Greek Shipping News Cuts
Week 09 - 2005

 

Greek committee blasts new EU fouling sanctions

---WIDER criminal sanctions provisions for ship-source pollution, adopted last week by the European Parliament, have been attacked by the Greek Shipping Co-operation Committee, the London-based industry think-tank.
According to the GSCC, the result of the European Parliament's plenary vote on the sanctions directive was a compromise only in the fact that "some of the more outlandish proposals were avoided".
The body said in its latest bulletin that the so-called compromise was reached "at a very high price for the shipping industry and the European Union's integrity and credibility."
It said: "It seems that if global regulations do not fit with EU views they can be broken. Greece, Cyprus and Malta fought a lonely battle.
"The European parliament went back on its own amendment and knowingly voted to violate international law and Marpol by making accidental pollution occurring in the territorial sea a criminal offence," the GSCC stated.
The directive now appears that it will be adopted because the Transport Council was expected to approve the compromise amendments as well, and a third reading of the directive can be discounted, the GSCC said.
Provisions for imprisonment and fines for offences will be dealt with in a framework decision, rather than a directive.
The directive stipulates that suspects of ship-source pollution should be granted a fair and impartial hearing and that sanctions must be proportional.
The proposal to include a list of liable persons in case of ship-source pollution was rejected.
In the same bulletin, the GSCC also took issue with the EU's controversial Sulphur in Fuel Directive on maximum limits for sulphur content in marine fuel, which is also at the second reading stage before the European parliament.
Commenting on the directive and further amendments introduced by the Environment Committee rapporteur, Satu Hassi, the GSCC voiced the hope that "reason may prevail" at a full plenary vote on April 13.
"The shipping industry continues its opposition and will submit exhaustive and detailed papers again to point out the absurdities of some of the proposals," it said.
By Nigel Lowry in Athens- Tuesday March 01 2005
Source: www.lloydslist.com, Regulation, Company News


Mehmet Ali Birand: Turkey will lift embargo on Cyprus
---Turkey has agreed to expand the customs union agreement to southern Cyprus; however, this decision is not an end. Ankara also needs to remove the embargoes in place against Greek Cypriot airports and seaports.
As Turkey drags its feet in implementing the broadening of the customs union agreement to southern Cyprus, the matter is constantly becoming more political and harder to resolve.
A document was signed on Dec. 17 in Brussels, and Turkey officially promised to treat the Republic of Cyprus as a European Union member and agreed to expand the customs union agreement to cover Cyprus.
The widely held impression in the Turkish media is that the government will pass this decision through Parliament and the matter will be resolved.
Actually, that's not the case.
After passing the decision, Turkey needs to work on implementing the customs union. To put it more clearly, Turkey needs to lift its embargoes on Greek Cypriot airports and seaports.
Currently, the goods sent from Greek Cypriot airports and seaports cannot enter Turkey. Ships and planes cannot carry goods to Turkey. From now on, with the customs union agreement in place, the embargo needs to be lifted.
This is what we will discuss when the negotiations in Brussels start. We will try to get certain favors concerning the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (KKTC) and ask them to fulfill the promises they made in exchange for lifting the embargoes.
The Greek Cypriots will resist. They hold all the cards. We are in an unfavorable position. If we had not been so late in accepting the Annan plan, we would have faced none of these problems.
Source: http://www.turkishdailynews.com.tr, Wednesday, March 2, 2005


