Greek Shipping News Cuts
Week 09 - 2004

 

Tasman whitewash

---Inquiry outcome was never in doubt
Only days after an EU delegation left Pakistan having appealed for the release of the Tasman Spirit's crew, the results of the official inquiry have been leaked. The minister has found himself and his appointees blameless of the disaster.
PAKISTAN'S minister of communications Ahmed Ali has amply fulfilled the low expectations we had of him. His department's official inquiry into the grounding of Tasman Spirit, leaked earlier this week, is a shameless whitewash worthy of a Fairplay front cover. Although his face displaces the chicken originally intended for that spot, we feel that his moral cowardice means there is some continuity between our planned front cover and the final design.
Even before appointing anybody to conduct an official inquiry, Ali had pronounced the Karachi Port Trust (KPT) 'innocent' of charges of negligence angrily levelled by the national press and residents. We cannot help but recall the new director-general of ports & shipping, Capt Anwar Shah, admitting rather sheepishly during the same press conference that he had not even received his terms of reference.
Should we, then, pretend to be surprised that Capt Shah has squarely placed the blame for the grounding on Capt Dimitrios Karystinos? As our independent investigation concluded at the time (How to mess it up, 4 September 2003), the master should have waited for ideal tidal conditions in such unstable monsoon weather before attempting to enter the port. But why does the report, as quoted by the Daily Times newspaper, make no mention of the role played by functionaries of KPT? Speaking to us at the time, KPT chairman Ahmed Hayat said the tanker was caught in a sudden, severe squall. "Had the ship's master or the pilot known in advance that the weather was going to deteriorate so suddenly, they should not have entered the channel," he had said. Yet the report fails to mention this 'complicit negligence' of the pilot, deputy conservator, harbour master and general manager for operations. Nor is there any mention of the KPT tugs that were not available to attempt to re-float Tasman Spirit while draught was still available, because they were engaged with the tanker Forena at the time.
The many contradictions and omissions in the report will not surprise Fairplay readers, who already know the facts. Instead, let's dredge up some mud on the cynical politics that is misguiding the course of events. The leak - conveniently - comes only days after a European Parliament delegation lobbied for the release of the 'Tasman Eight' on human rights grounds. It also comes on the eve of a clash between Islamabad and Brussels over the imposition of an anti-dumping tariff. And if the master carries all the blame, why is the salvage master Nikos Pappas still being held?
The minister has clearly had a two-point agenda all along. First, he needed to demonstrate his loyalty to Karachi, the MQM party's stronghold, which was why he publicly promised to obtain $1Bn for the city immediately after Tasman Spirit spewed its load, long before the inquiry was even begun. Second, like any sensible politician in a military-supervised 'democracy', Ahmed Ali would have recognised that failure to back the KPT chairman, a three-star admiral, would earn him the wrath of the president, Gen Pervez Musharraf, who personally vets all 'strategic' appointments.
Ministry insiders have repeatedly confided that the minister has shown no interest in the affair since his very public display of anguish last August. It seems that the minister (and therefore the officials working under his direction) has been playing to the galleries. The one-sided findings of the report are evidence that no sincere attempt was made to seek truth in its entirety. Perhaps those who drafted the report failed to realise that, by totally exonerating KPT, they would also discredit its credible findings. Its conclusion that the vessel's mechanical condition was a major factor in the grounding might be true, but the assertion lacks credibility because the report does as a whole.
We might have been tempted to laugh at such a lack of vision, were it not for the ominous implications it holds for the eight seafaring professionals about to lose their minds in a five-star prison.
Source: http://www.fairplay.co.uk, 26 Feb 04


Angelicoussis decides to withdraw from massive U.S. IPO
---Freshly Minted understands that Kirsten Navigation, the tanker company controlled by John Angelicoussis, made significant progress in the early stages of preparing to launch a $400 million IPO on the New York Stock Exchange, but has recently decided to withdraw from the process. Although the underwriting group was not firm, Goldman Sachs was thought to be the favored choice for lead with another four banks including Jefferies coming in to support the deal.
As the tables below clearly illustrate, this would be an ideal time for Angelicoussis to access the public markets. Comparable stocks are trading at an average of about 1.5x net asset value and are also enjoying lofty spreads over book values.
Although we have seen very little issuance of fresh equity, this is primarily because the public companies have chosen to do deals with unsecured debt and boost ROEs and are also generating more cash from operations than they have uses of proceeds. But in the case of Kirsten Navigation, which has a common shareholder with Anangel American that was delisted from the American Stock Exchange, the timing would have been perfect due to the massive capital commitments that the company has for its newbuilding LNG Carriers, VLCCs and Capesize bulkers. Moreover, investors could have taken comfort in the fact that their capital was going toward newbuildings, not into the sponsor's pocket.
So why did the company decide to withdraw from the process? Our guess is that the decision has to do with increasingly stringent regulatory requirements on public companies including the necessity of audit committees, management of Sarbanes-Oxley, etc. The cost of such compliance can run into the millions but for many private companies the biggest issue is disclosure.
Source: www.marinemoney.com, 26 Feb 04


