Greek Shipping News Cuts
Week 12 - 2006

 

Coastal shipping fares to be liberalized from Piraeus

---Passengers on the main coastal shipping routes from Piraeus will be able to choose from a variety of economy-class fares as of next month, as the Merchant Marine Ministry is liberalizing the market in accordance with EU regulations.
Should more than two foreign companies bid for the monopolistic use of a route, the government will choose the one that offers newer vessels, greater experience and better services to passengers, the minister said.
Source: http://www.ekathimerini.com,Date: 3-24-2006, NIKOS BARDOUNIAS


Tallink buys Superfast ferries
Tallink has established three shipowning subsidiaries on Cyprus and will establish a new subsidiary, Tallink Baltic, to operate the German link.
Further comments on the future plans for the ferries and the new service will not be available from Tallink until the deal has been concluded.
Source: The Scandinavian Shipping Gazette Newsletter, MARCH 24, 2006


Maran finds its feet in world of LNG transport
---AS the world's largest privately held operator of very large crude carriers, the Angelicoussis Ship-ping Group which also encompasses Greece's biggest tanker and bulk fleet had more qualifications tha...
AS the world's largest privately held operator of very large crude carriers, the Angelicoussis Ship-ping Group which also encompasses Greece's biggest tanker and bulk fleet had more qualifications than most when it set about establishing a liquefied natural gas division three years ago.
Maran Gas Maritime, the newly established gas offshoot, says that the experience and the scale of the group were important in establishing its presence in LNG, but nonetheless the cost and effort required to enter the sector should not be underestimated.
John Angelicoussis accepted an opportunity to diversify into the gas sector in July 2003 when another owner cancelled an order at Daewoo Shipbuilding ' Marine Engineering and the Athens- based group was offered the vessel, which duly became the first LNG carrier on order for a Greek owner. Soon, further ships had expanded the programme to four 145,700 cu m vessels with GTT NO 96 membrane cargo tanks.
The Angelicoussis Group's goal was to gain industry acceptance for its quality and track record, but it knew that it would have to bring in specific expertise as well as using existing resources wherever possible.
As LNG fleet director, in February 2004 newly-formed Maran recruited Richard Gilmore from US-based Energy Transportation Group, a company specialising in LNG operations since the early 1970s.
Among his first priorities was to find employment for the fleet that would soon start to take shape at Daewoo. Within a few weeks Maran took part in tendering for ships for the Ras Laffan Liquefied Natural Gas Co Ltd (II) (RasGas II) project, as well as offering a vessel to Gaz de France that was in the market with a shorter-term contract.
RasGas II accepted the Maran ships as four of the eight LNG carriers that doubled the RasGas fleet and the vessels, which have a design life of 40 years, have been chartered for an initial 20 years plus three optional extensions of five years each.
The first vessel, Maran Gas Asclepius, was delivered in August last year and has gone on charter to Gaz de France for up to two and a half years, after which it will commence its RasGas II charter. The second ship in the series, Umm Bab, went directly to the Qatar project on delivery last October.
The third vessel, Simaisma, is said to be ahead of schedule for delivery this year while the last in the series, to be named Al Jassaslya, has also been brought forward and is now expected to join the fleet in the first half of 2007.
Under the terms of the charter agreements, Qatar Gas Transport Co has assumed 30% equity participation in the vessels.
'We hit a very good moment and it is not easy to repeat,' says Stavros Hatzigrigoris, a director of both Maran and the group's oil tanker division Kristen Navigation. 'The spot market for LNG that everyone was talking about a few years ago has not developed and the cost of vessels has become very high, so it is now much more difficult to order on a speculative basis.'
According to Maran, charterers will not usually accept a newcomer in the LNG market to manage a ship on a long-term charter. Maran belonged to a group with a good track record in other shipping sectors as well as having quality ships to offer, but even this was not seen as quite enough.
Maran is treading the first of the two paths, having hired the Isle of Man-based Bernard Schulte company Dorchester Maritime Ltd as technical manager for five years. The company reportedly stood out as very few management companies were approved by both Gaz de France and RasGas .
Maran has opted to fly the Greek flag and it selected from the cream of the group's tanker personnel to form a pool of Greek officers for training to man the LNG carriers. On the engineering side, since the vessels are equipped with steam plants, the group also brought back experience from its turbine-driven VLCCs, the last of which was scrapped five years ago. The deal with Dorchester provides for the supply of initial officers as well as training, but the programme is said to already be ahead of schedule, with Maran providing some masters and more than half the officers on the two ships that are already trading.
It is envisaged that after a start-up phase of two and a half years, Maran will have fully developed its technical abilities and have sufficient specialised personnel to manage the operation by itself, whereupon Dorchester will be technical consultant for the rest of the contract.
More recently Maran has moved to diversify its gas fleet with orders for four large LPG carriers at Daewoo. The 84,000 cu m vessels are due for delivery in 2008-2009. The company emphasises the LPG carriers are very different vessels to the LNG ships but, says Mr Hatzigrigoris, 'it is part of the process of serving a broader spectrum of needs of the clients you already know'.
'WE believe tanker officers can cope with LNG,' Maran's LNG fleet director Richard Gilmore has told Lloyd's List. Nonetheless, 'it was difficult to enter the LNG club. There are significant differences with tankers.'
Mr Gilmore says: 'It is a high-profile business and those already in the club want to retain its clean image. You have to demonstrate you have the skill-set to enter the business and that includes having experienced people, with training under way to meet the expectations of the charterer with regard to seagoing staff.'
Since his arrival two years ago, the shoreside team has been strengthened with further hirings including three with significant LNG experience.
Challenges stemming from hardware differences are said to include cryogenics, cargo containment and the steam based engine room, as well as the high overall level of automation.
'Charterers are much more active and involved than in the tanker business,' Mr Gilmore says.
Understandably Maran places the greatest importance on training and has developed a 'significant matrix' to raise officers to the lofty standards required of LNG operations. 'The wider problem is that the LNG market has expanded so fast that few companies today can claim to have sufficient trained people.'
Maran's efforts have been aided since the delivery of the first two vessels since these are now serving as the company's prime training platforms.
The company has calculated that its LNG masters are receiving the equivalent of close to one year's special training for their new role. With 11 officers plus alternates required for each ship, the training cost is $1m-$1.5m per vessel, Maran has estimated.
'It is very demanding but we are progressing well.'
provided by GENIOS...
Source:


BW Gas to work with Maran Gas
BW Gas already operates a fleet of 64 LPG carriers, of which 36 units are VLGCs. (22.03.06)
Source: www.shipgaz.com,


Not so sweet FFA
----Navios Maritime Holdings of Greece has seen a tough fourth quarter eat into its results for 2005.
The Nasdaq-listed company blamed a combination of reduced vessel employment and time charter equivalent (TCE) rates, losses on forward freight agreements (FFAs) and increases in debt used to finance acquisitions for the profit slide.
The Athens-based company slumped from a net profit of $127.1m last year to $53.5m for the year ended 31 December 2005.
The fourth quarter proved decisive in terms of FFA losses, with a $15.3m profit on FFA trading in the comparable period last year transforming into a $1.9m reverse in the last three months of 2005. As a result net income for the fourth quarter, at $1.1m, was down significantly on the $31.2m achieved in the same period last year.
Navios chairman and chief executive, Angeliki Frangou
Seen over the whole year, FFA contracts only netted Navios $103,000, as compared to a whopping $57.8m in 2004.
Long term debt increased almost ten-fold as the company sought to expand its fleet of owned and chartered vessels.
TCE rates fell from $25,985 last year to $22,771 through 2005, while the number of available days stood at 9,147, down from 11,952 in 2004.
Navios currently has a fleet of 13 owned vessels made up of nine ultra-handymaxes and four panamaxes. A further two ultra-handymaxes and nine panamaxes account for 11 vessels in the fleet currently on long-term charter.
The company also has three ultra-handymaxes and five panamaxes on order with options to buy five of the eight vessels.
Source: www.tradewinds.no, By Eoin O'Cinneide in London, published: 13:53 GMT, 22 March 2006 | last updated: 14:02 GMT, 22 March 2006


DryShips Dividend Discrepancy Happily Resolved with $530 million Refinancing
---Anyone who has been paying attention to the maritime press over the last week is aware that there has been some serious controversy surrounding DryShips after Dahlman Rose analysts James Christodoulou and Omar Nokta questioned whether the company could be nearing a technical default on its loan covenants. The analyst report in question, which was reiterating a previously designated Sell rating on DryShips stock, was well within its prerogative by noting threats to the financial health of a company in the face of a predicted market downturn.
This all bears out the art that is financial analysis. Even in shipping, where determining the value of a company that owns nothing but commodity ships and has a very small management team is relatively straightforward, discrepancies of more than 10% between different good faith estimates can and will arise, and such is the case in this instance. It is a sobering reminder of how dangerous it can be to lean on this type of valuation numbers as if they were purely scientific.
The New Facility
Source: Freshly Minted Weekly Online, www.marinemoney.com, VOLUME 2, ISSUE 12, March 23, 2006


Tsavliris poised for IPO
Source: 24 Mar 2006, www.fairplay.co.uk


Onassis foundation completes restoration of historic Greek cathedral in Egypt
ATHENS: A Greek Orthodox cathedral that has been the center of the Greek community of Alexandria, Egypt, for 150 years will reopen its doors on April 2 after major restoration works, the foundation created by legendary Greek shipping tycoon Aristotle Onassis said Wednesday.
Consecrated in 1856, the Church of the Annunciation underwent a two-year restoration process starting in 2002 that cost $600,000, Alexander S. Onassis Foundation chairman Anthony Papadimitriou told a press conference.
"This church is the seat of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria and Africa," Papadimitriou said. "During World War II, the Greek army and government conducted their religious services here."
The foundation, which regularly makes bequests to scientists, artists and writers, funded a complete overhaul of the basilica to remedy damage incurred by successive earthquakes, Papadimitriou said.
Home to a once-flourishing Greek community, Alexandria occupies a prominent position in Greek culture and tradition.
Founded by Alexander the Great in the fourth century BC, the city was the home of renowned Greek poet Constantine Cavafy, who lived in Alexandria between 1863 and 1933.
Greece and Egypt also have close historical ties thanks to the latter's millions of Coptic Orthodox Christians. In addition, Egypt gave shelter to the Greek government during World War II, after Greece was occupied by Nazi Germany in 1941.
Around 2,500 people of Greek descent reside in Egypt, including about 1,000 in Alexandria, said Papadimitriou, whose father also hailed from the city.
The Church of Anunciation will resume religious services following a ceremony attended by Greek President Karolos Papoulias, Ecumenical Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomew I and Patriarch of Alexandria and Africa Theodore II. - AFP
Source: http://www.dailystar.com.lb, By Agence France Presse (AFP) ,Thursday, March 23, 2006