coming into shipping should be a good thing.

“Whatever the level of new money coming in, the vast majority of players who have survived the downturn of the past five years are very much old money in terms of their industry experience. They have taken the worst that can be thrown at them and are still standing. That means that they have committed to operating in a cleaner and leaner shipping industry, and to meeting the costs that go with it. Provided the evidence of improved confidence that we are seeing does not turn out to be a false dawn, they can reasonably expect to reap better rewards over the coming years than they have for some time.”

The Moore Stephens Shipping Confidence Survey includes responses from key players worldwide in the international shipping industry to a targeted, web-based survey by the Moore Stephens Shipping Industry Group. Responses were received from owners, charterers, brokers, advisers, managers and others. Editors can apply for a copy of the survey by emailing chris@merlinco.com

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 634 offices of independent member firms in over 100 countries, employing 23,693 people and generating revenues in 2012 of $2.5 billion. www.moorestephens.co.uk

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Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Seacurus says seafarers should be protected now against risk of unpaid wages

Specialist marine insurance intermediary Seacurus says that reported doubts about the insurance industry’s ability to insure the liability for unpaid wages of abandoned seafarers under the Maritime Labour Convention 2006 are inaccurate and ill-founded.

It is already an agreed principle under MLC 2006, which came into force in August 2013, that liability for the unpaid wages of seafarers currently falls to the recruitment and placement services which help seafarers find employment at sea. Some have rightly argued that this is a misdirected arrow and that it is the shipowner/employer, and not the agent, that should assume this liability.

In a positive move, it is now understood that tripartite talks between owners, unions and governments scheduled for April 2014 at the ILO headquarters in Geneva will finally address this issue, with talks set to concentrate on the specific inclusion of unpaid crew wages in the shipowner’s MLC obligation to repatriate crew in cases of abandonment.

Thomas Brown, managing director of Seacurus, says, “It is time for clarity and certainty on this important issue. The fact is that any cover that does not provide for the indemnification of unpaid wages fails to adequately protect seafarers against the real risk of abandonment. Effective employment protection must include crew wages, without which seafarers risk becoming the cashflow casualties of their employers’ insolvencies.

“It has been suggested by some industry commentators that insurance to cover unpaid wages would be unfeasibly expensive for owners, and that in any case it is only those owners who are likely to default who will need the cover. This is wrong on both counts. Firstly, the CrewSEACURE policy launched earlier this year by Seacurus provides comprehensive cover at low cost, with premiums of as little as $50 per seafarer per year available today. Secondly, the point about only bad owners requiring cover in respect of unpaid wages is immaterial, since the proposed requirement for cover will be mandatory on all shipowners. Mandating the requirement in this way will force out of business those owners who - it is claimed - ‘need the cover’, as they will be unable to obtain the requisite financial security called for by MLC.

“If you cannot pay your crew, you should not put your ship to sea, it’s that simple. Any arguments to the contrary would serve to do our industry a disservice. Unfortunately, without the proposed amendments, there is currently no meaningful deterrent to this premise.

“The fact is that affordable cover in respect of the indemnification of unpaid wages is available, and it is available now. It is in the best interests of the industry and seafarers alike that responsible owners support the ratification and early adoption of the draft amendments to MLC in this regard.”

Seacurus Ltd is an FCA-regulated insurance broker, founded in 2004, specialising in bespoke revenue protection cover for the maritime industry. It is a market leader in the design and implementation of solutions to protect companies from unforecasted balance-sheet impacts, including credit default, charter party cancellations, hijackings and voyage disruptions caused by political events. Seacurus established the first delegated underwriting binding authority for marine kidnap insurance and is an approved Lloyd’s Coverholder. www.seacurus.com

Formed in 2007, Barbican Group Holdings is an insurance group writing business predominantly through its syndicates at Lloyd’s. It also has a non-Lloyd’s financial solutions business based in Guernsey which offers insurance and reinsurance programmes to the global market. Barbican Syndicates 1955 and 6113 at Lloyd’s has a stamp capacity of £227.5m for the 2013 year of account and underwrites cyber liability, financial and professional lines, healthcare liability, international casualty reinsurance, marine insurance, marine reinsurance, North American casualty reinsurance, property, property reinsurance and corporate, middle market and scheme/affinity group clients in the UK and Ireland. www.barbicaninsurance.com

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Thursday, 12 December 2013

ITIC says broker follow-up is vital in fluctuating markets

ITIC says that the failure of shipbrokers to follow up on time-sensitive messages can have serious financial consequences, particularly in fluctuating spot markets.

