Greek Shipping News Cuts
Week 06 - 2005

 

Ship begins medical work under SLN restrictions

---Sri Lanka Navy (SLN) permitted the Greek Hospital ship to start providing medical services Saturday morning with conditions imposed on number of patients treated per day and mandatory use of a temporary shelter where patients are to be transported before batches of maximim six patients are taken inside the ship for treatment, medical sources in Trincomalee said.
The passenger ship OCEAN MONARCH converted into a floating hospital arrived in Trincomalee harbour on February 5 on a humanitarian mission to serve tsunami victims in the Trincomalee district, and has remained idle for the last week awaiting approval from the Sri Lanka Government to begin providing medical services.
According to the conditions imposed by the SLN, Greek mission officials should come to the Trincomalee general hospital and transport minimum 25 patients daily to their floating hospital in their vehicles and should keep them in a house the SLN has provided at the Ashraff Jetty where the floating hospital is anchored. From there only six patients will be allowed at a time to enter the floating hospital. Greek authorities have been told to ensure that at no time more than six patients should be inside the vessel.
Agreeing to these conditions, Greek medical personnel commenced their humanitarian mission in Trincomalee. Mr.Iraklis Charmanidis, Deputy Chief of the Greek Mission Ship Saturday morning visited Trincomalee government general hospital and met its Medical Superintendent Dr. (Ms) Koushi Gnanagunalan and the Provincial Deputy Director of Health Services Dr.S.Abraham and discussed with them the modalities regarding the transportation of patients to the floating hospital.
Later Mr.Iraklis Charmanidis took in charge of the first batch of patients who came to obtain OPD treatment from the Trincomalee general hospital. Dr.Jagath Wimalaretna, senior medical officer of the hospital who is also fluent in all three languages accompanied the selected patients to the ship with Mr.Iraklis Charmanidis.
Since the arrival of floating hospital in east port, SLN authorities prevented Greek humanitarian mission from commencing its medical services by putting several conditions citing security of the Trincomalee harbour. Mr. Lozos, Ambassador for Greece to Sri Lanka spent six days in Trincomalee to resolve issues with the SLN authorities in commencing the humanitarian service.
He left Trincomalee Thursday without arriving at an agreement, sources said.
However following discussions held between Greek and SLN officials on Thursday and Friday the working solution was found. The floating hospital will be in Trincomalee for another five weeks providing medical services, sources said.
Source: http://www.tamilnet.com, [TamilNet, February 12, 2005 14:11 GMT]


Captain of seized ship will plead guilty
---End of case should let stranded Filipino sailors return home.
LONG BEACH - The captain of a cargo ship seized in September by the federal government in the Port of Long Beach will plead guilty to obstruction of justice in an environmental pollution case, the U.S. Attorney's Office announced Friday.
The plea by Ioannis G. Kallikis, 62, of Greece means 13 members of the ship's crew who have been stranded in the Southland as witnesses in the case may soon return home to the Philippines.
Federal prosecutors will ask the court to remove the sailors' designation as material witnesses after Kallikis' plea is entered Tuesday.
The 13 stranded sailors could leave the country as early as Tuesday night, said Thom Mrozek of the U.S. Attorney's Office, but it may take longer to arrange travel.
Prosecutors are trying to ensure that Athens, Greece-based DST Shipping Co. Ltd., the operator of the ship and a defendant in the case, pays for return flights.
Lara Bazelon, attorney for the sailors, said in a e-mail that prosecutors "expect DST to comply with its obligation to pay for the repatriation of the crew members."
Mrozek confirmed that DST would pay for the trip home.
The court saga has seen the sailors ferried around Southern California for five months. In September, an envelope from the crew alerted Coast Guard inspectors that violations were taking place aboard the ship.
After the ship was seized, the men were retained as witnesses and spent more than two months at the San Pedro Holiday Inn until DST stopped paying for rooms there. They then moved to a small room at the International Seafarers Center in Long Beach before the Philippine Consulate set up a rented home for them in Carson in December.
After the investigation of the ship, the U.S. Attorney's Office brought charges against DST, Kallikis and two Filipino officers who pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice charges in January. The defendants were accused of dumping oil-tainted water and trash at sea while commanding the Katerina, and also of attempting to cover up the crimes.
DST officials have admitted in a plea agreement that the Katerina discharged oil-contaminated bilge water and oil sludge into the ocean, sometimes off the California coast, "on numerous occasions' during an approximately six-month period in 2004. The company is scheduled to enter its plea Feb. 28 and will most likely pay a $500,000 fine, Mrozek said.
The two Filipino officers, Edgardo A. Guinto, 49, and Rolan P. Sullesta, 42, are to be sentenced in April and will likely get prison terms of one to two years.
Source: http://www.presstelegram.com, By Eric Johnson , Staff writer, 12 Feb 05


