Greek Shipping News Cuts
Week 20 - 2004

 

Greek ship evacuated after bomb threat

---Greek police have evacuated a passenger ferry before it left the port of Piraeus near Athens for the Greek islands after receiving a bomb threat.
Authorities decided to evacuate the ship to ensure the safety of passengers after a warning was telephoned through to a newspaper's offices.
Officers have been sweeping the ship with sniffer dogs.
A police spokesman said an anonymous call was made to the Greek daily Eleftherotypia a few minutes before the ferry was due to sail to the Greek islands with 1,619 passengers.
Greece says it has has stepped up security with fewer than 100 days before the summer Olympic Games.
But a British journalist has revealed how she was able to wander around Olympics facilities in Athens "with extraordinary ease" before she was eventually spotted and then detained.
Laura Peek wrote: "It was supposed to be one of the most secure places in the world, impenetrable to terrorists plotting a possible attack on this summer's Olympics.
"But for two-and-a-half hours I was able to wander, unnoticed and unchallenged, inside what is supposed to be the Olympic ring of steel.
"I walked into the middle of the Olympic arena. It was only then - standing in the full glare of floodlights mounted on the famous Calatrava roof arches - that we were spotted by a policeman."
Source: www.itv.com, Fri May 14 2004, 12.08PM,


Embiricos attacks 'flawed and misguided' reasoning
---At a May 10 welcoming luncheon for Greece's Marine minister, Manolis Kefaloyiannis, on his arrival in London Greek Shipping Co-operation Committee chairman, Epaminondas Embiricos, set the tone for the two-day visit when he said that double-hull construction "is an extremely important matter and will determine how ships are to be constructed for many years to come". He went on: "It is essential that all issues are thoroughly considered so that a mistake is not made. Any such mistake would have serious consequences indeed, if the bulk carriers of the future were to be built to a faulty design. Whereas I am sure the proponents of mandatory double-hull bulk carriers are well intentioned and are seeking to enhance safety at sea, I fear that they have overlooked a crucial matter, the maintenance of double-hull space, which is at the heart of the safe operation of these vessels."
He pointed out the double-hull construction is aimed at protecting the vessel against the consequences of side shell structural failure. "Yet the inability to properly maintain the space within the double-hull is far more likely, over time, to result in structural failure, with potentially disastrous consequences," said Embiricos.
He said maintenance is an operational issue "which may not be appreciated by those who are not intimately involved in running bulk carriers".
Embiricos also addressed the possible revision of the Civil Liability Convention (CLC). The working group of the International Oil Pollution Compensation Fund (IOPC) is this month to look at CLC with the Greek side believing, as set out in a paper submitted by the ministry, that proposals for revising CLC with the aim to increase the level of compensation for pollution payable by shipowners and to make it more difficult for a shipowner to limit his liability, are "flawed and misguided".
Shipowners argue that the higher CLC limit is not intended to increase the overall compensation paid to injured parties, but rather to rebalance the contributions made respectively by shipowners and oil interests. Said Embiricos: "If rebalancing is indeed necessary, it can more readily be accomplished on a voluntary, yet contractual basis, as has been proposed by the International Group of P&I Clubs."
Embiricos said it is pointless to seek to revise the CLC for the purpose of eliminating substandard shipping. He explained: "A rogue owner has no intention of honouring his obligation. His plan is to operate as cheaply as possible, thus maximising his profits, and to run to the hills
if anything goes wrong. Unlimited liability is not a deterrent to him." The GSCC chairman said it would be "more effective to involve the liability of charterers who provide the employment to keep sub-standard ships and operators in business".
He warned that a revision of the CLC involves "significant dangers". "Revising CLC will require a new CLC, which will in turn require a new Fund Convention and a new Supplementary Fund. Yet there is no guarantee such a new convention would be ratified, nor how long ratification would take. The current oil pollution regime has proved its effectiveness at speedily compensating the victims of oil pollution," said Embiricos.
Source: www.newsfront.com, 14 May 04


