Greek Shipping News Cuts
Week 41 - 2005

 

Embiricos: EC Directive constitutes "an illigality"

---Greek shipowner Epaminondas GE Embiricos was to the fore as shipping industry leaders relaunched their attack on the new European Union directive on criminal sanctions for ship source pollution saying it ran counter to international conventions and should be rescinded.
Embiricos contends the directive "neither fulfills nor furthers its stated objectives, nor does it have any positive or beneficial contribution to offer". On the contrary, "the directive does have serious negative side effects and will be harmful to safety at sea, the prevention of marine pollution and the maritime industry".
"We are human and mistakes do happen. A serious mistake has been made and it is time to put it right," declared the Greek shipowner.
He said the EC wants to tackle the causes of marine pollution, create a level playing field for quality owners and operators through the elimination of the small minority, that is, "the substandard or rogue operators" and has introduced a test of negligence whereby accidental pollution will be criminalised. The EC sees the directive as 'responsibilising' the industry. But, Embiricos says pollution caused by the rogue operator is already a criminal offence under Marpol. What the directive does, is to criminalise accidental discharges due to negligence.
Embiricos says the directive, instead of enhancing safety and the prevention of marine pollution, will have exactly the opposite effect. He says it also undermines Imo, by unilaterally introducing a regime in the EU, which is in breach of the Marpol Convention.
He argues: "It is important to understand that provided the master and owner have acted neither recklessly, nor with intent, Marpol provides an exemption from criminal liability to anyone who may be prosecuted for the pollution, since no offence has been committed."
The directive, on the other hand, imposes criminal liability on all the maritime players, if they have been seriously negligent, wherever the pollution may occur. The Marpol exemption is applied only beyond territorial waters and furthermore only to the master, owner and crew, if they have acted neither recklessly nor with intent.
A distinction has long been recognised in international law between operational discharges and accidental pollution. "The EC seems to have confused these two distinct elements. It mistakenly applies its proposed measures to all instances of ship source pollution, and to all maritime players, thereby creating a seriously deficient and dangerous regime," according to Embiricos.
Marpol lays down uniform rules, "rather than minimum standards", which must be applied to all foreign vessels by a contracting state. The convention states clearly it is establishing rules of universal purport which are to apply in territorial waters as well as in other parts of the sea. It is not uncommon for international conventions to allow an option for contracting states to legislate differently from certain specified provisions, and whereas an option of this kind is indeed contained in Marpol Article 14, this option does not apply to Annexes 1 and 2 of the Marpol Convention, which are therefore obligatory, and which contain the provisions relating to accidental pollution.
Considerable debate took place during the Conference on proposals to allow coastal states a degree of flexibility to depart from Marpol Regulations in certain defined cases. These proposals were defeated, as they would in effect have undermined the whole point of agreeing a balance between the interests of flag and coastal states. To ensure the balance is maintained, the convention makes it clear the domestic laws of contracting states must follow the obligatory annexes in their entirety.
"It follows the directive will result in the member states breaching their Marpol Treaty obligations, contrary to international law. Thus, the directive constitutes an illegality," said Embiricos.
Source: www.newsfront.gr, 14 Oct 2005


