Greek Shipping News Cuts
Week 48 - 2004

 

Celebrating the achievements of Greek shipping

---Some 750 shipping people from Greece and abroad gathered November 25 at the Athens Hilton Hotel to celebrate the Greek maritime industry and honour some of those who have played a role in influencing many of its achievements.
During the night 10 awards were presented as Lloyd's List Greek Shipping Awards 2004, allowing the community time to reflect on the accomplishments of Greek shipping, not only in the commercial sphere but also towards the global industry's technological and ethical achievements.
And nothing reflected these achievements more than the Lloyd's List / Propeller Club Greek Shipping Personality of the Year Award, sponsored and presented by RBS, which went to Athina Martinos who has dedicated her life towards making Greek shipping the largest and probably the most influential in the world.
Awards were presented in another nine categories and the winners were:
Costamare Shipping - Dry Cargo Company of the Year, sponsored and presented by ABN Amro Bank
Maran Gas - Tanker Company of the Year, sponsored and presented by the Athens Stock Exchange
Attica Group - Passenger Line of the Year, sponsored and presented by XRTC Business Consultants
Allied Shipbroking Inc - Shipbroker of the Year, sponsored and presented by T&F Informa,
Alpha Bank - Shipping Financier of the Year, sponsored and presented by Law Office Gr J Timagenis
Danaos Shipping Co - Technical Innovation, presented by Lloyd's List in association with Wartsila
Helmepa - Achievement in Safety or Environment Protection, sponsored and presented by Lloyd's Register
TOP Tankers - Greek Shipping Newsmaker of the Year, sponsored and presented by Lloyd's List
Nikos Kaklamanakis - Man of the Sea, sponsored and presented by the Union of Greek Shipowners
Source: www.newsfront.gr, 26 Nov 04


Ferry operators call for full liberalization
---They argue existing restrictions undermine their planning and growth prospects and stop them from fully meeting requirements
Ferry operators yesterday asked the government to clear up the business environment in the sector and promote conditions for the complete liberalization of domestic coastal shipping industry.
Representatives of the Coastal Shipowners' Union (EEA) told a news briefing this will allow new investment to flow into passenger shipping, upgrading the quality of services.
They stressed they require no state support but the harmonization of national law with EU legislation, which would allow the substantial growth of companies and enable them to also meet the needs of connecting the islands with the mainland.
EEA takes the view that problems plaguing island connections could have been dealt with successfully, had the state created an environment in the sector in which shipowners knew the rules and could draw up their strategy.
"Today, with the existing institutional framework maintaining state intervention, no company can make serious policy plans because it simply cannot be certain about anything," said Blue Star Ferries CEO Michalis Sakelis.
"If EU Regulation 3577/1992, providing for full liberalization of internal sea transport, comes into force, companies will be able to plan a growth and modernization policy, that is, bring in new modern ships to upgrade the level of services offered even more," he added.
According to Sakelis, within the next few years, the state will face serious problems in coastal shipping transport as as many as 42 of 85 large operating ships are to be withdrawn by 2013, with the first 24 to be withdrawn by 2008. This, shipping circles believe, means that coastal shipping will be unable to meet demand unless the investment environment is clarified so companies can invest and bring in new ships, as well as restructure their fleet to successfully fill the gaps created by withdrawals of old ships.
Third-party levies
Coastal shipping companies, as EEA's representatives said, do not want to increase fares. On the contrary, they believe the total cost of fares could have been lower had the state adhered to the law and abolished levies in favor of third parties included in fares which amount to 33 percent of the total cost. Such levies are made in favor of porters, boatmen and harbor workers, while a 3 percent surcharge for the Seamen's Pension Fund (NAT), which goes on passenger and vehicle insurance, is covered anyway by other means.
"We are saying that this 'head tax' in favor of third parties, incorporated in fares and paid by the passengers without any benefit, could have been abolished, thus automatically reducing the total cost of fares to the passengers' benefit," stated Hellas Flying Dolphins CEO Gerasimos Strintzis. He claimed the state still owes the coastal shipping companies some 50 million euros from compulsory discounts in 2003, imposed by the Merchant Marine Ministry; the difference was to have been paid by the bodies which sponsored the passengers who traveled at a discount.
Ferry operators also believe that ports lag behind ships in modernization and are asking the state to intervene for improvements "here and now." It was said that while companies are interested in traveling to islands as often as on a daily basis, port infrastructure is not safe enough to dock the ships. [ANA]
Source: By Nikos Bardounias - Kathimerini, 26 Nov 2004