Growing support for Greece's class society
---The Greek government has vowed to give "full and unreserved" support to the Hellenic Register of Shipping while calling on the country's shipping industry to do the same.
The classification society "constitutes a significant part of Greek shipping's infrastructure" declared Marine ministry secretary general, Ioannis Tzoannos, and "is necessary for serving Greek shipping".
Addressing the February 24 annual meeting of the HRS committee, Tzoannos noted HRS is the national classification society and as such promotes technical expertise and know-how in the shipping sector. This comment was galvanised by Hellenic Chamber of Shipping (HCS) president, George Gratsos who said the society plays a big part in promoting Piraeus as a technical centre and as such should have the support of the Greek shipping industry.
A brief presentation by HRS md, Costas Chiou on the present status of HRS and its aims and goals underlined the challenges facing a small society. The meeting also discussed developments influencing the technical side of shipping, particularly the goalbased standards being promoted by Greece, risk assessment, the Marpol Annex VI, ballast exchange management, the ISM and ISPS codes and on-going work within Imo.
Chiou told Newsfront that among the main immediate goals of the society is for it to receive full recognition from the European Union. Chiou said: "At present HRS has some terms and restrictions regarding our EU recognition which are due to quantative
factors not quality issues. Reaching the fleet, tonnage and exclusive surveyor criteria is probably beyond us. But HRS mets the EU quality requirements of Council Directive 94/57/EC." This directive covers common rules and standards for ship inspection and survey organisations and for the relevant activities of maritime administration.
Chiou went on: "Since 1996 after extensive and rigorous biennial audits the EU has renewed HRS' recognition each time. The next renewal is due in 2006 and we are confident our performance over the years will see a lifting of the terms and restrictions and the granting of full recognition."
Chiou said there is growing support from the Greek shipping community and "we believe this will continue". This support is reflected in owners seeking dual class, but "this adds to the owner's cost". "We will continue to work hard and not declare things we cannot achieve," said Chiou.
He noted the US Coast Guard (USCG) has recognised the quality of HRS. Under the Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Act of 2004, (security) vessel classification societies may not perform certain functions for ships unless the societies have been approved by the Coast Guard or are full members of IACS. As reported in Newsfront Feburary 4, the USCG has approved the standards of HRS and the society now operates alongside IACS societies in the US.
HRS is, of course, also recognised by many major maritime administrations in addition to those of Greece and Cyprus and this is the message that will be delivered in London next week, when Chiou leads a HRS delegation in meetings with London-based Greek shipowners and members of the International Group of P&I Clubs as well as other insurance groups.
Source: www.newsfront.gr, 4 Mar 05


Diana Shipping Combined Fleet List
Nirefs Delivered Jan. 2001 75,311 4.2 years
Alcyon Delivered Feb. 2001 75,247 4.2 years
Triton Delivered March 2001 75,336 4.1 years
Oceanis Delivered May 2001 75,211 3.9 years
Dione Acquired May 2003 75,172 4.3 years
Danae Acquired July 2003 75,106 4.3 years
Protefs Delivered Aug. 2004 73,630 0.6 years
Calipso Delivered Feb. 2005 73,691 0.2 years
Pantelis SP Delivered Feb. 2005 169,883 6.1 years
Clio Delivery expected April 2005 73,700 0 years
*years as of April 15, 2005
Use of Proceeds
As mentioned above, one of the novel features of the Diana transaction is the fact that the company will use the proceeds of the offering to eliminate debt. Of the $182 million proceeds, after fees and expenses, the company will use $15.0 million to fund the final installment due on the new panamax dry bulk carrier that it expects to be delivered to the company in April 2005 and the remaining $166.4 million to repay all of seven of its outstanding credit facilities that mature between June 2013 and November 2015 and bear interest at LIBOR plus 1.125% to LIBOR plus 1.3%.
Dilution
Based on the ready comparison between DryShips and Diana, it is very difficult to imagine that investors will not love this deal. Although we are certainly closer to the top of the shipping cycle than the bottom, the reality is that modern ships with minimal leverage will survive even the nastiest of market corrections and be around for the next turn of the cycle. In our view, this transaction is proof that underwriters, investors and shipping companies have learned from the unfortunate high yield bonds issued in the late 1990s and have created structures that capture all of the value that shipping has to offer.
Diana Shares
Common stock offered by Diana Shipping 12,375,000 shares
Common stock to be outstanding
immediately after this offering 40,000,000 shares
Underwriters' over-allotment option 1,856,250 shares
Source: www.marinemoney.com, Freshly Minted online newsletter, 4 Mar 2005


