Greek Shipping News Cuts
Week 11 - 2005
---He married the widow of an American president, owned the famed Monte Carlo casino and 30 years after Aristotle Onassis's death, his legacy is Greece's claim to fame as the world's shipping giant.
The tycoon's gamble to build supertankers to carry the world's oil laid the foundation for Greek control over one in five tankers afloat - and a similar share of other cargo shipping.
Today's anniversary of his death in 1975 at age 69 will pass with little public notice, but his business inheritors and shipping insiders remember a man who was bigger than life.
In 1968 he married Jacqueline Kennedy, widow of President John F. Kennedy, putting Onassis in the international limelight. She died in 1994 and was buried next to the late president.
"Today's business world has become so automated, so corporate, I doubt if the Onassis name will ever be challenged as a byword for old-fashioned entrepreneurial wealth and chutzpah (nerve)," Nigel Lowry, Athens correspondent of the authoritative shipping newspaper Lloyd's List, told Reuters.
"He took shipping by storm, heading the movement to build bigger and bigger oil tankers - all the way up to the modern supertanker," Lowry said.
For 20 years, Greece has been the world's biggest shipowner.
"Onassis's greatest legacy is shipping and the Greek shipowners who followed him," said Lowry, author of a 2003 book titled "Onassis and his Legacy."
Nikolas Tsakos, president and CEO of Tsakos Energy Navigation, the oil arm of one of Greece's biggest shipowning families, said Onassis inspired today's Greek shipowners and young entrepreneurs.
These include Stelios Haji-Ioannou, founder of budget airline easyjet and part owner of shipping firm Stelmar.
Ahead of his time
Others are Evangelos Pistiolis, owner of stockmarket-listed TOP Tankers who was recently named Greek industry figure of the year by Lloyd's List, and Peter Georgiopoulos, who, in a mere five years, has built a fleet of close to 50 ships.
"Onassis was ahead of his time in many ways and 35-40 years on from his heyday, the world has come to realize the importance of international shipping and especially oil transportation," Tsakos, whose father knew Onassis, told Reuters. "He was the Donald Trump of the shipping industry. He has inspired a generation of Greek shipowners and gave a very unglamorous industry a more glamorous appeal."
Stelios Papadimitriou, a longtime friend and president of a foundation set up by Onassis, believes one of Onassis's strengths was his patience in waiting for investments to pay off. "He used to say even a damaged clock tells the true time twice a day. He taught everyone patience," Papadimitriou told Reuters.
Source: http://www.ekathimerini.com, 15 Mar 2005, By Brian Williams - Reuters
Lavrion promotion likely a case of 'whistling in the wind'
---The development of passenger shipping and especially the revival of cruising has become a leading goal of the government. The Greek-flag cruise ship fleet currently stands at just two ships, but Marine minister Manolis Kefaloyiannis revealed March 10 that negotiations with the Panhellenic Seamens Federation (PNO) are underway as investors have appeared who want to raise the flag on six more ships.
Kefaloyiannis said the ministry is also in negotiations with a number of organisations, including the National Bank of Greece, which are keen to develop the architectural infrastructure of areas within the Piraeus port.
As part of the plan to upgrade the overall structure of the passenger ship sector and the services it offers, the ministry is looking at the possibility of offering incentives for coastal shipping companies to move base to Lavrion, in south eastern Attica from where the distance to the Aegean islands is not only significantly shorter than it is from Piraeus, the port is also much closer to the Athens airport.Among incentives being considered to make Lavrion more attractive to ship operators is the
privileged use of the passenger terminal on a first come basis, as well as a more liberal approach to fares, tariffs and sailing schedules, including the total annual time for each route, enabling companies to cut schedules right back in off-peak months.
Kefaloyiannis says the ministry of Public Works is strongly behind developing Lavrion and there are plans to improve the road network and extend the railway to the port. Indeed, upgrading Lavrion, an area of high unemployment, has been a stated goal of the various governments since 1990. Several companies, including those sailing to Crete, have indicated they are ready to, at least, consider using the more southern port, but there appears to be a small group of influential people in the region of Lavrion determined to stop the development of the port. Many of these people are owners of holiday houses and are not people making their living in Lavrion or in the area surrounding the town.
Thus, progress has been tortously slow and extremely costly for those interested in developing the port. The pockets of resistence to development have to now managed to dictate the overall project and blunt any financial benefit it may bring to the area. Success of a port, of course depends on the services provided, both to the shipowner and to his client customer. The shipowner requires specific services like the availability of general ship supplies, of spare parts and particularly of bunkers.
On the back of a commissioned study in the mid-1990s by consulting engineer, Rogan Associates, a serious effort was made to develop Lavrion port, with the northern area designated to become a passenger terminal and the south part a commercial port. Indeed, as a result of the study the Port Fund programme was instituted and quays for cruise ships were built, large parking areas created and a marina constructed. Work also began on other key services. However, in 1999 some projects were halted as the small group of residents turned to the courts to get a number of developments re-examined.
