Greek Shipping News Cuts
Week 48 - 2002


Greek tanker incident keeps the Media engaged

The Media focussed on accusations, denials and politics throughout the 3rd week following the Greek tanker incident of Spain.
Short of interest in Prestige and the fate of it's 68 years old Greek Captain, a ship's master for more than 30 years, who has been in Spanish custody since the vessel sank, press reports during week 48 include:
CAPTAIN: TANKER HIT BY CONTAINER (AFP, La Coruna, Spain, 25 Nov. 02)
...Greek captain Apostolos Magouras said a container floating in a busy shipping lane holed his ship's starboard side, according to La Voz de Galicia newspaper.
After "a very loud sound" at the moment of impact, the Prestige began to list badly and took on water, forcing him to fill the port ballast tanks to stabilize the tanker, Magouras said.
The captain, who has been in Spanish custody since his vessel sank on Tuesday, denied allegations that he had refused to cooperate with Spanish authorities by directing the tanker toward the coast. He said he "risked his life" to help a towboat take the tanker farther out to sea.
...Greece's shipping minister George Anomeritis has said that Europe's own shipping industry should not be penalised in the wake of the Prestige accident by any unilateral measures that are not applicable to shipping globally as well.
...Spain dismissed accusations that the country could have done more to salvage a stricken oil tanker that spilled 11 million litres of oil and sank to the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean.
Environment Minister Jaume Matas instead blamed the Dutch salvage company SMIT for the spill from the Prestige, the newspaper La Razon reported yesterday. The oil washed up on the shores of northwestern Spain, causing grave environmental damage and crippling the region's fishing industry.
"It's a disgrace that we should have to provide explanations for these people," Matas said.
The strongest British ire, however, was reserved for Loyola de Palacio, the European Union energy and transport commissioner who harbors political ambitions back in her homeland of Spain. Miss de Palacio, a former Spanish farm minister who has been tipped as a future prime minister, repeated Madrid's false claims about Gibraltar throughout the week, and threatened to prosecute Britain for failing to inspect the tanker.
...The spill has renewed the debate about maritime safety in Europe which had died down after a rush of new legislation that followed the 1999 Erika disaster in which a long stretch of French coast was polluted.
Spain is among states now wanting those measures implemented sooner. "The first thing that has to be done is that the measures adopted by the EU should take effect as soon as possible," Spanish Foreign Minister Ana Palacio told reporters in Malaga before the summit.
Palacio's sister, EU Transport Commissioner Loyola de Palacio, also called on Tuesday for the EU measures agreed after the Erika disaster to be implemented immediately.
...The oil spill on Spain's northwest coast may have hurt many businesses - but the tourism industry is experiencing a sudden windfall thanks to the influx of journalists, clean-up crews and the curious.
"We're completely full, and it's the same story with the other major hotels in the city," said a desk clerk in the upscale Melia Maria Pita hotel near the historic centre of La Coruna.
Luis Raices said that before the sinking of the tanker Prestige last Tuesday, the hotel had been only 50 percent full, a normal occupancy level for this time of year.
"But within a day or two, we were suddenly at 100 percent," he said, expalining that foreigners - mostly journalists - kept the phone busy with reservation requests.
Enquiries at the other big hotels revealed identical situations there. Rooms were even scarcer
Those who were in La Coruna armed only with a desire to help were paying their own way in budget hotels or, for some Spaniards, were staying with friends.
Others with experience with previous oil spills were being put up in the city's main youth hostel, where daily briefings took place, according to Carlota Viada, a coordinator with the Spanish Ornithological Society.
...Oil traders are hesitating to charter old tankers for the long Europe-to-Asia voyage following the Prestige spill but a profitable arbitrage has led to bookings of several over 20 years old, traders said on Tuesday. They said oil companies were reluctant to charter very old, single-hulled, tankers after the 26-year-old Prestige broke in two and spewed 10,000 tonnes of heavy fuel oil onto some of Spain's most scenic beaches.
