Greek Shipping News Cuts
Week 27 - 2011
---Purchases by Greeks come in at just 100, down from 181 in the first half of 2010.
The number of secondhand ships and newbuilding-resale contracts acquired by Greek interests plummeted in the first half of 2011 compared with the same period last year.
Data collected by TradeWinds shows that in the first six months of 2010, Greeks bought 181 ships of 13.7 million dwt at a cost just shy of $6bn. Of this total, 86 vessels went to listed companies.
This year, saw just 100 ships of some 6.8 million dwt come into Greek ownership in the six-month period at a cost of around $2.4bn. Listed companies accounted for 21 of those purchases.
For this year, Allied lists 83 purchases worth some $2.3bn at the end of June, while last year, excluding the extensive Georgiopoulos buys, it showed totals of 148 vessels and $4bn in spending.
Always given the provisos that some deals fail to finalise and others are concluded off-market, the buying trends are an indication of the sentiments of the usually market-savvy Greek owners.
Containership purchases have remained at almost the same level, with 19 boxships bought this year, as compared with 23 last year.
Bulkers, however, have slipped way down, with just 46 being acquired in 2011, as against 105 last year.
Tankers have also dipped in popularity, with Greeks shopping for 23 this year, down from 43.
Greek buyers rounded out 2010 with close to 300 purchases and an outlay of almost $9.3bn, some 40% up on 2009.
By Gillian WhittakerAthens
Published: 22:01 GMT, 07 Jul 11 | updated: 18:46 GMT, 06 Jul 11
Thenamaris heads new Greek LNG charge
--- Tuesday 05 July 2011, 17:01 by Nigel Lowry
At least four other potential Greek LNG debutantes are talking with yards as noted Greek tanker owner clinches pair of 160,000 cu m vessels
THENAMARIS Ships Management has inked contracts for two new liquefied natural gas carriers from Samsung Heavy Industries, as a number of leading owners discuss deals which could double the number of Greece-based companies involved in the LNG sector.
Sources close to the order did not demur from an estimate of about $400m for the project. The contract makes no provision for options, it is understood.
The highly-rated Dinos Martinos-led tanker owning group heads at least five Greek shipowning groups which in recent weeks have been exploring making their LNG debut.
The contracts appear to pip a potential first investment by George Economou in the sector.
The entrepreneur has been in talks for two to four LNG carriers with both Samsung, where his publicly listed DryShips vehicle has drillships and tankers under construction, as well as at Hyundai Heavy Industries.
However, group sources are adamant that any move in LNG will be through his private empire, not Nasdaq-listed DryShips.
Earlier this year Angelicoussis Shipping switched three very large crude carrier contracts it had with Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering into orders for three LNG carriers for its Maran Gas division.
Just days ago, Maran Gas inked separate orders for a further two carriers of 159,700 cu m, plus two options, at Daewoo, as well as two vessels of 163,700 cu m vessels, plus two options, at Hyundai.
The Hyundai and Daewoo vessels are said to differ in terms of capacity but also type of insulation system, although in other respects are similar.
Already this year another two of the original four Greece-based players in LNG have contracted further vessels.
GasLog ordered four new vessels of about 155,000 cu m, based on a refined version of the design of two tri-fuel, diesel electric newbuildings delivered to the company last year, and it is understood to be still negotiating at least another two units.
Meanwhile, Dynagas recently ordered two LNG carriers of about 160,000 cu m, plus an option, from Hyundai.
Altogether, the confirmed Greek orders for new LNG carriers so far this year are worth more than $3bn.
The suggestion of a flight of capital away from the tanker and bulk carrier sectors is borne out by both Thenamaris and Metrostar.
Thenamaris, a company which has traditionally managed dry bulk tonnage and in particular tankers, recently made its debut in container vessels before the latest splash in LNG. It has reinvested in tankers, but cautiously.
Metrostar recently divested itself of a large fleet of tankers and bulkers, and has remoulded its fleet profile by buying containerships. It also recently took delivery of the first of two drillships from Hyundai.
Megacore is no more
---(July 8 2011)---The owning partners in product tanker joint venture Megacore Shipping have decided to dissolve the company.