'Small-fry club' keeps premium
---A kid-brother club is competing by holding down prices.
The smallest of the clubs in the International Group protection-and-indemnity (P&I) cartel is gearing up for a competitive renewal by seeking no general increase in premiums.
The Standard Club's small-ship offshoot has been making significant progress in Russia and signing up more blue-water shipowners to extend a membership traditionally based on Western European inland-waterway and coastal fleets.
Although the Standard (London) Club, which is chaired by Philippe Grulois of Rederij Victor Huygebaert of Belgium, covers 2,300 vessels, these total only 1.7 million gt.
Even so, there are some reasonably large vessels on the books, such as the Chemgas fleet of seagoing LPG carriers of up to 2,600 cbm.
The Chemgas ships came into the club after top German tank-barge owner Gunther Jaegers, a prominent existing member, bought this former Vopak operation.
The club also benefited from Imperial Holdings of South Africa's takeover of the old-established Haniel shipping operation, which became the core of the huge 600-unit, Duisburg-based inland and coastal fleet of Imperial Reederei.
Russian owners have rapidly grown in importance for the Standard (London) with Volga Shipping now the single biggest member. Volgotanker vice-president Andrey Azarov sits on the mutual's shipowner board.
The club also gained tonnage when the Smit towage and salvage fleet consolidated its P&I cover with the Standard (London).
The strategy of the Standard (London) is to seek growth in the shortsea and coastal-shipping areas with a particular focus on chemical and LPG tonnage.
It is, meanwhile, de-emphasising its old trawler and fishing-boat business, which tends to generate lots of personal-injury claims.
Competition for the P&I business of owners of smaller ships is already hot with the likes of Shipowners' Club, a respected player in this sector, and Steamship Mutual tied up with the "club-within-a-club" package of business produced by Rotterdam broker Jack Post, British Marine, a notable non-mutual rival, Noord Nederlandsche seeking to extend its horizons and Sunderland Marine a force to be reckoned with in the fishing sector.
Even the two biggest P&I mutuals, the UK Club and Gard, insure substantial fleets of smaller vessels and were among the clubs that added to their portfolio when Hamburg-based Antra collapsed a year ago.
The Standard (London) has sought general increases of between 5% and 15% in each of the last four years, so general manager Michael Brun is giving members a bit of a break after rate rises that have cumulatively run to more than 50%.
However, shipowners in the big-ship Standard Club, whose members include top names such as AP Moller-Maersk and Teekay, are facing general increases of 12.5%.
Not everyone in the Standard (London) will get away with paying an unchanged premium as there are sectors such as passenger shipping that are being critically reviewed because, despite a good claims record, liabilities are increasing and set to take a big jump when a revised Athens convention comes into force.
The club has niche ferry owners such as Wyker Dampfschiffs-Reederei, specialising in the Frisian-island trade, as members. Wyker chief Axel Meynkohn sits on the club board.
The Standard (London) has a relatively small British Isles membership but covers the sophisticated and valuable lighthouse-support vessels of Trinity House, the Northern Lighthouse Board and the Commissioners of Irish Lights.
Source: www.tradewinds.no, Jim Mulrenan London, published: 26 November 2004