"The arbitrage to Asia is open but we can't find suitable tonnage at the moment. There's nothing around to go East. The tankers that are here are either too old or people's vetting has got a bit conservative," one trader said. Traders said the two 50-55,000 deadweight tonne tankers, Byzantio and Princess Pia, are being offered to oil companies at $1.1-$1.2 million for the trip to Singapore.
They said the rate, in theory, was about five percent below prevailing market rates but cautioned that it was difficult to estimate if there was any discount because there was no comparable newer tanker in the market.
...Russian/Swiss Crown Resources saved USD 5,000 per day by chartering the 26-year old "Prestige" compared with the charter cost of a more modern vessel. This is claimed by Lloyd's Marine Intelligence Unit, which also says that the age of the tankers chartered by Crown has almost doubled since the "Erika" catastrophe in 1999. The average age is said to have increased from 11 to 19 years while the general trend for cargoes such as crude oil and heavy oil has moved in the other direction, from 13 to 12 years. According to the same report, Petrian Shipbrokers in London, which brokered the "Prestige" to Crown, also brokered the "Erika".
...Four European nations yesterday backed moves to ban old, single-hull oil tankers such as the Prestige - whose recent sinking led to a devastating spill on the Spanish coast - from entering EU waters.
Portugal's prime minister, Joao Manuel Durao Barroso, called on other nations to support the moves by France and Spain when they propose new EU rules on tanker traffic at a summit in Copenhagen next month.
"France, Spain and Portugal will jointly present this proposal at the EU summit in Copenhagen," Mr Durao Barroso said after meeting the French president, Jacques Chirac, in Paris.
Italy's prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi, appeared to respond to that call during a visit to Rome by Spain's prime minister, Jose Maria Aznar. "After the disaster that has hit Spain, Italy immediately embraced the proposal," Mr Berlusconi said.
France and Spain have decided to push ahead without their EU partners and impose new regulations making it almost impossible for single-hull tankers older than 15 years to enter their waters.
...Spain's Green Party sued the government on Friday, charging criminal responsibility over an oil tanker disaster that has blackened a pristine coast and sent a new monster oil slick near the shores of Galicia.
The Greens, who have one member of parliament, assailed the Spanish government for tugging the stricken tanker out into choppy seas rather than containing the slick and bringing the vessel to port, where its fuel could have been unloaded.
"The management of this crisis was straight out of a manual. A manual of what not to do, of how to deceive the public, of how to avoid making decisions," Green party chief Jose Maria Mendiluce told reporters after filing his suit and meeting with the chief state prosecutor, Jesus Cardenal.
Cardenal's office must decide whether to forward the case to the Supreme Court. A spokesman for the prosecutor said he was under no time restraints to act.
Mendiluce said the disaster revealed the "incompetence of arrogant know-it-alls ... who have placed this country at the back of the pack of the third world in crisis prevention."
...In the seaside town of Tallinn, Estonia, 20 Greenpeace activists are preventing the next oil disaster from leaving port. Chained to the mooring lines of the rusting, 26-year old Maltese-flagged, Greek-owned tanker Byzantio are some of the same activists who last week were cleaning up after the Prestige oil spill in Spain. They'd rather stop this oil from leaving port than be cleaning it up on another beach.
Upon learning of the ship's location and planned route 48 hours ago, Greenpeace scrambled to assemble an international team to stop the ship. Hoping to keep the tanker from taking on oil, the team raced against time to get equipment, inflatable boats, and survival gear together for a possible extended conflict, with team members assembling from offices across Europe. They arrived to find the ship fully loaded with oil, 41 feet deep in the water, and with its engines warming up for departure. They arrived in the nick of time. The Byzantio is chartered by the same company that contracted the ill-fated oil tanker Prestige that sank off the north-western coast of Spain earlier this month.