According to media reports, Omega Navigation Enterprises and a Glencore subsidiary, the two companies involved with Megacore, have terminated their agreement.
At one stage earlier this year, the joint venture owned seven Hyundai Mipo type Handysizes and LR1s and had another four LR1 newbuildings, due for delivery this year and next.
The construction and acquisition of these vessels had been funded with bank debt and equity contributions from the joint venture shareholders.
Last February, Omega announced that an unaffiliated third party had purchased, at Omega's original book cost, a 20% minority equity interest in the Omega subsidiary that owns a 50% interest in Megacore Shipping.
In a statement at the time, the company said that Omega retained full control of this subsidiary, 80% of the shares of which remained under Omega ownership.
The proceeds from the sale were used to fund newbuilding payments on the LR1s for the joint venture, Omega said.
Omega Navigation Enterprises and Certain Subsidiaries File for Reorganization Relief Under Chapter 11
---Omega To Continue To Operate in the Ordinary Course of Business
July 8, 2011
HOUSTON, Texas, July 8, 2011 - Omega Navigation Enterprises Inc. (NASDAQ - ONAV) announced today that it and certain of its subsidiaries have filed voluntary petitions under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Texas (Houston). The Company believes that the Chapter 11 process will facilitate restructuring, which is designed to restore the Company to long-term financial health.
The Company believes that in light of the unwillingness of its Senior Lenders to work with Omega on an out-of-court restructuring of its Senior Loan Agreement, the Company needs the protection of Chapter 11 to ensure the uninterrupted operation of its vessels and services to its customers. The Company is disappointed in the Senior Lenders' intransigence and has commenced litigation against them in Greece. The Company wishes to assure its customers and suppliers that Omega will continue to operate in the ordinary course of business during its Chapter 11 proceedings.
The Chapter 11 filings include the following companies and vessels: Omega Navigation Enterprises, Inc.; Omega Navigation (USA) LLC; Galveston Navigation Inc (the Omega Lady Miriam); Beaumont Navigation Inc (the Omega Lady Sarah); Carrolton Navigation Inc (the Omega Prince); Decatur Navigation Inc (the Omega Princess); Elgin Navigation Inc (the Omega Queen); Fulton Navigation Inc (the Omega King); Orange Navigation Inc (the Omega Emmanuel); and Baytown Navigation Inc (the Omega Theodore).
The Chapter 11 filings do not include Omega Management Inc, the Company's technical vessel manager, nor does it include the Company's wholly-owned subsidiary Omnicrom Holdings Ltd, which indirectly owns a 50% interest in each of the vessels Omega Duke and Alpine Marina through two separate joint venture entities, or Omega Investments Inc, which owns 80% of OD Investment Inc, the owner of the vessels Megacore Honami, Megacore Philomena and of Hull 2295 (under construction) and Hull 2299 (under construction).
In addition, as separately announced by the Company, effective July 1, 2011, the Company's joint venture with Topley Corporation, named Megacore Shipping Ltd., was terminated. This termination will have no effect on the Chapter 11 proceedings.
Omega's principal legal advisor for the restructuring process and Chapter 11 proceedings is Bracewell and Giuliani LLP. The Company's financial advisor is Jefferies & Company, Inc.
Additional information about the reorganization will shortly be available at www.omeganavigation.com.
Star Bulk moves to new executive offices and appoints Mr Kleopas as Chief Operating Officer?
---ATHENS, GREECE, July 6, 2011 - Star Bulk Carriers Corp. (the "Company" or "Star Bulk") (Nasdaq: SBLK),a global shipping company focusing on the transportation of dry bulk cargoes, today announced that it has moved its executive offices to new premises at 40 Agiou Konstantinou Str, 15124 Maroussi, Greece. All interested parties are kindly requested to update their records accordingly.
Star Bulk also announced the appointment of Mr. Zenon Kleopas as the Company's new Chief Operating Officer. Mr. Kleopas has over 30 years of experience in the shipping industry and served as General Manager of Combine Marine Inc. before joining Star Bulk.
