Greek Shipping News Cuts
Week 03 - 2006

 

China's Greek feast

---BEIJING - Greece is planning to increase its exports of olive oil, Feta cheese, wine and fruits to China, as the Mediterranean diet, known for reducing the risk of heart disease, becomes popular among Chinese. Demand for Greek foods is growing, as many in China are convinced of the beneficial effects of olive oil, according to the Greek Foreign Ministry.
Greece has been increasing exports to China over the past few decades, through strong shipping and investment cooperation, and is now looking to further expand the range of products exported. The country last year exported raw marble, aluminum tapes, cotton, copper scrap and integrated circuits to China, with a total value of US$72.7 million, compared with $33 million in 1990.
China exported $1.75 billion worth of goods to Greece in 2004, compared with $117.5 million in 1990. The main products shipped were air conditioners, vessels, toys, computer hardware, handbags and videotapes. "Greece has been attaching great importance to the promising Chinese market," said Evr Stylianidis, deputy minister of the Greek Ministry for Foreign Affairs, which also oversees the country's international economic policies.
Investment is an important aspect of the economic cooperation between the two countries, although no specific investment figures are currently available. Active Chinese investors in Greece include China Ocean Shipping Co (COSCO), China Seamen Club Services Co and big Chinese telecommunications player ZTE.
Greek investors are concentrated in the materials sector, although that could soon change. Greece aims for future Chinese investments to be concentrated in sectors such as tourism, renewable energy sources and port construction and upgrading, according to Stylianidis.
Greek mining company S&B set up a perlite quarrying and processing plant at Xinyang, in central China's Henan province. The output of the plant is partially absorbed by the Chinese market and partially exported.
Cosmos Building Materials Co Ltd, which is involved in marble cutting and processing, has been operating in Shanghai. Polcor China Ltd, which produces and applies oxides used as coatings for ship metal surfaces, has been active in China for several years.
Shipping and port upgrading constitute a vitally important aspect of economic cooperation between China and Greece. Greece's mercantile fleet is a world-class player, carrying 19-20% of the world's total volume of cargo annually, and the Chinese economy has been on the fast track in recent years, which puts increasingly greater demand for maritime transportation, according to John Tzoannos, secretary general of the Greek Ministry of Mercantile Marine.
Greek oil tankers transport 50% of the world's seaborne transported oil; about 90% of China's foreign-trade goods and oil are shipped by sea, of which Greek vessels claim a substantial share, according to Tzoannos. Chinese shipyards are busy building vessels of various sizes and purposes for Greek shipowners.
About 100 ships have been, are being and will be built by Chinese shipyards for Greece between 2004 and this year, said Nicolas Efthymiou, chairman of the Union of Greek Shipowners.
Greece has been the largest client for Japanese shipbuilders in the past 50 years, but now the focus is shifting to China, according to Stylianidis. He expressed the hope that Greek ships would be able to carry more Chinese cargo. "We just help create favorable conditions, the rest is left to market forces," said Tzoannos.
The privatization of some facilities in significant ports such as Piraeus, which handles almost 60% of all Greek shipping, is in the works by the Greek authorities. This means foreign capital will be welcomed to play a part in containerization, a world tendency towards shipping modernization.
Greek port authorities are eyeing Chinese shipping players such as COSCO, which is showing a strong interest in Salonika and Piraeus, according to Tzoannos. Setting up a commodity transfer center in Greek ports would allow Chinese goods to go further into Balkan countries and other neighboring areas, according to the ministry.
Source: (Asia Pulse/XIC), http://atimes.com, 20 Jan 2006


Growing pains in evidence as show leaders join space race
Location is a key factor for the show, currently housed in the Piraeus port authority exhibition centre.
The Posidonia Cup yacht race typifies the essence of the event, which combines social interface with serious business potential.
Such statistics equally explain the relentless appeal of SMM, which this year widens its net into the fast-growing superyachts sector with a three-day dedicated conference.
Source: www.lloydslist.co.uk, Feature , Tuesday January 17 2006


