Thursday, January 20, 2000

"European OPA" looks likely
In the wake of the Erika incident, Franceseems to be becoming even firmer in its resolve to see a stricter tanker regulatory regime. There are indications that unless IMO responds rapidly to strengthen the international system of controls, a "European OPA" could become a reality.

French President Jaques Chirac said today that he is "angry" and determined to act on both the European and world levels to improve the security of maritime transportation. Visiting one of the areas hit by the "ecological disaster" caused by the Erika spill, Chirac said it was "unacceptable" that the community bear the full impact of damages caused by "an unrestrained race for profits."

Chirac pledged that France would use its upcoming presidency of the European Union to make "precise and concrete" proposals on [tanker] controls, safety rules and indemnification of [spill victims].

Chirac detailed four objectives France will pursue:

  • stricter controls
  • much more severe safety regulations
  • more transparency
  • juster and more complete indemnification.

Ships which wish to enter European ports must be submitted to more systematic, in-depth inspections, conducted by governmental agencies--"which is manifestly not the case today." The results of these controls must be available in a public international data bank, so that all the professionals know the names of dangerous ships, the names of their owners and their flags."

Chirac wants Europe to take the initiative in demanding the creation, under the auspices of IMO, of an international entity responsible for "accrediting and controlling" certifying authorities, so as to end "laxness and its dangerous consequences."

Europe should also impose a special inspection regime, which is much tougher on older ships, and should revise the rules governing transportation of the most polluting and most dangerous materials.

States operating "flags of complacency" that are candidates for European Union membership must stop handing over their public control responsibilities to classification societies that also work for shipowners or charterers.

Chirac will propose at the next summit meeting of industrial nations,in July in Japan, the creation of a working group on flags of convenience. It will identify "dangerous practices that must no longer be tolerated" and the appropriate sanctions to counter them.

Meantime, the French parliament today voted unanimously to create a commission of inquiry into the safety of maritime transportation of dangerous or polluting products. The parliamentary commission will have 30 members. It will investigate the safety of maritime transportation, control of international standards for ships and cargoes and means of improving antipollution measures.

Siem exercises option to acquire NCL shares
As Star Cruises continues its attempt to acquire NCL, at 35 Norwegian kroner per share, Siem Industries, Inc. said that its wholly-owned subsidiary, Siem Leisure Industries Inc., had today exercised its previously-reported call option to purchase 1,000,000 shares of NCL Holding ASA (OSE Symbol: NCL) at a strike price of NOK18.00 per share. Upon receipt of the shares subject to the call option, Siem Industries and its subsidiaries will own a beneficial interest of 38,284,684 shares of NCL Holding, or approximately 15%, in the form of ordinary shares and American Depositary Receipts.

Maersk and Smedvig enter in cooperation agreement
Drilling companies Smedvig asa and Maersk Contractors Norge AS have entered into a co-operation agreement aimed at reduce operating costs.

The companies will cooperate in the following specific areas:

  • Purchasing, where significant economies of scale can be generated
  • Procurement of services where economies of scale will improve cost efficiency
  • Sharing of technical and operational experience and personnel
  • Development of maintenance procedures and practices in order to enhance quality and reduce costs
  • Participation in development of operating standards and regulatory requirements for drilling contractors working on the Norwegian continental shelf.

They also agreed that "operational activities may be coordinated both in Norway and internationally with the objective of maximizing the utilization of the companies' operational infrastructure."

In response to significant consolidation amongst oil companies, the drilling industry has been through a period of consolidation with fewer and larger drilling contractors as a result. The two parties are of the opinion that significant consolidation benefits will be generated by the new co-operation arrangement.

Maersk Contractors Norge AS currently operate three jack-up drilling rigs and one semi-submersible in Norway. Smedvig currently operate three semi-submersibles and one jack-up drilling rig, and has further one drillship and one semi-submersible drilling rig under completion in Norway.

The co-operation agreement now entered into between Smedvig and Maersk Contractors Norge AS does not involve any ownership integration, nor the sale or purchase of any assets. Maersk Contractors Norge AS and Smedvig will continue as independent companies.

Brown & Root planning to build FPSO's in Brazil
According to a Brazilian press report earlier this week, Brown & Root is planning to procure two FPSO's from Brazilian yards for development of the Barracuda and Caratingas fields, subject to approval by Petrobras.

New BIMCO software
The BIMCO Voyage Estimator 2000 and BIMCO Laytime Calculator 2000
have been released

The BIMCO Laytime Calculator 2000
Laytime calculation is a time consuming and cumbersome task. The new Laytime Calculator 2000 cuts the amount of time used on calculations from hours to just minutes. Demurrage and despatch calculations, the production of laytime reports, and the printing of BIMCO Standard Time Sheets are just a few of the many tasks the software can handle. Users of the new Laytime
Calculator are assisted by verification facilities for chronological and
mathematical data, while disputed laytime calculations can be checked instantly.

The BIMCO Voyage Estimator 2000
The third generation of the BIMCO Voyage Estimator introduces an entirely new concept in voyage estimation. Voyage Estimator 2000 makes the process vessel-independent and enables the user to make quick estimates, as well as more thorough calculations. The software can compute the
profit/loss and T/C equivalent of a voyage, calculated on the basis of estimated
freight, expenses, fuel consumption, distance between ports and other voyage
particulars. Sensitivity reports can be produced and break-even rates
determined. In addition, users can customise the layout and on-screen


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