The French government has called the ship a "floating dustbin" and demanded additional inspections by the Estonian government. The Estonian inspectors found "no major defects" according to press reports. No MAJOR defects? That doesn't appear to have satisfied the French government, who have ships on standby to escort any unsafe tankers into French ports for additional inspections. Insanely, ships like the Prestige and the Byzantio can pass safety inspections and be deemed perfectly safe, due to the laxity and loopholes of shipping regulations.
And until Greenpeace is convinced that our elected officials are going to make our seas safe from oil, we don't believe ships like the Byzantio should be allowed to sail.
OIL TANKER SPILLS CAN BE PREVENTED (The Advocate Online, 30 Nov. 02)
...The recent ecological disaster off the coast of Spain reminds us of what fuels the modern lifestyle.
The Greek-owned Prestige oil tanker leaked at least 2 million gallons of fuel oil into the sea Nov. 19 before splitting in two and sinking. The ultimate fate of its remaining 20 million gallons of cargo is uncertain.
There is a temptation to solely blame the oil industry for such spills because it profits handsomely from oil trade. But in truth, all who benefit from oil bear some responsibility.
If oil companies have failed to double-line tanker hulls since the Exxon Valdez poisoned Prince William Sound in 1989, it is in part because consumers did not wish to pay the increased fuel prices needed to fund the extra cost.
A species intelligent enough to create microwave ovens, compact disc players and cellular telephones can figure out how to transport crude oil without killing wildlife and ruining beaches. But the push must come from the general population.
Sitting back and wishing for something better without actively working for it is a recipe for stasis.
Source: International Press, 25 Nov. - 1 Dec. 02

Greece set to focus on FOC's during upcoming EU presidency
...With the benefits of Greece's flag now being recognised by owners switching more vessels into the home registry, and with Athens moving to tightens links with prospective European Union members Cyprus and Malta, the country's Marine minister George Anomeritis has reiterated that flags of convenience are to be the centre of attention during Greece's six-month EU presidency, starting January 1.
Confirming this in a letter to his Spanish counterpart, Francisco Alvarez Cascos, following the sinking of the Bahamas-flagged aframax Presitige, Anomeritis said "the environment should not be endangered by the narrow interests of offshore companies". He maintained countries operating focs must be forced to apply the same standards as those in the EU on safety and manning.
The closer monitoring of focs comes as the Greek flag continues to grow on the back of modern tonnage being brought in and older units being deleted as a result of being sold or scrapped. Among the most recent operators to notify a switch of flag to Greece are Centrofin Management, Danaos Shipping, Hellespont Tankship and Minerva Marine, all of whom in the past have tended to use other flags.
...But additions to the registry have largely been confined to newbuildings with the average age of the additions in 2002 being eight years against deletions averaging 24 years over the same period.
...Although not a member of IACS, the Greek classification society is, exceptionally, recognised by the EU
Source: Newsfront (, 29 Nov. 2002

Planned tax on offshore firms is bound to hit capital inflows
...Greek-owned merchant shipping has a clear global lead and is developing at a fast pace, having invested huge amounts in newly built vessels. It has always been a prominent player in world shipping, but this has mainly consisted of second-hand vessels. The new growth is the result of long experience, hard work and high risks undertaken by Greek shipowners, and has been extensively accompanied by diversification through investments in manufacturing, the stock market and real estate.
This has long been done via offshore companies. For shipowners, in particular, offshore companies offer flexibility and speed in management. The State has encouraged such investment, granting special privileges to these companies for re-exporting the proceeds of property sales and income from leasing them, without the requirement of a permit from the Bank of Greece. The Greek economy has reaped considerable benefits from such investment in the form of foreign currency inflows, taxes, boosts to the real estate market and the income from those employed in the sector as well as from construction.
The tax advantages to offshore firms are real but very limited. This is because their set up, operation and the subsequent legal purchase of real estate here involve considerable expense, and taxes are much heavier than those paid by Greek-registered companies and individuals. Offshore firms pay transfer tax, great real estate tax (FMAP), municipal taxes and income taxes without being entitled to amortization and to deduction of expenses from taxable income. Claims that such firms enable their owners to escape paying transfer and inheritance taxes, as well as FMAP by splintering big personal properties are really unsound.
