Greek Shipping News Cuts
Week 26 - 2004

 

Greece looks to ship services

---A move to promote the Greek shipping services sector is being considered by merchant marine minister Manolis Kefaloyiannis and his cabinet colleague. An initiative could be launched soon.
There are lots more shipping service jobs in London despite Greece being tops in shipowning.
Politicians have been casting envious eyes towards London as they consider options for making Piraeus an international shipping centre, according to the Greek newspaper, Kathimerini.
The paper reports that although the UK has only 1.2% of the world merchant fleet it has a highly developed service sector which employs 800,000. Greece has a fleet ten times larger but only a tenth as many people work in the shipping sector.
Greeks are dependent on foreign companies for a whole range of services ranging from classification to shipbroking, legal services and marine insurance, Kathimerini reports.
Moves to develop shipping infrastructure have been discussed at cabinet level, according to the paper, with the government thinking of improving the educational opportunities for students planning to work in the merchant marine.
Many Greek shipping executives study in the UK or the US developing connections that continue during their working lives. Kefaloyiannis was a student in both Greece and London.
Source: By Jim Mulrenan in London published: 09:32 GMT, 21 June 2004 | last updated: 09:34 GMT, 21 June 2004


Greece signs Container Security Agreement with U.S.
---Cargo screening at port of Piraeus will start before summer Olympics begin
Greece has become the18th country to sign a Container Security Initiative (CSI) agreement with the United States, giving its permission for U.S. customs officials to be deployed to the port of Piraeus to help screen U.S.-bound cargo shipments that could pose a terrorist threat.
The agreement was signed June 24 in Brussels, Belgium, by James Loy, deputy secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and Vassilios Manolopoulos, director general of the Greek Directorate General of Customs and Excise.
The United States will loan special inspection devices to Greece so screening can begin in mid-July, before the start of the summer Olympic Games in Athens. The equipment includes large-scale gamma ray and x-ray imaging systems that can scan the interior of a 40-foot cargo container in less than one minute for contraband, including weapons of mass destruction.
The CSI is now operational at 19 of the world's major seaports in Europe, Asia, Africa and North America.
Following is a Homeland Security Department press release on the agreement with Greece:
Source: www.iwar.org.uk, 24 June 2004


"We could live to regret ISPS delays": Mitropoulos
---IMO Secretary-General Efthimios Mitropoulos said yesterday that, although he was optimistic that most of the ships liable to the International Ship and Port Facility Security (ISPS) Code will meet the July 1 target compliance date, compliance by port facilities had "not yet reached a satisfactory level despite repeated calls to Governments to intensify their efforts".
He went on, "I am, therefore, concerned that, unless prompt action is taken urgently by all parties concerned, we may live to regret any delay in acting as we should have done within the 18-month period since the IMO security measures were adopted by the 2002 SOLAS Conference, both from the security and the trade cum economy points of view. That is why I wish to also use this opportunity to appeal, once again, to SOLAS Contracting Governments, which have not yet done so, not to spare any effort to implement these measures as soon as possible." has stressed the importance of ensuring that strategically important international shipping lanes are protected from the threat of terrorism and remain open for trade at all times.
According to responses to IMO from 39 governments only about 16% of port are now ISPS compliant, although that an increase on the 10.8% figure as of June 16. Ship compliance figures are better but still remarkably low given that we are just over a week away from the deadline. The 39 governments, representing 83.6% of world merchant shipping by gross tonnage and 67.4% by number of ships, reported that 33% of their ships are now compliant compared to 28.7% on June 16.
Announcing the latest compliance figures to the Council's 92nd session, meeting this week, Mr Mitropoulos emphasised the need to ensure that shipping lanes, particularly those of strategic significance and importance, are kept open under all circumstances.
"To this effect, we have undertaken some research work in the secretariat to identify those shipping lanes which may be vulnerable to terrorist attacks and are prepared and eager to work with others to act pro-actively in a manner which will protect, to the best of our abilities, the interests of safety, security, the environment, seaborne trade and the world economy at large," he said.
Source: www.mgn.com, Tuesday, 22 June 2004


