The U.S.-Iran Talks: Ideology and Necessity

By George Friedman

georgefriedmanThe talks between Iran and the Western powers have ended but have not failed. They will reconvene next week. That in itself is a dramatic change from the past, when such talks invariably began in failure. In my book The Next Decade, I argued that the United States and Iran would move toward strategic alignment, and I think that is what we are seeing take shape. Of course, there is no guarantee that the talks will yield a settlement or that they will evolve into anything more meaningful. But the mere possibility requires us to consider three questions: Why is this happening now, what would a settlement look like, and how will it affect the region if it happens? Continue reading “The U.S.-Iran Talks: Ideology and Necessity”


100% of Palm Oil bought will be traceable to known sources by end 2014

unilever logoUnilever announced a significant move in its journey to accelerate market transformation towards sustainable palm oil, announcing that by the end of 2014, all of the palm oil Unilever buys globally will be traceable to known sources. Unilever is one of the world’s major buyers of palm oil for use in products such as margarine, ice cream, soap and shampoo. It purchases around 1.5 million tonnes of Palm Oil and its derivatives annually, which represents about 3% of the world’s total production. Continue reading “100% of Palm Oil bought will be traceable to known sources by end 2014”

SBM Offshore sells Diving Support and Construction Vessel

sbmSBM Offshore has agreed to the sale of the DSCV SBM Installer, a newbuild Diving Support and Construction Vessel (DSCV), to Daya Vessels Limited, a subsidiary of Daya Offshore Construction Sdn Bhd, for US$180 million in cash. Both parties have signed a memorandum of agreement, subject to the buyer securing transaction financing, and expect to close the transaction in Q1 2014. No regulatory approvals are required and Board approval for the sale has been obtained by both parties. Continue reading “SBM Offshore sells Diving Support and Construction Vessel”

Mr. Obama, I Am Unhappy That Obamacare Threatens To Kill Me

by Ralph Benko

glass_surgeryWill Barack Obama kill, or financially ruin, me?  Interesting question.

This columnist is one of the, reportedly, millions whose health insurance (much of good quality and affordable) has fallen prey to an Obamacare “Death Panel.”  My insurance policy of long standing, apparently, will disappear on January 1. My efforts to replace it, in the Exchange, have been thwarted by an epic fail of the Obamacare system.

Many repeated efforts to access the new exchange have been repulsed by technical glitches. (Maryland’s Navigators, let it be said, are knowledgeable, polite, and offer, as best as possible within the constraints of a thoroughly broken system, excellent customer service.)  All efforts to get in and apply for replacement coverage have been repulsed.

To you, Mr. President, this is may be an annoying detail.  To me, it is, well, a contingent death sentence.  Continue reading “Mr. Obama, I Am Unhappy That Obamacare Threatens To Kill Me”

EU citizens pay 20 times too much for traffic noise reduction

europebynight3Until 2017, European governments will be spending  125 billion euros for noise barriers, quieter roads and measures related to the negative effects of traffic noise, including damage to health. However, by simply making cars quieter, the total cost to the taxpayer could be reduced by a factor of twenty. All the more remarkable, then, that no legislation is forthcoming, says Paul de Vos, strategic advisor at engineering and consultancy firm Royal HaskoningDHV. Continue reading “EU citizens pay 20 times too much for traffic noise reduction”

SBM Offshore announces departure of COO

sbmSBM Offshore confirms that effective immediately Bruno Chabas, CEO, has temporarily taken over the role of COO following the dismissal of Jean-Philippe Laures, COO. Although no further comments can be made at this time regarding the circumstances leading up to his dismissal, the company reassures the market it is not related to the operational performance of the projects in hand. The Company’s 3Q 2013 trading update is scheduled to be released November 14, 2013.

LatAm container handling growing at lower pace

latamThe region’s sluggish exports and slower growth prospects for the world economy carried over from late 2012 have accentuated the slowdown in port activity during the first half of 2013, according to ECLAC figures. Panama’s Colon is still leading the region’s container ports, followed by Santos (Brazil) and in third place Balboa (also Panama). Both Panamian ports lost a bit of ground, while Santos kept growing. The first trio is closely followed by Mexico’s Manzanillo, with a growth of almost 10%. Continue reading “LatAm container handling growing at lower pace”

Vopak Q3 2013 group profit amounts to EUR 132 million

logo_vopakVopak third quarter Group operating profit before depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) -excluding exceptional items- decreased by 5% to EUR 185.6 million (Q3 2012: EUR 196.3 million). Adjusted for adverse currency translation effects (EUR 9.3 million) the decrease was 1%. Continue reading “Vopak Q3 2013 group profit amounts to EUR 132 million”

China’s Inevitable Changes

By Rodger Baker and John Minnich

stratforThe Central Committee of the Communist Party of China will convene its Third  Plenum meeting Nov. 9. During the three-day session, President Xi Jinping’s  administration will outline core reforms to guide its policymaking for the next  decade. The Chinese government would have the world believe that Xi’s will be  the most momentous Third Plenary Session since December 1978, when former  supreme leader Deng Xiaoping first put China on the path of economic reform and  opening.