Oil tanker aground in Stanley harbour.
---The grounding of a tanker in high winds caused a seven hour drama today in the Falklands on Tuesday.
Around eight in the morning, the Panamanian registered tanker, Centaurus, operated by the Lavinia Corporation of Greece and carrying a cargo of some 2000 tonnes of diesel oil for Stanley, touched bottom, while attempting to dock at the Falklands Interim Port and Storage Facility (FIPASS). The ship became fast some 200 yards to the East of the floating dock.
The accident happened at low tide and the sea bed at the point of contact was described by Harbour Master, Jon Clarke, as "relatively soft". However, this good fortune was threatened by the distinct possibility that as the tide rose, the ship, estimated at between 5000 and 6000 gross tonnes, would be driven further inshore by gale force winds from the North. High tide was expected at around 2.30pm
During the late morning, the local inter-island cargo vessel, MV Tamar FI took a tow line from the Centaurus in order to prevent the situation worsening, while discussions took place about the next move.
In the Falklands with its small population, there is often a shortage of people with specific skills and so a degree of multi-tasking is normal. In this case, master mariner Ian Wilkinson, manager of Island Shipping Ltd., the company that operates the MV Tamar, was also the local pilot aboard the Centaurus at the time it grounded. As negotiations regarding salvage operations began between the captain of Centaurus and the captain of MV Tamar FI. Ian Wilkinson found himself in a position which he described as "somewhat invidious.
" Just before noon, with no let up in the force of the wind, listeners to inter-ship communications heard Captain McNeill of MV Tamar urge the captain of Centaurus to agree to accept Lloyd's Open Form as a preliminary to a salvage attempt being made. Ian Wilkinson also urged acceptance, saying that the ship was beginning to 'bump' and that he feared that unless prompt action was taken, it would later be impossible to get the ship off and she could become a "total constructive loss".
Lloyd's Open Form or LOF as it is more commonly referred to, is Lloyd's of London's standard form of salvage agreement and has its origins in the late 1800's. Over the course of time it has developed into the most widely used international salvage agreement of its kind in the world today, but its acceptance by a vessel in trouble sets in train an arbitration procedure, which is invariably lengthy and expensive and therefore one which most vessel owners would rather avoid.
Eventually, after messages had been exchanged through the local agents for Centaurus to Greece and from Greece to Lavinia Corporation's lawyers in London, the salvage operation began at around 12.20 pm. By 12.23 pm, assisted by two harbour patrol launches acting as tugs, MV Tamar FI had succeeded in pulling the tanker's bow away from the shore and somewhat into the wind. At this point, just after Ian Wilkinson had reported "We seem to be unstuck now" a windlass problem on MV Tamar FI intervened and by 12.30 the status quo was resumed, with Centaurus once more lying broadside on to the wind and pointing towards the shore.
In the hope of a slight reduction of wind strength later in the afternoon, no further attempt to pull the tanker free was made until 2.10 pm. At this point MV Tamar and the two harbour patrol launches, which had maintained station throughout, were joined by two other vessels: the Falkland Islands Company launch Speedwell and the long-retired harbour workhorse, Lively. With launches and Lively pushing from the leeward side and MV Tamar pulling, by 2.20 pm Centaurus was heading into wind and declared "fully afloat" by her relieved pilot.
Clearly had appropriate action not been taken to avoid damage to the ship, there could have been a risk of oil pollution in Stanley harbour. Asked about what might have happened, if the ship owners had not accepted the salvage terms, Harbour Master, Jon Clarke, informed Mercopress that the Falkland Islands Government were currently reviewing their powers to intervene in such a situation. He believed that the Islands' Governor had such powers at his discretion at present, but that the process by which these powers could not be applied needed to be streamlined. In Britain such powers belonged to the Secretary of State, but could be exercised by his appointed agents in the various coastal regions.
John Fowler (MP) Stanley
Source: www.falkland-malvinas.com, MercoPress, Uruguay - Nov 23, 2004