RI's shipping industry too protective: Greek shipowners
---The Greek Shipowners Association (GSA) has urged the Indonesian government to review its policies for the shipping industry, and reduce the high costs of doing business here in order to encourage foreign investors to put their money into the sector.
"Many Greek shipping tycoons backed up by major international financial institutions are interested in investing in Indonesia but they find the shipping industry here unattractive to foreign investment," Georgios E. Katsimpiris, an executive of the Greek Shipowners Association, said following a closed-door meeting with a number of executives of the Indonesian National Shipowners Association (INSA) here on Monday.
Katsimpiris criticized Presidential Instruction No. 5/2005 on the revitalization of the domestic shipping industry, which he said was excessively protective for local shipping firms.
"To make the domestic shipping industry more competitive, Indonesia needs to open its domestic shipping market to foreign shipping firms," he said.
This presidential instruction, which applies the cabotage principal, stipulates that domestic cargoes must be shipped by domestic vessels, and that foreign investors are allowed to own a maximum of 49 percent of the shares in a local partner.
Katsimpiris said foreign investors should be allowed to own more than 50 percent of the shares to ensure the security of and control over their investments.
"We come here not to donate but to make money and benefit Indonesia because we pay taxes and employ Indonesian seafarers. We have many vessels but no seamen," he said, adding that similar investment policies has been adopted by developed countries such as Britain, the Netherlands, the United States, Japan and South Korea.
Besides reviewing its protectionist policies, he said that the government should also simplify investment procedures, eliminate corruption in the country's ports and enhance security in its waters.
"Indonesia has more than 1,000 shipping firms but most use flags of convenience from Liberia, Greece, Panama and Malta in order to avoid the high-cost economy caused by a corrupt bureaucracy and complicated administrative procedures in almost all seaports," he said
He added that the busy Malacca Strait was quite prone to piracy.
Meanwhile, International Transport Federation (ITF) representative Hanafie Rustandi said the presence of foreign shipping firms in Indonesia would certainly help the country's economic growth, especially in the export sector, and create employment opportunities for Indonesian workers.
"This would open Indonesia's eyes amid the tight international competition and encourage domestic shipping companies to improve their professionalism. The entrance of foreign competitors in all sectors is unavoidable in the global market.
"And this would, in turn, force Indonesian seafarers to improve their skills so as to allow them to compete with skilled seafarers from the Philippines, Thailand, South Korea, Taiwan and Africa."
Source: Ridwan Max Sijabat , The Jakarta Post, Jakarta, 11 October 2005, The Jakarta Post


Greece checks cargo ship after locating suspect birds
---ATHENS, Oct 13 (Reuters) - Greek health authorities, fearful of a spread of bird flu into the country, were checking a Portuguese-flagged cargo ship near the port of Piraeus on Thursday after finding suspect dead and living migratory birds on board.
"We have run medical checks on the crew and all of them seem to be fine," Piraeus prefect Nikos Michas told reporters. "The dead bird and the others that are still breathing have been sent for examinations."
The merchant marine ministry said the "Mary-Anne" had berthed at Ikonio, near Piraeus, on its way from Egypt.
"Port workers this morning located one dead and three living migratory birds on the deck and immediately informed health authorities," a ministry spokeswoman said.
The origin of the birds was not known.
Greece has not recorded any cases of bird flu and has strengthened border patrols for fear it could spread into the country following cases detected in neighbouring Turkey and Romania.
The H5N1 bird flu strain has killed over 60 people in Asia since 2003 and the European Union on Thursday said it should be ready for a potential flu pandemic.
Source: http://www.alertnet.org 13 Oct 2005 12:15:33 GMT


October wind chills IPO play
---October has started as a cold month for shipping initial public offerings (IPOs).
First came the Vafias family's $116m StealthGas, which priced decently at the low end of its target range ($14.50), only to sink like a stone on its first trading day on 6 October.
But StealthGas looked good in comparison with the Restis family's Golden Energy, which saw a mixed offering of bulkers and products tankers get smaller and smaller as it cut target prices over time from $25.50 to $20 and finally, on 7 October, could not manage even $15.20 as it slid from view. Bankers say the deal has been pulled, although there has been no formal announcement from the company.
Overseas Shipholding Group (OSG)'s sale-leaseback vehicle Double Hull Tankers was seen as a good bet to reverse the trend but it failed to price within its target range of $14 to $16 early on Tuesday and set a lesser target of $12 to $13 the following day, also cutting shares issued to 16 million from 20 million.
As TradeWinds went to press, it was priced at $12, which brought down gross proceeds from a planned $300m to some $192m.
Optimists will note that two of the three candidates completed their IPOs. Sceptics will counter that all three failed to meet expectations in some form, leaving a climate for coming issuers that is at best ambiguous.
Bankers say StealthGas and underwriter Cantor Fitzgerald overreached with the $14.50 pricing for what is only the second US-listed LPG operator. This left insufficient support for the stock as it traded heavily in its first day and fell as low as $12.75 not a helpful development for shipping issuers to come. It was trading at around $13.50 as TradeWinds went to press.
Finance sources say Golden Energy was seen as doomed by a raft of internal flaws, including its mixed-fleet offering when a pure products-tanker play could have been a timely approach to the market.
Observers are still sorting out the pros and cons of the Double Hull Tankers issue but most say it is clear that OSG's status as a blue-chip credit has not earned it preferential treatment from stubborn investors.
By Joe Brady, Stamford, published: 14 October 2005
Source: www.tradewinds.no, 14 Oct 2005


