Greek Shipping News Cuts
Week 33 - 2004

 

Mary comes to the Olympics

---(ATHENS) The world's largest luxury liner, the Queen Mary 2, arrived at Athens' main port of Piraeus on early Wednesday, one of eight cruise ships that will be home to thousands of dignitaries, world leaders and officials during the Athens Olympic Games.
The ship, which can accommodate more than 2,600 people, arrived full of passengers at the end of a 10-day Mediterranean cruise.
Nearly four football fields long at 343 metres and 21 stories tall, the massive, black-hulled US$800 million QM2 features Art Deco stylings reminiscent of 1930s ocean liners.
Already docked at the port, about 10 km south of central Athens, are the liners Ocean Countess, World Renaissance and Silver Whisper. Four others are expected to dock at the port over the next two days to offset the shortage of luxury hotels in the city.
Former US president George Bush, his wife Barbara and granddaughters Barbara and Jenna, along with a team of FBI agents, will stay on a private luxury vessel owned by Greek tycoon Spyros Latsis.
His yacht Dumara, which is on its maiden voyage, is expected to dock at the port tomorrow.
Greek newspapers claim that Russian President Vladimir Putin will stay on another large Latsis yacht, the 122-meter Alexander which in past summers often hosted former president Bush. The cruise ships will dock in a special Olympic zone that will have a protective shield around it, including thousands of elite commandos and soldiers, barbed-wire fences fitted with motion sensors, surveillance cameras, X-ray machines and detectors for radiological, chemical and biological materials.
Underwater sensors can even detect the noise of a swimmer under water. Gunboats and helicopters will patrol from the sky. - AP
Source: http://business-times.asia1.com.sg, 13 Aug 2004


Athens liabilities "unrealistic"
---ATTEMPTS by governments to impose unrealistically high passenger liability limits could result in cruise and ferry operators being unable to obtain insurance cover, a P&I club manager told Fairplay today. The limits are being proposed following the 2002 Protocol of the Athens Convention. Under the protocol, which establishes a liability per passenger of 400,000 Special Drawing Rights ($590,000), the shipowner is liable for events such as a chemical or biological terrorist attack that he is unable to prevent. These could generate claims of up to $2Bn, according to Paul Hinton, CEO of A Bilbrough, manager for the London P&I Club. Commercial war risk policies available to shipowners include cover for acts of terrorism but exclude loss, damage or liabilities caused by chemical, biological or electromagnetic weapons. While one or two such claims could be absorbed through the commercial insurance markets, the problem lies in the possibility of there being a series of claims, said Hinton. "If legislation is to have credibility then the level of liability must be realistic," he argued. One potential solution was for ship passengers to purchase additional insurance cover as part of ticketing arrangements, but governments have a fixation about blame apportionment, he added.
Source: Fairplay Daily News, 12 Aug 2004


Setting the record straighter on INSB
---SIR, With reference to your published article "Setting the record straight on INSB" (Lloyd's List July 21) and within our fair intention for an accurate "setting the record straight on INSB" we would like to inform you as follows:
1. INSB is not a new Greek incorporated classification society, since it was incorporated in Greece 20 years ago.
2. INSB holds official authorisation from the Greek Ministry of Mercantile Marine as Recognised Security Organisation (RSO) for Ports.
3. INSB until now never applied - for its own reasons, having nothing to do with its capacity to do so - to the Greek Maritime Administration for any authorisation for inspections of Greek-flagged vessels. Consequently, the fact that INSB is not authorised by the Greek Maritime Administration for inspections to Greek-flagged vessels could give a mistaken message to the shipping community if it was connected with the capacity or the quality of INSB's classification services.
For the INSB - Head Office: Christos Efstathiou, Msc Mechanical Engineer & Naval Architect, Technical Director
Source: Lloyd's List, Letters To The Editor, From Christos Efstathiou- Thursday August 12 2004


