Greek Shipping News Cuts
Week 21 - 2004

 

Greek Shipowners' Merchant Fleet Tops The List

---The cargo ship fleet of the Greek shipowners tops the international list for a decade with a total capacity of 180 million tons dw this year, according to the Association of Greek Shipowners President Nikos Efthimiou, who made the statement on the occasion of "Posidonia 2004" International Exhibition in Athens.
Mr. Efthimiou stated that it is a fleet of 3,500 oceangoing ships of all categories, which is being reorganized and modernized with a quick pace within the framework of the huge shipping program of US.9 billion and the parallel purchase of quality ships of an overall value of US.2 billion.
Mr. Efthimiou also stated that Greece has the largest national ships' register in the EU and the third in the world.
Source: www.mpa.gr, Athens, 18 May 2004 (17:12 UTC+2)


Ferries jump on bandwagon to lure passengers aboard
---Lucrative Aegean routes have sparked fierce battle among ferry lines, with discount fares and package deals, to attract passengers.
Coastal shipping companies have also joined the fray to attract holidaymakers with alluring summer package deals and ensure their position in the increasingly competitive markets of the Aegean and Adriatic seas.
Almost all Greek shipping companies have adopted deals for passengers and vehicles that have been successfully applied for the past few years.
However, intense competition in some areas has compelled some companies to broaden their offers and include, in some cases, discount accommodation at the ports of call.
In the Aegean, the main battleground for Greece's coastal shipping companies, discounts in travel fares might be as much as 30 percent, especially for the busiest destinations, which is good news for travelers.
Officially, the rates for first- and second-class fares are unregulated and follow market trends, while tourist-class fares are set by the Ministry of Merchant Marine. But package deals mean that the overall cost of travel can be significantly reduced and put within the reach of all budgets.
Ferry discounts
- Blue Star Ferries, which runs numerous routes in the Aegean, is offering a 20 percent discount for return journeys from Piraeus to the islands of the Dodecanese, and up to 25 percent off for return trips to Hania, Crete. For the off-peak season, the company has also launched the Hotel and Ferry package deal, which includes travel fares (including the cost of conveying a car) and discount prices at hotels in Hania and on Rhodes, Syros and Kos.
- SuperFast Ferries, which runs routes in the Adriatic and the North Sea, has presented an especially interesting string of deals, such as FeelFree. This package allows the passenger to select a journey (on the company's itinerary) between different cities and, furthermore, to arrange to stay in hotels at different ports of call. The company has also launched the Weekend for Shopping deal to Bari and Ancona in Italy, allowing passengers who have brought their cars along the option of leaving them on the car deck while they are off shopping. This package includes the voyage fare, the car fare, two night's stay on board and travel insurance.
- Minoan Lines also has attractive offers this summer. People traveling from Italy to Greece will receive a 10 percent discount on domestic Minoan ferry routes, while students displaying a valid identity card can receive a 20 percent discount. The company has also struck a deal with the Hertz car rental agency whereby Minoan Lines customers can receive a discount of up to 50 percent on car rental if they display a valid Minoan Lines ticket within 48 hours of arrival at the port of call. Customers of Minoan Lines can also receive a 10 percent discount on fares for Hellas Flying Dolphins (on all routes except the Argosaronic) by showing their ticket. This last offer is valid until December 31.
- ANEK Lines joins the race with 30 percent discounts on all return journeys, 20 percent discounts for people aged under 18, 10 percent off for people aged over 60 and 10 percent off for routes abroad. It is also offering a 25 percent discount to passengers with a vehicle for the Piraeus-Rethymnon (Crete)-Piraeus route, if they can show valid confirmation of reservations at one of the hotels belonging to the Association of Rethymnon Hoteliers. The company has also struck a deal with the Chandris hotel complex in Corfu, offering passengers a 20 percent discount from Patras to Corfu, 25 percent off from Corfu to Patras, and a 25 percent discount on rooms in the group's hotels on Corfu.
- GA Ferries has especially interesting deals combining travel fares and accommodation, with reductions on voyages to some destinations as high as 30-50 percent. They also offer deals for specific accommodation units on the islands of Rhodes, Crete, Santorini, Skiathos, Lesvos, Myconos, Syros, Kos and Patmos.
Source: www.ekathimerini.com, 18 May 04