The State now appears set to change the rules of the game and impose a debilitating 3 percent tax, which, in addition to the 0.7 percent FMAP and the other levies, make such investments prohibitively expensive. The excuse is that offshore companies are extensively engaged in money-laundering. What is deliberately ignored is that anyone wishing to launder dirty money would not invest in a property with an address known to authorities, but put their money into other investments more difficult to locate.
The threatened change in rules is unfair, burdensome, counter to the principles of good administration, abusive and unconstitutional. It will also create a climate of insecurity and uncertainty, will deter any further such investment, hit property prices and the incomes of those working in the sector as well as the wide array of related occupations in the construction industry. It will also indirectly hit public revenues and divert capital to other countries where the framework of rules is more favorable.
Any economic policy which aims to establish equality in the treatment of persons and companies should optimize the opportunity of offshore companies and secure the considerable inflows of foreign capital.
Source: Kathimirini, 26 Nov. 20, by Giorgos K. Xiradakis, managing director at XRTC Business Consultants.

Russia, Greece and Bulgaria set to sign Balkan oil pipeline deal
...Russia, Greece and Bulgaria are expected to sign a EUR 700 million deal next week to build a Trans-Balkan oil pipeline to carry Russian crude from a Bulgarian Black Sea port to Greece's Mediterranean port of Alexandroupolis, a senior Bulgarian government official said Friday.
"We're ready to move ahead with the pipeline project and the cooperation agreement will be signed in Athens on December 3," Bulgaria's Deputy Minister of Regional Development Hassan Hassan told reporters.
Greece's Latsis Group, a keen promoter of the project, plans upgrades at Alexandroupolis so it can handle larger oil tankers of up to 300,000 metric tons instead of the 150,000-ton limit currently in effect, a Latsis official said at an industry conference in Sofia earlier this week.
The pipeline would compete with several other regional projects to carry oil from Russia and the oil-rich, but landlocked, Caspian region to key Western markets. Supporters of the Trans-Balkan pipeline say it is shorter and cheaper to build than the other longer, multibillion dollar alternatives and has the added advantage of avoiding Turkey's increasingly overcrowded Bosporus Straits.
Through its Bulgarian branch, Russian oil major Lukoil (R.LUK) wants to participate in the project, which is also known as the Bosporus bypass pipeline.
And Kazakhstan's state oil and gas company KazMunaiGaz has also expressed interest in the project as an alternative route to export Kazakh oil to global crude markets.
The 280-kilometer Trans-Balkan pipeline will link the Bulgarian Black Sea port of Burgas with Alexandroupolis in the Greek Aegean Sea.
The 36-inch diameter pipeline will transport 300,000 barrels a day, increasing to a maximum of 700,000 b/d, an oil industry official said.
Source: Dow Jones Business News , 29 Nov. 02

Tanker undeservedly called "ship of horrors"?
...Aegean Shipping Management, which operates the "Byzantio", has responded to information published in the media which describes the tanker as a substandard "ship of horrors".
The company has shown Lloyd's List a report from a port state control in Rotterdam carried out two weeks ago without any registered defects. Two years ago, the "Byzantio" underwent Det Norske Veritas' Condition Assessment Programme, CAP, and was awarded a CAP 1 grade, the highest grade, which means that the vessel's steel dimensions are higher than the corrosion margins normally required in a class spe-cial survey.
The detention order issued in Dublin last August is sharply criticised by Aegean Shipping, which has demanded that Paris MOU remove it from the list.
The company says that the inspector was spiteful. The company also dismisses reports about a collision with another tanker and claims that the "Byzantio" came in contact with a bunker boat in port and that there was no oil leakage.