In its latest Claims Review, ITIC cites the case of a ship fixed for a trip time charter for two voyages, with an option for a third. The option was to be declared by the charterers on completion of loading for the second voyage. The fixture had been negotiated through brokers in two different offices of the same company. The third trip option was exercised by charterers on a Friday afternoon, and the broker who received the message forwarded it to his colleague in the other office. Unfortunately, that broker did not immediately pass it on to the owners.

The ship completed the second voyage on the Sunday, but it was not until Monday that the message declaring the option was passed on to the owners. On the following Wednesday, the owners argued that, because they had not received the notice until the day after loading had been completed, the declaration was invalid. They therefore expected redelivery of the ship on completion of the second voyage.

The spot market at the time was extremely volatile, but rising. Therefore the owners wanted the ship redelivered. The charterers, on the other hand, clearly wanted to retain the ship to maximise the profit from the final voyage. The market changed again, however, and after a week the owners confirmed that they would allow the third voyage. But the business available to the charterers was by this stage less profitable than at the time they had declared the option, and they subsequently claimed lost profits against both the owners and the brokers.

The brokers argued that the majority of the delay was caused by the unreasonable conduct of the owners in refusing to agree to the third voyage. A settlement was ultimately agreed, with the brokers’ contribution reflecting their delay in passing on the message, but not the subsequent fall in the market.

In another case handled by ITIC, a shipbroker fixed an extension of a charter in direct continuation, but forgot to include the charterer’s ‘subject to 24 hours reconfirmation’ in the negotiation. The owners subsequently claimed that the subject was not part of the negotiations they had seen and considered themselves fully fixed. The charterers failed to perform the extension and redelivered the ship to the owners, who then fixed the ship to a different charterer for a shorter period and at a lower rate. The owners brought a damages claim against the charterers, who in turn brought a claim against the shipbroker. ITIC settled the claim for $140,000.

ITIC says, “Time-sensitive messages should always be followed up with a telephone conversation to ensure that they have been received and acted upon.”

Copies of the ITIC Claim Review can be requested from: chris@merlinco.com

ITIC is managed by Thomas Miller. More details about the club and the services it offers can be found on ITIC’s website at www.itic-insure.com

For more information:
Charlotte Kirk
Tel. +44 (0)20 7338 0150
Fax. +44 (0)20 7338 0151

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Thursday, 5 December 2013

Moore Stephens welcomes neutral budget for UK shipping

Moore Stephens welcomes neutral budget for UK shipping

International accountant and shipping adviser Moore Stephens say the UK government’s Autumn 2013 Statement, issued on 5 December, is good news for the shipping industry in that it ensures the continuation of a stable tax regime.

Moore Stephens tax partner Sue Bill says, “Overall, the Autumn Statement is fairly neutral for shipping, although some of the measures announced may be of interest to shipping groups. For example, capital gains tax will be payable on future gains made by non-residents disposing of UK residential property from April 2013. A consultation document will be published in early 2014. This is likely to affect international groups with non-resident companies owning UK residential property, although details are yet to be announced.

“The government has also confirmed that it will continue to tackle tax avoidance on the part of large businesses exploiting international tax rules in order to avoid paying tax. It will take forward the OECD’s Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS) action plan, which includes prevention of, among other things, double-tax treaty abuse. Also, from April 2014, additional rules will be introduced to prevent the artificial use of dual contracts by non-domiciled individuals.

“Finally, the government will consult on capping the amount of deductibles for intra-group leasing payments for large offshore oil and gas assets under bareboat charters.”

