Greek Shipping News Cuts
Week 16 - 2006

 

Greece's big boys are not necessarily the largest

----While many of Greece's 'bulky fleets' are also among the largest in terms of ships, three of the largest are light weights when it comes to tonnage. In all there are 44 Greek-controlled fleets operating 20 ships or more, with 33 of them among the group of 50 Greek fleets which have more than 1m dwt. The 44 fleets of 20-plus ships run a total of 1,354 ships of just under 100m dwt (99.8m dwt).
Greece's biggest fleet, 72 ships is under the Restis Group control, while the Laskaridis brothers, Panos and Thanassis, are among the world's leading operators of reefer ships, though while controlling some 100 units at certain times of the year, their owned fleet has slipped in the past 18 months dropping them from the top of the ladder. However, recent acquisition of the Latvian reefer operator Riga Transport Fleet has seen the group recover most of the loss.
Callimanopulos interests continue to expand through the tanker operation Marine Management Services and Toisa/Sealion, the fast expanding highly specialised offshore services providor. The Harry Vafias operation StealthGas has quickly built a fleet of 25 lpg carriers and moved ahead of Naftomar Shipping & Trading which runs 22 lpgs. Norbulk (Hellas) and NT Management make up the Greek end of the expanding US-based Eastwind operation while OSG (Hellas) manages 30 product tankers of 1.34m dwt previously part of the Stelmar fleet.
Though in the process of undergoing a major fleet overhaul, Hellenic Seaways, previously Minoan Flying Dolphins/Hellas Ferries/Saronic Ferries is still Greece's largest operator in the domestic ferry network. The company, which once ran 73 vessels has been selling ships, mainly elderly ferries and hydrofoils, and replacing them with newbuilding conventional ferries.
Tsakos, through TEN, Economou, through DryShips, Vafias, through StealthGas, Georgiopoulos, through GenMar and Genco, OSG (Hellas) through OSG, TOP Tankers, Goldenport and Excel have all used funds raised via IPOs to underscore fleet expansion and respectively run total fleets of 63 ships, 55, 38, 33, 30, 27, 23 and 20.
In tonnage terms Greece's largest fleet is the Angelicoussis-controlled Kristen Navigation, 36 ships of a total 8.124m dwt and rising. In addition, John Angelicoussis' Anangel Maritime runs 26 ships of 3m dwt. Tsakos controls Greece's second largest fleet, 6.372m dwt, just ahead of the 44 ships and 6.361m dwt controlled by George Procopiou/Dynacom. George Economou's Cardiff and DryShips fleet is just under 6m dwt at 5.86m dwt. Restis, 4.97m dwt; Thenamaris, 47 ships/4.236m dwt; Polys Haji-Ioannou, 33/3.885m; Marmaras Navigation, 43/3.8m; and Eastern Mediterranean, 29/3.141m dwt, also have fleets topping 3m dwt
Source: www.newsfront.gr Newsletter. 21 April 2006 Vol. 7 / No. 15


Ferries await fare date
A further issue of concern to coastal shipping firms, which they see as hampering their investment decisions, is the delay in implementing the Stockholm Agreement on the maximum age of ships in service.
Current Greek legislation sets a ceiling of 30 years and operators argue that the uncertainty prevents them from making investment plans.
Source: http://www.ekathimerini.com, NIKOS BARDOUNIAS, 19 Apr 2006