Source: Scandinavian Shipping Gazette, 28 Nov. 02

M/T Magnitude of Milford Haven
Technical managers and operators of the 1992 built crude oil tanker, "Magnitude", C.H. Sorensen Management AS, report that at approx. 08.00 hrs Monday 25 November, following routine checks, a light sheen of oil was noticed at the side and stern of the vessel. At the time, the 96,136 dwt "Magnitude", loaded with 90,000 tonnes of crude oil, was holding some 20 miles south-south-west of the Port of Milford Haven awaiting notification of a berth.
The Maritime and Coastguard Authority (MCA) and the Port of Milford Haven were contacted by the vessel and the vessel's managers and notified of the incident.
The managers and operators state that the oil discharge, which they believe can be measured as a few litres, could have been caused by a pinhole in a plate or weld. Oil cargo was transferred internally to other cargo tanks as a preventative measure. Any oil leak has now stopped, as confirmed by a spotter aircraft sent to fly over the area.
Divers have been contracted to attend the vessel on the morning of November 26 and weather permitting, will investigate the nature of the leakage. Following the inspection, the "MT Magnitude" will await discharge orders from the Port of Milford Haven and following consultation with the MCA. Discharge is now expected to be on Friday November 29.
Controlled by the Greek ship-owner Polys Haji-Ioannou, the Magnitude is one of 12 tankers managed by Polyar Tankers AS, a commercial ship management company based in Oslo, Norway. Polys Haji-Ioannou has managed oil tankers out of Norway since 1993.
Source: Polyar Tankers (, 25 Nov. 2002

Events Diary (Piraeus/Athens)
Date: 3 Dec. 2002, 18:00 hrs at Ledra Marriott Hotel
Held by Jotun Hellas
Addtional information: Ms. Skourti, Tel: 210 4285 980
Date: 3 Dec. 2002, 17:30-20:00 hrs at ANANGEL Shipping Co. Auditorium, 354 Syngrou Ave.- Athens
Organized by the Greek CIMAC Association.
Speakers: John Odegaard and Ulrik M. Rasmussen, Consulting Engineers, Odegaard & Danneskiold - Samsoe A/S, Denmark
Attendance to the Seminar is FREE, but limited to 80 persons
To register, please use the directions at:
For more info.: (+30) 210 772 1119 Mrs Bousiou
Date: 3 -4 December 2002
Elections will be held, during the Panhellenic Seamens Federation (PNO) meeting. Candidate for the top position is John Halas, current secretary general.
ISM CODE: Benefit or Burden?
3 - 5 December, 2002
DNV Piraeus, in-house training facilities.
Presented by DNV Piraeus in co-operation with DNV Rotterdam, this 3-day course focuses on the top 10 failure causes for Safety Management Systems, as well as on Risk Assessment.
For more information: Ms Vassilia Dimitrakou, tel: +30 210 4100 200
Date: 12 December 2002, 9:30 hrs at the Piraeus Marine Club, 51 Akti Miaouli, Piraeus
Titled: P&I - No end to the Investment and Liability Challenges
Chaired by Lou Kollakis, Chartworld Shipping.
Presentations by:
M. Godfrey, Heath Lambert
J. Hughes, The American Club
M. Salthouse, North of England
J. Grose, The Standard
P. Hinton, A. Bilbrough & Co
C. Serty, AXA
E. Jacobs, Skuld
A. Fielder, The UK Club
F. Malmros, The Swedish Club
C. Hallak, Topmar Shipping Corp.
R. Ingles, Elysian Insurance
Price: EUR 60.00 per person incl. lunch.
Additional information: Ms. Ketty Vienna, Piraeus Marine Club, Tel: 210 4293 606/8.
Date: 3-5 June 2003, Astir Palace Resort, Vouliagmeni/Athens, Greece
The 2nd International Shipping and Bunker Conference is organised by Limited and Concorsa Limited, in association with IBIA (International Bunker Industry Association).
For more info:
Source: Source: Organisers announcement