DryShips announces agreement to acquire 8 additional vessels
---ATHENS, GREECE -- (Market Wire - Mar 03, 2005) -- DryShips Inc. (NASDAQ: DRYS), announced today that it has taken delivery of the panamax bulkcarrier m.v. "Tonga," 66,798 dwt, built 1984, as well as the handymax bulkcarrier m.v. "Matira," 45,863 dwt, built 1994. These vessels are the first of 11 drybulk carriers that were referred to as "Identified Vessels" in the prospectus dated February 3, 2005.
DryShips Inc. has also agreed to acquire an additional 8 vessels for approximately $418 million from unaffiliated third parties. These vessels consist of 2 capesize bulkcarriers currently employed in the spot market and 6 panamax bulkcarriers 5 of which have time charter contracts. The company has already taken delivery of 2 of these 6 panamax bulk carriers, the m.v. "Coronado," 75,706 dwt, built 2000 and m.v. "Xanadu," 72,270 dwt, built 1999.
After taking delivery of the 11 Identified vessels and the 8 additional vessels DryShips will have a fleet of 25 vessels consisting of 4 capesize, 19 panamax and 2 handymax bulkcarriers aggregating 2.1 million dwt and with an average age of 11 years.
Company Contact: Christopher J. Thomas,
Chief Financial Officer DryShips Inc. Tel. 011-30-210-809-0570 E-mail: management@dryships.grDryShips Inc., based in Greece, is an owner and operator of drybulk carriers that operate worldwide. DryShips currently owns a fleet of 10 drybulk carriers and has entered into agreements to purchase an additional 15 vessels.
Visit our website at www.dryships.com.
Source: http://press.arrivenet.com, Distribution Source : Market Wire, Date : Thursday - March 03, 2005


Excel Maritime launches website
---IRAEUS, Greece, March 3 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Excel Maritime Carriers Ltd (Amex: EXM - News), a shipping company specializing in the seaborne transportation of dry bulk cargoes such as iron ore, coal and grains, announced that it has launched an informational website at www.excelmaritime.com . The website contains information on the Company's fleet, management and operations, as well as information for investors and links to Company filings, news releases, and stock trading details provided by the American Stock Exchange.
CEO Christopher Georgakis commented, "We have launched our new website in an effort to be more transparent to investors and to those interested in Excel Maritime. We intend to keep the information on the Excel Maritime site up to date, and look forward to providing this information source on our Company."
About Excel Maritime Carriers Ltd
The Company is an owner and operator of dry bulk carriers and a provider of worldwide seaborne transportation services for dry bulk cargo. This includes commodities such as iron ore, coal, grains, as well as bauxite, fertilizers and steel products. The Company currently owns and operates a fleet of two Capesize bulk carriers, four Handymax bulk carriers, one Handysize bulk carrier and one Panamax bulk carrier. An additional two Handymax bulk carriers and two Panamax bulk carriers are expected to be delivered within the next two months. After these deliveries the Company's fleet size will increase to eleven ships representing a total carrying capacity of 738,647 dwt. The Company was incorporated in 1988 under the laws of Liberia.
Source: Press Release Source: Excel Maritime Carriers Ltd ,Thursday March 3, 2:03 pm ET


Euronav snaps up VLCCs
---Greek shipowner Theodore Angelopoulos has pulled off another stunning deal with the sale of four VLCCs to Antwerp based tanker owner Euronav for $477.5m.
There are also rumours that Angelopoulos controlled Metrostar is selling another two VLCCs to Lebanese owner, Ghassan Ghandour, which would leave just two large tankers, which are currently on charter to BP so might be harder to sell, in the fleet.
The vessels being acquired by Euronext listed Euronav are the 290,900-dwt Crude Guardian (built 1993), the 298,300 Crude Creation (built 1998), the 319,470-dwt Crude Topaz (built 2002) and a 318,000-dwt newbuilding due to be delivered in May 2005.
The first two vessels will be handed over in March with the Crude Topaz scheduled to change hands in April.
Euronav headed by Marc Saverys said it would the four vessels would fly the Belgian flag and be deployed in the Tankers International pool which currently operates 45 VLCCs and ULCCs.
"Given the market outlook, the executive committee is confident that the addition of the four vessels will be accretive to both growth and earnings of the company," Euronav said in a market announcement.
Euronav, which was demerged from CMB last year, has interests in 28 VLCC and ULCCs, of which nine are chartered in from third parties.
Euronav said the VLCC acquisition would not impact on its dividend policy and it would be recommending to shareholders that a total gross dividend of EUR 3.2 be paid for 2004. Half has already been distributed as an interim dividend.
There have been rumours for some time that Angelopoulos has been looking to sell his fleet of eight double hull VLCCs for as much as $1.1bn.
But company insiders dismissed the rumours in January as just "broker talk."
But the gossip refused to go away with market sources pointing to a previous Angelopoulos sales coup.
Two years ago he sold his entire fleet of 19 vessels to General Maritime Corp for $525m and then disposed of two suezmax newbuildings to Ceres Hellenic Shipping for $53m each.
Angelopoulos and his high profile wife Olympic games organising wife, Gianna, were recently interested in buying a major stake in the Greek Pegasus publishing group, but talks were halted with little explanation given.
By Jim Mulrenan in London, published: 19:37 GMT, 03 March 2005 | last updated: 19:44 GMT, 03 March
Source: www.tradewinds.no