A day in the life of an LNG carrier's captain
----The light is starting to fade on the long walk down the jetty at the UK's Isle of Grain LNG-receiving terminal. At the end of the walkway, the 145,700-cbm Maran Gas Asclepius (built 2005), the largest ship to call at the terminal yet, lies brightly lit, generators humming, with a full cargo of Egyptian LNG.
Captain Konstantinos Krokos is in his office, where he would normally be, doing more of the mountain of paperwork that is part of any master's job these days. It is a slightly unusual evening in that the ship is alongside after holding for several days off the UK coast. But the vessel must wait until first light the following day, when there will be sufficient space in the onshore storage tanks, before starting its 12-hour discharge operation. Krokos is hopeful of an early night and a little more sleep than usual.
Captain Krokos, 48, was born on the island of Samos in Greece just metres from the sea. He dreamed of becoming a captain of a ship and at 17 he joined up as a cadet following his brother, who was by then serving as ship's engineer.
Krokos has spent his 30 years at sea on ULCCs, VLCCs, gas carriers and OBOs. He became a chief officer in 1985 and captained his first vessel just six years later. For the past 13 years, he has worked for Angelicoussis's Kristen Navigation and is now the longest-serving captain in the company's fleet. Krokos began special training for LNG carriers three years ago, as the company's new gas arm, Maran Gas Maritime, geared up to take on the first of its four LNG-carrier newbuildings. He studied in the UK, followed the newbuildings in Korea, and worked on LNG vessels in other owners' fleets.
Krokos clearly adores his job and enjoys learning something new or, as he describes it, something "more sophisticated and exciting".
He says LNG carriers are the safest ships to sail on, citing the structure of the vessel and the number of back-up systems four for the cargo-handling computer and two for running the engine alone.
"Before, on 315,000-dwt ships, it was like driving a 20 to 30-tonne truck. With this lady, you feel like you are driving a Mercedes," he said, smiling.
On an LNG ship you never see or smell your cargo, Krokos explains. "The less you see the cargo the safer it is." He says the cargo handling is very simple compared with tankers but it is essential to follow the rules and sometimes the rules are not enough. "You must always be looking forward. You must be ready for everything," he said.
Krokos says the most important rule is to train your crew. At the moment, the eight-month-old Maran Gas Asclepius is sailing with a crew of 38. The vessel could easily be manned with 21 but the additional 17 are officers in training to plug the huge skills shortage of LNG-trained crew.
Life onboard for Krokos normally starts at around 06:00 hours, when chief engineer Alexandros Lioudekis, a long-time friend and ship mate of 13 years, brings him coffee.
The two know each other's habits so well after their many years at sea together that they will seek each other out if one does not show up according to his usual routine.
Krokos will talk with Lioudekis and those on duty on the bridge before returning to his office from where the battery of electronic systems allows him to monitor everything the other officers are seeing, to read his first batch of e-mails and take care of other correspondence.
At 09:00, Krokos will take a small tour around the deck, heavy seas permitting, before sitting down for coffee with the chief engineer at 10:00 to 10:30 to discuss and plan onboard training and maintenance.
There is another chance to tackle that paperwork at 12:00 to 12:15 before he takes lunch with the other officers. At 13:00, he decides what part of the ship he needs to visit.
By 15:00, he meets up with the chief engineer in preparation for starting one of the many drills on the vessel that take place about four days of every week. These include "abandon ship", "survive at sea", "flooding", "fire" (one of 10 different types), "release of cargo" and "hypothermia" to name but a few. Nobody gets out of these, Krokos says, unless they are sick or doing an essential job and he knows about it.
Safety videos will also be shown and Krokos and his officers will discuss any problems with the drills afterwards.
At 17:00, he is back in his cabin for more e-mails and paperwork before moving on to dinner at 18:00 to 18:45 and then back to the deskwork again. He gestures at a large battery of manuals lining the shelves in his cabin and says they all have to be filled in. He must also visit the bridge regularly and keep in daily contact with the owner and vessel's charterer, which for the next couple of years is Gaz de France (GdF).
On top of this, but just as important, is Krokos's role for the ship's crew. He says responsible owners like Kristen spend money to create a good environment for the crew with a gym, swimming pool or social rooms. "It is important," he said. He tells his Filipino crew and Greek, Polish and Lithuanian officers that he is available 24 hours a day. "I do not close the door to anyone," Krokos said. "Onboard the ship, the captain is their father, brother, mother, whatever he can be. What happens on the land happens here. And it is important that whatever you hear, you must never tell to anybody... I try to be his family."
And where does the captain go when he needs to talk? He laughs and points upwards: "To God," he laughs. "There is nothing there for him. Sometimes it's a tough job."
By 21:00, he hopes to call it a day, although there are times in the night, such as passage through Gibraltar Straits, dense fog or heavy traffic, when it is compulsory for him to be on the bridge.
Krokos will work four months on and then take four months off a far cry from his early days at sea when he often worked 12 to 18 months at a stretch. He rarely leaves the ship as he has little free time and says his friends, good coffee and his "cabin for some decent rest" are all onboard.
He married at 21 and his wife sailed with him until his son and daughter were born. Now both children are grown up and away studying but she still joins him onboard for one to two months during the summer.
When he is not at sea, Krokos enjoys travelling with his family and visiting some of the places he has called at while sailing. But he also loves his home life, producing his own sweet red Muscato wine and olive oil just as his father taught him, growing roses and fishing from a boat.
The next day, a visiting posse of at least 12 top brass from Grain's joint capacity holder BP, GdF and Russia's Gazprom are due on site to witness operations. It turns out that GdF has sold its Egyptian cargo, which was originally destined to be shipped to Barcelona in Spain, to Russian state monopoly Gazprom in a trade that will see Gazprom sell it on to BP.
The deal will make headlines because while the LNG becomes BP's cargo at the ship's rail, it is also seen as Gazprom's first export to the UK.
Later the same day after ensuring the safe discharge of another, albeit rather historic cargo of LNG, Maran Gas Asclepius , Krokos and his crew will slip quietly out of the River Medway on the way back towards the Mediterranean and their next cargo.
By Lucy Hine on the 'Maran Gas Asclepius', published: 21 April 2006
Source: www.tradewinds.no