The London AIM market and Greek shipping
The interest shown at the seminar was significant and individual follow-up meetings were arranged. Watch this space in 2006. Perhaps the AIM will be the new buzz-word and for a change the London investment banks and law firms will get a piece of the action.
For More information: Kevin Oates: kevinoates@tmo.blackberry.net and Steve Edmonson: steve_ed@internet.gr
Source: Freshly Minted, www.marinemoney.com, 13 October 2005


TOP Tankers Announces the Acquisition of Three Suezmax Tankers
---TOP Tankers Inc (Nasdaq: TOPT), announced today that it has entered into an agreement to acquire three double-hull Suezmax tankers: One 146,268 dwt tanker, built in 1996, and two 147,048 dwt tankers, built in 1994 and 1993 respectively. All three Suezmaxes are sisterships, built in Harland & Wolff Heavy Industries Ltd, of the United Kingdom.
The vessels are expected to be delivered between November 15 and December 15, 2005, and will be immediately deployed in the spot market. The aggregate acquisition consideration will be approximately US$180 million, financed organically with the Company's cash reserves and secured bank credit lines.
Evangelos J. Pistiolis, President and Chief Executive Officer of TOP Tankers Inc., commented: "The acquisition of the three Suezmax tankers, together with the acquisitions of the Suezmax tanker Stormless and the Handymax tanker Ioannis P., will further enhance our Company's Handymax and Suezmax fleet. Following this acquisition, TOP Tankers is among the largest double-hull operators of 40-55k DWT product tankers and of 120-200k DWT Suezmax tankers."
All new deliveries will take place during the fourth quarter of the year and are expected to benefit significantly from the strong charter rates, which currently average approximately $60,000 per day for Suezmax and $40,000 per day for Handymax tankers.
"More importantly the acquisition is highly accretive to our earnings and is consistent with our strategy of acquiring high quality second-hand double-hull tankers," Pistiolis added.
Source: News Release, ATHENS, Greece, Oct 10, 2005 /PRNewswire-FirstCall via COMTEX News Network/ --


Global Oceanic says currently trading profitably; confident of prospects
---LONDON (AFX) - AIM-listed Greek shipping company, Global Oceanic Carriers Ltd said it is currently trading profitably and is confident of its prospects as global demand for dry bulk cargo, including iron ore and coal, continues to grow.
Dry bulk charter rates have recovered significantly following the seasonal summer downturn, and further rises are expected in the Dry Bulk Index over future months.
In a trading update, the company said it is currently reviewing the timing of the acquisition of a fourth vessel, which will be put on long-term charter once acquired.
Global Oceanic Carriers said it currently has 18 mln usd cash on its balance sheet.
Source: AFX UK Focus, www.afxnews.com, 11 October 2005


