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An ode to transhipment

Published by
World Coal,

Capt. Giordano Scotto d’Aniello, Coeclerici Logistics, Italy.

I have worked in the shipping industry for twenty years, both at sea and in the office. In the last ten years, I have been involved in the conceptualisation of offshore logistics solutions. Frequently, while dealing with clients, such as coal mining companies, steel mills and power plants, I have noticed a lack of trust on the effective capability of transhipment to provide a solution to such clients’ logistical problems. I hope this Industry View will help to throw new light on the transhipment world.

The benefits of transhipment

Coeclerici Logistics, the logistics division of Coeclerici Group, has over 40 years of experience in this specific field. The company has engineered and promoted the use of floating terminals throughout the world. These carry out all the same functions as a port terminal, but with far smaller investment costs, lower management costs and less environmental impact.

Today, the only way to avoid some of the problems associated with port infrastructure is to handle vessels offshore. The offshore solution is based on a floating system, which is able to load and/or discharge large ocean-going bulk carriers offshore, with a good daily rate. The system might also be self-propelled, so that it can be moved easily from one location to another without the need for tugboats. The versatility of the system is such that it is able to overcome draft restrictions, vessel size restrictions and a lack of port facilities, as well as environmental restrictions. It should be simple enough to adapt to the local conditions and to operation by a local crew. The flexibility of the system should allow the terminal to handle all kinds of dry bulk cargo. Last but not least, the speed with which the system is implemented is paramount. This is because it is important to minimise the losses incurred by the importers.

If the challenges of designing and constructing such floating systems can be faced and overcome, clients can be offered solutions for their logistics needs, based on the concept of offshore transhipment units, which are fast, reliable and environmentally friendly.

Coeclerici is able to provide its customers with highly up-to-date transhipper vessels, built in line with the technological and safety standards set by the some of the most advanced shipyards in the world. An example of a successful Coeclerici transhipment project is the Moatize coal project in Mozambique. Coeclerici’s bid for the project was selected among other offers made by leading offshore logistics operators that participated to the international tender issued by Vale.

Moatize project, Mozambique

The Moatize project, acquired in December 2009, is the biggest offshore coal transhipment project ever awarded. The project foresees the handling of about 11 million tpa of coal during a 20 year contract. The cargo involved is 80% metallurgical coal and 20% thermal coal.

The project involves the exploitation of a coal mining concession area in Moatize, in the Tete Province of Mozambique, approximately 600 km from the Port of Beira. The coal is railed to the Port of Beira, but once there cannot be loaded into large panamax or capesize vessels due to limitations in the port and draft restrictions in the approaching channel. Offshore transhipment is therefore the only solution that can be implemented that takes advantage of economies of scale in the seabourne transportation part of the logistics chain.

Both transhipment units at the Moatize floating terminal are tailor-made and designed, built and operated by Coeclerici. The units are loaded at berth in Beira and transport their coal cargo to a suitable deep-water anchorage off the coast, where there are no draught constraints and where the coal is transferred into ocean-going vessels (OGV) up to 180,000 DWT via a sophisticated loading system, which is installed onboard.

Bulk Zambesi and Bulk Limpopo are each duly equipped with heavy duty cranes, grabs, a belt conveyor system (which is able to tranship at 4000 tph), as well as state-of-the-art gears. These features allow a throughput of around 12 million tpa of coal. These two twin vessels fly the Italian flag, are classed with RINA and are in compliance with the latest international code resolutions for ships’ safety and security, protection of crew and of the environment.

The agreement with Vale Group is an example of Coeclerici Group’s ability to develop solutions that can overcome port logistics constraints in developing countries. Owing to the Moatize project’s 20 year duration, it is perfectly in line with recently implemented policies that aim to ensure stable profitability for the Coeclerici Group through agreements with first-class international operators.

The path to success

Other successful floating transfer station projects, overseen by Coeclerici, include:

  • A number of floating transfer station units – Bulk Java, Bulk Borneo, Bulk Sumatra and Bulk Celebes – have all been tailor-made and designed for the specific need of PT Berau Coal (the fifth-largest coal producer in Indonesia). The stations are employed to conduct offshore coal transloading operations at Muara Pantai anchorage, East Kalimantan, Indonesia, at a loading rate of about 45,000 tpd (each unit).
  • The Bulk Pioneer unit was built for Kaltim Prima Coal (one of the largest coal exporters in Indonesia) to be used in Tanjung Bara offshore anchorage, Indonesia, for coal loading operations from barges into OGVs at a loading rate of about 40,000 tpd.
  • Bulk Kremi I: Coeclerici Spa and Transship Ltd, one of the largest Ukrainian shipping companies, set up a joint venture to operate in the Gulf of Kerch to overcome the existing logistics bottleneck in the area. Since 2010, the sufur transhipment operations, which are performed by the Bulk Kremi I in conjunction with the floating crane Atlas I, offer an integrated logistics chain solution to their users. Bulk Kremi I was converted in the year 2000 into a self-loading and self-discharging vessel to perform transhipment operations of dry bulk material in the Black Sea. In 2012, in order to further improve the services rendered by the joint venture, Bulk Kremi I has undertaken modernisation works to enhance the loading performance rate.

The successful story of the floating transfer station is unparalleled in the world of transhipment and supply chain logistics. By offering clients custom-designed solutions for some of the logistical challenges associated with standard port infrastructure, the stations can effectively enhance trading activities around the world.

Written by Capt. Giordano Scotto d’Aniello. Edited by . The author is head of the commercial logistics division of the Coeclerici Group.

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