DryShips Inc. Takes Delivery of Its 28th Vessel
----ATHENS, GREECE -- (MARKET WIRE) -- 04/19/2006 -- DryShips Inc. (NASDAQ: DRYS) announced today that it has taken delivery of m.v. "Hille Oldendorff" a 2005 built, 55,566 deadweight ton, or dwt, handymax drybulk carrier which it acquired recently. m.v. "Hille Oldendorff" comes with a bareboat charter at $19,745 per day, net of commissions, until March 2007.
Mr. George Economou, DryShips' Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, commented: "With a fleet of 28 vessels we are today the largest drybulk company listed on a US Exchange both in terms of fleet size and revenue. We operate a young and modern fleet with an average age of 11 years well below the industry average. We will continue to take advantage of market opportunities as these may occur in 2006 to grow and enhance our company's operations."
About DryShips Inc.
DryShips Inc. owns and operates through its wholly owned subsidiaries a fleet of drybulk carriers that operate worldwide. As of the date of this announcement, DryShips owns a fleet of 28 drybulk carriers consisting of 4 Capesize, 21 Panamax and 3 Handymax vessels, with a combined carrying capacity of approximately 2.3 million deadweight tones. DryShips, which maintains its executive offices in Greece, is the second largest Panamax operator in the world.
DryShips Inc.'s common stock is listed on the NASDAQ National Market where it trades under the symbol "DRYS."
Source: http://www.dryships.com


Richards Butler wins Appeal Court case for insurers against North Star
----Richards Butler has won in the Court of Appeal, upholding the case of insurers against a shipowner suspected of scuppering its own vessel.
Richards Butler insurance head Mark Connoley represented insurers led by Sphere Drake Insurance in their landmark case against North Star Shipping.
The insurers were resisting a claim made by North Star under its war risks policy, saying that because co-owner Harry Petrakakos had failed to disclose allegations of dishonesty made against him in Greek criminal proceedings, the law allowed them to refuse to pay out.
The claim was made after the North Star was damaged by a bomb in July 1994 in a Piraeus shipyard. The insurers claimed that Petrakakos had been responsible for procuring, placing and detonating the bomb.
On 7 April the Court of Appeal dismissed North Star's appeal against the April 2005 judgment of Mr Justice Colman, ruling that the insurers had made the correct decision.
But Lord Justice Longmore raised concerns about the potential ramifications of the current law for insureds, saying it could make it difficult to obtain any insurance cover. However, he added that he hoped the forthcoming review of insurance contract law being carried out by the Law Commission would address the issue.
Connoley instructed Nicholas Hamblen QC of 20 Essex Street. Robert McCunn, a consultant at shipping boutique Davies Johnson & Co, acted for North Star, instructing Quadrant Chambers' David Goldstone. Davies Johnson replaced Shaw & Croft, which acted for North Star in the High Court.
Source: http://www.thelawyer.com, Apr 18, 2006


easyCruise goes by river to Amsterdam
----EASYCRUISE, the UK-based cruise venture of serial entrepreneur Stelios Haji-Ioannou, will expand into river cruising by introducing a weekly itinerary between Brussels and Amsterdam this summer. easyCruiseTwo, an 80m-long vessel owned and operated by Boonstra River Line, will offer 100 berths on the service to be launched on 14 July. The vessel is currently called Frontera and is to be refurbished prior to entering service with easyCruise. The vessel will arrive in ports of call by lunchtime and sail a few hours after midnight to attract a younger clientele who can enjoy the nightlife in each port. The concept is the same as that of easyCruiseOne, which operates in the Mediterranean in the summer and in the Caribbean in the winter months. The company plans to order a newbuilding and Deltamarin in Finland has produced a design for a 100-m vessel. easyCruiseTwo launches a new brand identity for the company. "Reflecting the aspirations and sophistication of our passengers, the orange hull with website address in large letters, is to be replaced with a more refined graphite grey hull with orange beading and a new
Source: Fairplay Daily News, 19 Apr 2006


Hellenic Petroleum Considers Penetration in Natural Gas Mkt
HP plans to increase its stake in DEPA, the state natural gas distributor, where it currently holds a 35% stake, as they expect an increase in the demand for distribution and warehousing of natural gas.
Regarding the investment in the 390MW natural gas power plant in Thessaloniki, Mr. Kavoulakos stated that the state should provide more incentives to investors as the difference between the price of a Kwh and the cost of natural gas used in the production, is negative on the current natural gas prices and therefore the ROIC is not satisfactory for HP.
Source: www.reporter.gr


