Best of o ur wild blogs: 30 Oct 13

Over 50 mature American bullfrogs released into Bishan Park
from Life's Indulgences

Sat 2nd Nov : Heritage Guided Walk
from a.t.Bukit Brown. Heritage. Habitat. History.

Hot Spot for Butterfly Sighting and Photography Part 1
from Beauty of Fauna and Flora in Nature

Butterflies Galore! : Apefly
from Butterflies of Singapore

Garcnia nigrolineata – The beaked kandis
from lekowala!

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Rise in pirate attacks near Batam

Zakir Hussain Indonesia Bureau Chief In Jakarta Straits Times 30 Oct 13;

THE waters off Indonesia's Pulau Nipah, some 10km south of Tuas and north-west of Batam, have seen a spike in attacks on ships, prompting maritime watchdogs to warn vessels to be extra vigilant when anchored in the area.

The Singapore-based information sharing centre of the Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in Asia (ReCAAP), in its latest report out this month, highlighted seven incidents involving tankers anchored at Nipah Anchorage in the first nine months of this year.

Earlier this month, another four attacks took place on ships anchored at Nipah and nearby Karimun Anchorage, the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) said.

All but one occurred between 2am and 5.30am and involved groups of four to six robbers.

There has been a steep decline in piracy and armed robbery on ships passing through the Strait of Malacca and Strait of Singapore in recent years, partly as a result of coordinated patrols by littoral states.

But these latest robberies have sparked concern that pirates are resurfacing in waters off Indonesia and could pose a greater threat if not checked.

"These attacks are not like those off Somalia, they are more low-level and localised," said Mr Noel Choong, head of IMB's piracy reporting centre in Kuala Lumpur.

"But for a seafarer, it does not matter what a pirate is looking for as the seafarer may be injured or killed," he noted.

"If the police and navy can concentrate efforts on these few areas, it will bring down the attacks."

ReCAAP recorded 55 attacks in Indonesian waters over the first nine months of this year, up from 48 over the same period last year and 11 in 2009.

In most cases, the robbers were armed with knives and weapons like machetes and metal rods. They made off with engine spare parts and bearing shells.

IMB has recorded 12 more attacks this month, the latest on a chemical tanker at Belawan anchorage, another hot spot off North Sumatra, on Sunday.

Dr Sam Bateman, senior research fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies' Maritime Security Programme, said security in some Indonesian ports and anchorages is a problem.

He suggested better coordination between agencies providing security, more active patrolling and enhanced radar coverage.

Commodore Agus Heryana, commander of the Indonesian Navy base at Tanjung Pinang on Bintan, said crew should also play a part and stay vigilant.

"(The robbers) usually strike before dawn, when patrol boats rarely pass," he said.

"We will act if we encounter them."

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BCA to study how to equip older buildings to deal with haze

Neo Chai Chin Today Online 30 Oct 13;

SINGAPORE — When the Republic went through its worst spell of haze in June this year, some building owners were left helpless as murky clouds of pollutants formed in their lobbies.

IAQ Consultants, which provides indoor air quality diagnostic and consultancy services, tested the buildings of 12 to 15 clients then and found that none of them met standards specified in Singapore’s code of practice for indoor air quality of air-conditioned buildings, said its General Manager Emma Precious.

That could all change in the future, as the Building and Construction Authority (BCA) is studying if older buildings can be better equipped to deal with haze situations, should they occur again.

In particular, it wants to find out whether upgrading their air filtration systems is a feasible idea, what technical challenges the work could entail and how much it would cost, including for subsequent maintenance and the differences in energy consumption.

It called a tender earlier this month to study 10 existing non-residential buildings — including hotels, malls and offices — that are more than 10 years old.

Asked why it was commissioning the study and whether it was because of concern about the impact of the haze on building occupants earlier this year, the BCA would only say that indoor environment quality is one of the focus areas of its upcoming third Green Building Masterplan.

It mentioned a “haze situation” in the tender “so that tenderers can take such situations into account in the feasibility study”, a spokesperson said.