Dynacom in $316m spree for 10 tankers
---Dynacom Tankers Management, a closely held Greek shipowner, has spent $316m buying 10 crude oil tankers, shipbrokers Oslo-based Libaek & Partners, said yesterday, Bloomberg reports.
Dynacom bought two very large crude carriers, able to carry 2m barrels of oil each from the shipping arm of oil company Saudi Aramco for $62m each, Libaek said in a market report.
The company has also bought eight aframax tankers, with a capacity of 600,000 barrels of oil, from Teekay Shipping, for $24m each, shipbrokers said.
Dynacom chief executive Michael Drakos was not available to comment on the acquisitions.
Oil tanker prices have risen this year as the rates companies pay to hire the ships reached records on increasing crude-oil demand.
The price of a 15-year-old aframax tanker is $24m, said London-based shipbroker Clarkson. The price averaged $18.5m in 2003.
All the ships are single-hulled.
The two ships bought from Saudi Aramco were built in 1989, while the tankers acquired from Teekay were constructed between 1989 and 1991.
Source: www.lloydslist.com, Friday November 26 2004


Stelmar Committee begins seeking offers
---Greek tanker firm Stelmar Shipping Ltd. on Monday said a committee of independent directors began a process for soliciting and reviewing proposals to buy the company, nearly a week after shareholders voted down an offer endorsed by management.
The company said it also asked founder Stelios Haji-Ioannou to nominate an additional independent director for the committee. Stelmar's board last week invited Haji-Ioannou to chair the committee, but he said he would only join the board if chief executive Peter Goodfellow and chairman Nicholas Hartley are dismissed.
Stelmar said the committee has already made contact with interested parties, including the adviser to an unidentified suitor who had privately proposed a buyout at $42 per share to Haji-Ioannou. The company also released from standstill agreements four entities involved in the original auction process so they can submit new offers.
Haji-Ioannou, who with his family holds about 20 percent of Stelmar, rallied shareholders against approving a $703 million, $40 per share bid from Fortress Investment Group LLC after Stelmar agreed to the deal in mid-September, saying a cash acquisition undervalues the company during a booming market for shipping firms.
Slightly less than half of stakeholders voted against the merger, while 16.9 percent voted to approve the deal at a special meeting on Tuesday, according to Haji-Ioannou.
The renegade shareholder also brought allegations of mismanagement and improper conduct against the company's executives, citing their refusal to negotiate a strategic stock-for-stock offer from rival OMI Corp. earlier this spring.
While OMI's proposed deal was less than Fortress' offer, Haji-Ioannou said shareholders would have benefit more from a stock-swap merger. Shares of Stelmar and its peers have soared during the second half of the year as lower domestic oil production boosted demand for imports.
Stelmar has gained nearly 35 percent since OMI made its advance in May, and Monday added 1.3 percent, or 53 cents, to trade at $42.33 on the New York Stock Exchange. Shares of OMI rose 3.9 percent, or 74 cents, to $19.60.
Haji-Ioannou also claimed Goodfellow and former chief financial officer Stamatis Molaris also took illegal loans from the company and may have sold off shares while in possession of material undisclosed information.
Stelmar said its audit committee has retained law firm Norton Rose to investigate certain claims made by Haji-Ioannou against some of the company's managers, but did not specify which allegations.
Haji-Ioannou offered to serve as interim chair while the company puts itself back on the auction block, but first called for the ousting of Goodfellow, Hartley and Molaris. Although Molaris on Wednesday stepped down from his post, Stelmar's independent directors decided that removing two other key senior managers was "unwarranted."
Haji-Ioannou, who is also chairman of easyJet operator easyGroup Ltd., last week said if his conditions weren't met by Friday, he would nominate a fresh slate of directors for election at the next annual meeting and will "explore all legally available options to accelerate the removal of the entire board."
Source: www.forbes.com, Associated Press , 11.22.2004, 03:34 PM