Whether or not Xi’s policies will be as decisive as Deng’s — or as  disappointing as those of former President Hu Jintao — the president has little  choice but to implement them. China’s current economic  model, and by extension its political and social model, is reaching its  limits just as it had prior to Deng’s administration. The importance of the  upcoming meeting is that it comes at an inflection point for China, one that its  leaders can hardly afford to ignore. Continue reading “China’s Inevitable Changes”

Shell moves ahead with 80,000 barrel per day Carmon Creek project

shellRoyal Dutch Shell plc (Shell) announced its decision to proceed with its Carmon Creek project in Alberta, Canada, expected to produce up to 80,000 barrels of oil per day.  Carmon Creek is a thermal in situ project that is 100 per cent Shell owned and will be part of the company’s broader production, refining and marketing business across the full value chain in North America.  Continue reading “Shell moves ahead with 80,000 barrel per day Carmon Creek project”

For the Tea Party and GOP to Unite and Win, Follow the (Shrinking) Money

by Ralph Benko

GOP_Logo1_svgWhat is the next direction in the Republican Civil War?

Best guess:  Follow the Money.

Americans feel their dollars shrinking.  We don’t like it.

And we are groping for a way to stop it.

The left is reported shamelessly cheerleading for a  bout of inflation in no less than the lead story of the October 27 Sunday New York Times:  “In Fed And Out, Many Now Think Inflation Helps.”   The story states, for example, that Harvard economist Kenneth S. Rogoff is championing inflation of 6% a year for “a few years.” Continue reading “For the Tea Party and GOP to Unite and Win, Follow the (Shrinking) Money”

Kotug performed its first assistance on the River Thames

kotugKOTUG’s RT Champion performed her ‘first’ assistance in the Thames on the tanker vessel “STEN IDUN” to the Oikos Jetty, London. As of October 2013, a full 24/7 towage service, supported by KOTUG’s local management, will be available to assist the clients at the Oil and Gas Terminals on the river Thames and the London Gateway Container Terminal. In cooperation with ship managers, terminal operators, local agencies and its own representatives, KOTUG is happy to be in a position to offer its innovative services combining the skills of its highly trained and dedicated UK crews with a sophisticated and modern fleet of powerful Rotor®Tugs and ASD Tugs. Continue reading “Kotug performed its first assistance on the River Thames”

Latin American and Caribbean unemployment rate could fall to 6.2% in 2013

latamThe Latin American and Caribbean region could end the year with an urban unemployment rate of between 6.2% and 6.3%, which would be slightly lower than 6.4% recorded in 2012, according to the latest projections from the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) and the International Labour Organization (ILO). Continue reading “Latin American and Caribbean unemployment rate could fall to 6.2% in 2013”

IHC secures largest floating discharge lines order

ihcThe dredging industry’s largest order for floating discharge lines has been secured by IHC Parts & Services, part of IHC Merwede. The confirmation of the purchase of 85 12-metre armoured floating discharge hoses by the National Marine Dredging Company (NMDC) is believed to have set a new sales landmark in this particular sector of the market. Continue reading “IHC secures largest floating discharge lines order”

Subsea 7’s Seven Waves at Huisman for installation of equipment

huismancranesHuisman, the specialist in lifting, drilling and subsea solutions welcomed Subsea 7’s Seven Waves at the Huisman Schiedam quayside. The vessel, built by IHC Offshore & Marine in Krimpen aan den IJssel, will be equipped with a 550mt Flex-lay system and a 400mt Offshore Mast Crane. Continue reading “Subsea 7’s Seven Waves at Huisman for installation of equipment”

IMF: Mozambique to improve business climate

imf_sealAn International Monetary Fund (IMF) team, led by Doris Ross, visited Mozambique during October 16-30, 2013, to hold discussions towards the first review under the three-year Policy Support Instrument (PSI) approved in June 2013. A summary of the team’s findings follows below. Continue reading “IMF: Mozambique to improve business climate”

OMA/Royal HaskoningDHV Rebuilding New York Vision Presented

logo-rhdhv-largeFollowing the announcement from the President’s Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Task Force that the OMA/Royal HaskoningDHV team were selected as one of only ten multidisciplinary design teams to participate in the Rebuild by Design competition, the team presented their four Design Opportunities in New York City (NY) and Newark (NJ) on 28 October 2013. The competition is intended to give the “world’s most talented people” the opportunity to respond to the aftermath of hurricane Sandy by delivering their visions and innovative solutions that would increase resilience across the Sandy-affected region. Continue reading “OMA/Royal HaskoningDHV Rebuilding New York Vision Presented”

Port of Rotterdam throughput shows upward trend

portofrotterdamIn the first nine months of this year, over 332 million tonnes of cargo were handled in the port of Rotterdam, virtually equal to the same period of last year. The top performance came from dry bulk, such as coal, iron ore and agribulk. Throughput figures for crude oil were noticeably lower than in 2012, due mainly to the weak fuel market in Europe and maintenance shutdowns at the refineries. Thanks to flourishing international trade, however, more oil products were imported and exported. Container throughput was down due to the economic crisis. Continue reading “Port of Rotterdam throughput shows upward trend”

Thalassa Hellas of Evergreen Line sets new record for ECT

terminalThe 13,808 TEU Ultra Large Container Ship (ULCS) Thalassa Hellas of Evergreen Line made its maiden call at the ECT Delta Terminal today.  The maiden visit marks Evergreen Line’s entry into the league of ULCS operators and with 6,750 moves or 11,500 TEU handled at her first port call in Europe a new record was set for ECT. Continue reading “Thalassa Hellas of Evergreen Line sets new record for ECT”