Construction of vital ship bunker facilities was one of the projects at issue. In 1996, Stelios Minas won a competition conducted by the Port Fund to construct a bunker station. The Port Fund, the municipality and local labour organisations gave the green light for the construction of the facility which entailed building five holding tanks underground, linked by pipes to the port. On land he had rented, Minas in 1998 started building the underground holding tanks to be connected to the port's quays by a network of underground pipes which would allow direct service to the ships while they are alongside. In 1999, an action by the residents before the State Council, contending the underground bunkering station and pipes would damage the environment, succeeded in getting a provisional ruling stopping all works until a full hearing was held.
In 2001 the hearing took place and the State Council issued a decision that one of the documents concerning the project was not acceptable and had to be resubmitted. Pollution of the the environment was hardly an issue. The new document was duly submitted but the residents' group made a second appeal in the State Council and again a temporary hold was put on all works with the case scheduled to go to court at the end of 2005.
Source: www.newsfront.com, 18 Mar 2005
Pipeline to bypass Bosporus
---Greece, Bulgaria and Russia have signed a letter of intent to build a 285 kilometre pipeline from Bourgas in Bulgaria to Alexandroupolis in Greece to bypass the congested Bosporus. A consortium to build the USD 700 million pipeline is led by Russian oil company TNK-BP. The intention is to start with a capacity of 15 million tonnes per year and increase through several stages to 35 million tonnes per year.
Attica denies HS stake increase
---GREEK ferry company Attica Group has dismissed reports it may be poised to increase a recently acquired stake in coastal ferry giant Hellenic Seaways (HS)by swooping on the 34% of HS stock that is owned by the company's co-founder Minoan Lines.
In a letter to the Athens stock exchange this morning Attica's board "categorically denied" it was in talks with regard to the Minoan stake.
The statement was in response to a report in a Greek newspaper.
Attica has been actively taking positions in other Greek ferry companies this year, acquiring an 11.6% stake in Hellenic Seaways and a 10% shareholding in Crete based Minoan.
Source: www.lloydslist.com Breaking News, By Nigel Lowry in Athens- Wednesday March 16 2005
Cardiff Marine forced into ITF deal
---GREEK ship owner Cardiff Marine is poised to sign a deal granting ITF pay and conditions to the crew of the bulk carrier Flecha, according to Australian union sources. Under the deal, nine Filipino seafarers said to have been on the ship for over a year will be repatriated and the crew will receive back-pay totalling more than $50,000. The ITF's Australian co-ordinator, Dean Summers, said today that the owner has told grain exporter AWB that it will sign a standard ITF agreement covering the ship for the next year. The ITF and Pan-Hellenic Seamen's Federation have been in discussions with Cardiff Marine in Greece. "We have been fine-tuning the rest of the agreement today onboard the vessel and it looks very good at the moment," Summers said. It appears that the charterer, AWB, believed the vessel had an ITF agreement when it chartered the ship. "Any vessels we charter we ensure that the ITF protocols are adhered to. Obviously something has occurred in this case," an AWB spokesman told Fairplay. He said AWB had spoken to the ship's owner and captain, with the latter giving assurances that he is co-operating with the relevant authorities. The AWB said Flecha was expected to start loading grain at Wallaroo later this week, with loading due to take three to four days.
Source: Fairplay Daily News, 16 Mar 2005
Louis Hellenic celebrates first Piraeus cruise
---Louis Hellenic Cruises got its inaugural cruise out of Piraeus off to a flying start with a big party on the 23,428-gt The Emerald (built 1958). Guests included travel agents, members of the press and a healthy sprinkling of executives. The evening began with a tour of the cruiseship and generous cocktails in the lounges.
Numerous television screens showing the UEFA Cup match between Piraeus's Olympiakos and the UK's Newcastle - which kicked off at the beginning of the party - led to crowding in one of the lounges. But as the home team started getting hammered people drifted back to the party.
Guests included Greek shipping minister Manolis Kefaloyannis and Metrostar Management managing director Achilleas Stergiou - who was beaming in the wake of the company's $750m-plus VLCC sale - Pericles Panagopoulos, the ever-urbane head of the Attica group and Andreas Potamianos of Royal Olympia Cruises (ROC). Ironically, the Cypriot Louis Group, formerly partners in ROC, launched its Greek operation just as ROC's ships - two of which were moored just on the other side of the Piraeus passenger terminal - came up for auction.
Louis Group chairman Costakis Loizou told guests that breaking into the Greek cruise market is not quite as easy as it might seem. "We started five years ago in cooperation with another company and we lost a whole fortune," he said, discreetly not naming his ex-partner. Loizou also revealed that the group is hoping to shortly hoist the Greek flag on two more of its vessels.
Meanwhile, Louis Hellenic Cruises managing director George Stathopoulos said that his company's repair and upgrading budget, all of which will be poured into the Perama shipyard zone just outside Piraeus, will amount to EUR 25m ($33m) this year.
