A photo of the MV Cina Andalas which was caught by the full force of the Tsunami whilst awaiting to load at the Semen Andalas facility in Bandar Aceh last week highlights the devastation caused by the incoming wave. Over 16 crew members are missing presumed drowned, while the plant has apparently lost over 345 workers and staff out of a total of 625.
With the plant likely to be out of action for at least 18 months, Lafarge officials are now trying to set up alternative supply and shipping arrangements in order to service an extended customer base throughout Sumatera, down into Java as well as overseas. Andalas has traditionally played an important part of Lafarge’s Cementia’s Asian and African cement supply network into Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and the Indian Ocean.
Lafarge’s Langkawi works close by in Penang, Malaysia, will be asked to take on some of this extra distribution but with that plant already running at quite high capacity levels, Lafarge may have to look further afield to keep its extended customer base fully supplied. Cement swops with its neighbours Holcim and HeidelbergCement in Java could be a short term solution for its local customer base in Sumatera.
Such developments also pose questions with regard to regional shipping requirements. Clearly the Cina Andalas will be out of action for months provided the insurers do not write her off as a constructive total loss, which from the photo, is a distinct possibility. A shortage of pneumatics in the area will also push up the freighting costs considerably. One possible solution could be for Lafarge to bring in a floating terminal and site it in sheltered waters in the Malacca straits and to feed this with cement from Thailand or China while the Andalas plant is rebuilt – another job for the Mary Nour perhaps!