Attica goes shopping for ships and shares
---Attica Group, the Greek ferry company best known for its Superfast Ferries brand, has unveiled a plan to grow its business both in northern Europe and the Adriatic, including the Greek domestic market, while expansion in other parts of Europe is also in the cards.
This follows three moves it has already made this year: in early January, the company acquired an 11.6% holding in Hellas Flying Dolphins (HFD), another Greek ferry operator, while soon afterwards it took delivery of two freight ro-ros, the Marin and Nordia from Rettig oy Bore in Finland.
Then, on 21 February, the Attica board unveiled the acquisition of a 9.51% stake in Minoan Lines Shipping, a major ferry company that is also listed on the Athens Stock Exchange.
The acquisition of the two pure freight ro-ros is remarkable as they are the only non-passenger carrying vessels that the company operates itself. It will use them on a service between Uusikaupunki on the west coast of Finland and Rostock in Germany to serve a car assembly plant in the Finnish town that currently makes Porsche cars.
As for the stake in Minoan Lines, Attica has shopped for stakes in Greek ferry companies before and in addition to its stake in HFD, it holds 48.8% of the shares in Strintzis Lines, another Greek ferry company.
The Greek domestic ferry sector remains in the grip of state control as the government sets limits to the fares ferry companies can charge, with the interests of the island Greek population in mind, explained Dennis Vernardakis, md of Masters Shipping, the Athens based shipbroker that specialises in passenger vessels.
This has, however, led to rather poor profitability for many companies that joined the bandwagon to invest in newbuildings from the mid-1990s onwards.
However, the Panagopoulos family that controls Attica have done their homework well: "They are winners. They are cosmopolitan and they don't have a background of a local ferry operator," Vernardakis told Fairplay.
Many of the Greek ferry companies have been set up by local businesses on the numerous islands and Vernardakis says they do not always have the professionalism of the highly capital-intensive industry of today.
The Panagopoulos family, mean-while, earned their experience in shipping through the setting up in 1974 of Royal Cruise Line, owning it for some 15 years before selling it on to Norwegian principals.
Attica is unlikely to aim at owning more than half the shares in any of the three companies in which it has a stake today, in order to avoid monopoly investigations.
"They will probably just want a seat in the board and make sure that past mistakes will not be made in the future. In that way, they act in the best interest of all shareholders," Vernardakis stated.
Attica and Minoan were the first Greek ferry companies to start ordering modern and fast ropax vessels, with both introducing their first new ships in 1995.
Attica's strategy has called for the use of largely standard design, fast ropax vessel on numerous overnight routes. It was also the first Greek ferry company to go public.
COMPANY PROFILE:
Full company name: Attica Group SA
Headquarters: Athens, Greece
Established: 1992
Listed: Athens Stock Exchange
Source: www.fairplay.co.uk, 3 Mar 05