ELPE to invest 70 Mln euro in Bulgaria expansion
---Greece's Hellenic Petroleum Group said it would spend 70 million euro ($90 million) to build 65 filling stations in Bulgaria by mid-2008.
The new stations would join the 15 it already has in the country, representing a 20 million euro investment. The company's Bulgarian unit, Eko Elda Bulgaria, operates the stations, which sell fuel from its Greek parent company.
The company hopes to capitalise on the fast-growing Bulgarian market to become a major player, he added.
Eko Elda Bulgaria's competitors include Bulgarian Petrol, Austrian OMV, Royal Dutch/Shell, Russian Lukoil and Turkish Opet Aygas.
Source: www.reporter.gr, 10:44 - 08 February 2005


ISF enters into exclusive negotiation rights for acquisition of Navios.
---NEW YORK, Feb. 10 International Shipping Enterprises, Inc. ("ISE") announced today that, following a competitive bidding process, it executed an agreement providing for an exclusive period to negotiate definitive documentation to acquire all of the shares of Navios Maritime Holdings Inc. ("Navios"). Lazard is acting as financial advisor to Navios.
There can be no assurance that the parties will successfully negotiate mutually acceptable definitive documentation. In addition, consummation of any such acquisition will be subject to certain conditions, including negotiating definitive documentation and approval of ISE's shareholders.
About Navios Maritime Holdings Inc.
Navios was founded 50 years ago as the shipping subsidiary of United States Steel Corporation. Today, Navios is headquartered in South Norwalk, Connecticut, and maintains offices in Piraeus, Greece, and Montevideo, Uruguay.
Navios is one of the leading global brands in seaborne shipping, specializing in the worldwide carriage, trading, storing and the related logistics of international bulk cargoes. Navios's fleet carries a wide range of cargoes including iron ore, coal, grain, minor bulks (such as cement and fertilizer) and steel products. From time to time over the past two years, Navios has deployed as many as 75 vessels.
Navios's fleet consists of a total of 28 vessels. Six modern Ultra-Handymax vessels are owned by Navios. The 22 long-term time chartered vessels
include 15 currently in operation and the remaining seven are scheduled for delivery at various times over the next two years. All of these vessels are either Panamax (70,000-83,000 dwt) or Ultra-Handymax (50,000-55,000 dwt). Navios has options to acquire 13 of the time chartered vessels. The owned vessels have a substantial net asset value and the vessels controlled under the in-charters are at rates well below the market. The purchase options on many vessels in Navios's fleet are also substantially "in the money." The average age of the Navios's fleet is 3.5 years.
Navios has strong commercial relationships with freight customers and trading houses in Asia and significant visibility into worldwide commodity flows through physical shipping operations and terminal operations in Uruguay. As a result, Navios has strong risk management discipline.
Navios also owns and operates a bulk terminal in Uruguay. While a relatively small portion of Navios's overall enterprise, the terminal is a highly attractive, stable business with strong growth prospects.
About International Shipping Enterprises, Inc.
International Shipping Enterprises, Inc. is a Delaware company formed to serve as a vehicle for the acquisition of one or more vessels or an operating business in the dry bulk sector of the shipping industry. While it may seek to effect business combinations with more than one target business, its initial business combination must be with a target whose fair market value is at least equal to 80% of net assets at the time of such acquisition.
Safe Harbor
This news release may contain forward-looking statements. Such statements are valid only as of today, and we disclaim any obligation to update this information. These statements, which include, but are not limited to, the successful completion of a proposed transaction and the benefits expected to be derived therefrom, are subject to known and unknown risks and uncertainties that may cause actual future experience and results to differ materially from the statements made. These statements are based on our current beliefs and expectations as to such future outcomes.
Source: International Shipping Enterprises, Inc.