Minoan, Anek, Nel continue run of good results of ferry operators
"Despite the fact that the total traffic volumes in the Adriatic Sea market marginally decreased, the rearrangement of the company's routes and our intense efforts in marketing and sales, managed to increase the vessels' loading factors and subsequently improved the market shares," said a Minoan statement.
"The competitive advantage of Minoan Lines' fleet, operating with higher profit margins, supports our efforts for healthy growth and further improvement in profitability, targets already set for 2004," it added.
Source: www.newsfront.gr, 27 Feb 04


Suppliers: 'Early end' to Piraeus strike unlikely
---Bunker players in Piraeus were preparing for a period of inactivity today, after protesting workers at two local refineries confirmed they would begin striking at midnight tonight.
Worker leaders from Hellenic Petroleum's (HP) 125,000 barrels-a-day (bpd) Aspropyrgos refinery and the smaller Petrola SA Paneuropean Oil refinery said today that the strike would go on for an initial five-day period. Both refineries supply fuel to Piraeus's three million tonne-a-year bunker market.
Only the privately-owned 195,000 bpd Motor Oil Corinth refinery will continue to provide residual product to certain pre-selected suppliers.
For suppliers without access to Motor Oil, the strike could have a significant impact. "We will load our barges tonight from the refineries and try and support all our current nominations. After that we will be very bored," one supplier joked.
Workers at the Petrola refinery have aligned themselves with HP workers in a dispute over the continued privatisation of the Greek oil company, sources said today.
"This is not going to be a short one," one supplier warned. "I doubt there will be an early end," she added.
A spokesperson for a supplier with access to Motor Oil said that the refinery was the most technologically advanced in the region, producing less residual product. "Its not renowned for an excess of heavy fuel oil (HFO)," he said.
He added that current weak demand in the Piraeus market could offset any serious supply problems. "The market is not that active right now," he said.
Bunkerworld early indications for Piraeus today saw IFO380 product at $145.00 per metric tonne (mt)(+$3.50), and IFO180 at $158.00 mt (+$2.00).
Source: www.bunkerworld.com, by Alisdair Pettigrew, 24 Feb 04


Bodyguard shootout at shipowner's house
---A Piraeus shipowner's embittered former bodyguards were in police custody yesterday after allegedly invading their former employer's house and engaging in a shootout with their successors.
One of Ioannis Mavrakakis's two current security guards, Kyriakos Papadopoulos, 27, was lightly injured by a bullet that grazed his arm and thigh. Together with his colleague, Yiannis Syrianidis, Papadopoulos allegedly came under fire from their two immediate predecessors, Zacharias Vivellakis and Costas Lazanas, during the shootout late on Monday at Mavrakakis's house at 8 Vassileos Pavlou Street in the upmarket Piraeus district of Kastella.
Mavrakakis himself was away at the time of the attack.
Vivellakis and Lazanas were arrested early yesterday. Police believe the bodyguards were seeking revenge for the loss of their jobs.
Source: www.ekathimerini.com, 25 Feb 04


EVENTS DIARY (Piraeus/Athens)
News and Annoncements are welcome at: news.desk@marine-marketing.gr
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AMMITEC "First Tuesday" social gatherings
Date: 2 March 2004 anytime between 6 and 9 pm "To Thalami", Agias Triados 5 & Palaiologou, Palio Faliro next to cinemas "Faliro 1 & 2"
Following our past joyfull gatherings, we are continuing the "First Tuesday" AMMITEC social events, to get together over food and drink, to get to know each other better and to discuss informally our daily needs. We will gather after work for a leisurely meze and ouzo or wine session, in a nice mezedopoleio where we can relax and enjoy nice food and drinks. We will be holding such meetings every First Tuesday of every month. Everyone is welcome, including spouces and any friends. There is no other formality, just pop-in and join us after work for a pleasant evening out. The bill will be shared by everyone who comes.
For more information: Mr. Panagiotis Nomikos, on behalf of AMMITEC Board info@ammitec.org
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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
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Digital Ship Athens
Date: 2-3 November 2004
Conference: Maritime software, satcoms, electronics
Digital Ship Ltd, Tel (+44 207) 510 4935, Fax (+44 207) 510 2344, http://www.thedigitalship.com, editor@thedigitalship.com
Source: Organisers Announcement