Coast Guard clears Athos I
---WASHINGTON -- The U.S. Coast Guard has cleared a Greek shipping company of any wrongdoing in the Delaware River spill of 264,000 gallons of Venezuelan crude oil from a single-hull tanker gutted by a submerged anchor.
The Athos I, previously flagged in Cyprus and owned by the Tsakos Group, was pierced Nov. 26, 2004, by a submerged anchor near the Citgo Asphalt Refining Facility in Paulsboro.
The oil spill sullied a 115-mile stretch of coastline along the Delaware River and Delaware Bay from the Tacony-Palmyra Bridge, which links northeast Philadelphia and Palmyra, all the way south to the mouth of the Smyrna River in Delaware, according to a Web page maintained by the University of Delaware.
The Coast Guard did not find the Tsakos Group guilty of any form of negligence in the accident.
"There was no evidence that any violation of applicable international rules, federal law or regulations contributed to this incident," said Capt. David Scott, commander of Coast Guard Sector Delaware Bay.
Maya van Rossum of the Delaware Riverkeeper Network suggested that the Athos chose to come up the river "lower on the tide" than other ships. She suggested that ships be required to travel along the Delaware during daylight hours "when a leak can be identified sooner by sight than under cover of darkness."
Tsakos paid about $100 million of the $150 million Delaware River clean-up project, said Lt. Rick Minnich, a Coast Guard spokesman in Philadelphia. The remainder was covered by the federal Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund, which was set up by Congress after the Exxon Valdez spill.
Given a clean bill of health from the Coast Guard, Tsakos may now appeal to the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund for greater reimbursement of its expenditures in the Athos I accident.
Tsakos officials said in a statement last November that the Athos I had been sold to Buyers Golden Crown Shipping of United Arab Emirates.
The Coast Guard believes the anchor that pierced the Athos I was dropped on the Delaware riverbed, near Paulsboro anchorage, shortly before the November 2004 accident.
The Coast Guard therefore is supporting a bill -- drafted by U.S. Reps. Rob Andrews, Frank LoBiondo and Jim Saxton of New Jersey, and U.S. Rep. Allyson Schwartz of Pennsylvania -- that would require sailors to report to the Coast Guard any significant shipping obstacles that they drop overboard.
"It would cause a lot less headaches than something like this happening," Lt. Minnich said.
LoBiondo, chairman of the House Subcommittee on the Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation, hopes to pass the measure as part of a larger bill authorizing funding for the Coast Guard.
"I will continue to work with my colleagues to help ensure that we have learned the necessary lessons from the Athos I incident and do our best to make sure such accidents never happen again," said LoBiondo, R-2nd Dist.
Source: http://www.nj.com/news/sunbeam, Saturday, January 21, 2006, By BILL CAHIR, Washington Bureau


Foreign competition holds no fear for ferry operators
---Though deregulation of the coastal passenger ship network will likely see foreign ferry operators entering the Greek marketplace, Greek companies should have nothing to fear says Union of Coastal Passengership Owners president, Stelios Sarris.
Sarris said deregulation will have to come quickly as Greece has to respond to European Commission moves to send it to the European Court for breaching European competition regulations.
Indeed, Marine minister Manolis Kefaloyiannis is expected in the next few days to officially announce the freeing of ticket prices on certain routes and the lifting of the 30-year-age limit on ferries operating in the domestic network. It's proposed operators will be free to set ticket rates on services out of Piraeus where at least two lines are in competition (the original proposal was three lines) and passenger volume exceeds 300,000. This is already allowed on a handful of routes. The age limit will not apply to ships complying with all international regulations, including the Stockholm Agreement.
In a recent radio interview, Sarris said: "With the application of EU rules state intervention will be lifted and coastal shipowners will be able to plan their routes, determine each ship's timetable and fares, and operate competitively. This will not only benefit shipping companies but also the passengers."
Sarris said deregulation could attract foreign competition but he is confident Greek shipowners can face any challenge from abroad. He said Greeks have already built modern ships, "which is not possible nowadays". "Fleets are modern so owners are not afraid of any onslaught as they provide both quality and safety."
Sarris said the coastal sector has waited many "summers and winters to be deregulated".
"Shipowners should be free to make their plans according to their own entrepreneurial spirit, good or bad, and either reap the rewards of their good planning of suffer the consequences of their bad plans," said Sarris.
However, he concedes the state must exercise its social policy and continue to regulate unpopular routes which attract little business interest, especially in the winter months.
Source: Newsfront, 20 January 2006 Vol. 7 / No. 2