Athens plans futures clearing house
---Greek exchange said to be ready to launch freight derivatives trading service to compete with Oslo clearing house NOS, write Nigel Lowry and Neville Smith. Tuesday February 08 2005
A FACILITY for clearing over-the-counter shipping derivatives may shortly be created in Athens, providing competition for Oslo-based clearing house NOS.
Under discussion for the last year, the move is thought to have originated with members of the London-based Greek shipping community and is likely to be welcomed by futures brokers who have appeared keen for some time on alternatives to NOS, particularly in light of the burgeoning derivatives business over the last two years.
NOS has an exclusive arrangement with Imarex, which functions like an exchange.
The Greek initiative would come under the aegis of the Athens Exchange, which after a 2002 merger includes the Athens derivatives exchange and its clearing house. Currently, Athens is the sixth-ranked market in Europe for equity derivatives of various types, although a shipping facility would focus on freight derivatives trading - said to be worth as much as $20bn worldwide yearly.
According to financial sources aware of the plan, Athens could be ready to launch itself into the market as early as next month, although the Athens Exchange seems unready to make any pronouncements.
"We are progressing on the project," confirmed Nikos Porfiris, the exchange's director of business development for derivatives.
"But this is not ready for officially announcing," he said. "We want to have something more solid ready first."
Athens Exchange is owned by Hellenic Exchanges, a Greek stocklisted company that, according to the exchange, is 35% owned by foreign investors, 29% by the public, with the remainder of the stock mainly held by Greek banks.
Forging ahead with a derivatives business could allow the exchange to tap into Greece's vast shipping activity and knowledge, even as it struggles to attract a first equity listing from within the nation's tanker and dry cargo shipping fraternity.
But the news came as a surprise to London brokers, who say they have seen no evidence that the exchange's plans have got off the ground. Neither do they see the solution as ideal. "The problem would be the same as with NOS. In terms of capitalisation, their balance sheet is not strong enough," said Andy Lucey of Freight Investor Services.
The Greeks' plans may also be overtaken by events. Mr Lucey said that London brokers were close to finally entering an agreement for an alternative clearing house with the New York Mercantile Exchange.
"We have said for more than a year that our two preferred solutions were LCH Clearnet or Nymex, now it seems there is good reason to believe a solution will come with Nymex," he said.
Frustrated at the slow pace of progress with LCH, the Baltic Exchange is understood to be negotiating with Nymex to clear tanker swaps as early as the second quarter of this year, with dry freight derivatives to follow.
"We have had no progress with LCH," Mr Lucey added. "Nymex may not be London-based but it is internationally credible and financially strong."
Forward Freight Agreement Brokers' Association chairman Alex Gray agreed that brokers were less familiar with the Nymex model than with LCH Clearnet which formerly cleared the Biffex contract on the Liffe exchange.
"We don't have that experience yet with Nymex but we're enthused and keen to talk to them."
A source at LCH Clearnet told Lloyd's List that the clearing house was still on its project list for 2005.
Source: www.lloydslist.com, Markets, Tuesday February 08 2005


Shipping magnate sees sustained freight prices for years to come
---LONDON - Booming international trade and strong global oil and gas demand will underpin seaborne freight prices for years to come, the head of one of Greece's biggest shipowning families said in an interview.
Nikolas Tsakos, president and CEO of Tsakos Energy Navigation, the oil arm of the larger Tsakos Greek shipping empire, said it had been a "fantastic" 12 months for shipping crude and petroleum products.
Returns on shipping other commodities, such as iron ore, coal and container trade had also been exceptional, he said.
"The (freight) market goes from strength to strength because China keeps on swallowing stuff and it makes it very exciting for all of us," he told Reuters.
"Merchant shipping has never seen it so good in 30 years."
It has been a year of superlatives for the maritime industry and freight markets. After years of operating near break-even levels, 2004 saw the Baltic Exchange's dry freight index smash records twice over on booming seaborne trade into China.
Oil or "wet" freight also broke records late last year on vaulting Asian demand and the highest oil-demand growth in a generation.
"It's one of the few times in recent history both sectors - wet and dry - peaked together," Tsakos said.
He attributed the boom to the "true" globalization of international trade in the last 15 years with the emergence of FSU countries and China and India onto the world stage.
Oil freight firm to 2008
Tsakos expects oil freight earnings to remain strong well into the decade, citing high oil and gas demand projections and a shrinking world fleet.
Under strict UN environmental laws, about 40 percent of the world fleet faces the scrap heap in the next five years, as more double-hulled tonnage becomes the norm.
"And that's why the (freight) market is going to be relatively good - at least double our break-even price until 2008," he said.
"What has really killed the business in the past has been an oversupply of ships and that isn't likely to happen soon."
Tsakos Energy Navigation aims to capitalize on the solid forecasts by acquiring another 14 new oil and gas tankers that will join the existing 27-strong fleet between 2005 and 2007.
It has also invested heavily in LNG carriers and what are known as ice-class ships, specialized tankers that can navigate the frozen shipping lanes in the Baltic during the winter months.
Ice-class freight fees are far steeper than those charged by conventional tankers, and Tsakos has noted that Russia intends to keep bolstering exports from Baltic seaports like Primorsk.
LNG is also seen as a key growth sector, with only 160 LNG carriers out of the 3,000-strong oil tanker fleet expected to cope with surging demand growth.
If there's one area of the business Tsakos is less than happy with it's his company's share price to earnings ratio.
"There are lots of far riskier businesses, such as offshore drilling, where the ratios are 33 times greater than earnings."
"As a company, we have never had a down quarter in 45 quarters and we are still only valued at six times our earnings, which is ridiculously low," he said.
Source: http://www.ekathimerini.com, 10 Feb 2005, By Stefano Ambrogi - Reuters