MV Amorgos: Taiwan waits Norway's verdict on 2001 oil spill
---ENVIRONMENTAL CASE: The government has sued the owner and insurance firm of the ship that wrecked off Kenting National Park. Judgement is due next month
Court proceedings for Taiwan's first international lawsuit seeking compensation for the ecological damage caused by the 2001 oil spill from the MV Amorgos began in Norway early this month and the judgment is expected before the Christmas holidays, the Environ-mental Protection Administration (EPA) said yesterday.
On Jan. 14, 2001, the Greek-registered Amorgos, en route from Indonesia to China, ran aground near Kenting National Park in bad weather. Four days later, 1,150 tonnes of fuel oil in the ship began to leak, contaminating 6,987m2 of the Lungkeng Ecological Reserve.
The spill polluted the water, damaged coastal ecological systems and interfered with fishing in the area.
Since the spill, Assuranceforeningen Gard (Gjensidig), a Norway-based insurance company representing the ship's owner, has paid NT$61 million for the oil cleanup in Lungkeng, NT$1.8 million for forest restoration, NT$84.7 million for the removal of part of the shipwreck and various amounts to local fishermen.
Leu Horng-guang, director-general of the EPA's Bureau of Water Quality Protection, said yesterday that the international lawsuit shows Taiwan's determination to seek justice.
"We hope to stress that ecological resources in waterways in Taiwan Strait reserve more attentions," Leu said yesterday at a press conference in Taipei.
From Nov. 1 to Nov. 18, Taiwan-ese lawyers hired by the government and ecological experts from Kenting National Park Headquarters and the National Museum of Marine Biology and Aquarium, appeared in court in Arendal, Norway, to explain how the spill had hurt the park's ecology.
Experts from the Norwegian Institute for Water Research and the Institute of Marine Research appeared in court for the defense, the ship owner and Assuranceforeningen Gard.
According to Sylvia Huang,an attorney with Lee and Li, the NT$350 million compensation figure was determined by a Hong Kong-based international consulting company and includes the cost of the impact on the region's ecological systems, fishery resources and tourism as well as consultant fees.
"The defense told the court that no compensation was necessary. They attributed the ecological damage and tourism losses to typhoons in 2001," Huang said.
Huang said Taiwan's representatives had done their best to provide evidence linking the spill and ecological damage but the judges said they would need at least four weeks to evaluate the case.
Fan Tung-yung, a biologist with the museum, told the Taipei Times that before he left for Norway a newly completed investigation of ecological losses caused by the spill had shown that the percentage of coral coverage in affected areas has fallen from 80 percent to 30 percent.
"We just have to wait and see Norway's judgment and then discuss it with the relevant governmental agencies. We don't know yet if we will appeal to a higher court if the judgement doesn't account for coral protection and ecological judgment," Leu said.
Source: The Taipei Times, By Chiu Yu-Tzu,STAFF REPORTER , Friday, Nov 26, 2004 ,Page 2


Crews race to contain oil slick from spill in Delaware River
Tanker lost 30,000 gallons of crude oil - Birds are dying, officials say
---PHILADELPHIA - A tanker spilled 30,000 gallons of crude oil into the Delaware River between Philadelphia and southern New Jersey, causing a 20-mile-long slick that killed dozens of birds and threatened other wildlife, federal officials said Saturday.
Private contractors were called in to skim oil from the surface of the water and place thousands of feet of boom to contain the floating slick.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officials said 50 birds were dead from the spill, 300 others were affected and fish also were threatened. A stretch of the busy river was closed to commercial and recreational traffic while the spill was being cleaned up.
"We're working very quickly and diligently to expedite the cleanup," said Coast Guard Petty Officer John Edwards.
Two tugboats were guiding the ship to a pier Friday night when a tugboat skipper noticed the spill, said Coast Guard Capt. Jonathan Sarubbi, officer in charge of the port of Philadelphia. The ship listed 8 degrees to the left about the same time, he said.
The crew notified the Coast Guard and began transferring oil from the leaking tank to another tank on board. The leak was stopped within an hour.
The cause of the spill was still under investigation, Sarubbi said.
The tanker, the Athos I, registered in the Mediterranean island nation of Cyprus, was carrying 325,000 barrels of oil from Venezuela, said Jim Lawrence, a spokesman for the vessel's owner, Greek shipping company Tsakos Shipping and Trading SA.
The nearly 750-foot-long ship, built in 1983, was last out of the water for maintenance in April, Lawrence said. He said it had never before spilled oil.
It was the worst spill on the Delaware River since 1995, when strong wind pushed a tanker away from a refinery dock in West Deptford, N.J., snapping a fuel line that spilled 40,000 gallons. In 1989, a tanker ran aground near Claymont, Del., spilling 300,000 gallons of heating oil into the river.
About 2 million barrels of oil come through the port of Philadelphia each day. [THE ASSOCIATED PRESS, 11/28/2004]
Source: http://www.stltoday.com and http://www.nj.com,


