First Valemax finally docks in China

An epic shipping saga of 2012 came to an end this week when the 388,000dwt Berge Everest carrying a cargo of iron ore for Brazilian mining giant Vale was unexpectedly allowed to dock and unload in Dalian, NW China, reports Reuters. The ship had originally been bound for a transhipment port in the Philippines, according to her voyage documents, but what appears to have been a last-minute change of heart by the Chinese authorities allowed the giant VLOC (very large ore carrier) to dock at her intended destination. The year to date has been punctuated by a wrangle between Vale and the Chinese authorities over whether the series of 35 new VLOCs being built for the Brazilian mining giant at yards in China (launch pictured) and Korea would be allowed to dock at ports in the PRC. Ranging between 380,000dwt and 400,000dwt, the vessels represent the world’s largest VLOCs with around half planned for ownership by Vale, the rest to be chartered. In June the Vale Brasil was en route for China but had to head for Italy instead when Chinese authorities refused permission for he vessel to dock. Since then, cracking in the ballast tank of Vale Beijing whilst loading in Brazil has heightened safety fears over the new mega-sized vessels, and the China Shipowners’ Association has been a stout critic of what it sees as Vale’s attempts to corner the ore import market. The reasons for the change of heart by the Chinese authorities remain unclear, but it can be pointed out that Berge Everest, unlike Vale Brasil and Vale Beijing, was built in China, at Bohai Shipbuilding HI, thereby investing the first Valemax docking with greater national kudos. Also the vessel is controlled by Berge Bulk, part of the BW Group run by the family of the late Chinese shipowning legend Sir Y.K. Pao. It remains to be seen whether permission for future Valemax dockings will be straightforward. Source : Seatrade Asia