Spyros Capralos, President and CEO of Star Bulk commented: "I am pleased to be welcoming Mr. Kleopas on board the Star Bulk management team.I believe that the addition of his extensive experience and operations management expertise will have a significant contribution to the company not only in maintaining our fleet in the best possible condition, but also in continuing our operating expenses optimization strategy.
"Implementing our intentions to bring operating costs down, we relocated the Company's executive offices to new premises benefiting a reduction of approximate 50% in total rental expenses while still accommodating the Company's current and future growth plans."
Libra Group Announces Internship Program with Greek America Foundation
---Posted on 03 July 2011 by Anastasios Papapostolou
George Logothetis, Chairman and CEO of Libra Group, a global conglomerate with diverse corporate holdings, took the stage at the 2011 Gabby Awards and made a major announcement about a new initiative his company was launching in partnership with the Greek America Foundation and the American College of Greece.
The new internship program will provide unique, once-in-a-lifetime opportunities to young Greek Americans enrolled in college to participate in internships at Libra companies throughout the world.
Cruise firms react to new legal framework
---By Nikos Bardounias
The new legal framework for the cruise sector has raised serious concerns in the industry, as the lifting of restrictions, or cabotage, seems only to concern cruise ships sailing under flags from non-European Union states.
The two main stumbling blocks for the industry are the obligation for companies to sign a contract with the Greek state, something unheard of elsewhere in the world, and the steep port levies, that come up to 3.95 euros per cruise passenger - prohibitively high according to international experience.
Port congestion is another issue. Owing to bad planning and insufficient infrastructure, cruise ships often find themselves gridlocked in the summer at popular ports such as Piraeus, Santorini and Myconos, forcing them to alter their schedules.
ekathimerini.com , Sunday Jul 3, 2011 (22:50)
'Greek owners already contribute enough'
According to a ministry statement, Chrisohoidis and Pamboukis reiterated that the minister seeks initiatives to boost and upgrade Greek shipping. However, the ministry has not yet detailed ways it intends to act on that.
Source: Fairplay Daily News 08 Jul 2011
Seafarers pressure Paboukis over Euro 1.3bn penson shortfall
---Greece's ferry and sea tourism sectors breathed a sigh of relief July 5 when the executive committee of the Panhellenic Seafarers Federation (PNO) voted to postpone strike action until July 20. Leaders of the 14 unions comprising the PNO said they would wait for the deputy minister of Development, Competitiveness and Shipping, Haris Paboukis, to reply to a list of concerns led by the looming Euro 1.3bn shortfall of the seamens' pension fund.
The PNO leadership said it would "wait for a few days" to allow the minister time to respond to their concerns covering pension and insurance issues, before deciding their course of action. Paboukis has reserved the right to respond "within the next few days in cooperation with the Finance ministry", but the seafarers have warned they will proceed with strike action before the end of July if the answers are not to their liking.
The PNO is demanding the repeal of Article 44 of the implemention package of austerity measures passed by the Greek parliament, June 29, that effectively secured for Greece the next tranche of emergency funding as the country battles to stave off bankruptcy. The article referred to reducing funding of the Seamens Pension Fund (NAT), that will affect seafarers pensions. PNO is saying that within 20 months seafarers' pensions have been cut by 55%.
According to data from NAT, and the seafarers other two principal welfare funds the projected deficit for 2011 exceeds Euro 1.3 bn.
PNO's general secretary, John Halas, has warned the federation is ready to take industrial action in the midst of summer.
Paragraph 1 of Article 44, after two amendments had been tabled, stated: "Funding of the Seamens Pension Fund [NAT] for 2011 will be reduced by Euro 50m compared with 2010, and from 2012 onwards by Euro 100m a year, compared with the funding received in 2010."
The PNO had called a 24-hour strike June 30 protesting the pension cut. This action halted all ferry services for a third day after members of the Communist-led PAME labour union had prevented passengers from boarding ships, June 28 / 29 as part of a 48-hour work stoppage called by most of the country's union bodies to coincide with the parliamentary debate and vote on the austerity measures.
ELPE merger with Petrola
---ANA-MPA/The merger of Hellenic Petroleum S.A. (ELPE) and Hellenic Petroleum Company-Petrola S.A. was approved by the regional development, competitiveness and shipping ministry on Thursday, to be effected with the absorption of Petrola by ELPE.