I M O votes down mandatory double hulls for bulk carriers
---Imo has withdrawn plans to make double-side skin mandatory on bulk carriers from 2007. After months of debate and an intense day-long argument at Imo May 18, led to the unusual step of calling for a formal vote within the Maritime Safety Committee. This resulted in 32 to 22 majority to scrap the mandatory double-skin provision with 15 abstentions.
The vote overturned more than two years' of work towards the development of the rule which until fairly recently appeared to a foregone conclusion.
However, despite the vote, new rules covering newbuild dual-skin bulkers of more than 150mtr in length carrying high density cargoes of over 1,000kg/cm are still be developed, with shipowners retaining the option of continuing to build ships of single-skin design.
Greece's Marine ministry and the community's technical professionals were among those calling loudest for a re-think on the mandatory stipulation, and Marine minister Manolis Kelafoyiannis declared "we are pleased with the outcome". He thanked "all the technical people at the ministry, together with the other Greek organisations who had played a part in putting the
Greek position" which took the form of a 250-page submission that questioned the credibility of the original formal safety assessment that lay behind the move to mandatory double hulls.
At Imo, the Greeks along with the ICS argued there was a lack of compelling evidence that double-hull construction would provide a higher level of safety. "Indeed, it is felt that the opposite might apply," argued the ICS. "ICS also has great concern that some double-hull designs currently being marketed may prove unsuitable in practice," said its spokesman.
Roger Holt of Intercargo argued that there is clear evidence "there has been a substantial improvement in the safety profile of bulk carriers in excess of 10,000dwt".
The UK claimed Greece's submission did not represent all parties involved in the dry bulk sector. The UK believed Greece had been too optimistic in estimating that a 65% reduction in risk flowed from regulatory steps already taken to improve bulker safety and overly pessimistic concerning the hazards of operating double-skin ships and had double counted costs associated with double hulls.
Head of the Greek delegation, Alexandros Carcantzos, claimed the Greek study had shown the raised level of hazard in increasing the number of shipboard internal spaces. He said wastage and fatigue had been documented as being a greater contributor to double-skin casualties than was the case with single skins.
He said: "The UK has drawn attention to the effect of low impact of locks and docks on single skin ships. But what about the paper thin/thick double skin?"
Source: www.newsfront.gr, 21 May 04


Nice capes rates for Golden Union
---One Greek owner has managed to beat falling charter rates for bulkers.
The big bulker market continued to drop this week, especially for panamaxes, but Golden Union of Greece was able to lock in two modern capesizes for five years at very profitable rates.
Brokers say the 171,000-dwt CIC Veniamis (built 2001) and CIC Pride (built 2002) have been fixed for five years trading at $26,750 per day each by Chinese charterer Refined Success.
The charter for the CIC Capitan Veniamis starts this month but the CIC Pride deal does not start until January. The rates are some $8,000 to $10,000 per day lower than the top rate achieved on five-year charters earlier this year. But for Golden Union the deals mean sharply higher rates for the ships. For the last two years they have been on charter to Cargill at only $12,000 per day. The break-even level for the ships is believed to be about $16,000 to $17,000 per day.
Golden Union has a good relationship with Refined Success. In September last year the Greek owner chartered it its 171,000-dwt CIC Elli (built 2003) for three years at $23,500 per day.
Meanwhile, Chinese companies continue to dominate the period business and Cosco Hong Kong is said to have taken the 160,000-dwt Alpha Friendship (built 1996) for 18 to 24 months at $35,000 per day.
The spot market for capesize bulkers dropped from some $50,000 per day last week to $46,500 per day this week.
Panamax bulkers dropped much more, from $32,000 to $24,500 per day. Brokers describe the rates as being in "free fall".
There was little period-charter activity for panamax ships this week apart from Fratelli D'Amato taking the 74,000-dwt Clipper Emperor (built 2000) for 12 months from June with delivery in China at $30,000 per day.
Source: www.tradewinds.no, Trond Lillestolen Oslo, published: 21 May 2004


