Greek Shipping News Cuts
Week 12 - 2005
---Ten more charred bodies were on Saturday retrieved from the fishing vessel that burnt at the PSC Tema Shipyard on Good Friday.
This brings the number of bodies so far retrieved to 13, firemen told the Ghana News Agency (GNA) at the Tema Harbour on Saturday Organisation searching for more bodies from the Greek-registered vessel, MV Polaris, which was completely burnt in the fire.
The fire damaged vital facilities like the VRA pumping house, TOR pumping house, VALCO conveyor belt as well as a cold store and a shipping company.
However, the Tema Oil Refinery (TOR) on Saturday assured the nation of normal fuel supplies to the market saying the burning of its fuel pipeline during a fire outbreak should not cause any alarm. Dr Kofi Kodua Sarpong, Managing Director of TOR, said in the interim, the refinery had shut down the Crude Distillation Unit and started operating the Residual Fluidised Catalytic Cracking (RFCC) plant to produce gasoline and LPG to ensure uninterrupted supply of fuel products.
Dr Sarpong said with the operation of the RFCC, there was no cause for alarm since the burning of the pipeline would not disrupt operations.
According to reliable sources, the fire was caused by spillage of oil from the Tema Oil Refinery (TOR) pipeline that had been leaking for the past one week.
Mr Stephen Quansah, a mechanic, told the GNA that he and his colleagues were working on the vessel in the morning when they heard an explosion.
The fire was ignited when fire coming from the repair works on the vessel came into contact with the spilled oil on the water. Fire Fighters from the Ghana National Fire Service, Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority and TOR battled the fire for several hours.
Source: http://www.ghanaweb.com, Tema, March 26, GNA
Cargo ship engineer gets jail for poluting ocean
---LOS ANGELES - The chief engineer of a Maltese-flagged cargo ship was given eight months behind bars Thursday for allowing oily bilge water to be pumped into the ocean.
Edgardo A. Guinto, 49, of the Philippines, pleaded guilty in January to a federal charge of obstructing justice, admitting he allowed a bypass on a device that separates oil from the 600-foot-long Katerina's wastewater.
Guinto acknowledged making false entries in the ship's pollution compliance logs and telling crew to remove the bypass when it arrived in Long Beach on Sept. 10.
The Katerina's captain, a 65-year-old Greek named Ioannis Kallikis, and second engineer Rolan Sullesta, 42, pleaded guilty in February to the same charge.
The Greek company that owns the ship, DST Shipping Inc., paid a $1 million fine and was given probation. The Katerina berthed at Long Beach four days after arriving offshore. Court papers state crew members stated that they had been directed to throw trash into the water and discharge sewage and oil. While charges were pending, 13 Filipino sailors were forced to stay here as material witnesses. They have since been flown home.
Source: By Press-Telegram staff reports, http://www.presstelegram.com, Article Published: Thursday, March 24, 2005 - 8:32:49 PM PST
Gratsos: Greece too dependant on the fleet; lacks infrastructure
---Greek shipping makes an massive contribution to the Greek economy but the industry is too dependant on the success of the shipowner and the fleet, both of which could quickly fall on hard times, warns George Gratsos, president of the Hellenic Chamber of Shipping.
Greece is not creating the necessary support infrastructure and if the fleet should go down, nothing of this great industry will remain in Greece, says Gratsos. "Great Britain was a shipping power and created the infrastructure to support the industry. Now the country has a smaller fleet but the infrastructure remains and Britain retains its position as an important maritime nation," said Gratsos.
Speaking to Newsfront Gratsos said a study now being carried out for the HCS by a team at the University of Piraeus will show that for every person working at sea on a Greek ship there are 10 employed ashore. He said "it is imperative that the Greek fleet remain competitive so that Greeks are employed at sea and ashore" otherwise "Greek shipping risks losing its know-how". He had told Naftemboriki that the government's lack of support today stems from the state's financial problems, but warned "this may be short-sighted".
He said the University of Piraeus study was commissioned with the aim of finding out exactly what shipping contributes to Greek life and the Greek economy. It is in fact an update of a study undertaken for the Union of Greek Shipowners some five years ago.
On the issue of competitiveness of the Greek flag, Gratsos believes most shipowners would like to have a Greek captain and two or three senior Greek officers run their ship. "If this is what owners want the state should look for ways to create this style of vessel management, for only through this will we continue to have a significant presence in shipping."
He goes on: "If we want to create a future we have to double the number of ships under the Greek flag so that the officers can be trained. But at today's prices this is difficult." However, he says there are European directives which cover social security contributions and they should be adopted by the Greek government. Additionally, the government should look at the issue of crew compositions.
