Mary Nour 189 days and still counting

Mary Nour 189 days and still counting
Published: 21 January 2005

Today sees the Mary Nour entering its 189th day of enforced idleness in the port of Altamira, Mexico while it awaits a court ruling over its eventual fate. Over Christmas and New Year holiday period, the national courts had been closed, leaving the ship and its long-suffering crew to while away the time on board, keeping the ship and its 26,200t of cement safe.

At the last count, it looked as if the local Mexican customs were going to enforce their earlier wish to confiscate the cargo and to sell it on, a move that would necessitate finding suitable storage space in the port and customers willing to buy this Russian-sourced cement. If the courts subsequently ruled in favour of the Mary Nour then the ship would be able to claim back such sales revenues along presumably with suitable damages for this extended arrest period.

Mexican cement-industry officials say they are within their rights to use legal means to protect their industry from what they consider to be unlawful competitors. They deny using any means other than legal to protect their business. "I have to use all the legal means available to defend our rights," Cemex Chief Executive Lorenzo Zambrano said in a telephone interview with the Wall Street Journal prior to Christmas.

The Mary Nour’s troubled voyage began after CTI Group, a cement-trading company based in Amman, Jordan, paired up with former Cemex employees in Spain and Mexico to buy cheap cement and sell it in Mexico. The Mary Nour spent the first weeks of May meandering in the South China Sea as Indonesian and  Taiwanese cement suppliers pulled out of deals to sell cement. Then, the Swiss cement broker that CTI had contracted to supply the ship with cement  backed out, complaining of undue pressures to stop any such sales.