U G S optimistic but says government can do more for shipping
---Most Greeks ships and the country's key ports will meet the ISPS Code deadline next week says Union of Greek Shipowners president, Nicos Efthymiou. "The ships will be ready and the ports have little choice because of the need to comply before the Olympic Games," said Efthymiou, while warning there will be problems in ports generally around the world.
Speaking when presenting the UGS' 2003-04 annual report to maritime journalists, Efthymiou said that while shipping will have problems because of the failure on the part of many ports to comply with ISPS, sea transportation will not come to a halt because "the problems will be overcome". He said "delays will arise in shipping activities for when a ship sails from a non-certified port to a certified one it will have to undergo inspections, which will require staying in port longer".
Indeed, the need to overcome problems was a theme Efthymiou returned to repeatedly.
However, he was generally optimistic the problems could be dealt with through cooperation between the shipping community and the industry's administration. He said owners would like to see the Greek government offer steady support to the industry in the international fora and pointed to the evidence of the two cooperating when working within Imo, where the Greek shipping sector was able to secure a re-think on the issue of double-hulls.
However, Efthymiou lamented the fact that Greece failed to win the 'criminalisation' battle in the Europan Union as Greece and Malta were the only states to vote against EU moves to criminalise pollution incidents involving ships. He said penal sanctions in cases of pollution reduce the potential of attracting young people into the maritime profession. He said that data showed "most serious cases of pollution are caused either by onshore based activities or by small vessels used for personal pleasure".
Efthymiou said the government's attitude towards shipping is undergoing a positive change and continuation of this mood could lead to a "policy of improving the competitiveness of the Greek flag" which would result in "attracting many vessels to the national registry". He noted that three of four Greek-owned oceangoing ships are outside the flag.
Source: www.newsfront.gr, 25 Jun 04


Aframax forecasts remain optimistic
---AN IMPROVING situation for aframaxes in the Mediterranean could get even better over the coming days a number of brokers are speculating.
Rates have already risen on the back of a limited tonnage list for early dates, to between W225 and W235 for both cross-Mediterranean and Black Sea loads.
For example, W230 has been achieved this week by the 2000-built Valbruna for a Black Sea load for Total.
However, by yesterday, brokers were reporting the Astro Saturn on subs to ENI for a cross-Mediterranean voyage at W245, indicating a further upward trend.
Nikos Varvaropoulos at Marvin Shipping in Piraeus said: "Since Posidonia ended, the activity has increased as charterers have returned to their desks and owners are feeling very confident."
He adds: "There is not a lot of activity for the Black Sea but there is a possibility to improve since the Turkish straits are closing down for an upcoming Nato meeting and charterers may want to move quickly now."
Rates of more than W200 have also been the norm in the Caribbean recently, but the market fell last week to W190, the rate accepted by the 1999-built Constitution from Valero on an east coast Mexico load.
While the region is said to be quiet, and prospects may appear dim because of plentiful tonnage availability, brokers have not given up hope for better things.
According to Stealth Maritime's Vikki Koumis, Americans' habit of climbing aboard the family gas-guzzler and hitting the highway at this time of year could prove key. "Rates aren't expected to fall too much as the summer driving season sees demand seasonally high for this time of year," she points out.
Brokers say that the North Sea has been fairly stable, with rates settling at about W160 or slightly better for regular cross-UK/Continent trips.
However, yesterday, there were rumours of a vessel on subs at W195 for early July dates.
Source: www.llydslist.com, By Nigel Lowry in Athens- Wednesday June 23 2004