OMI could offer US$600 million for Stelmar Tankers
---US based tanker operator OMI Corporation says it has offered to buy Stelmar Tankers in an all-share deal which could be worth between US$520 million and US$600 million. The "merged" company would have a market capitalisation of over US$1,3 billion and weigh in as the largest product tanker operator in the world. Stelmar's shareholders have been offered 40,5% of OMI Corp's common stock, with an option to receive a quarter of the value in cash.
OMI said on Monday that it had opened talks with the Stelmar's founder and his family and that they had agreed to support the transaction. However, the company's board of directors yesterday said that no approach had been made to the company by OMI, and that there were no discussions about a possible transaction. The board, which answers to the company's shareholders are mindful of the effect reckless speculation can have on the share price of a corporation, as Stelmar is listed on the New York Stock Exchange.
Stelmar's Chairman, Nick Hartley said yesterday that: "At the moment Stelmar has not received an offer from OMI. When and if we receive such an offer, Stelmar and its board will analyze it thoroughly and make a decision that is in the best interest of all of its shareholders."
OMI's shares which also trade on the NYSE, closed down 0,3% yesterday at US$ 10.24, whilst Stelmar's shares were up 5,13% at US$28,92.
Analysts have long talked of the second wave of consolidation through the tanker industry, where the stock listed companies join forces to provide a combination of the economies of scale required to offer continued returns on capital and the ability to survive an exodus of investors when the tanker market returns to rates just around break-even, which it invariably does after sustained periods of healthy earnings.
The recent wave of consolidation saw larger tanker companies with access to public market capital buying well-positioned smaller private operations, such as Teekay's acquisition of Naviera Taipas, and Genmar's acquisition of Soponata. Tankers International recently acquired Hellespont's fleet of ULCCs, signaling a cash-in from the owners.
In the OMI-Stelmar deal, Stelmar's founder, airline boss and former CEO of the Troodos shipping group Stelios Haji-Ioannou, has agreed to support the deal and has entered into "standstill and support agreements" with OMI. Together Stelmar and OMI would have a fleet of 78 tankers with another 11 being built at Asian shipyards. The new fleet would weigh 5,3 million dwt, and be one of the largest tanker fleets in the world.
Standard & Poor's Ratings Services said yesterday that its ratings and outlook on OMI Corporation will not affected by the company's to buy Stelmar. OMI credit rating is likely to be placed on CreditWatch if a definitive agreement is announced between the two parties.
Source: www.tankerworld.com, By Oscar Jacobsen in Oslo, Published: 19.05.2004 | Last updated: 19.05.2004


Understanding Tsakos Energy
---As we have said in the past, we think management has done an excellent job with TEN over the years. Although the company has not concluded any major corporate acquisitions, they have looked closely at various deals, including American Eagle Tankers, Metrostar, Soponata, Tapias, the even explored a joint venture on LPG ships with Lauritzen. Our sense from the company is that TEN management remain value-conscious shipowners and operators at their core, and not financial engineers, and have found greater value in growing through newbuildings and vessel acquisitions, often matched with charters - resulting in systematic revenue growth and margin improvement.
This strategy is analogous to the concept of dollar cost averaging in the investment business whereby investors systematically invest a specified amount of capital in a disciplined fashion irrespective of current market conditions. The company has also diversified its sector strategy by creating a 28-vessel, 3 million ton fleet with an average age of 7.1 years that now consists of two VLCCs, four Suezmaxes, ten Aframaxes, eight Panamaxes and four Handymaxes. Like Teekay and John Fredriksen, TEN is looking to leverage its energy marine transportation footprint. The company has signed a letter of intent for the construction of an LNG carrier with the option for one additional LNG carrier, both scheduled for delivery in 2007.
Here's where it get interesting: TEN has thirteen additional newbuild tankers, including six Suezmaxes and seven Handymaxes. Although making lots of 10% payments on newbuildings that deliver over time may not appear as sexy as splashing out on a billion dollar acquisition, it is every bit as significant. On a pro forma basis, during the ten years (the company LOVES the number 10) from 1997-2007, TEN will have taken delivery of 30 newbuildings of 3.3 million deadweight. Looking forward, TEN anticipates operating a fleet of 41 vessels with approximately 4.3 million DWT by 2007.
Source: Freshly Minted Online, www.marinemoney.com, 20 May 04


