Greek Shipping News Cuts
Week 07 - 2004

 

EU demands release of Tasman Spirit crew

---STRASBOURG: The European Parliament on Thursday demanded that Pakistan immediately release four Greek and three Filipino sailors whose tanker caused a huge oil spill when it sank last year off the port of Karachi.
"The continued detention of these individuals is unacceptable," it said in a statement that also noted that one of the Greeks had in January tried to commit suicide.
"Parliament notes that the causes of the accident are still to be determined but that the ship was under the orders of a local pilot at the time," it said. Pakistan is demanding one billion dollars in compensation for environmental damage cause by the oil spill, the worst in the country's history. The Greek-run MV Tasman Spirit ran aground last July and snapped in two in August, leaking 28,000 tonnes of crude oil into the water near the Arabian Sea port in a rich tropical marine ecosystem.
The Greek government has also insisted that Pakistan release the crew. -AFP
Source: www.dailytimes.com.pk, 12 Feb 04


KPT counsel: Owners among three worst shipping companies of world
---KARACHI: M/s Polembros, the company that owned the grounded oil tanker MT Tasman Spirit, is at number three in the list of the worst shipping companies of the world, and one of its ships had earlier run aground in similar circumstances in the United States for which it had to pay $2 million compensation.
This was stated by Mehmood Alam Rizvi, counsel for the Karachi Port Trust, during hearing of the criminal case against crewmembers of the MT Tasman Spirit before a local judicial magistrate (JM) on Saturday. The KPT's counsel submitted that the inquiry conducted by the KPT into the incident had brought forth a number of new facts and the prosecution be given further time for finalising its case against the accused.
Judicial Magistrate Mumtaz Solangi, however, rejected his plea for adjournment of the case with the observation that the district and sessions court had already directed the trial court to proceed with the case without delay because the prosecution could produce further evidence, if any, during the trial.
Accused Salvage Master Nicholas Papas, Master Captain Kruvstinoes Dimitvios, Chief Officer Meimetis Georgian, IIIrd Officer Jomero Joel, Chief Engineer Valsamos Dionisios, IInd Engineer Monongsong Roberto, IIIrd Engineeer Koulosos Georgios and Quarter Master Floras Greg are charged under Section 431, 285 and 280 of the Pakistan Penal Cod, 89 and 90 of the Karachi Port Trust Act, and 556 of the Maritime Security Act in a case number 2458/2003 arising out of FIR 25/2003 lodged at Docks police station on the complainant of Captain Iftikhar Ahmed of the KPT on September 4, 2003. All of them are on bail and are staying in separate rooms in the Pearl Continental hotel, Karachi.
The Greek oil tanker, MT Tasman Spirit, had sailed from Iran on August 26, 2003 with 67,000 metric tonnes of crude oil of the Pakistan Refinery Limited. It entered Pakistani territories the next day when it was a public holiday. It started entering into channel "B" of the Karachi port under the supervision of KPT captain Nasir Javed. Under the KPT law, every captain is bound to bring his ship into the channel under the instructions of the KPT captain. It was a rough weather on that day and the KPT captain instructed the accused Kruvstinoes Dimitvios, Captain of the MT Tasman Spirit to accelerate speed of his ship to avert mishap. The captain and other crewmembers, however, disregarded his instructions and due to this negligence and non-compliance of instructions of KPT's captain, front portion of the ship was stuck up in sand. The tragedy caused loss of oil worth billions of rupees, damage to the ship and marine life, and sufferings to citizen living in the port city.
When the case was taken up, M Illyas Khan and Muhammad Ashraf Kazi advocates submitted on behalf of the accused that the prosecution had not been able to supply them copies of case documents on the pretext further investigations are still going on. They submitted that it was first case in the maritime history that a criminal case was registered for an incident of grounding of a ship.
KPT's counsel Mehmood Alam Rizvi, however, pleaded that it was not the first case of its kind. He said earlier another ship of M/s Polembros, owners of the MT Tasman Spirit, was stuck up in sand and ran aground. Its oil spill caused huge losses for which they had to pay $2 million to offload their civil and criminal liabilities. He contended that M/s Polembros was at number three in the list of the worst shipping companies of the world. He said the inquiry conducted by the KPT into the incident had brought forth a number of material facts and the prosecution be given further time for finalising its case against the accused. The court, however, rejected the plea and ordered that copies of the case documents be supplied to the accused by February 17.
Source: http://jang.com.pk/thenews/index.html, by Akhgar Anwar Awan, 15 Feb 04