The mood lightened up after the speeches as guests tucked into a sumptuous buffet supper before settling down for the entertainment. The "Carnival Celebration" marked the end of the carnival period before the Lenten fast on Monday. The entertainment took place in the Regency Show Lounge, which chimed the sleek ship's past. The Emerald once sailed as the Regent Rainbow for Regency Cruises.
The party continued until well after the "witching hour" but The Emerald was ready to set sail the next morning for the Greek islands and then on to Turkey.
Source: www.tradewinds.no, Gillian Whittaker Athens published: 18 March 2005
European cruise line casts off frills
A no-frills cruise line that charges extra for nearly everything is coming to the French and Italian Riviera, Europe's playgrounds for the rich.
EasyCruise, which began taking bookings last month, charges about $56 and up per person each night for spartan cabins. That doesn't cover housekeeping, priced at about $19 a visit, or food.
You can sign up for as few as two nights on the seven-night sailings, which call in Monaco; Nice, Cannes and St. Tropez in France, and Portofino, Genoa and Imperia (for San Remo) in Italy. The first departure is expected by May 13.
EasyCruise is the brainchild of Stelios Haji-Ioannou, the Greek-born entrepreneur who founded the low-cost EasyJet airline a decade ago. He now oversees more than a dozen London-based companies whose goods and services are as diverse as pizzas and minibus transit.
The iconoclast said his newest venture was based on "the exact opposite of what the cruise industry believes now."
It eschews lavish amenities designed to keep you on the ship. You won't find a casino, a gym or even a swimming pool on the 170-passenger EasyCruiseOne, although it will have a hot tub, plus cafes and bars with food and alcoholic beverages for sale.
Instead of docking in the morning and sailing in the evening, the ship will pull into port about 1 p.m., stay through the evening and depart about 4 a.m.
The firm is angling for a younger, independent-minded audience, he said. (Guests must be at least 18.) The ship's schedule affords passengers ample opportunity to sample Riviera nightlife.
It may sound like a party boat for backpackers, but Haji-Ioannou said that description is unfair. "If you make the ship stay in port, people are going to go out and have fun," Haji-Ioannou said. But he added: "I don't want to label the whole thing a party boat." Some guests might be content to turn in after an early dinner, and that's just fine, he said.
The ship's cheapest cabins measure about 100 square feet. Most lack windows, except for four suites, which also have balconies. For information, visit www.easycruise.com.
Source: ---Jane Engle, Los Angeles Times, www.startribune.com, March 20, 2005 ECTR0320 Last update: March 19, 2005 at 12:30 PM
Newly Cemented Relationship
---TAMPA - Titan America LLC said Friday that it plans to spend $15 million to augment its recently opened cement terminal at the Port of Tampa to offer another product by 2007. The investment will allow Titan to offer more cement to help meet the growing appetite for construction materials in Florida, said Hardy B. Johnson, president of Titan America Florida Business.
The Greek-owned company plans to build a facility for slag grinding, a process in which residue from steel manufacturing is put in a form that can be used in cement products.
Titan America's terminal at Hooker's Point opened in December and is expected to handle 1 million tons of cement annually. Florida uses about 10.5 million tons of cement each year, about half of it imported.
Johnson said the Tampa facility is expected to serve cement customers as far as Ocala, Orlando and Naples.
Don Marsh, editor of the Chicago-based trade journal, Concrete Products, said Titan's new terminal ''should mainly help stabilize the cement supply situations in Florida, which tightened over the past year and a half.''
Although both of the heavily automated facilities would employ only a handful of workers - five work full-time at the cement terminal and another four assist when a ship unloads - Titan America's presence could provide a further boost because of its perception of the Port of Tampa's attitude toward heavy cargo.
''Other ports have not been as friendly to our operations as the Port of Tampa,'' Johnson said, adding that others ''seem to be more interested in the cruise business.''
Johnson said that whenever a cruise ship is scheduled to use Port Everglades, his company's facility there must temporarily suspend cargo operations. Titan America's Port Everglades facility imports raw materials such as bauxite and coal for Titan's Medley cement plant in South Florida.
''The explanation is cruise passengers don't want to see what we do,'' Johnson said.
Although Johnson has no plans to relocate such import operations from Port Everglades to Tampa, the South Florida executive said Tampa's port has left a positive business impression to date.
The cement terminal, which Titan showed off in an open house Friday, utilizes a Siwertell ship unloader mounted on a barge to unload cement from a ship. The device pumps cement by air pressure through four, 10-inch pipes into four cement silos. Trucks park inside the ground floor of the 178-foot tall silos to fill up with cement, resulting in a dust- free operation that the port requested, Titan sales executive Jim Simon said.
It took five days to offload the first of two shipments to date, 39,000 tons of cement from Greece, headquarters of the parent Titan Cement Co. The next shipment is expected March 20.
Source: www.aggregateresearch.com, 17/03/2005