European Goldfields: Greek Government Positive on Business Plans
----WHITEHORSE, YUKON--(CCNMatthews - April 20, 2006) - European Goldfields Limited (TSX:EGU)(AIM:EGU) is pleased to announce that its 65%-owned subsidiary Hellas Gold S.A. has received an official response from the Greek Ministry of Development (the "Ministry") on the business plans submitted in January 2006 for the projects of Skouries and Olympias. The submission of the business plans represents a significant milestone in obtaining the permits for these major gold and base metal projects in Northern Greece.
The response states that the Ministry is in agreement with the principles stated in the business plans, and that the Ministry considers the business plans to be in the best interest of the Greek economy. This response was received by Hellas Gold within the timeframe provided for in its contract with the Greek State.
With this response, the Ministry endorses Hellas Gold's holistic and phased approach to the development of the projects, with emphasis on achieving full production at the Skouries gold-copper porphyry deposit as soon as possible, and the phasing of the Olympias gold-lead-zinc-silver deposit. This approach minimizes financial risk by the phased injection of capital. The principal revenue stream in the early phases will be through the sale of concentrates.
The response from the Ministry also has the benefit of providing a short-list of the technical matters on which the Ministry would like some further clarifications. These matters will be addressed in cooperation with the Ministry in the context of Hellas Gold's ongoing work on a full environmental impact study, which is expected to be submitted to the Greek government in Q3 2006. On approval of the study, the environmental permits for Skouries and Olympias are expected to be issued.
Hellas Gold will then submit to the Greek government a final technical report on the Skouries and Olympias projects, which will restate the principles of the business plans and take into account any conditions in the environmental permit. The mining permits are expected to be issued on approval of the technical report by the Greek government.
Commenting on the announcement, David Reading, Chief Executive Officer of European Goldfields, said: "The Hellas Gold team successfully delivered the business plans on time to the Greek government for the major gold and base metals projects of Skouries and Olympias in January 2006. We have now constructively engaged with the Greek government on finalizing the technical reports for the project, in line with our contract with the Greek State. We are encouraged that the Government acknowledged the merits of our business plans and confirmed that our projects are in the best interest of the Greek economy."
About European Goldfields
European Goldfields Limited (the "Company") is a resource company involved in the acquisition, exploration and development of mineral properties in Greece, Romania and the Balkans.
Romania - The Company holds four mineral properties located within the "Golden Quadrilateral" area of Romania. The Company recently announced the conversion of resources into Canadian NI 43-101 compliant reserves for its 80%-owned Certej project, underpinning the value of the project. The Certej deposit hosts probable reserves of 27.7 Mt grading 2.0 g/t gold and 11.6 g/t silver for 1.76 Moz gold and 10.35 Moz silver (80% attributable). The Company is now completing a final feasibility study for submission to the Romanian government by the end of 2006, in support of an application for environmental and mining permits to develop the Certej project.
Greece - The Company holds a 65% interest in Hellas Gold S.A. ("Hellas Gold"). Hellas Gold owns assets in northern Greece which consist of three deposits within 70-year mining concessions covering a total area of 317 km2. The deposits include the polymetallic projects of Stratoni and Olympias which contain gold, lead, zinc and silver, and the copper/gold porphyry body referred to as Skouries. All three deposits have been well defined with over 200,000 metres of drilling and the completion of feasibility studies and later engineering studies.
The total proven and probable reserves of these assets are 7.6 Moz gold, 65.8 Moz silver, 0.7 Mt copper, 0.7 Mt lead and 0.9 Mt zinc, from a measured and indicated resource base of 9.4 Moz gold, 74.5 Moz silver, 1.0 Mt copper, 0.8 Mt lead and 1.1 Mt zinc (65% attributable).
These assets represent some of the largest defined deposits in Europe. The three deposits are located within a 10 km radius of each other, making this effectively a gold and base metals centre. Furthermore, both Stratoni and Olympias were previously in production and have extensive existing mining and plant infrastructure and a ship-loading facility on the Aegean Sea.
Hellas Gold's assets also include potential revenue-generating stockpiles of gold concentrates.
In September 2005, Hellas Gold resumed production at Stratoni following the award by the Greek State of all necessary environmental and mining permits. Hellas Gold is in the process of applying for similar permits for Olympias and Skouries, having met its first milestone by submitting business plans to the Greek government in January 2006.
Resources & Reserves Parameters
For additional information on the resource and reserve estimates quoted in this news release, please refer to the Company's Resources & Reserves Declaration at www.egoldfields.com/goldfields/resources.jsp. Patrick Forward, General Manager, Exploration of the Company, was the Qualified Person under Canadian National Instrument 43-101 responsible for reviewing the disclosure of resource and reserve estimates quoted in this news release.
Source: http://www.ccnmatthews.com/ APRIL 20, 2006 - 08:00 ET