Piraeus on track to stay a container contender
---The port of Piraeus continues to strengthen its position, not only as one of the main gateways for Greek containerised traffic, but also as a regional transhipment hub.
Last year the port's container throughput rose 14% to around 1.61m teu, following on from a 20% increase the preceding year.
Transhipment activity is the fastest growing component of the port's business, and this is based heavily on the operations of the Mediterranean Shipping Co. The Geneva-based shipping line has signed a long term agreement with the port authority and uses Piraeus to serve destinations in the eastern Mediterranean and the Black Sea.
In 2003, transhipment accounted for approximately 57% of Piraeus' container moves, having increased by 30% and 19% in 2002 and 2003 respectively.
Container traffic bound for the local markets grew by a more modest 6% in 2003.
Piraeus has to a large extent been a victim of its own success and the rapid growth in container volumes has created some significant operational problems, leading to delays for feederships and mother vessels over the past 18 months.
The Piraeus Port Authority is confident that the worst is over and suggests that the situation has been much improved so far this year.
As a key part of its strategy for accommodating the increased container volumes, the PPA is investing heavily in a major infrastructure development programme.
In particular, the Eleftherios Venizelos container terminal will be upgraded and expanded over the next 18 months.
The existing quay is being extended to provide berthing space for two additional mainline vessels, or alternatively another mother vessel plus two feeders, and it is hoped that operations at the enlarged terminal will commence by mid-2005.
Additional container handling equipment will be purchased to complement the infrastructure development.
The port authority intends buying four post-panamax ship-to-shore gantry cranes and a number of rubber tyred gantry units as well as more straddle carriers.
In future the terminal will be connected by rail with the Thriassio Pedio intermodal logistics centre and eventually with the national rail network.
The aim is to turn the port into an intermodal hub, opening up new business opportunities for the port.
While expanding the port's container terminal, the port authority is also evaluating ways of getting more out of its existing facilities.
With this aim in mind, the PPA has commissioned a team from the University of Delft to undertake a comprehensive simulation of its container facilities, while the Centre for Advanced Infrastructure and Transport in New Jersey is to develop a berth planning support system.
Both of these initiatives are designed to help the port of Piraeus raise productivity levels, and so improve vessel turnround times.
Source: www.lloydslist.com, Friday May 14 2004


Restis adapts for the future
---The Restis Group is adapting for the future. Like many Greek shipowners, the Group is looking into new areas of operation. Chief executive officer Victor S. Restis here explains why the profile of the Greek fleet is rapidly changing.
Big-spending Greek shipowners are changing the face of their industry. They splashed out a record USD 5.6 bn on newbuildings, resales and secondhand purchases in 2003 but, significantly, the nature of their deals is changing, Cruiseships, containerships, liquefied petroleum gas carriers, and now possibly LNG carriers, have come to figure prominently alongside the traditional tankers and bulk carriers.
"The environment of world shipping is changing and we have to adapt to succeed in the future," says Victor Restis. "As shipping and the world at large become more sensitive and environmentally aware, it is inevitable that a younger, safer and state-of-the-art fleet is called for. This genuine desire to improve, coupled with very low interest rates, new regulations restricting older vessels and world trade growth can be summed up as the main reasons behind Greece's appetite for modern second-hand and newbuilding tonnage."
Enterprise Shipping & Trading, the shipping arm of the Restis group, currently has 50 vessels in its fleet, which is made up of a mix of reefers, container vessels, bulk carriers and tankers. Further diversification is on the cards.
"Even from our start-up days, our company has always been identified with quality and recognised as forward thinking and an advocate of change and progress in line with the times and market environments. It is inevitable that our company will continue to expand provided the economics make sense, without ruling out diversification into new emerging energy sectors," says Restis.
Commenting on future developments in the bulk markets, Restis says "The tanker sector will be driven predominantly by the western world's desire to import refined products from further afield due to the inability to expand current refineries or build new ones. As for crude, China's amazing growth will dictate the demand for crude carriers which, USD/ton, means further expansion of the VLCC fleet."
Regarding the dry cargo markets, Restis believes the "Chinese and Indian drive to develop further, together with a general lack of newbuilding bulk carriers, should ensure a healthy dry market for some time to come - albeit with the inevitable corrections."
For Restis, the tanker market's most dynamic sector is the refined products trade. "We expect longer-haul voyages, in that refineries are getting built closer to the oil producing nations rather than the oil consuming ones, and this should also imply larger stems for USD/ton economies of scale. In terms of country development, we expect India and China to be the star performers."
Restis believes the current newbuilding boom will continue for the foreseeable future. "With the tanker fleet rejuvenation in full swing due to the latest regulations imposing phase-out restrictions on existing vessels, it is very likely that the newbuilding drive will continue. This belief is due to the lack of berth availability prior to 2007, plus the increased demand for LNG carriers," he says.
While indicating that further fleet diversification is a possibility, the head of Enterprises Shipping & Trading has no fears of growing too big and losing focus. He says his company has been careful not to lose focus in its mission to be a leading marine-services provider to the bulk-market industries.
"We have been very meticulous in how we have integrated new business without a loss of management focus. I would note that much of our growth has come as a result of business that our customers have asked us to take on - we think that's very telling," concludes Restis.
15 May 2004, Author: Stuart Brewer
Source: http://www.dnv.com/publications/dnv_forum/by_subject/classification/12004Restisadaptsforthefuture.asp