Poulides' parting shot serves up Festival conspiracy theory
---FESTIVAL'S struggle for survival descended into farce yesterday when founder and chairman George Poulides broke cover to say goodbye to his staff before a directors' meeting in Italy.
His cruise company had been the victim of an international conspiracy, he wrote in a bitter letter published in Genoa, where the company has its headquarters.
The letter was interpreted as spelling the end of the five-month saga, which has been dragged out by numerous claims that a mystery 'white knight' would step in. The Italian press said yesterday that Festival was now sure to collapse, though creditors said last night that Mr Poulides has rejected this interpretation.
Mr Poulides admitted in the letter that his European dream could be "coming to an end". Festival's ships have either been sold or are under arrest and employees have not been paid since January.
Festival's beliefs have been "shattered, one after another", Mr Poulides wrote in an article published in local press, though the real meaning of his words was impossible to verify as the company's telephones have been cut off.
Brussels was also the target of recriminations. The European Commission competition directorate was slammed for allowing state aid to Alstom, which in turn benefited Festival's rivals.
"We are left with this terrible feeling of impotence," he wrote. International groups did not understand Festival's "unique and intact value", Mr Poulides wrote, referring to talks with potential suitors.
While not closing the door completely to a final salvage attempt the chairman, recently awarded the Italian equivalent of a knighthood, said that time was running out.
He expressed his "eternal gratitude" to staff in Luxemburg, Piraeus and Genoa for having shared his "European dream".
The letter blamed Festival's failure on everyone but company management. Sars, the terrorist attacks on the US in 2001 and war in Iraq were all mentioned as contributing factors. The only self-criticism was an admission that Festival had grown "too fast".
The cruise market was not free and fair, he argued, and the company would have survived if it had chosen to base its headquarters in France instead of Italy and Greece. Festival made competitors "uncomfortable". The group's "success made it a predestined victim".
Alstom's debts are thought to be mostly covered by the value of the remaining vessels, now expected to be auctioned.
The unsecured exposure of other banks, in particular Banca Carige and Unicredito in Italy, is still unknown.
Bankruptcy proceedings could have a domino effect in Genoa and the region, creditors have warned. But last night Raoul Bollani, spokesman for small Italian creditors, said banks had been asked to pay wage arrears in order to allow negotiations with alleged suitor Royal Caribbean to continue.
"I have heard that Mr Poulides rejects the interpretation that it is all over. This has become an American soap opera," Mr Bollani told Lloyd's List.
"Something new happens every day. But this is now a very confused, difficult situation, and I think there will be an explosion very soon."
Source: www.lloydslist.com, By Justin Stares in Brussels, Friday May 21 2004