"The Greek seafarer is very good, but he is paid in Euros which has appreciated some 50% against the dollar," said Gratsos. He says this means the Greek owner using Greek crew faces an extra cost of $350,000 a year per ship, "some $3.5m a year for a fleet of 10 ships" or "around 10% of the capital required for a newbuilding". So, says Gratsos, crewing not only impacts profits, but "also the owner's ability to renew his fleet". Thus, he argues, Greek shipowners under present conditions "are unable to renew their fleets as quickly as their competitors" and basically today's regulations "condemn owners who have their ships under the Greek flag unable to renew their fleets in step with their competitors".
Source: Issue nr. 11 (25 March 2005) of Newsfront Greek
Owners fire trade talks warning
---Industry wary of becoming pawn in global trade-offs between one sector and another, writes John Zarocostas in Piraeus- Thursday March 24 2005
GREEK shipowners have called for a strong industry effort to avoid maritime transport services becoming a pawn in global trade talks.
Nicos Efthymiou, president of the Union of Greek Shipowners, said: "We feel that shipping is basically a free industry. And if it were to become even freer, yes, we welcome it."
But Mr Efthymiou, interviewed at UGS headquarters in Akti Miaouli, Piraeus, warned that shipping should not become "a victim of trade-offs between one sector and the other," adding: "That we don't want."
He observed that shipping had lost out in the earlier Uruguay Round trade talks, sponsored by the WTO's predecessor, the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade.
In the closing days of the Uruguay talks, differences between the US and the European Union over shipping and audio-visual services led to the carve-out of commitments by both trading powers.
Mr Efthymiou said that the UGS has been a strong advocate of free trade around the globe since the WTO talks started, "the freer the better," and he welcomed the Doha round talks initiative, to try and lower barriers to market access.
There are concerns in trade circles that China - if it became unhappy with concessions on the table from trading partners - might withdraw a previous commitment to open up its markets as part of the 2001 WTO entry package.
China, has joined international efforts for the lowering of barriers in shipping, has so far not indicated an intention to withdraw from its open trade commitments, although trade sources in Geneva still view it as a possibility.
But, it was noted, countries are entitled to withdraw concessions in the maritime services talks if they were not happy with offers.
Mr Efthymiou said that Greek shipping, which accounts for more than 56% of the total European Union fleet, would not allow the sector to be played-off in the global talks.
He also welcomed the new Greek government's interest, under Costas Karamanlis, to defend the sector in the 25 member country EU.
The UGS president said: "We've seen it gradually take a stance in EU bodies and say that, as agriculture is important to France, and the motor industry to Germany, so shipping is important to Greece. That's a very welcome change, and I hope this will continue."
Last year, Greek shipping income from maritime activities all over the world contributed $17.5bn to the national economy, up compared to $11bn in 2003.
The EU depends on shipping for 96% of its international trade, Mr Efthymiou said.
But he voiced concerns that EU lawmakers sometimes ushered in rapid changes to environmental regulations, as a result of maritime accidents, that do not give industry sufficient time to adjust.
Mr Efthymiou cited the abrupt changes to the legislation on the withdrawal of single hull ships, after the Prestige disaster in 2002.
"We understand the reaction, but these decisions, which are taken by policy makers, have to be studied and given time to come into effect, and not as a result of an accident," he said.
Gov't announces first step toward freeing ferry fares
---The Merchant Marine Ministry yesterday announced the lifting of fare ceilings for passengers and vehicles using four minor ports, as part of a pilot program targeting the full deregulation of domestic maritime transport.
Shipping circles said that the measure, which Merchant Marine Minister Manolis Kefaloyiannis announced will apply to the ports of Lavrion, Rafina and Elefsina in Attica and Kymi on the island of Evia soon, is also an important step toward the harmonization of Greek with European Union legislation.
It also provides incentives for ferry operators that would reduce journey times to the islands of the eastern Aegean and the western Cyclades.
"The new regime for the specific ports will be applied as soon as possible. Ideally, we would like it to come into force from the end of this month," said Kefaloyiannis.
He said the ministry hopes that fares will not rise - despite operators' demands for a 15 percent increase on all routes - and to finalize a system whereby fares will rise and fall in line with the fluctuations in fuel prices. The Coastal Shipping Transportation Council (SAS), which convened yesterday, decided to adopt the system and rejected the demand for fare increases.
Kefaloyiannis said the government is seeking to promote an economic environment conducive to the profitability of operators, but added that "social criteria will continue applying as they are part of the government's political strategy."
He said the government is trying to obtain a 3-billion-euro loan from the European Investment Bank for the "radical" improvement of the country's ports.
Referring to the cruise industry, he said the government's policy has attracted seven ships to the Greek flag and hopes for three more by the summer.
"We are open to discussion with any interested operators, including the big concerns, for the provision of incentives that will attract cruise ships to the Greek flag, which will bolster employment among Greek seamen," he said.