It is not known how many buildings here are equipped with air filters of the Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value 13 (MERV 13) standard stated in the tender, but those developed since 2009 are required to have secondary air filters that meet the mark.

MERV 13-rated filters should ideally filter out more than 90 per cent of particles 1 to 3 microns in size.

The current code of practice for indoor air quality of air-conditioned buildings specifies thresholds for potential indoor air contaminants — for instance, that particulates up to 10 microns in size should not exceed 50 micrograms per cubic metre.

Buildings with the BCA’s Green Mark certification are likely to have more efficient air filters. Nearly 1,700 buildings — which make up one-fifth of the total gross floor area here — bear the Green Mark, said the spokesperson.

Although Singapore’s buildings are probably better equipped than those in Malaysia or Indonesia to filter out pollutants, most older buildings here that he has encountered have less efficient air filter systems rated MERV 5 to 8, said Mr Nigel Grier, Chief Executive of BE Integrative Design, a specialist engineering, design and project management firm. “A lot more can be done,” he said.

Experts noted that cost could be an obstacle to filtration system upgrades.

More efficient air filters may cost 12 per cent more than less efficient ones, said Mr Joseph Toh, Chairman of the Institution of Engineers’ mechanical and electrical engineering technical committee. It costs about S$8/sq m of gross floor area to upgrade to an MERV13 system, he added.

Even among air filters with the same efficiency, costs can vary by up to 10 times, noted Mr Grier. But he pointed out that higher-quality, higher-level filters generally mean lower system costs over their lifetime.

It is “critical” for businesses to ensure high indoor air quality for their staff, he said. “Business must go on (even during the haze) and people need to be able to work in a comfortable, healthy environment.”

Mr Toh also added that “a healthy building may be able to command higher rentals and attract more people to occupy it”.

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Malaysia: Potential Investors In Pengerang Integrated Petroleum Complex Taking Wait-and-see Attitude

Mohd Haikal Mohd Isa Bernama 29 Oct 13;

JOHOR BAHARU, Oct 29 (Bernama) -- Most of the companies that have shown interest in the Pengerang Integrated Petroleum Complex (PIPC) are now adopting a wait-and-see attitude before making the final decision, according to Johor Petroleum Development Corporation Bhd (JPDC).

Its chief executive Mohd Yazid Jaafar said the potential investors involved wanted to wait for the final decision by Petronas on the Refinery and Petrochemical Integrated Development (Rapid) project before deciding on the next move.

"Based on our evaluation, the companies involved have just expressed their interest (to invest in PIPC) and not more than that. They are awaiting the final decision by Petronas whether it would continue the Rapid project or not," he told Bernama here Tuesday.

Mohd Yazid expected the national oil company to make the final decision on its mammoth investment in Rapid in March next year.

"Cost escalation (for Rapid project) is the main consideration for Petronas," he said.

Asked on the background of the potential companies interested to invest in PIPC, he said the bulk of them are service providers in the oil and gas industry.

According to previous reports, Petronas was expected to invest some RM60 billion in the Rapid project to build a refinery with a capacity of 300,000 barrels per day, a naphtha cracker and petrochemical complex.

The project will span 2,500 hectares (ha) out of the overall PIPC project covering 8,000ha.

Asked on the status of PIPC if Petronas decided not to continue with Rapid project, Mohd Yazid said PIPC has other components besides Rapid such as Pengerang Independent Deepwater Petroleum Terminal (PIDPT).

PIPC would also have facilities to carry out trading in oil products, he said.

The first phase of the PIDPT project costing RM1.9 billion, which consists of the construction of a 1.3 million litre storage facility, was more than 80 per cent complete and was expected to be fully operational in April next year, he said.

"PIDPT is expected to receive the first oil cargo vessel in April next year, to mark its operation," he said of the RM5 billion project.

The PIDPT project is being developed by local firm, Dialog Bhd with the cooperation of Royal Vopak from The Netherlands and a subsidiary of the state government, State Secretary Inc.

Apart from PIDPT, Dialog and its two partners will also build a regasification terminal at PIPC, which is estimated to cost RM4 billion.


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