Major port investment plan
---The Cabinet today is expected to give provisional approval to a batch of 10 major projects at Greek ports and related onshore infrastructure, as part of a program that includes the goal of attracting foreign investment in various sectors.
"The government's policy is to encourage big investment schemes that will change the face of the country's big ports," Merchant Marine Minister Manolis Kefaloyiannis told Kathimerini.
The program, hoped to attract about $30 million of mainly expatriates' funds via special incentives, includes projects in the ports of Piraeus, Thessaloniki, Patras and an area on the southern coast of Crete that is being considered for the creation of a transit port for trade in the eastern Mediterranean.
According to sources, an ambitious plan that is being considered for Piraeus provides for the creation of a large trading and shipping center in the area of the former fertilizer factory in Drapetsona which will become a landmark for the city in terms of both its economic potential and cultural facilities through extensive revamping.
The Cabinet will discuss the Merchant Marine Ministry's proposal for the formation of an investment reception agency which will work toward the repatriation of capital and attracting foreign investment by striving to eliminate red tape.
The agenda also includes a discussion of upgrading seamen's training, particularly of officers for the merchant navy.
Source: http://www.ekathimerini.com/, 3 Mar 05 NIKOS BARDOUNIAS


Bow Mariner tragedy being called avoidable
---Lack of immersion suits was factor in the deaths, an investigator says
NORFOLK -- The chief investigator into the sinking of the tanker Bow Mariner off of Virginia's coast one year ago submitted his findings to the Coast Guard and has concluded, "Twenty-one people didn't need to die."
"We know what happened. We know why it happened," said Jerry Crooks, chief investigator for the Marine Safety Office. "There are a lot of issues peripheral to the actual explosion, regarding the management of the ship."
The investigative report is working its way up the chain of command at Coast Guard headquarters in Washington; the public release of the document is expected to be months away.
Still, Crooks told The Virginian-Pilot newspaper, "This accident should not have happened."
Only six crewmen survived the Feb. 28, 2004, blast 50 miles east of Chincoteague off Virginia's Eastern Shore. The bodies of 18 crewmen were never recovered.
The 570-foot, 40,000-ton tanker exploded with 27 aboard. It was carrying 3.2 million gallons of industrial-grade ethanol, plus 200,000 gallons of No. 6 fuel oil and 53,000 gallons of diesel oil. The chemical stew erupted and became an inferno that ringed the ship with fire, according to witnesses.
The Bow Mariner, built in 1982 in Yugoslavia, was owned by Odfjell ASA of Norway, which owns or charters 96 other tanker ships around the world. A portion of the fleet, including the Bow Mariner, was operated by Ceres Hellenic Ship Enterprises of Piraeus, Greece, which employs about 3,000 crew members for those and other tankers, oil carriers, bulk containers and liquid-natural-gas carriers.
The Bow Mariner had picked up its cargo in Saudi Arabia about a month before, sailed through the Suez Canal and headed straight for New York, where it discharged some of its cargo.
On Feb. 27, it sailed on what is considered a "milk run" that takes the tankers down the Atlantic coast, around the Florida Keys and on to Houston, where its parent company operates its largest U.S. plant, a mammoth storage-tank farm.
Some of the recommendations in the Coast Guard's report could affect the international shipping community.
"Certainly, the lack of immersion suits in cold water contributed to the high loss of life," Crooks told the Pilot. A requirement to carry immersion suits doesn't take effect until July 2006.
The suits provide up to seven hours of protection, Crooks said. Five ships and three aircraft were on the scene within two hours.
U.S.-flagged ships are already required to carry immersion suits, except for vessels that ply only the Caribbean Sea or other warm waters.
The Bow Mariner disaster occurred almost 21 years after another merchant ship sank at nearly the same location in the busy commercial shipping lanes off of Chincoteague.
The collier Marine Electric lost 31 seamen on Feb. 12, 1983, when it capsized and sank during a storm 30 miles at sea. Three crewmen survived.
Investigators determined that that ship had numerous problems, including hull cracks that had been patched with cement, worn hatch covers, and faulty maintenance.
Source: http://www.timesdispatch.com, The Associated Press, Feb 28, 2005