Eight ships go in a week
---Lagoa Shipping of Greece has disposed of eight ships in two separate deals in the last week.
One involved the en-bloc sale of six ships at a reported price tag in excess of $50m to a Norwegian KS (limited partnership) set up by investment consultant Pareto of Norway.
The sale involves the 298,00-cbf Amistad (built 1990) and 289,000-cbf Marianao Ice (built 1991), two undisclosed bulkers and two container/general cargoships. Bareboat charters back to Lagoa of four to five years are included.
Neither Lagoa and Pareto were willing to comment on the deal but sources indicate it likely involves purchase obligations at the end of the charters.
Brokers say the sale is not a move towards a disposal of assets but will function as a refinancing vehicle for the Logothetis-controlled company.
The Marianao Ice is said to have been chartered by the Green Reefer pool for two years at $0.70 per cbf or an estimated $6,950 per day.
Sources suggest the bulker pair is slated for delivery by early March.
Lagoa has also disposed of two reefers, the 297,000-cbf Minnesota (1990) and 300,000-cbf Missouri (built 1991). Seatrade Groningen is said to have picked up the pair in an en-bloc deal worth $16m, which brokers describe as firm.
Increasing charter rates in the reefer sector, which have skyrocketed in the last few months, have boosted reefer values. The same sale would have been worth around $5m per unit over a year ago, brokers note.
Lagoa will retain the operational management of the six ships but the sale brings its owned reefer fleet down to 17.
Source: www.tradewinds.no, published: 11 February 2005


Greek Fleet Facts
---Renewal of the Greek-owned fleet and growth in gross tonnage continued in the month of January.
Specifically, official Marine ministry figures released for January 2005, revealed an increase in gross tonnage, as the number of vessels under the Greek flag remained the same in the month when 13 ships of 579,668gt entered the home registry against 13 deletions of 418,781gt.
As a result, according to running data maintained by Newsfront, the national flag fleet [units of at least 100gt] stood on January 31 at 2,074 hulls of an aggregate 31,618,529gt, same number of vessels, but 160,887gt more than at the beginning of the year.
Of the 13 ships raising the Greek flag in January, 11 were registered under 'Article 13', of which four were commissioned in 2004. Newbuildings inscribed on the Piraeus registry were: the 46,860dwt chemical tankers Strymon and Evros delivered from STX, Korea, into the S. Livanos Hellas operation; the 37,000dwt tanker Didimon, delivered from Hyundai Mipo Dodkyards, Korea, into the TEN operation; the 112,000dwt tanker Delta Victory, delivered from Hyundai Samho HI, Korea, into the Marmaras Navigation operation; the 103,000dwt tanker Elka Athina, delivered from Brodosplit, Croatia, into the European Product Carriers operation.
The other 'Article 13' vessels raising the Greek flag in January included: the 319,430dwt tanker Crude Topaz , built 2002, controlled by Metrostar; the 7,395gt and 5,972gt ferries Nordia and Marin respectively, built 1991, controlled by Panagopoulos interests; the 60,639dwt container Maersk Mykonos , built 1988, controlled by Constantacopoulos interests; the 151,300dwt bulker Theodoros II, built 2002, controlled by Marrmaras Navigation; and the 151,300dwt bulker Nymphe, built 1994, controlled by Neda Maritime.
Of the eight 'Article 13' deletions all were declared as straight sales. These included the 39,697dwt bulker Maria, built 1984, out of the Mega Shipping Line operation; the 105,274dwt tanker Nissos Christiana, built 1996, and the 106,504dwt tanker Niriis, built 1997 out of the Kyklades Maritime Corporation operation; the 64,388dwt bulker Marinicki, built 1989, out of the Chandris (Hellas) operation; the 240,401dwt tanker Seryna built 1988, out of the Sun Enterprises fleet; the 32,587dwt bulker Adventure, built 1980, out of the Efthymiou Shipping operation; the 77,080dwt bulker George, built 1984, out of the Kassian Maritime Navigation operation; and the 64,312dwt bulker Oinoussian Father, built 1986, out of the Efploia Shipping fleet.
Overall, average age of the 'Article 13' deletions was 17 years, according to the ministry, whereas arrivals on the Piraeus registry were six years on average.
Source: www.newsfront.gr, 11 Feb 05