Full speed ahead for oil shippers
---Raised on the Aegean isle of Chios, Capt. Panagiotis N. Tsakos of Tsakos Energy Navigation (TNP/NYSE) followed his village's seafaring tradition before amassing a large fleet of tanker, container and dry-cargo vessels. He's one of many Greeks who have helped put his country's shipowners in control of more shipping capacity than any other nation -- a good position to be in now that shippers are prospering from high global demand, stemming in large part from ever-growing oil consumption.
And tanker demand looks set to continue building, producing new price peaks. Freight rates this year topped the firm prices seen in 2003, and in some instances hit record highs. Meanwhile, the energy adviser to the world's largest oil-consuming nations recently raised near-term projections: The International Energy Agency now expects demand to grow 2.9% in 2004 -- the largest jump in 24 years. Tanker owners regard that news as money in the bank.
In addition, shipowners and brokers say they expect the tanker market to remain strong, at least through this coming winter.
To celebrate the banner year --and make the usual deals -- thousands flocked to Athens in early June for the shipping industry's biennial Posidonia exhibition. Connecticut ship-brokerage Charles Weber Co. feted leading shipowners with Greek music and wine, in bottles wrapped in the company's own label. At another party, fireworks were shot off over the sea as entertainers spun flaming batons below.
Getting back to business: Responding to the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries' June 3 pledge to raise its output ceiling by 8.5% in July, experts at the event predicted even stronger tanker rates if No. 1 producer Saudi Arabia can actually deliver more barrels.
Although London ship brokerage Simpson Spence & Young expects this year to be one of the busiest on record for new tankers -- with delivery of 23.4 million deadweight tons scheduled -- the industry isn't worried about the possibility of oversupply.
"People are more willing to pay, they don't fight as hard, and owners have more resolve to try to be a little firmer. Today, there's a lot more business available," says Basil Mavroleon, managing director at Charles Weber.
Shipping analysts say the addition of new tankers will be partially offset by owners' retiring single-hull tankers amid heightened safety and environmental concerns.
Those worries arose from the 1999 Erika and 2002 Prestige single-hull tanker accidents, causing catastrophic spills along the French and Spanish coasts.
The industry has until 2010 to retire all single-hull tankers under an International Maritime Organization-ordered phaseout. But shipowners say they've found it's more lucrative to scrap the older ships early and pull in premium rates for their modern vessels. Next year will be the first in a series of deadlines in the phaseout, prompting increased scrapping in 2004 to 2005.
George Procopiou, a civil engineer who's chairman of privately owned Dynacom Tankers Management, opposes the regulations banning single-hull ships, citing concerns over the newer ships' designs. Still, he moved quickly to rid Dynacom's fleet of single-hulls. The company now has 31 oil tankers in operation and 12 new ships on order.
In his office overlooking the Aegean, Procopiou announces that he just bought another supertanker. "We cannot go against the tide," he says. "You have to be competitive to survive."
On the other side of Athens, the captain's U.S.-listed Tsakos Energy Navigation operates a fleet of 27 oil tankers and is scheduled to take delivery of 13 ships through 2007, but Capt. Tsakos emphasizes that he's in the shipping business because he loves the sea.
He points out a distinctive feature of his headquarters -- a seventh-floor balcony designed as a ship's bridge, complete with captain's wheel and flag. He didn't want the headquarters to look like a "palace or factory," he says.
"For many generations, we have all decided on seafaring to follow as a matter of destiny. All we can see, from where we stand in the church, the school, the house, [is] sea, sea, sea ... The sea unites us with our destiny [and] unites us with prosperity."
And today, when the captain feels like sailing, he climbs aboard the Manya -- his yacht.
Source: www.canada.com, National Post, Leia Parker, Barrom's, 21 June 2004


Wooden walls
---Shipping is one bright spot in the Greek economy. It is Greece's showcase sector in a highly competitive global environment, but also the only sector of the economy not to benefit from any state intervention over the past decades. This is also underscored by the official balance of payments statistics due to be released today. The drop in deficit in the first four months of the year is mainly a result of shipping revenue, which is estimated at 4.28 billion euros - much higher than Greece's export revenues and five times that from tourism.
A fundamental tonic for Greece's state economy, the shipping sector stands out as a model for development. It is based on a relatively small number of healthy companies which have excelled in foreign markets by turning their initial handicap into an asset. This is a reference to the fact that they did not develop in a protectionist environment, and were not upheld by state decisions, subsidies, tailor-made agreements, political favors and similar phenomena that have for decades became a trademark characteristic of state relations with the so-called national contractors.
Having endured the problems and the challenges of the early years, the now mature Greek shipping sector has no need of state protection. However, it has every right to expect of the State not to become an unnecessary burden, as we have seen happen in the past. After the Prestige incident, instead of pointing out the responsibilities of other governments - the Spanish, in that case - to the European Union and other international bodies, the Greek government lashed out against ocean-going shipping in general, slamming even those shipowners whose fleet consisted of double-hulled ships. In effect, the State ended up discouraging shipowners from flying the Greek flag.
Secondly, the shipping sector should also be able to expect the creation of a better investment climate and infrastructure that would allow investors to take more risks - while offering more jobs and boosting the economy in general. The City of London, which makes billions out of providing services to Greek shipowners, could be the source of know-how and a model for similar infrastructure at home.
In ancient times, the so-called "wooden walls" repeatedly protected Greeks against foreign invaders. It is likely that in the near future, they will be needed to save the Greek economy from its most relentless enemy, the vicious cycle of corruption and underdevelopment, to guide it toward the open seas of competitiveness, transparency and productivity.
Source: www.ekathimerini.com, 22 Jun 04


