Sailor takes on Pacific in wave-powered boat

March 19, 2008

A Japanese sailor has set out from Hawaii for Japan, hoping to complete the 7,000 km (4,400 mile) journey using only the power of the waves beneath his boat.

Garlanded with flowers, 69-year-old adventurer Kenichi Horie waved from the deck of his catamaran-like boat as he set off on the latest of many challenges he has taken on since he became the first Japanese to sail solo across the Pacific in 1962, a video of his departure from Hawaii showed. The vessel for his latest adventure, the Suntory Mermaid II, has two wings in front, which convert the energy from waves into a movement similar to a dolphin’s kicks, making it the world’s first boat to be powered by the vertical motion of waves. “Twenty years ago while sailing, an accident broke my main mast which actually fell in the sea,” the white-haired Horie said before setting sail on Sunday local time from Honolulu. “The boat kept rocking and I thought how great it would be to actually harness the power of those waves to push the boat forward.” He plans to reach his destination — the port of Hino, about 450 km (280 miles) southwest of Tokyo — at a leisurely pace. “The speed of the boat is just faster than a human walking pace, perhaps not quite a jogging pace. The trip is meant in part to promote the commercial viability of the invention, which will bring a new option to those seeking to travel in an environmentally friendly way.

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China delays issue of permits for Australian ore imports

March 19, 2008

China has delayed issuing permits needed to import some spot iron ore cargoes from Australia, thereby upping the stakes in ongoing price negotiations with miners.

The delays appear to be a response to Rio Tinto’s earlier declaration that it would cut the volume of iron ore delivered to term customers by 10% – as allowed under its contracts – in order to maximize sales on the spot market, where prices can be twice as high. The sources did not say how many cargoes were affected. The miners, Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton, are still negotiating with steel mills over term iron ore prices for the upcoming year, holding out for more than the 65% increase that mills agreed with Brazil. To prevent merchants and steel mills from importing too many spot cargoes and thereby driving up spot prices during negotiations, Chinese authorities vet contracts before clearing cargoes for import and delivery to final users. Senior officials at top Chinese iron ore importer Baosteel Group declined to comment on whether spot imports from Australia were currently being delayed. Last week, Baosteel chairman Xu Lejiang told that Australian miners were already cutting the volumes delivered under term contracts.

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Barloworld Logistics announces significant international acquisitions

March 19, 2008

Barloworld Logistics, supply chain management subsidiary of industrial  multinational  Barloworld, announced a major growth initiative by acquiring  Dubai-based Swift Group and its affiliates in the Far East, India, UAE, Africa and Germany.

The acquisitions will catapult Barloworld Logistics into the global logistics arena, especially with regard to multimodal transport solutions, with several niche services and logistics activities between South East Asia, the Indian subcontinent, Europe and Africa. The Swift group is privately held and has grown an international  network specializing in distinctive logistics solutions and services. In its 19th year of operation, Swift is a leader in global transportation and logistics, with well established services between South-East Asia and Western Europe and a number of innovative freight logistics solutions specific to African Markets. Swift employs 700 employees in its 46 offices in 21 countries, spanning the Middle East, Far East, the Indian subcontinent and Africa. The acquisition will include the marketing operations of one Swift’s business partners in Germany, which has been responsible for the commercialization of sea-air combined transport, operating from the Far East and the Indian Subcontinent via the UAE to various destinations in Europe.

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Hamburg fights for Hapag

March 19, 2008

The impending breakup of Hapag-Lloyd’s parent group TUI is causing serious concerns among German businessmen, politicians and trade unionists who are keen to preserve the German container line as an independent entity.

TUI’s supervisory board gave the go-ahead for a separation of the shipping business by way of a sale, merger or listing on the stock exchange. The company will investigate all options in the coming months and hopes to implement a solution by year-end, said chief executive Michael Frenzel at the annual general meeting in Hanover. Trade union representatives on the supervisory board have grudgingly agreed with the plan. However, they made it clear that they expect a “local solution” for Hapag instead of a takeover or merger. Founded over 160 years ago in the Hansestadt, Hapag today ranks fifth among the global container lines with market share in terms of capacity of about 4%. The line more than doubled its operating profit to €197M last year. TUI’s split from shipping has been instigated by a powerful group of shareholders including Norway’s John Fredriksen and US investor Guy Wyser-Pratte.

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