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 624 offices of independent member firms in over 100 countries, employing 21,224 people and generating revenues in 2012 of $2.3 billion. www.moorestephens.co.uk

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

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Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Bureau Veritas classes world's largest bilobe LNG tanks

Leading international classification society Bureau Veritas is classing the world’s largest bilobe gas tanks. They are nearing completion at China’s Sinopacific yard and will be installed in a series of four 27,500 cu m semi-refrigerated LNG/Ethylene carriers building for Denmark’s Evergas.

Each of the IMO Type C bilobe tanks has a capacity of 9,686 cu m. Two of the tanks in each vessel will be supplemented by a third conical Type C cargo tank and a smaller LNG fuel tank on the deck of the vessels.

Carlos Guerrero, manager gas carriers, Bureau Veritas, says, “These tanks are pushing at the frontier of small scale LNG transportation. They build on experience with ethylene transportation and can carry LPG or LNG at 5 bar pressure. That allows for the development of flexible ships which will meet the demands of the new LNG trades which are constantly emerging.”

Ralph Juhl, Vice President, Evergas, says, “We are really pleased with the way Sinopacific has built these world-beating tanks. Our new ships have to work in the roughest seas in the world so we wanted to build them tough and without a lot of deck clutter and exposed systems. These bilobe tanks enable us to have a flat main deck and they give us much better carrying capacity compared to cylindrical tanks in the same size ship. We are pleased to work with Sinopacific and Bureau Veritas to break new ground in gas transportation. Building bigger than ever before is always a challenge and the strength of the tanks must be calculated correctly, especially to allow for the increased liquid sloshing. The vessels’ stability and damage stability was also a matter of additional efforts on the drawing board.”

Evergas is building the ships at Sinopacific to BV class for 2015 delivery to service the trade between Marcus Hook, Philadelphia and Rafnes in Norway.

To download very nice photos of the bilobe tanks go to: http://bit.ly/pYqIVs
or e mail john@merlinco.com

• Evergas is amongst the world’s leading seaborne transporters of petrochemical gases and natural gas liquids. Our position has been reached through experience-based innovation and long-term dedication in making complex gas transports simple, safe and efficient. It is our clear ambition to continuously improve our services and set new standards for efficient and sustainable gas transport at sea. www.evergas.net

• Bureau Veritas is a world leader in conformity assessment and certification services. Created in 1828, the Group has 61,000 employees in around 1,330 offices and laboratories located in 140 countries. Bureau Veritas helps its clients to improve their performance by offering services and innovative solutions in order to ensure that their assets, products, infrastructure and processes meet standards and regulations in terms of quality, health and safety, environmental protection and social responsibility.

www.bureauveritas.com for corporate information www.veristar.com for marine information

For more information:

Carlos Guerrero
Bureau Veritas
+33 1 55 24 702 35

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Monday, 2 December 2013

Lax & Co welcomes Supreme Court victory over Sovcomflot

MIKE Lax, senior partner of London shipping law firm Lax & Co LLP, has welcomed the decision of the English Supreme Court to refuse Russian state-owned shipping monolith Sovcomflot permission to appeal in the Fiona Trust case, thus bringing to an end litigation which has been rumbling on for eight years.

The dispute involved allegations by Sovcomflot of bribery, fraud and corruption by a number of its former employees and associates. The trial of the claims involved over one hundred transactions, and raised allegations of political persecution in Russia, illegal evidence-gathering, witness coercion and fabrication of evidence.

The judgment follows rulings against Sovcomflot by both the Commercial Court and the Court of Appeal. The Supreme Court has now refused Sovcomflot's application for permission to appeal those decisions because there was no arguable point of law of general public importance which ought to be considered by the Supreme Court.

Throughout the protracted litigation, involving some $850m in claims, the defence of all those individuals against whom claims had been made was co-ordinated and directed by Lax & Co LLP, and specifically by Mike Lax and his fellow partner Robert Pollock-Hill, expertly assisted by Steven Berry QC, Nathan Pillow and David Davies of Essex Court Chambers.

