High winds, heavy snow and below average temperatures across Europe are creating headaches for transport planners as HLPFI heads into the weekend, whilst winds of a different sort have blown in some sobering news from the Sahara.

As we write this issue of the Friday Flyer, we watch reports from Algeria on the developing situation at the remote desert gas facility In Amenas near the Libyan border. The immediate outcome of the incident is still uncertain as international governments work with the Algiers government to release the hostages and prosecute the kidnappers.

However, the incident highlights the clear and present dangers that face heavy lift and project cargo operators in many theatres of operation. Security of personnel and equipment must always be to the front of planners' minds yet some danger is unavoidable, often from unexpected quarters. Three years ago, for instance, Syria would not have registered as a dangerous place to do business. It is a fact that much oil and gas, mining and mineral extraction, takes place in dangerous locations, often with unstable or non-existent government control. The news from Algeria will see security redoubled in many of those places.

Friday Flyer readers outside of the EU may not be aware that the above incident kept the British prime minister David Cameron from making what many said was to be a historic speech on Britain's attitude to its place within the union. HLPFI is a neutral news platform but notes that many are saying the speech was aimed as much at anti-EU members of his and other political parties as it was to the wider EU community.

In the money

Royal Boskalis Westminster nv has secured EUR320 million of equity at a price of EUR33.00 per ordinary share. A total of 9.6 million ordinary shares were placed through a bookbuild offering and a private placement with HAL Investments and Project Holland Fund.

On the waterfront

It will be 'ahoy there' at Southampton as UK-based PSP Worldwide Logistics becomes the official logistics partner for the 50,000 km Global Ocean Race 2014-2015. PSP will be responsible for ensuring that race equipment, spare parts and food reach the four stopover points during the nine-month ocean race.

Saga Fortune - a 200 m long 56,023-dwt open box hold vessel - delivered late last year by Oshima Shipbuilding of Japan to Saga Shipholding AS of Norway, has completed its maiden voyage.

Odessa headquartered Varamar, which acts as general agent for White Whale Shipping (WWS), has become the commercial manager of two additional ships in the last month. The latest is the MPP Arrow which joins the company's fleet of multi-purpose vessels offering project, conventional and bulk cargo transportation.

It's a second portion of Turkey for Stena SeaLine as it adds a second Turkish port to its schedules following the addition of a second ship to its ro-pax service between Turkey and Ukraine. The line added ro-ro vessel Lazio to its fleet this month, joining the Sea Partner which has been operating the service from its start in 2011.

Up in the air

Three decades after he set up Aeros, its ceo Igor Pasternak confirmed that its Aeroscraft Heavy-Lift Air Vehicle achieved its first lift-off, performed in an engineering hangar in Tustin, California, USA.

Pasternak says that this first float test principally demonstrated the unique lightweight rigid structure conception and Control of Static Heaviness (COSH) system. He added that the first float test also met a key Aeroscraft performance goal: operate without ballast, ground infrastructure or handling. The Aeroscraft vehicle was developed for over-sized freight transportation from point of origin to point of need, offering a flexible and efficient vertical takeoff air-lift freight solution for large cargoes bound across urban, remote, even ecologically sensitive locations.

Portland, Oregon-based Erickson Air-Crane Inc. has signed a year-long deal with oil and gas company Pacific Rubiales Energy to provide heavy lift helicopter services in central Peru.

On the forwarding front

It was a first for Weiss Röhlig when it completed its debut project cargo shipment between Hamburg and Kaohsiung, Taiwan. The consignment was made up of five breakbulk cargoes up to 101 tonnes. Two 500-tonne cranes were put into action to unload the over-dimensional freight.

More eastward-bound project cargo movement was handled by Korea-based Hansaeng Express Co and StederGroup BV of the Netherlands as they managed the movement of heavy screw compressor packages between the Netherlands and Saudi Arabia.

It's show time for Kuwait headquartered global logistics provider Agility as it has been named "Preferred Logistics Provider" at the ExCel London International Exhibition and Convention Centre.

Allport, one of the UK's largest freight forwarding and logistics concerns, has rebranded as Allport Cargo Services.