Maritime ratings
Source: http://www.ekathimerini.com, 14 Oct 2004


P&I club calls for Greeks to rally shipowners.
---Maritime world urged to speak with one voice on EU moves to step up blame culture, writes James Brewer
NORTH of England P&I club has urged Greek shipowners to unite the maritime world against what it sees as anti-shipping trends.
Latest moves by European Union interests to step up the maritime blame quotient have so enraged the shipping community that P&I clubs have begun to rally as closely as they can under their constitutions to its defence.
Mr Eccleston praised Greek shipowners for their ability to speak out with a single voice.
Mr Eccleston urged Greek shipowners to engage in closer dialogue with other shipowning groups and associations to ensure their concerns were heard at both regional and international levels.
Christos Kanellakis of Alpha Tankers & Freighters, a prominent member of the Union of Greek Shipowners and board member of the mutual insurer, expressed concern about the negative effects that increased liabilities, tougher legislation and criminalisation were having on an industry so vital to international trade and development.
Mr Eccleston encouraged Greek shipowners to increase their investment in crew welfare and training.
Source: www.lloydslist.com, 12 October 2005, Lloyd's List


Quest for cleaner seas
---Experts seek to combat land-based pollution in the Mediterranean
Greenpeace activists protest the disposal of toxic waste in the Evia Gulf, in a file photo. Experts meeting in Athens agreed on further steps to reduce pollution in the Mediterranean Sea.
Environmental experts from Mediterranean countries Tuesday agreed on further steps to reduce marine pollution from land-based activities as the deadline for the preparation of national action plans to phase out hazardous substances expired last month.
Speaking at the end of the two-day conference in Athens, officials said that although significant steps have been made in combating land-based pollutants, progress has been slower than anticipated.
Recognizing the adverse impact of human activities on the Mediterranean marine ecosystem, regional governments and the European Union, all contracting parties to the Barcelona Convention for the protection of the Mediterranean Sea against pollution have adopted a protocol for the prevention of sea damage from land-based inputs.
Stepping up their efforts for more sustainable management in the region, the contractors in 1997 launched a strategic action program (SAP/MED) to halt the degradation of seas and coasts. The program identifies the harmful substances and activities that must be reined in or wiped out over the next 25 years, also providing a time frame for specific measures. Scientists say the main threats come from urban centers, such as untreated waste disposal and, the industrial sector, most importantly the release of toxins in the sea. Mediterranean countries have also agreed to hammer out their own strategies, known as the National Action Plans (NAP), to meet the requisite standards and obligations. The preparatory phase expired in September but although most countries, including Greece, have submitted their blueprints, success is far from guaranteed as many practical concerns remain.
Responding to these concerns, the conference agreed to set up a new platform to bridge the communication deficit and facilitate the implementation of the national strategies. The national action plans should be ratified by the contracting parties to the Barcelona Convention, including Greece, Cyprus and Turkey, at their meeting in Portoroz, Slovenia, Nov. 8-11.
Source: ANA, By Harry van Versendaal - Kathimerini English Edition, 13 Oct 2005


Bimco Course: Athens 22-24 November 2005
The BIMCO Masterclass Workshops have been designed for participants who already have some shipping experience and who wish to broaden their knowledge of a particular topic within the shipping industry. Each workshop in the series consists of three days of presentations by the finest experts, combined with group discussions and case studies. Participants are expected and will be encouraged to contribute actively to both the group discussions and case studies. At the end of each workshop, participants may take an "open book" exam to assess their level of understanding of the subject matter. This assessment, which leads to the award of a BIMCO diploma, will be of value to employers and employees alike in demonstrating the effectiveness of the training and knowledge attained.
Course overview:
>Norwegian Saleform 1987 and 1993
>Practical Issues and Arbitrating Disputes
>Newbuilding Contracts
>Ship Finance
>Remedies for Breach of Contract and Third Party Claims
>Ship Registrations
>Ship Recycling
>Case Studies
Source: On 22-24 November 2005, BIMCO, in collaboration with Ince & Co, will be holding its fourteenth Masterclass Workshop, a series of innovative BIMCO Courses focusing on key aspects of maritime commerce. The topic of this particular workshop is Sale & Purchase, and the event will be held in Athens.