An upbeat gathering at the Hellenic/Norwegian-American Chambers of Commerce
---Once again the mood was very upbeat at the Hellenic /Norwegian-American Chambers of Commerce sponsored conference at the Helmsley Hotel in New York this Wednesday. The focus of the conference was of course, the hot topic of today in shipping - China and the changes it has been driving. As speaker after speaker charted out their visions of how China would continue to evolve over the near term future, it became clear that they were unanimous in their agreement that China is the future; with speculation only being restricted to how long it would take for China to start exerting its dominance over every aspect of shipping.
Speaking from DVB's perspective Dagfinn Lunde said that Chinese Banks are increasingly hungry for ship finance. Rates offered are at times 1/3rd of that offered by Western Banks leading to the quote above. Coming back to DVB's own plans for China he said that at Ship financing in China is replete with challenges. In most cases, even ascertaining the ownership of a vessel becomes a difficult task. This is of course further compounded by the presence of 9 different registries that make even simple documentation a challenge. Dagfinn also touched on the legal system in China and said that it needs to be made more solid. For the time being, DVB's focus will remain on the International tonnage coming out of China. DVB will reevaluate its strategy pertaining to China in 2006, when as per WTO time frame China is scheduled to open up. Answering a question on where he sees the most competition coming from for the Chinese International Tonnage business, Dagfinn said that HSBC and the French Banks have been the most active and that was where he anticipated most of the competition to come from.
Source: www.marinemoney.com, Freshly Minted Online, 13 Feb 04


Privatized ports saw improved results over three quarters in '03
---Greek ports have benefited from privatization, posting improved results in the first nine months of 2003 compared to the same period in 2002.
Leading the results are the country's two biggest ports, the Piraeus Port Authority (OLP) and Thessaloniki Port Authority (OLT), which improved their positions relative to their direct competitors in the eastern and southern Mediterranean. Other privatized ports are being upgraded through a series of infrastructure projects which are either already under way or on the drawing board.
OLP posted a 9.86 percent rise in turnover during the first three quarters of 2003, to just over 108 million euros, from about 98.32 million during the same period in 2002. Gross earnings rose 8.31 percent to slightly less than 28 million, while net pretax earnings rose only marginally, to 24.24 million euros from 24.20 million last year. Investment was quite considerable, 25.76 million, as the Piraeus port is being refurbished to accommodate thousands of visitors during the Athens Olympics.
Cargo handling in the Piraeus port rose 27.8 percent, while traffic volume in the cargo terminal rose 18 percent, to 1,196,269 TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent units) from 1,013,774 TEUs in the first nine months of 2002. As for dry and bulk cargo, the volume traffic rose 19.3 percent, to 16.015 million tons.
Passenger traffic rose 6.4 percent, to 10,557,299 people, from 9,925,954 in the first nine months of 2002.
OLT saw its nine-month turnover rise 7.28 percent. Gross earnings rose 27.81 percent and net pretax profit was 4.284 million euros. The results were positively affected by a 34.43 percent rise in miscellaneous earnings (mainly storage and office space rents and income from Pier A buildings) and a 15.10 percent increase in immaterial earnings. Total cargo handling increased 3.3 percent and the handling of containers 11.4 percent. According to OLT management, this trend continued until the end of last year and is expected to be maintained this year, as well.
OLT will be participating in the upgrading of a Bulgarian river port. This project, along with plans for developing the port's Free Zone, will be crucial in increasing OLT's earnings.
The port of Alexandroupolis, in northeastern Greece, posted a 25.9 percent increase in earnings, while managing to cut costs by 8.75 percent. Cargo volume increased 15.5 percent, to 638,600 tons, while passenger traffic was up 5.8 percent, to about 168,000.
Source: Kathimerini, Nikos Bardounias, 14 Feb 04