The ship "Kerinia II Eleftheria" sailed into the port of Piraeus
---The ship "Kerinia II Eleftheria" sailed into the port of Piraeus this afternoon. It is a ship of historic value as its original was built in the 4th century BC. Its crew will deliver the gifts of Cyprus and the islands it has visited along the way to the city of Athens, the host of the 2004 Olympic Games.
The ancient builders of the ship used timber from the Aegean island of Samos to build it and probably they also came from Samos. The ship was sunk in 370BC near the coasts of Kerinia in Cyprus. Andreas Kariolou, a diver from Kerinia, found the ship at the bottom of the sea and the operation for its recovery got underway in 1967 by two US universities, the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Texas.
It was reassembled and now is being kept in Kerinia under the protection of UNICEF. It has a great archaeological and shipbuilding value because it is the only ancient ship that was found and recovered with its cargo intact, namely 404 amphoras from the islands of Rhodes and Samos and from the city of Korinth in central Greece.
In 1984, the Greek institute for the protection of naval heritage in Greece in cooperation with the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Texas attempted to build a replica of the ancient ship to be able to study the ancient shipbuilding art and shipping. And this way, the ship "Kerinia II" was built.
"Kerinia II" has traveled around the world and because of the Turkish invasion of Cyprus and the expulsion of the people of Kerinia from their city, the ship became a live ambassador making the world aware of the problems of Cyprus and especially, the Turkish occupied Keniria.
Source: www.mpa.gr, Athens, 14 May 2004 (19:25 UTC+2)


Estonia, Samina and their impact
---Two ferry tragedies involving huge loss of life - one in the cold waters of the Baltic, the other in the warmer Mediterranean - have changed the way Europe thinks about the sector, reports Kari Reinikainen. But economic considerations have had a greater impact on operating companies than post-tragedy regulations
At the end of September it will be ten years since the Estline ferry Estonia went down during a crossing to Stockholm, a maritime disaster that claimed 852 lives. An investigation committee formed of officials from Estonia, Sweden and Finland established that the 15-year-old vessel's bow visor had been dislodged in a storm that night, damaging the bow ramp and allowing water into the car deck. The Estonia tragedy triggered calls for new rules to improve the stability of ro-ro passenger vessels, and representatives from Denmark, Finland, Germany, Ireland, Sweden, the UK and Norway convened in Stockholm to agree proposals.
The core outcome was a stipulation that the car decks should be divided up by removable watertight bulkheads so that any ingress of water would not create a huge free surface for the water to threaten the stability of the ship. Subsequently, many existing ferries were fitted with removable bulkheads and also sponsons on both sides or in the stern of the hull in order to improve stability. In September 2000, the 34-year old Greek ferry Express Samina struck rocks off the island of Paros and went under with the loss of 80 lives. The tragedy prompted the European Commission to look into the question of ferry safety.
Mobility problems
The commission introduced a white paper that effectively extended the Stockholm rules to cover the entire European Union. It stressed that people with limited mobility must have better access to safety in case of an accident. With an ageing population, the EU will have more people with mobility problems. The paper divided ferries up in four categories, with the result that not all vessels could operate in all sea areas. It also stipulated that vessels built before 2004 should be taken out of service by the age of 30 or in the year 2015, unless they meet the necessary criteria by 1 October 2010.
But in spite of the regulations that emerged as a direct result of the two incidents, the European ferry sector has been hit harder by economic developments. The sinking of the Estonia came at the end of a period of recession for the Swedish and Finnish economies: the huge numbers of passengers crossing and recrossing the Baltic Sea declined just as the major operators brought in their largest newbuildings. The Estonia tragedy also discouraged Swedes from using ferries, as many of the victims were from the Stockholm area. In response, Scandinavian lines started to discount their fares. Further blows from no-frills airlines and the loss of duty-free sales in 1999 meant that the 'golden years' of the 1980s were no longer attainable. The northern newbuilding spree ended with the Estonia. But, by 2000, Mediterranean operators had taken delivery of a fleet of high-standard, fast conventional ferries. When it went down, the Express Samina was no longer typical of the Mediterranean fleet. And in a reversal of the earlier trend, many of the Med's more modern ferries found their way onto Baltic routes.
Source: Feature, Fairplay International Shipping Weekly, 13 May 2004