Aaras Shipping Agencies has transported a shipment of gas turbines, steam generators and associated equipment from Karachi Port to Guddu power station in the Kashmore district of Sindh, 650 km inland.

Hatches, matches and dispatches

There has been a slew of changes at Terex Corp in the USA as Kevin Bradley, Terex Cranes president, is set to become senior vice president and cfo of Terex Corporation while Tim Ford, president of Terex Aerial Work Platforms has become Terex Cranes president. Not to be left out, Steve Filipov, Terex Corp president developing markets and strategic accounts is to become Terex Material Handling & Port Solutions president. Filipov will also assume the position of coo of Demag Cranes, as the subsidiary is incorporated under the Terex brand. Demag's Aloysius Rauen will continue as ceo but step aside later this year when Demag's integration into Terex is more advanced. He will then take on the role of Demag Cranes ceo. George Ellis will stay where he is as president of Terex Construction but will assume responsibility for the company's India operations. Matt Fearon, vice president and general manager of AWP Americas, has moved into the role of president, Terex AWP.

Board appointments at Cargolux see the election of Paul Helminger as chairman to replace Albert Wildgen, who stepped down in November, and the appointment of Alphonse Berns, Paul Mousel and Patrick Nickels as directors.

Stateside, The Ports of Indiana - owner and operator of three ports on the Ohio River and Lake Michigan - has appointed Rick Heimann port director for the Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor.

Ameer Ouf has relocated from the Lucky Country to Singapore, transferring from Australia Independent Shipbrokers' office In Western Australia to replace Steven Hawkswood who has left AIS Singapore.

Flemming Steen has been appointed as group cfo at Clipper Group from Danish construction company MT Højgaard. Gary Vogel and Kristian Morch will also become group ceos. Frank G Jensen stays put as chairman of Clipper Group and related companies

All about Evie

Evie Aufheben, our sassy gossip columnist, is a girl who likes her bling and likes her freight. What better way to combine the two is the recent news that the Bundesbank will repatriate 674 tonnes of their total 3,391 tonne gold reserves from vaults in Paris and New York by 2020 to restore public confidence in the safety of Germany's gold reserves? Germany hasn't bought or sold gold since 1973 and tried to keep its reserves as far west as possible during the Cold War it seems.

Frankfurt brought back 940 tonnes from the Bank of England a decade ago to save storage costs in London. Curiously, neither the New York Fed nor the Banque de France charge Germany to store its gold. The New York gold will probably by shipped by air in five-tonne shipments while the Paris gold will probably be moved by road. Evie would just love to get her hands on some of this project cargo!

She was well behaved (unlike some others) at the British International Freight Association Awards in London this week where she had the pleasure of meeting former Olympian and world champion athlete Derek Redmond who hosted the glittering event.

The late mother of a friend of Ms Aufheben's had taught Derek and she was humbled that he remembered the friend's mother after more than 20 years. As she regained her composure, Ms Aufheben tipped her hat to Asco Freight Management which took first place in the Project Forwarding category, as well as the winners of the other eight categories. Well done also to Adam Blakemore, of Insped, who won the Young Freight Forwarder award and Jimmie James who picked up a Lifetime Achievement Award. Even if you did not walk away with an Award, Evie knows you were a winner!

The Heavy Lift & Project Forwarding International LinkedIn group complements the print and online editions of HLPFI and offers you the opportunity to discuss key issues and network with your peers and a wide cross-section of industry experts. Join the discussion now at: http://tinyurl.com/ces7odb

The editorial team has completed our first issue of 2013, issue 30, which has now gone to printers and should be hitting readers' desks by the end of January. Now our attention turns to Issue 31, which will include country reports on Brazil, Russia, the USA and the Gulf States; plus a review of logistics within the mining industry; a focus on heavyweight road haulage; and an operational review of escort and permitting issues; an equipment focus on jacks, skates and rollers; plus our regular articles on law, insurance and safety; and letters from our regional correspondents. To submit editorial contributions, or book advertising, contact Ian Matheson on +44 (0) 1689 857631 or ian@heavyliftpfi.com for more information.