Zim Lines gets stroppy with Piraeus port
---The port of Piraeus is running the risk of putting a huge dent in its transit-cargo movements because it has delayed signing a service contract with Israel s Zim Lines for more than 18 months.
Zim responded to a call from the Port of Piraeus Authority (OLP) some four or five years ago to increase transit-cargo volumes moving through the port. Now it is the second-largest user of the port with around 150,000 teu of full and empty local and transit cargo passing through annually.
Nikos Arvanitis of Hellastir Shipping Services, Zims agents in Greece, says a decision by OLP s board of directors taken in July 2002 authorised OLP president and chief executive Sotiris Theofanis to sign a service agreement with the carrier.
Based on that decision, Zim dramatically boosted the amount of cargo it handled in Piraeus.
Arvanitis estimates that around 88,000 teu of Zim s 150,000-teu total represents transit cargo. Its vessels make between 16 and 20 calls per month at the Greek port using ships serving the US, the Far East, Europe and the Mediterranean. It also runs feeder services out of Piraeus to the Black Sea and Adriatic.
Because local traffic for Greece is limited, OLP has long had ambitions to boost transshipment traffic.
Theofanis was recently quoted as saying that transit box traffic increased 27.8% in the first nine months of 2003. Box movements through the port in 2002 totalled 1.4 million teu.
Arvanitis says no explanation has been given by OLP for the long delay in signing a contract with Zim.
Zim s complaints have been formalised in a lawyer s letter to OLP that Arvanitis says calls on the authority to sign the agreement immediately. Depending on their reply we will examine our future stance, he said.
The company has the choice of numerous other ports in the region including Gioia Taura, Italy, Malta and Barcelona should it switch transshipment operations.
Theofanis did not respond to TradeWinds calls.
This is not the first time that OLP has come up against problems with port users.
Maersk Sealand dropped Pireaus from its main liner service last year. It said long delays were caused by OLP over-committing transshipment volumes beyond the actual capacity of the port at the expense of customers and lines serving the Greek market.
Source: www.tradewinds.com, Gillian Whittaker Athens, 13 Feb 04


Piraeus deliveries halted as Customs get snowed in
---Bunker nominations have been suspended in Piraeus until next week. Following heavy snowfalls in the port, many offices had to close, including the customs office.
Of the suppliers in the port who made it into work today, most reported no issues with actual deliveries with barges just about able to continue operations.
Without Custom's presence though, no new nominations can be taken, so effectively the port has been brought to a standstill.
Piraeus and the South Eastern corner of Europe have been buffeted by high winds and sub-zero temperatures in the last couple of days, forcing more than just Greece to scale back bunker operations.
Winds in Piraeus have been recorded at up to 29 miles per hour today, reportedly making the -3oC temperatures feel more like -15oC.
The weather looks like it should moderate through Sunday and into Monday however - hopefully turning Greece into more of a typically Aegean port again, and less like one in the Baltic.
Source: The Bunker Bulletin, Jamie Halliday , 13 Feb 04


Greece paralysed by worst snow in decade
---ATHENS (Reuters) - The Greek capital has been shut down as one of the worst snow storms in decades grounds planes, closes ports and
highways and strands thousands of people at bus stops and train stations.
The Acropolis, symbol of the city, was closed because guards said it would be too dangerous to climb up the slippery marble stairway to the temple site.
Meteorologists had warned in advance about the storm, that started on Thursday evening and has already coated Athens with up to 50 centimetres of snow.
"It is still too early to say how heavy this storm is but it certainly is one of the heaviest snow falls in decades," a national weather center official told Reuters on Friday.
The blizzard even paralysed Greek political life. Foreign Minister George Papandreou called off a ceremony where he was scheduled to formally resign to lead the governing socialists in the campaign for March 7 general elections.
"We had to postpone the ceremony because there are problems with people reaching the ministry," a foreign ministry official told Reuters.
Though the city, which hosts the Olympic Games in six months, from August 13 to 29, is used to chaos and traffic jams, the snowfall turned central Athens into a virtual ghost town.
"I have been waiting for the airport bus (nearly two hours) ...and have seen neither a snow plough nor police to inform us," said Marina, 37, who works at the airport.
Some offices reported said half their staff had not turned up for work, while residents of Athens' western suburbs said water pipes had frozen.
An airport spokeswoman said the airport was officially closed early on Friday. Piraeus port and other harbours where foreign tourists board ferries for the Greek islands were shut by a gale warning.
The cold spell has gripped the whole of Greece, which prides itself on its 300 days of sunshine a year.
Source:


Festival in sea of rumours
---FESTIVAL Cruises has told travel agents that it has lost control of its three Discovery-class ships - Flamenco, Bolero and The Azur. The ships are currently laid up in Gibraltar in the possession of JP Morgan and a syndicate of banks. It is believed that all three have been sold, although the new owner has not been disclosed. A spokesman told Fairplay the intention is to focus on the Premium-class ships - Mistral, European Stars, European Vision and the veteran Caribe. The Stars will head for the Canaries and Morocco on 25 February, the Vision for the Antilles two days later, Mistral begins a Mediterranean cruise on 28 February and Caribe will resume Caribbean/Cuba itineraries at about the same time. He said there had been interest from other operators but no names were revealed. It is hoped that negotiations will be concluded by the end of next week. Rumours that Festival's Poulides and Andreas Potamianos from Royal Olympic were to set up a joint venture to operate the two companies' smaller, older tonnage have been strongly denied; other speculation suggests that Poulides will be forced out.
Source: Fairplay Daily News, 12 Feb 2004


Royal Olympic Cruises awaits Greek court decision
---Royal Olympic Cruise Lines Inc. (Nasdaq: ROCLF) announced today that the Greek Court administrating the Section 45 proceeding regarding its subsidiaries is expected to issue a decision in the next few days. The Court had previously given the company until today to present a restructuring plan consented to by 51% of its creditors.
Negotiations with Fortis Bank, the holder of more than 51% of the company's debt, are meanwhile continuing, in an attempt to secure the consent to a plan.
The company also announced that Athens 2004, the group overseeing the Olympic Games to be held in Athens, has recalled in full the $1 million advance deposits paid to Royal Olympic Cruise Lines. The amount was paid to secure 30% of available space on Olympia Explorer, Olympia Voyager and Olympia Countess for the period of the Olympics. All 3 ships are no longer owned or controlled by Royal Olympic Cruise Lines.
Pending further developments the company is continuing not to take bookings.
Source: Royal Olympic Cruise Lines Inc. PIRAEUS, Greece, 12 Feb 04


Genmar pays down debt, strengthens balance sheet
---General Maritime posted fourth- quarter net profit of $7.36 million, or 20 cents a share. General Maritime's net income was $26.2 million, or 70 cents a share, in 4Q 2003, which was in line with analyst expectations. The company also announced a non-recurring write-down of $18.8 million related to five of the company's nine single-hull tankers. Fourth-quarter voyage revenue was $127 million which is double that of the corresponding revenue of $63.9 million last year. Net Income for 2003 was $84.5 million dollars with the driving factors being higher spot rates and the accretive effects of the 19 newly acquired tankers.
2003 was a milestone year for the company with the fleet expanding by 47%. At the start of 2004, the company is a different entity with a much stronger balance sheet and capital structure. In 2003, the company used its strong cash flow to pay down $145.7 million in debt bringing the long-term debt including current portion to $655.7 million at year-end.
Net debt-to-cap ratio is down to 52% from a peak of 60% in May 2003 following the incurrence of additional debt to finance the Metrostar Acquistion. As of 31st January 2004, the company had a cash position of $46.3 million and reserve borrowing power of 146.5 million resulting in total liquidity position of $ 192.8 million.
2003, operating costs were higher than before with the total cash breakeven per vessel including debt amortization, and drydock costs, rising to $15223 per vessel calendar day from $13500 per vessel calendar day in 2002. The company attributed this rise to increased maintenance costs, the weakening dollar and G&A expenses associated with the new London office.
Clarifying the writedown of 5 of GMR's 9 single hull vessels the company explained that this was a result of recent IMO regulations banning single hulls from the majority of tanker trades in 2010. The company also plans to charge an accelerated depreciation in 2004 to account for the shortened lives of single hulls which were earlier expected to trade until 2015.
With 79% of the fleet double hulled or double sided, the company will be able to benefit from industry dynamics favoring rise in oil trade and the need for quality tanker operators. In 2003, the company listed its arrangements with Shell and Lukoil in its list of commercial successes. The company will continue to operate the majority of its fleet in the spot markets though time charter coverage has increased over the last year and currently about 1/3rd of the fleet is on time charter.
Source: www.marinemoney.com, Freshly Minted Online, 13 Feb 04


