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Thursday, September 6, 2000

Aker Maritime buys out Gulf yard partner
Aker Maritime has decided to buy out its partner, Peter Kiewit Sons,
Inc, in the Aker Gulf Marine yard in Texas. It says Aker Gulf Marine will play a
key role in Aker Maritime's commitment to the fast growing deepwater
market.

Aker Gulf Marine operates two offshore fabrication yards located in
Ingleside and Aransas Pass, Texas with facilities well suited to
service the growing Gulf of Mexico deepwater market as well as other
international offshore market.

The productivity and capabilities of Aker Gulf Marine have been
systematically enhanced over the past years by strategic investments
in yard infrastructure, facilities and equipment.

Aker Maritime says it has enjoyed a productive relationship with Kiewit, and
the management and employees of Aker Gulf Marine since the inception
of the partnership in the early 1990s. Earlier this summer Kiewit
notified Aker Maritime of its intention to dissolve the partnership.
This provided Aker Maritime an opportunity to acquire Kiewit,s 49 per
cent interest in the yard for $86 million.

The take-over by Aker Maritime of Aker Gulf Marine will take place
later in the fall as soon as U.S. authorities formally approve
the transaction. The acquisition will be financed by loans. Aker
Maritime is currently reviewing bids from several banks and expects
to conclude on the financing shortly.


Integrating ferries and highways to cut smog
A study will examine how an expanded high speed passenger ferry system in the San Francisco Bay Area can be best integrated into an existing commuter system to reduce greenhouse gases and pollutants such as CO2 and NOx .

The study is being sponsored by the U.S. Department of Transportation Center for Climate Change and Environmental Forecasting, the U.S. Department of Energy - Office of Heavy Vehicle Technologies, and the Gas Technology Institute. It will be undertaken by CALSTART, which describes itself as "an advanced transportation technologies consortium that focuses on developing new, clean technologies and solutions in transportation."

In the San Francisco Bay Area, the new Water Transit Authority has developed plans for 120 new passenger high speed ferries carrying 30,000,000 passengers per year, a significant expansion of the ferry system in the Bay Area. Some environmentalists groups have charged that the ferry expansion could actually cause more air pollution than alternatives using natural gas burning buses.

The CALSTART analysis will help determine the air quality impact of an expansion of ferry services. In the course of the study, CALSTART will evaluate emissions from both diesel fuel and state-of-the-art clean fuel ferries such as those powered by natural gas.

The study also will compare the ferry system emissions to those of other modes of transportation such as vehicles and buses to determine the relative impact of each mode on greenhouse gases and pollutants such as CO2, NOx and particulate matter. Results of this analysis will help planners combine different transit modes into a potential best transportation system. The CALSTART study will be extrapolated for nationwide consideration in other similar transportation scenarios.

The ferry system analysis builds on other related analyses that CALSTART conducts at airports, national parks and campuses through its Clean Transportation Solutions Group. The Group works with both public and private sector clients to help develop and implement transportation solutions through the use of clean alternative fuels.

 

Seven million cruise passengers by year's end?
For the second quarter in a row, cruise passenger carryings far outpaced industry capacity increases, says CLIA. the Cruise Lines International Association.

Cruise guests sailing during the Second Quarter on CLIA-member lines increased by almost 19 percent, to 1.7 million. The industry is projecting a capacity increase of 11 percent by year's end.

Altogether, CLIA and non-CLIA cruise lines carried more than 3.4 million cruise vacationers during the first half of this year. The industry, which predicted a record-breaking 6.5 million passengers by year's end, is now looking at the possibility of carrying some 7 million passengers.

"Breaking the 7-million mark is now a possibility, given the remarkable pace that has been set so far this year," says James G. Godsman, president of CLIA, a nonprofit organization that represents 25 member cruise lines and 21,000 affiliated travel agencies. "And the traveling public seems to be signaling that its desire to cruise is still unabated."

Fueling the pace of growth is a marked increase in short cruises, which are showing a 29 percent jump in business so far this year. This development is more good news for the industry, says Godsman, because first-time cruisers tend to favor short vacations at sea as a way to "test the waters."

"Since nine out of ten cruisers say they will cruise again, the expected increase in first-timers is an annuity for the industry," he explains.

Another factor this year is cruise pricing, which some industry observers have described as "the best prices since 1980." The phenomenon is attributed to the fast pace of new ships entering service, creating a temporary influx of additional berths to be filled. As individual lines offer pricing incentives to fill the influx, the consumer is the winner, says Godsman.

According to a just-completed CLIA study, more than 43.5 million people say they "definitely" or "probably" will cruise in the next five years, a significant increase over previous research.

 

 

 

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