Hellenic delays Greek refinery work due high margins
---LONDON, May 20 (Reuters) - Hellenic Petroleum HEPr.AT has postponed the shutdown of its 140,000-barrels-per-day refinery at Aspropyrgos in Greece from mid-April until the second half of September as it seeks to take advantage of strong refining margins, a company official said on Thursday.
Refinery margins in Europe and the U.S. recently hit historic highs as fears over Middle East supply disruption and strong U.S. gasoline demand have ramped up oil products prices.
Hellenic's delayed turnaround follows a similar move by Algerian state-owned company Sonatrach, which also cited high profit margins as the reason for delaying the partial shutdown of its 335,000-bpd Skikda refinery to early June from April.
The Aspropyrgos refinery is equipped with a 42,000-bpd catalytic cracker and a 10,000-bpd reformer, both making gasoline.
Hellenic had planned to shut down units at the refinery on a rolling schedule from April 18 until the end of May. Greece is a net exporter of gasoline, jet fuel and fuel oil.
Upgraded Mediterranean refineries cracking Urals crude enjoyed margins of $5.07 a barrel last month, rising to $6.32 so far this month, compared with $3.05 a barrel in March, according to Reuters data.
The bumper profits have come as gasoline prices surged to a record peak of $470 a tonne on the benchmark Rotterdam barge market, while European jet fuel cargoes have surged by 30 percent in the past six weeks to around $395 a tonne.
While Hellenic holds off maintenance work, other regional refiners are gradually restarting their units after a round of spring turnaround programmes.
Plants regularly carry out maintenance in the spring when heating oil demand drops as temperatures rise, and well ahead of peak summer gasoline demand.
This year the turnaround season has extended into early summer as some refiners delay work due to strong margins while others bring their fuel specifications in line with new U.S. requirements and European Union rules effective next year.
Italian refiner Agip said on Thursday that its 160,000 barrels-per-day Sannazzaro refinery was running at full capacity after completing maintenance work on a hydrocracker 10 days ago. The hydrocracking capacity at the plant is around 30,000 bpd.
The turnaround at the unit, which makes components used in gasoline and distillate blending, lasted 20 days, a company official said.
Independent refiner Saras has been bringing its export-oriented 310,000-barrels-per-day Sardinian refinery back to normal production this month after shutting several units since early March.
In the Ukraine, Kherson restarted its 66,000-bpd refinery last week after completion of repair work on its primary refining and gasoline units.
Israeli refiner ORL this month shut down its 100,000-bpd crude distillation unit at its 170,000 Haifa refinery for a month of scheduled maintenance.
The shutdown has helped support bunker fuel oil prices by cutting supplies to the region at the same time as shipments to the Far East further limit availability, traders said.
Source: www.reuters.co.uk, Thu 20 May, 2004 16:36


Bureau Veritas Hellenic and Black Sea Committee AGM report
---The 7th annual meeting of the Hellenic and Black Sea Committee of Bureau Veritas was held on the 17th of May 2004 under the Chairmanship of Mr. George Procopiou and the presence of Bureau Veritas Management, namely Mr. Bernard Anne, Senior Vice-President, Managing Director/Marine Division, Mr. Claude Maillot, Director of Ships in Service Management/Marine Division, Mr.Didier Chaleat, Vice-President, Director of Operations/Marine Division, Mr. Didier Bouttier, Regional Chief Executive for Hellenic & Black Sea Region, and Mr. Lambros Chahalis, Marine Department Manager for Greece and Cyprus.
This year, the Committee event took place in the beautiful surroundings of the island of Chios.
The meeting chaired by George Procopiou started with Managing Director of Bureau Veritas Marine Division Bernard Anne presenting the Bureau Veritas group results for the year 2003, which showed a continuation of the strong growth of the Group.
Mr. Anne then presented the decision of IACS to develop common rules for tankers and bulk carriers in the process of the adoption of the goal based standards proposal made jointly to the IMO by Greece and the Bahamas.
This decision was received with enthusiasm and generous support from all the members of the Committee who re-iterated the Greek shipping support for more robust ships.
However, grave concern was expressed by all the Committee Members on the process of adopting untested and questionable designs and equipment (double side skin bulk carriers, free-fall life boats) brought about by political pressure and proposed that the tested and proven single side skin design bulk carriers could become much safer should the additional steel requirements for the double side skin design be strategically distributed in the scantling.
The Committee Members called for Bureau Veritas and IACS to be much more outspoken in the IMO and other International fora, where their unique technical expertise should be utilized to protect the industry and the seafarers from the hasty decisions taken, which would be inconsistent with safer shipping.
During the meeting, Mr. G. Procopiou announced the nomination of two new members of the Committee:
Mr. George Mylonas of Avin International S.A., & Mrs. Angeliki Frangou of Maritime Enterprises Management
On the occasion of this meeting, an exclusive gala dinner was held the evening before at the recently renovated historic villa "Argentikon" in Kambos, Chios island.
The members of the Committee, prominent figures of the shipping community, her Excellency the Ambassador of Chile, members of the Greek parliament, Representative of the Cyprus Flag, members of the press, in total more than 100 people, joined the top Management of Bureau Veritas to celebrate the return of Bureau Veritas Committee to the island of Chios, 22 years after the Committee held in 1982.
Source: Bureau Veritas, press release, 18 May 2004