EVENTS DIARY (Piraeus/Athens)
News and Annoncements are welcome at: news.desk@marine-marketing.gr
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BIMCO MASTERCLASS WORKSHOP - BILLS OF LADING
Date: 18-20 February 2004, Hilton Athens, Greece
Topics include:
* The Importance of the Bill of Lading as a Receipt for the Goods
* The Importance of the Bill of Lading as a Contract of Carriage
* The Importance of the Bill of Lading as a Document of Title
* Liens on Cargo and Sub-Freight
* Claims in Tort and Bailment
* Switched Bills of Lading
* Case Studies
* Optional Assessment
For more information go to www.bimco.dk
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3rd Scientific Seminar
Date: 19 Feb 2004 at 16:00 pm at the Piraeus Port Authority Auditorium, 10 Akti Miaouli, Piraeus
Organiser: Hellenic Marine Technical Consultants & Surveyors Association and Hellenic Society of Maritime Lawyers.
The conference will be followed by a buffet reception. Admission is free.
Moderator: Dimitrios Capaitzis, Tel: (+30) 210 4525 063 / 4284 837 E-mail: capaitzi@otenet.gr
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Oil Tanker -Hull Inspection
Date: 20 February, at DNV Maritime Service Centre Piraeus
Course description is available at http://www.marine-marketing.gr/users/dnv
For more details, please contact Ms. Vassilia Dimitrakou, Tel: 210 4100 200
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Company/Ship Security Officer (CSO/SSO)
Date: 25-27, February 2004
Course description is available at http://www.marine-marketing.gr/users/dnv
For more details, please contact Ms. Vassilia Dimitrakou, Tel: 210 4100 200
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WORKING LUNCHEON - Efthimios Mitropoulos - Piraeus Marine Club
Date: 26 Feb 2003 at 13:30 hours at the Piraeus Marine Club, 51 Akti Miaouli, Piraeus
Guest Speaker: Mr Efthimios Mitropoulos, Secretary General, IMO. The speaker has agreed to answer questions raised by the floor.
Luncheon tickets priced at euro 50,00 can be obtained from the Executive Secretary of the Club, Mrs Kate Vienna, Tel: +30 210 4293 367 or 4293 606/8.
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Compliance with quality assurance standard ISO 9001:2000
Date: 26-27 February 2004, in Athens by ABS Consulting (Hellas)
Information: Tel: 210 4293 809 E-mail: akouros@eagle.org
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Marine Risk Assessment
Date: 26-27 February 2004,at DNV Maritime Service Centre Piraeus
Course description is available at http://www.marine-marketing.gr/users/dnv
For more details, please contact Ms. Vassilia Dimitrakou, Tel: 210 4100 200
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INTERNATIONAL FORUM - PORTS & SHIPPING
Date: 31 March & 1 April 2004, Inter-Continental Hotel Athens, Greece,
Organiser: Hazlis & Rivas Co. Ltd, Tel. (+30) 94 08 750-2, Fax (+30) 94 08 753, hans@hazliseconomist.com, http://www.hazliseconomist.com
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POSIDONIA WEEK 2004
Posidonia Cup - Friday 4 June 2004
Venue: Faliron Bay, Athens - Piraeus
Posidonia Congress - Monday, June 7 2004 (morning)
Venue: Piraeus Port Authority, Conference Centre
Exhibition - Opening Ceremony - Monday, June 7 2004 (evening)
Venue: Piraeus Port Authority Exhibition Center
Exhibition - Tuesday, June 8 2004 to Friday, June 11 2004
Venue: Piraeus Port Authority Exhibition Center
Information: Posidonia Exhibitions SA, posidonia@posidonia-events.com
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GREEK SHIP FINANCE FORUM - 6th Ann MARINE MONEY CONFERENCE
Date: 14 October 2004, at Athens Ledra Marriott Hotel
The 2003 forum attracted a total of 162 individuals during the day including presenters. From our records this includes 48 shipowners and shipowers representatives, 54 bankers and financiers, 13 lawyers and many others besides. That is substantially better in numbers and in quality than any other comparable conference in Greece.
For the 2004 conference, the organisers expect nothing less, so make your plans now.
For more information please go to http://www.marinemoney.com or contact Marine Money Greece at: Tel: +30 210 9842 136, 210 4190 164 E-mail: marine.money@marine-marketing.gr
Source: Organisers Announcement