Owners face long wait on spill claims
---U.S. fund to cover oil damages
More than 700 people - including owners of riverfront homes, pleasure boats, even a river cruise operator - indicated they suffered property damage in the weeks after the Nov. 26 Delaware River oil spill.
Three months later, though, no claims have been paid. None are even in the pipeline, and it is not even clear how many will be filed eventually, largely because the owners of the tanker Athos I have decided to turn over responsibility for paying private claims to an industry-operated fund.
But Ed Verzella, who runs the Captain Lucky, a cruise boat based at Philadelphia's Pier 24 north of the Benjamin Franklin Bridge, is frustrated. He says he lost $12,000 because he had to cancel three Christmas parties and a school trip after the spill. In addition, he still has oil on the hull of his boat and had to replace the boat's bumpers and lines.
"They're spending a lot of money on cleaning up rocks and piers, but I'm just trying to get by. There's nothing left for the little guy," he said.
Federal officials say he will still be eligible to file a claim. But the process has changed because Tsakos Shipping and Trading SA, the Greek firm that manages the tanker, has decided it will not pay any private claims arising from the spill.
This is because its cleanup costs alone have exceeded $100 million, more than twice its $45.5 million cap under the 1990 Oil Pollution Act. The Athos I spilled an estimated 265,000 gallons of heavy crude after striking a submerged object on its final approach to the CITGO asphalt refinery in West Deptford.
Tsakos says it will continue to pay for the cleanup, but says private claims must now be handled by the National Pollution Funds Center. The center administers money from the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund, generated in large part by a nickel-per-barrel tax on oil.
But Hudson Marine Management Services, the agent Tsakos hired to handle calls from those affected by the spill, has forwarded only a sketchy database to the funds center, said Augusto Rios, who heads the center's damage claims branch.
As a result, Rios cannot tell how many claims are really out there or what the total amount is. Claimants may not even know about the policy change and could be waiting for money that will never come, he said, noting they must resubmit claims to the National Pollution Funds Center.
"I empathize with them strongly," Rios said. "That's why we're trying to do the best we can to reach out to them."
The pollution funds center, which is part of the Coast Guard, will hold a second round of meetings Tuesday to get the word out. About two dozen people, including Verzella, showed up for initial meetings last month.
Officials with the Hudson Marine office in Pennsauken did not return calls. Based on the firm's database, more than 500 of those who contacted Hudson were people who had problems with oil on docks, beaches, industrial properties and private boats. Of these, most were owners of private boats.
Jerry Donofrio, a Willingboro resident who runs a boater advocacy group, the Boater Voter Coalition, said he has not heard of recreational boats on the New Jersey side of the river that had been affected by the oil spill.
Many boats were out of the river and its tributaries at the time of the spill, he said. "New Jersey's recreational boating areas are very minimal," he added.
Roughly 100 additional inquiries were made from people who contend they lost business as a result of the spill.
Tsakos spokesman Mike Hanson said cleanup has been significantly cut back for the winter but is expected to ramp up again in the spring. That's when sunken oil could break up and wash ashore.
Bill Vanaman, who owns a beachfront home in Elsinboro, Salem County, hopes Tsakos doesn't forget about residents when it gets warmer. But he sees no reason to file a claim since crews came through and cleaned the area's beaches. "I think they did a hell of a job," he said. "There's nothing there now."
Source: http://www.courierpostonline.com, Friday, March 4, 2005,By LAWRENCE HAJNA ,Courier-Post Staff


Greek Banking Giant Plans to Buy Bank in Turkey
---The National Bank of Greece, the largest bank in terms of its assets, is preparing to buy a bank in Turkey.
The chairman of the National Bank's executive committee, Takis Arapoglu, discussed the bank's growth and financial plans and disclosed their plan to become the region's leading bank as they increase their profits over the next three years. He added that they plan to buy a bank in the region as part of their strategic plan. Arapoglu said they will attempt to buy banks in Turkey, Romania, and Bulgaria in order to strengthen their provisional existence in line with their strategy of provisional expansion with a broader network and a secure deposit base. The National Bank's total income is expected to rise to $2.7 billion with a 35 percent increase by 2007.
Source: By Economy News Services, http://www.zaman.com, Published: Thursday 03, 2005