OMI prices shares for Athenian deal
---OMI will sell 9M shares priced at $11.75 and raise $106M to partially cover the cost of its 12-tanker deal with Athenian. OMI has also granted Goldman Sachs an option to purchase 1.35M shares and is separately negotiating with a third party for the purchase of an additional 2M shares. The Stamford, Conn-based operator has agreed to pay $585M for the Athenian ships, $393M by August, plus $192M in shipyard payments for the newbuilding portion of the transaction. In a conference call, OMI chairman Craig Stevenson said the Athenian purchase does not preclude the company from doing a "Stelmar-type transaction" and that they're still open to renewed talks with Stelmar itself. Commenting on the Athenian deal, OMI president Robert Bugbee said that given the spot value outlook for the next three years, OMI needed "to seize the moment". As Stevenson explained, "There are an enormous number of private owners [such as Athenian] and a handful of public companies. A lot of people out there want to capitalise on the strong market." In other words, public companies will continue to pay premiums for new double-hulled tonnage and already contracted newbuilds from private buyers. "Expect to see more consolidation," asserted Stevenson.
Source: Fairplay Daily News, 24 Jun 2004


Royal Olympic Announces Anticipated Nasdaq De-Listing
---Royal Olympic Cruise Lines Inc. (Nasdaq: ROCLE) today announced that based on notices it had received from the Nasdaq Stock Market, the Company expects that its shares will be de-listed from the Nasdaq Stock Market at the opening of business on June 28th, 2004 because the Company has failed to remain in compliance with all listing requirements.
Specifically, the Company has failed to file its annual report on Form 20-F for the fiscal year ended November 30, 2003 by the appointed time. As previously announced, the Company's failure to file its annual report arose due to the more complicated accounting and financial position stemming from the ongoing Article 45 process in Greece involving the Company's subsidiaries.
The Company is currently operating two cruise ships while under the protection from creditors afforded by the Article 45 proceeding. However, without successful resolution of the discussions with its creditors there can be no guarantee of continued operations. The Company continues to discuss available options with its bankers and creditors within the Greek Article 45 process.
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: Press Release, 24 Jun 2004, James R. Lawrence, +1-203-406-0106, mobile, +1-203-550-2621, for Royal Olympic Cruise Lines Inc. (ROCLE)


Tech Support
---Last year I upgraded from Boyfriend 5.0 to Husband 1.0 and noticed a distinct slow down in overall system performance, particularly in the flower and jewellery applications, which operated flawlessly under Boyfriend 5.0.
In addition, Husband 1.0 installed undesirable programs such as Football 5.0, Pub 3.0 and Golf Clubs 4.1. Housework 2.6 crashes the system. I've tried running Nagging 5.3 to fix these problems, but to no avail.
What do I do?
Desperate
******
Dear Desperate:
First keep in mind, Boyfriend 5.0 is an entertainment package, while husband 1.0 is an operating system.
Please enter the command: "http: I Thought You Loved Me.htm" and try to download Tears 6.2. If that application works as designed, Husband 1.0 should then automatically run the applications Jewellery 2.0 and Flowers 3.5. But remember, over use of the above application can cause Husband 1.0 to default to Grumpy Silence 2.5 or Beer 6.1. Beer 6.1 is a very bad program that will download the Snoring Loudly Beta.
Whatever you do, DO NOT install Mother-in-law 1.0. It runs a virus in the background, that will eventually seize control of all your system resources.
You might consider buying additional software to improve memory and performance. We recommend Lingerie 7.7.
Good Luck,
Tech Support
Source: Maritime Advocate Online, 22 June 2004