Turkey - Greece natural gas pipeline construction to be put to tender
---ANKARA (AA) - Turkey-Greece Natural Gas Pipeline construction will be put to tender on Thursday, Petroleum Pipeline Corporation (BOTAS) said on Wednesday.
The tender is carried out within interconnection of natural gas networks of Turkey and Greece and European Union Inogate Program.
BOTAS told a statement that the pipeline aims to carry Caspian Sea gas to Europe and Balkan countries via Turkey and Greece.
The economic feasibility study of the Turkey-Greece Natural Gas Pipeline Project was conducted by Societe Generale with equal financial supports of EU-TEN (Trans European Networks) Funds and DEPA on March 25th, 2002.
Under the Natural Gas Sales and Purchase Agreement signed by BOTAS and DEPA, a pipeline will be constructed between Karacabey township in the western Turkish city of Bursa and Komotini, Greece as of 2006. The pipeline will pump 250 million cubic meters of natural gas as the first consignment, the second 500 cubic meters, and the third and others would be 750 cubic meters. There would be natural gas exports throughout 15 years.
On the other hand, with an Italian tie, the quantity of natural gas to be transported from the pipeline is question is planned to increase 11-12 billion cubic meters annually. Three billion cubic meters of this quantity is foreseen to be transported to Greek market and 8 billion cubic meters is foreseen to be transported to Italian market.
The natural gas pipeline's Turkey section will start from Karacabey station and end in Ipsala Kipi. 193 km of the planned 210 km pipeline will be on land and 17 km will have sea passage.
Source: Anadolu Agency: 11/24/2004


Russia needs a pipeline to bypass Turkish straits
---MOSCOW, Nov 24 (RIA Novosti) - Turkey has received another pretext for toughening tanker-traffic regulations in the Bosphorus and Dardanelles through which Russia exports oil from Novorossiisk to the Mediterranean, writes Vremya Novostei.
The Genmar Progress tanker caught fire while leaving the Dardanelles yesterday. The tanker, which had 74,000 tons of oil onboard, was flying a Liberian flag, while her consignment had been bought by the Glencore trader from Russneft. The ship was about 15 miles from the Dardanelles when the fire broke out, so traffic continued as usual through the straits.
However, Turkey may take advantage of this situation to make regulations through the Bosphorus and Dardanelles tougher. Accidents involving oil tankers have been occurring more frequently recently. It would be enough to recall the Tropic Brilliance tanker owned by Russia's Sovcomflot that ran aground in the Suez Canal, stopping all ship traffic for three days. Turkey introduced tougher tanker-traffic regulations for the Bosporus and the Dardanelles last year. The decision, coupled with poor weather, disrupted tanker traffic, delaying the delivery of Russian raw materials to South Europe. This route handled 80 million tons of oil, including 60 million tons of Russian oil, in 2003.
"The construction of an oil pipeline bypassing the Turkish straits is becoming increasingly important for Russia," Mikhail Perfilov, development director with the Argus oil agency, said. "From the geopolitical standpoint, the Burgas-Alexandroupolis route via Bulgaria and Greece, which has been under discussion for years, is the most profitable option."
Representatives of the relevant Russian, Bulgarian and Greek ministries initialed a memorandum on building the Burgas-Alexandroupolis oil pipeline this November. Sources then suggested that the final version of the document would be signed in December 2004, but this has not been confirmed officially.
Source: http://en.rian.ru/, 2004-11-24 13:36