Greek action slowing but still healthy
---Greeks have been less active in ordering of late but plenty of ships are in the pipeline.
Newbuildings booked by Greek owners in 2005 showed a marked decrease on the two previous years but the outstanding orderbook at the end of December stood at a hefty 323 ships totalling 21 million dwt.
Figures compiled by the newbuilding department of Piraeus broker George Moundreas&Co showed a total of 98 firm orders from Greeks in 2005, a fall from 135 in the previous year and 202 in 2003.
The estimated 2005 newbuilding investment of $3.7bn was down from close to $5bn in 2004.
Moundreas attributes the decline to a combination of factors, including weaker freight rates, particularly in the dry sector, the scarcity of newbuilding slots and, for the smaller and newer shipyards, the scarcity of main-engine supply.
The focus of orders has also seen a change. In 2005, just eight crude-oil tankers and eight products tankers were ordered but 30 products/chemical tankers were booked. Bulkers accounted for 27 units, up from 24 in the previous year, and gas-carrier orders, both for LNG and LPG ships, jumped from four in 2004 to 17 totalling 1.1 million cbm last year. Eight boxships totalling 25,458 teu were booked, as compared with three of 15,300 teu in 2004.
The outstanding orderbook at the end of 2005 totalled 323 vessels, as compared with 277 at the end of 2004. The increase is explained by the higher number of orders carried forward from previous years and the fact that the majority of recent orders refer to post-2007 deliveries, Moundreas clarifies.
Although the broker has not produced a detailed analysis of the countries in which the 2005 Greek newbuildings were booked, George Banos, head of the newbuilding department, estimates that Korea is still attracting a good part of the orders. Not only does the country have the capacity to construct bigger ships, such as VLCCs and large containerships, but the smaller Korean yards also have attracted a substantial number of the small products/chemical-tanker orders placed.
Chinese yards appear to be gaining ground but their capacity has not allowed them to pull strongly ahead, while Japanese shipyards have secured fewer orders because of their own selectiveness, preferring domestic or government-backed projects.
Moundreas comments that the rise in newbuilding prices, while initiated by the increased price of steel and certain exchange-rate issues, now seems to be following its own course towards making shipbuilding profitable.
Given the decline in orders placed over the past three years, the broker estimates that a substantial decrease must be anticipated in the coming years.
Source: www.tradewinds.no, By Gillian Whittaker, Athens, published: 20 January 2006


---Slower global economic growth will affect dry cargo sector, report claims
The amount of capacity in proportion to chartering will increase more than 6 percent, both in tankers and in dry bulk vessels as a result of both the impressive orders and the lack of ships sent for scrapping.
Although international trade keeps expanding, Citigroup expects less demand for maritime transport in 2006 as it sees no significant rise in oil exports from OPEC countries, which concerns tankers, while slower global economic development will negatively affect the dry cargo market.
He also believes that the decline in rates will continue into the first half of 2007. In the long term, he explains, the preference by shipyards for the construction of tankers or bulkers against other types of vessels will constitute a key factor in the future balance of supply and demand in chartering and therefore in the progress of the shipping business cycle.
As another amazing year for shipping has just gone, Kartsonas wonders whether a corrective swing has taken place in the sector that will allow shipowners to maintain their pricing power by surpassing the fundamental powers of supply and demand.
The second was that investors seem to have changed their attitudes to shipping, as stock prices in the sector proved more resistant than the drop in earnings would suggest. In other words, the price per earnings (P/E) ratio has increased, and is beginning to correlate with other sections of the energy market.
More tankers
Kartsonas expects the tanker fleet to swell by a total of 59 million dead weight tons (dwt) in 2006 and 2007, while the scrapyards will receive ships with a combined capacity of only 11 million dwt in the next couple of years. The greatest increase in ships will be in oil-product carrying vessels, as opposed to crude oil tankers.
For 2006 alone, the rise in capacity will reach 6.5 percent. In comparison, demand will only rise by 1.6 percent. Therefore the impact on prices will be significant, Citigroup suggests.
It expects the VLCC category, of very large crude-oil tankers, to see its freight rates drop from $64,337 in 2005 to $42,000 in 2006 and to $29,000 in 2007. In the Suezmax category, it foresees a decline from $52,060 in 2005 to $30,000 and $23,000 in 2006 and 2007 respectively and the Aframax category to fall from $41,146 last year to $24,000 this year and $19,000 next year. Finally, Panamax rates will go down from $38,370 in 2005 to $20,000 in 2006 and $17,000 in 2007.
Those rates for 2006 are much more pessimistic than those given by the time charter market and the forward rate market as well as those of most market analysts. Yet the Citigroup report does note that its rates are higher than the historic average of the 15-year cycle.
Forecasts for bulk carriers are similar, as ships of a total capacity of 56 million dwt are expected to join the global fleet in 2006 and 2007. No more than 7.5 million dwt will be the combined capacity of the ships to be scrapped in the same period. The annual rise in capacity is forecast at 6 percent and that of demand at 3.1 percent. Citigroup expects the drop in rates to reach 30 to 40 percent in dry bulk ships, too.
Source: http://info.ekathimerini.com, Costis Papadimitriou - Kathimerini, 21 Jan 2006