Source: http://www.ekathimerini.com, NIKOS BARDOUNIAS, 24 March 2005
Greeks say manning is cost problem
---GREEK owners have renewed their call for measures to improve the competitiveness of the country's ship register, citing the manning requirements for Greek flag ships as a major cost problem. At a press conference yesterday, representatives of the Union of Greek Shipowners stressed that Greece was an exception in requiring a quota of native seafarers for a ship's crew complement, whereas the safe manning standards was the main requirement anywhere else in the world. UGS president Nikos Efthymiou warned of a transfer of Greek-registered tonnage to the 'cheaper' registers of Cyprus and Malta. He called for the Piraeus shipping service infrastructure to be strengthened as the owners had to spend a large part of their earnings to buy services from abroad. Efthymiou said the contribution of Greek shipping to the country's foreign exchange earnings exceeded $17Bn in 2004, up 40% from the previous year.
Source: Daily News - Email Products, 23 Mar 2005
Dubai-Greece trade crosses 100m euros
--- Dubai and Greece maintained in the recent years progressive business relationships. The total bilateral trade between Dubai and Greece in 2004 reached about Euros 100 million compared with 98 million euro in 2003 registering slight increase, said Abdul Rahman G Al Mutaiwee, director general of Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry, at a Press conference held yesterday at DCCI.
The meeting was attended by Greek delegation and Hellenic Foreign Trade Board and they discussed with DCCI officials the various measures to increase non-oil bilateral trade and pave ways for setting up joint ventures and investments in UAE and Greece.
Anastasia Garyfallou, general director of Hellenic Foreign Trade Board, told Khaleej Times: "There are more than 40 companies doing business in the UAE and we intend to increase trade and business with UAE in other sectors such as cosmetics, jewellery, building materials, various foodstuffs. "
According to statistics, Dubai mainly imports foodstuff, beverages, leather items, textiles as well as machinery and mechanical appliances from Greece and exports articles of stone, plaster, cement, ceramic products, glass and glassware as well as mineral products.
During the past few years, Greek companies participated in most of the exhibitions and events held in Dubai, such as the Big5, Gulf Food, Office equipment among others.
According to Vassilis Skronias, first counsellor for Economic & Commercial Affairs, "Greek Shipping companies are doing very well in the UAE and we would like to boost business in other sectors. ''
Source: http://www.menafn.com, Khaleej Times - 24/03/2005
Diana Shipping Prices at 1.37X Net Asset Value; 8X Cashflow
---As we reported last week, Diana Shipping became the newest member of the public shipping company family last Friday when the company priced its 12.3 million share issue last week at $17 each to raise approximately $210 million. As always, we thought it would be interesting to take a look at how the valuation compares to other public companies. As you can see from the calculation, Diana priced at about 1.37x net asset value and 8x 2005 estimated cash flow. The most recent comparable deal is DryShips, which priced at 1.84x net asset value and 4.1x 2005 cash flow. The reason for the difference in valuation has less to do with market conditions, which remain very good for issuers, and more to do with the fact that Diana has a fleet of vessels with an average age of three years versus DryShips fleet, which has an average age of 13 years. The reason DryShips has the better valuation on assets and not cashflow is that 13-year-old vessels cost a lot less than 3-year-old vessels but have similar earning power. However, what this also means, of course, is that the quality of the Diana cash flows is higher in that the vessels have more years to earn back their cost than the DryShips vessels do.
Source: www.marinemoney.com, Freshly Minted, 24 March 2005
Hellenic Seaways spots gap
---Hellenic Seaways (formerly Hellas Flying Dolphins) has jumped into a gap to serve the line between Piraeus and Chania in Crete, routing its 4,200-gt catamaran Highspeed 4 (built 2000) from this week.
Earlier this month Blue Star Ferries announced that it was suspending its service on the route in order to redeploy the 29,600-gt Blue Star 2 (built 2000) on the Patras-Igoumenitsa-Bari route.
Hellenic Seaways said traveling time between to Crete would be cut, for the first time ever, to under five hours.
The company believes the faster trip will open up opportunities for the local market in Chania by allowing passengers to make weekend visits.
Highspeed 4 will operate on the route until Hellenic Seaways takes delivery in June of its new vessel, the 3,500-gt Highspeed 5, which will cut the travelling time even further to four and a half hours.
By Gillian Whittaker in Athens, published: 15:25 GMT, 21 March 2005 | last updated: 15:26 GMT, 21 March 2005
New line easyCruise promises little -- and that might be a lot
---For most cruise lines, the business model is pretty consistent: keep developing more and better cabin amenities, dining venues, kids programming, and entertainment options, and sail weeklong cruises that call at three or four ports and spend the rest of the time at sea. A new company, called easyCruise (www.easycruise.com), has a different strategy.