Further sale of stakes in DEPA, HELPE soon
---The government does not favor Hellenic Petroleum's participation in the negotiations for the sale of 35 percent of DEPA.
The further privatization of the Public Gas Corporation (DEPA) and Hellenic Petroleum (HELPE) will be completed after the Olympic Games, according to sources in the Economy and Finance Ministry.
Negotiations for the sale of 35 percent of DEPA to Spain's Gas Natural, from which the government hopes to raise 285 million euros, are making progress and a positive outcome is expected in the autumn. Senior officials said the Spanish proposal amounts to a large direct investment of the type sought by any European country.
The same sources said HELPE's desire for participation in the negotiations with the Spaniards is virtually a non-starter, as the goal is the opening up of the market and not the promotion of monopolies that would further tighten existing conditions.
Further developments may be expected on the issue of the sale of 8.2 percent of HELPE, which recently became the property of the Public Portfolio Management Agency, after the maturing of a convertible bond. According to a dual proposal submitted by advising banks National and UBS, the government may either opt to sell the stake at a premium to the Latsis group, which has a 25 percent holding in HELPE, or offer it at a discount through public subscription.
Besides taking a favorable view of privatizations, the government has an urgent need to raise money in view of mounting deficits and promised tax reductions.
But in an interview with US magazine Institutional Investor (August 2004 issue), Economy and Finance Minister Giorgos Alogoskoufis suggested that the privatization program, to be introduced in the coming months, will not be promoted at any price.
"We are aren't too keen to sell our shares quickly at low prices just to help cover the fiscal deficit. It might even be better to borrow than to sell cheaply. So we will be cautious. We want to look at the management of firms that have been partially privatized before we proceed," he said.
HELPE results
Low sales volumes and high operating costs dragged down HELPE's half-year profits, despite the especially high profit margins of refineries worldwide.
The group's official statement, released yesterday, shows consolidated pretax profit at 130.6 million euros, the same level as in the first half of 2003. Actually, profit has been reduced by 15 million euros, the share of the Elefsina refinery (the former Petrola refinery) which was not included in the 2003 results, because the two companies had not merged yet.
The group's consolidated earnings before interest, taxes and asset depreciation (EBITDA) were 206.4 million euros, up 15.3 percent from the first half of 2003. This increase stems exclusively from the group's refining activities, given the sector's very high margins in the second quarter of 2004, which more than compensated for a 7.2 percent in volume sales of refinery products, to 8.3 million tons.
HELPE management attributes the lower sales volume to lower demand among shipping companies, the Public Power Corporation - which has been substituting natural gas for oil - and the armed forces.
Source: By D.G. Papadocostopoulos - Kathimerini Daily, 12 Aug 04


Fosen builds for Blue Star, Stena
---Norwegian bankers and politicians have saved troubled Fosen Mekaniske Verksteder for now.
Last night the yard's board gave management the green light to proceed with the financial terms Norwegian bank DNB NOR is offering.
Yard sources say they are likely to make a final announcement later today that it will build two ships for Stena Ro-Ro on the back of financial guarantees by the Norwegian government.
Financing remains to be worked out on a ropax for Blue Star Ferries, or a related company in the Attica group, but Government guarantees of 90% are on offer for the Greek job, whereas the Stena ships were offered state guarantees of 50%.
The price for the ro-pax for Blue Star Ferries is said to be around NOK 250m ($36.68m) and that for the two ice-class 1A ro-paxes for Stena is said to be NOK 900m.
Local media report that banks were most concerned about the risk connected to building the two Stena hulls in Russia. Another concern is that Fosen Mek is asset-thin.
The 140-metre hull of the 2,000-dwt Blue Star Ferries ship is likely to be built partly at Fosen's Swedish yard, Bruces Shipyard, and partly on site at Fosen Mek's home yard near Trondheim.
It is to be a monohull with 500 lane-metres and capacity for 1,800 passengers. It is meant for Mediterranean trading.
Fosen will complete the Greek vessel in time to start work on the first of the Stena ro-ros. The first Stena hull should be towed from St Petersburg and in place at Fosen in November 2005.
The two 7,500-dwt Stena ships are meant for Baltic trading. Yard sources tell TradeWinds they will be exact sisters of 3,100 lane metres and 7,500-dwt capacity. The 212-metre hulls will be built off-site at St Petersburg's Baltiysky Zavod.
If all three orders go through, around 50 laid-off employees should be rehired right away and some 200 more should be at work by next year, not counting subcontractors.
Source: www.tradewinds.no, By Bob Rust in Oslo, published: 12:45 GMT, 11 August 2004 | last updated: 14:18 GMT, 11 August 2004


Stelmar Shipping Ltd. completes 2004 newbuilding program
---Stelmar Shipping Ltd. today announced the delivery of two Handymax newbuildings, the Ariadmar and the Atalmar, which have both been deployed in the spot market. The delivery of the vessels represents the completion of Stelmar's 2004 newbuilding program. This program is expected to increase the Company's operating days by 24% in 2004 and 8% in 2005.
Peter Goodfellow, Chief Executive Officer and President, commented, "We are pleased to have completed our 2004 newbuilding program and achieved another milestone in growing and renewing our fleet. All 11 new vessels have been effectively integrated into the Company's fleet and they continue to be deployed in a robust market environment. Our significant expansion in operating days combined with initiatives we have taken to more fully benefit from strong markets, positions the company to enhance our earnings potential in 2004 and beyond. With a commitment to quality operations and a fleet that will consist of no single-hull vessels, Stelmar is optimally suited to take advantage of the strong long-term fundamentals for the Panamax and Handymax markets."
As part of Stelmar's 2004 newbuilding program, the Company has added five Panamax and six Handymax vessels to its fleet. This fleet expansion has enabled Stelmar to increase its carrying capacity to 2,344,300 dwt, reduce the average age of its fleet to six years and increase the number of its vessels to 41.
Source: Stelmar Shipping Ltd., Press Release, 9 Aug 2004