Mike Lax says, “We are extremely pleased to have resolved the long-standing issues in this complex case in favour of the defendants we represent. The decision of the Supreme Court serves the interests of justice and recognises the need for certainty in commercial disputes. The conduct of the case also illustrates the fact that, in terms of size, financial clout and legal representation, David can still beat Goliath, even today.”

Lax & Co LLP provides legal advice on all aspects of shipping and international trade, including contract of carriage disputes, ship sale and purchase issues and complex high value litigation. It works with shipowners, charterers, operators, P&I clubs, shipyards, banks and commodity traders, and regularly acts in conjunction with lawyers in other jurisdictions.


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TASNEEF-RINA class first vessel

Emirates classification society TASNEEF has classed its first commercial vessel. The 96,214 dwt oil tanker Energena is jointly-classed with Italian classification society RINA. Yesterday His Highness Sheikh Majid Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Chairman of Dubai Culture and Arts Authority, attended a ceremony to mark the flag raising and the granting of classification by TASNEEF-RINA.

The vessel is owned by Dubai-based Energena Shipping and managed by Gulf Stolt Ship Management JLT, (GSSM). Built by Samsung in Korea the vessel is currently completing its class surveys carried out by two teams of surveyors deployed by the two classification societies.

Andrea di Bella, Area Manager Middle East, RINA Group, says, “This is a special occasion for TANSEEF and RINA with the classification of the first vessel in dual class. We are achieving a high level of confidence for the co-operation between the two class societies in the demanding classification market of the Gulf region. This is the first achievement of many to come building on the partnership between TASNEEF and RINA launched at the beginning of the year. We expect this to be the first step on a long and successful path together.”

Mr Rashed Alhebsi, CEO of TASNEEF, says, "TASNEEF welcomes Energena as its first commercial oil tanker of this size in our registry. We are happy to celebrate this event with our partners. We committed to our clients to deliver the highest quality standards, building a long relationship to serve our clients in the region. Today we are happy to see the outcome of the choice we made to work together with our strategic partner IACS-member RINA, and we will continue this co-operation further to penetrate the region's market which show potential opportunities with new exploration and projects in the oil and gas sector.”

Mr Rashid Al Ghurair, CEO Energena Shipping JLT, says, “Energena Shipping, an Emirati organization, is proud to operate under the umbrella of TASNEEF-RINA class. The TASNEEF-RINA class joint venture is a great initiative by the UAE government to support the shipping industry in this region and we are excited that our ship is the first vessel under this class. We thank all for the support presented to us.”

TASNEEF, a new classification society for the United Arab Emirates, was established in Abu Dhabi at the beginning of 2013.   Working in partnership with RINA, the goal is to develop TASNEEF as an international classification society capable of meeting the technical and classification needs of the region's maritime industry, the UAE flag and international commercial shipping.  

Gulf Stolt Ship Management JLT (GSSM) - Dubai, accredited for ISO 9001:2008 & ISO 14001:2004, reputed for cost-effective, qualitative and transparent performance of technical and operations of VLCCs, IMO II Chemical Carriers, large PROBOs, ARAMAX and Crew Boats, has been engaged by ENERGENA SHIPPING JLT - Dubai, to fully manage their vessel M/T ENERGENA.

GSSM, established in 2009, is a joint-venture between Gulf Navigation Group (UAE) and Stolt-Nielsen (Norway). It has a proven record for its professional dedication to high standards in management of ships. Mr Aniello Esposito, President of GSSM, attributes their consistent success to the spirit of the GSSM Team which is fully dedicated 24/7.

With a history dating back to 1861, RINA Group is a global provider of classification, certification, testing, inspection and training services to assist clients in a wide range of business sectors such as Marine, Energy, Transport & Infrastructures, Business Assurance, Environment and Innovation. RINA S.p.A. is the Group’s holding company which provides to the operating companies of the Group staff services such as administration and finance, HR, system management and communication, The main activities within the RINA Group are delivered by independent operating companies, having their own governance and organization aimed at complying with the requirements and standards applicable to each service. www.rina.org

For more information:

 Susanna Gorni
Media Relations RINA Group
Ph. +39 010 5385555

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