Provide a basic ship with basic amenities and a la carte dining, and focus on destinations during an ultra-flexible port-a-day itinerary.
Starting May 6 and running through October 15, the 170-passenger easyCruiseOne will sail a repeating 7-night itinerary round-trip out of Nice each Friday, visiting seven ports along the French and Italian Rivieras: Nice, Cannes, and St. Tropez (France); Genoa, Portofino, and Imperia/San Remo (Italy); and Monaco.
The kicker: Passengers can join the ship anywhere along the route and pay a per-day rate starting at just $113 per day for a twin cabin. (That's per day, not per person -- a fantastically low rate.) When you board and how long you stay is entirely up to you, as long as you book at least two nights. You could, for instance, choose to embark the ship in Cannes on Saturday and finish your cruise on Wednesday in Portofino.
The man behind easyCruise is the one-name, serial entrepreneur Stelios, aka Stelios Haji-Ioannou, a 38-year-old go-getter from a wealthy Greek shipping family who over the past ten years has churned out more than a dozen businesses from his U.K.-based easyGroup. There's car-rental agency easyCar.com; pizza delivery service easyPizza.com; easy4men.com, a new line of men's toiletries sold in Boots pharmacies across the U.K.; and most significantly the no- frills airline easyJet, one of Europe's largest low-cost airlines.
The easyCruise concept follows a pattern similar to the rest of the easies: Make it basic, make it affordable, give it a hip edge, and they will come. Oh, and paint it orange, the company's signature color. The easyCruiseOne, the fledgling line's first ship, formerly sailed as the semi-upmarket Renaissance II for now-defunct Renaissance Cruises. As part of its easy- fication, the ship's hull, cabins, and public areas are now a sea of orange, its passenger load has been increased from 114 to 170, and its original cabin windows have all been sealed over -- an amazing decision considering the cruise industry's general trend away from inside cabin. However, it's all part of the plan: Stelios expects passengers to use his ship like a hotel and spend most of their time ashore exploring the haunts of the rich, famous, and hip along the Rivieras.
"This is about making the destination the destination, not the ship," he says. "I don't expect a lot of my customers to be spending much time in their cabins."
Good thing, since the average cabin size is a tiny 100 square feet -- less than half the size of the original cabins from the ship's Renaissance days (four of which have been maintained as 258-square-foot suites). All cabins have simple platform beds and a private bathroom with shower, but not much else. Once you check in you won't even see a steward showing up to clean or change bedding unless you pay an additional $20 housekeeping charge. As for meals, they're available from three casual areas onboard (a tapas bar, a sports bar with burgers, and an Italian- style cafe) but are not included in the fare: you eats, you pays.
There are many other departures from a traditional cruise as we know it. The easyCruiseOne is adults-only, with a minimum age of 18. There is no casino, swimming pool, or spa, though you will find a hot tub, a small work-out room, and a gift shop. An onboard concierge assists passengers with information on restaurants, shops, bars, and clubs in port, and the line is considering also selling vouchers to get passengers in the door. Unlike most ships, which depart ports in early evening, easyCruiseOne will stay at dock until at least 4am, giving passengers plenty of time to explore the nightlife. And if you miss the boat? "You just hire a taxi and take it to the next place," says Stelios, noting that his entire itinerary, end to end, is less than 200 miles. Typically, the ship arrives in its next port around lunchtime.
As a further departure from the cruise norm, bookings can only be made through the company's website -- a hallmark of Stelios's easy brands -- rather than through travel agents.
If the easyCruise idea flies, Stelios has plans for adding more ships to the itinerary and expanding into other regions where the port-a-day concept could work, such as the Greek Isles, Spain's Balearic Islands, and the Italian coast around Capri and Naples.
"A floating hotel where the scenery changes every day is not a typical cruise," he noted at a recent meeting with journalists. True. And Stelios is not a typical entrepreneur.
Source: http://www.frommers.com, By Heidi Sarna, March 23, 2005
Turkey-Greece natural gas pipeline tender annulled
---The state-run petroleum pipeline corporation Botas annulled the tender for the construction of 209km pipeline in Turkish territory as part of 300km long Turkey-Greece natural gas pipeline.
Botas annulled the tender since there have been arguments that Peker Insaat's name was mentioned in connection with the corruptions in the energy sector.
Peker Insaat with its Polish partner Maxer Sa gave the lowest bid of USD 55.7mn for the tender.
Erhan Peker, owner of Peker Insaat was taken under custody during the so-called "Energy Operation" investigation. The natural gas to be received from the natural gas from the Caspian region will be transferred to the European countries via the Turkey-Greece pipeline.
Source: http://www.reporter.gr, 15:23 - 21 March 2005