Greek refiner Hellenic tenders to buy SR fuel oil
---LONDON, May 14 (Reuters) - Greek refiner Hellenic Petroleum HEPr.AT has issued a tender to buy a 30,000-tonne cargo of low sulphur straight-run fuel oil for June arrival, Mediterranean oil traders said on Friday.
The tender, with an option for a second 30,000-tonne cargo in August, is due to close on Monday, a broker said.
Greece is normally a net exporter of gasoline, jet fuel and fuel oil, but imports large quantities of gas oil, especially in the winter months.
Hellenic Petroleum 's 140,000-barrels-per-day Aspropyrgos refinery, the biggest in Greece, is currently down for planned maintenance from April 18 until the end of May.
Traders said the refiner may be buying the straight run fuel oil, which is to be delivered into Aspropyrgos, to run as feedstock through the refinery after it restarts.
Source: Reuters, Fri 14 May, 2004 19:06


Royal Olympic Cruise Lines applies for NASDAQ smallcap listing
---Royal Olympic Cruise Lines announced today that, as a result of its inability to maintain a minimum market value of publicly held shares ("MVPHS") of $5 million over the previous 90 consecutive calendar days, as required by Marketplace Rule 4450(e)(1), and the advice by The Nasdaq Stock Market, Inc. that the company will be de-listed from the NASDAQ National Market at the opening of business on May 13, 2004, as previously reported on May 10, 2004, the company has decided to exercise its right to apply to Nasdaq to transfer its securities to The Nasdaq SmallCap Market ("SmallCap Market"), and is doing so today.
According to Nasdaq rules, upon the Company submitting its transfer application and paying the applicable listing fees by May 11, 2004, initiation of the delisting proceedings will be stayed pending Nasdaq staff's review of the transfer application. The transfer application is subject to Nasdaq approval, and there can be no assurance at this time of the result.
Royal Olympic Cruise Lines is currently operating two cruise ships owned by subsidiary companies that are under the protection of Article 45 of the Greek Courts. Discussions with creditors and lenders continue and the company continues to seek capital needed to continue operations of the company.
This press release contains forward-looking statements. Forward-looking statements can be identified in many cases by the use of terms such as "may," "will," "should," "expect," "intend," "plan," "anticipate," "believe," "estimate," "predict," "continue," or other terms. These statements are based on assumptions that are inherently subject to significant uncertainties and contingencies that are difficult or impossible to predict and are beyond our control and may cause our business activities and results, including the results of any discussion between Royal Olympic and creditors of the debtors, to be materially different from those that are implied by the forward-looking statements. Although we believe that the expectation expressed in our forward-looking statement are reasonable, we cannot assure you of any further business activity or result.
Source: Source: Royal Olympic Cruise Lines, Tuesday May 11, 4:14 pm ET


The Stelmar transaction - understanding the motivations
---We've received lots of inquiries this week about the $107 million transaction that Pareto and DVB have arranged for Stelmar Shipping. The equity in the transaction came from Klaveness, Camillo Eitzen and Navigation Finance Corporation.
There appears to be some genuine question in the market about why this deals works for both the sellers and the buyers, so we thought we would take a moment to review it. By way of background, the transaction involves nine tankers, six of which are double sided and three of which are double hulled. Stelmar took the ships back for five years at a rate of $6,500 per day, which means that when you add back $4,000 per day of operating expenses, the ships break even at $10,500. This is a great deal for Stelmar. The company can offload the residual value risk, maintain control of the ships and extract $42 million of equity that can be used to make vessel or corporate acquisitions in excess of $200 million. While Norwegian KS houses generally require a 15% return on equity, with a credit like Stelmar, a vast majority of this deal will be financed with DVB debt. That means the total costs of capital is closer to 8-9%, which is a reasonable price to pay for the benefits outlined above. Further, Stelmar CFO Stamatis Molaris said that the transaction was structured "in a manner that the effect on quarterly earnings over the remaining half of the year will not exceed $0.08 per share, assuming proceeds are not invested."
So why would some of the smartest shipping investors buy nine ships, six of which will be excluded from the vegoil trade in 2007 and might not be able to trade beyond 2010. The answer is pretty simple: risk and return. This is a low risk deal for the equity that will have much of the debt amortized on these ships on the maturity of the charters. The bet is simply that the six older ships will trade something, somewhere in the world and that the three double-hulled ships will be a decent investment on their own merit. This deal is the essence of why equity investment in shipping can be compelling -although running cash on cash returns may not be spectacular, there can be very little downside risk and an almost limitless amount of upside.
Source: www.marinemoney.com, Freshly Minted online, 13 May 04