Petrola is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Athens-listed ELPE.
ELPE controls three of the country's four refineries -- in Aspropyrgos, Elefsina and Thessaloniki -- and more than 60 percent of the market.
Maersk expects rates to return to healthier levels during second half of 2011
---Monday, 04 July 2011 00:00
Maersk recently set the trend when it comes to modern container vessels with its Triple-E vessels order. Could you give us some feedback on the progress of this order and the scope behind it?
Maersk Line is once again taking the industry lead in building the biggest and best vessel, because it allows us to move the greatest number of containers for our customers in the most energy efficient way and with the smallest CO2 footprint - benefiting both customers and Maersk Line.
Is bigger better when it comes to the future of container shipping?
We have a whole new generation of customers that expect a different kind of service level from all their suppliers. Our customers repeatedly tell us that other buying factors matter to them besides price - such as schedule reliability, money-back guarantees, quick notifications of delays, intuitive self-service wherever possible, and ease of business. They expect that we will serve them on all these parameters.
The shipping industry is faced with three fundamental challenges: our unreliability, our complexity and our environmental impact. But instead of making excuses we should stop the repair work and see them as fantastic opportunities.
These are the main points of change we will try to bring to the industry.
How do you see containerized trade demand shaping up in 2011?
The first signs from 2011 have been as good as expected - no more, no less. At the same time, we see more capacity than needed being introduced in the Asia-Europe trade in the first half of the year and that might put a downward pressure on rates. In general, the market is sending mixed signals and we expect some volatility for the rest of 2011. Most importantly, we are reasonably confident about the development trade volumes towards the end of the year and overall, we do not expect major rate deterioration.
The emerging markets continue to grow ahead of the mature markets. The US economy is still struggling, but we expect it to continue to grow for the rest of 2011. In Europe there are obvious challenges in several countries, but Germany continues to recover well, based on export, and policy makers seem to be determined to solve the problems that slow down the recovery at the moment.
Maersk Line recently said that it would launch a sustainable container floor. What advantages and environmental benefits will this move bring forward?
Maersk Line has announced a new policy to refrain from purchasing containers with floors made of uncertified tropical hardwood and we are already following that policy.
As was highlighted recently by Mr. Jacob Sterling, the Head of Climate & Environment for Maersk Line, illegal logging is widely recognized as a serious threat to forests, people and wildlife. That means we feel obliged to use our purchasing power to push for higher standards and ensure that the timber we use for container floors come from responsible forestry.
Traditionally, shipping lines have fitted their containers with tropical hardwood floors. It takes two cubic meters of hardwood to produce floors for three 40 foot containers. The container industry uses approximately 1.2-1.5 million cubic meters of hardwood annually to meet demand for new containers.
As a result of the new policy, all new Maersk Line containers purchased as of January 2011 have floors made of timber from sources employing responsible forestry practices or non-wood alternatives such as bamboo and recycled plastic. Any tropical hardwood used will be certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). As an interim solution applicable only in 2011, tropical hardwood verified as legally compliant will be accepted while other floor types are scaled up in production.
To date, Maersk Line has purchased 64,000 containers that comply with the new policy. Over the next 5 years, Maersk Line will purchase approx. 3 million containers (TEU), more than doubling its current container fleet. A large percentage of the container fleet will therefore have new alternative floorboards within a relative short time span. Certified floors will be in all Maersk Line containers within 18 years, the typical lifetime of a container.
Maersk has been active in the Hellenic market for some time now. How do you see your future presence here, especially when taking into account the debt crisis and the recession that the local economy has entered?
We are committed to Greece as a country and as a market, and the current challenges do not change that at all.
As part of the economic cycle, container shipping activities in Greece have also been affected by the crisis. However we remain confident that there is an opportunity for the whole economy to recover and we believe that Maersk Hellas can play an important role by providing its reliable services to the Greek companies. And to finish on a positive note, we do see that healthy, well-run companies do thrive and grow even at this difficult time for Greece.
by Nikos Roussanoglou, Hellenic Shipping News Worldwide