Diana Shipping Inc. Announces Two New Time Charter Agreements
---ATHENS, Greece, Jan. 20 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Diana Shipping Inc. (NYSE: DSX - News), a global shipping company specializing in the transportation of dry bulk cargoes, today announced that it has entered into time charters with Cargill International S.A. for two of its Panamax dry bulk carriers, the Protefs and the Calipso, for a period of 11-13 months and 23-25 months, respectively. The charters are scheduled to commence on February 2, 2006 and January 21, 2006, respectively.
The time charter rate will be payable 15 days in advance and will be adjusted every 15 days based on the average rate of four pre-determined time charter routes as published by the Baltic Exchange. The initial charter payment will be made on delivery of each vessel to Cargill at a rate based on the average of four time charter routes for the 15 days preceding each vessel's delivery date. At the end of the time charter period for each vessel, there will be a final settlement to reflect the average daily rate of the four time charter routes for the actual duration of the charter.
Diana Shipping has the right to convert the floating rate into a fixed rate for the remaining term of each charter, up to a maximum of twelve (12) months at the prevailing market rate, subject to agreement by Cargill.
The Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Diana Shipping, Simeon Palios, commented: "We are pleased to have established with Cargill a structure that combines long term time charter employment, the ability to accurately reflect the spot market, and the elimination of repositioning risks. At the same time we maintain the opportunity to convert from floating to fixed time charter employment under certain parameters. We are confident that these contracts will help strengthen even further our Company's ties with Cargill, one of the most reputable operators in the bulk carrier business."
The Protefs is a 73,630 dwt Panamax dry bulk carrier built in 2004 and the Calipso is a 73,691 dwt Panamax dry bulk carrier built in 2005.
About the Company
Diana Shipping Inc. is a global provider of shipping transportation services. The Company specializes in transporting dry bulk cargoes, including such commodities as iron ore, coal, grain and other materials along worldwide shipping routes. Diana Shipping Inc. priced its initial public offering of common stock on March 17, 2005.
Source: Press Release Diana Shipping Inc., Friday January 20, 8:34 am ET


Former client hits Ince with $35m action
The claim is due to be heard in 2008. In the meantime, Blue Strim said it has filed a petition to secure its claim through the "conservatory arrest of the assets" of Ince up to a value of $35m.
Blue Strim claims it needs the assets because Ince's funds are "totally inadequate, or even nonexistent, placing our claim in obvious jeopardy".
The petition will be heard in Athens on 18 January.
Blue Strim's parallel criminal complaint against seven Ince lawyers was dismissed by a Greek court last year.
Ince's Greece managing partner Jonathan Elvey said the firm was continuing to vigorously defend the claim. Blue Strim did not respond to requests for comment.
Source: http://www.thelawyer.com, 16 jan 2006