Greek Shipping News Cuts
Week 26 - 2006
---The German motoring association the ADAC has commended European ferry operators following a positive set of results in its annual ferry survey, writes Katrin Berkenkopf in Cologne .
Although he reserved criticism for nine shipowners who refused to co-operate with the tests, Mr Stich pointed out that their concerns were unwarranted. Seven of the nine were operators whose ships had easily passed the test regardless of their involvement.
Altogether, five ships received very good grades, 13 were rated good, 11 got an adequate grade and only one failed.
The failure was the 1989-built Sansovino, operating between Naples and Milazzo, Sicily. It is owned by Siremar.
The technical state and the lack of safety awareness among the crew were cause for concern, the ADAC said.
However, this was only a one-off case and the overall safety of ferries in Europe had increased in recent years, it added.
Source: www.lloydslist.com, Thursday June 29 2006
Greek ferryboat tops ranking for safety standards
---The ANEK Lines ferryboat "Olympic Champion", linking Patras, Greece with Ancona, Italy, ranked first among a total of 30 vessels in terms of safety standards in the annual report issued by the German auto club ADAC on the overall improvement recorded in the ferryboats sailing the European seas. The comparative study was presented in Hamburg the Deutche Welle website reported on Wednesday.
The vessel was built in 2000 and received the highest marks for its high-tech equipment and its well-trained crew. A total of 11 Greek ferryboats were included in the study, while another Greek vessel the "Dionisios Solomos" of the Zante Ferries Anmez Lines, linking Kyllini with Zakynthos, was also rated "very good".
Five vessels were rated "good": "Kriti I" of ANEK Lines, "Eptanisos" of Strintzis Ferries (Poros-Kefalonia destination), "Ionian King" of Agoudimos Lines (Patras-Bari, Italy destination), "Mytilene" of Nel Lines (Piraeus-Chios destination) and "Lissos" of ANEK Lines (Chania-Piraeus destination).
Four ferryboats were rated as "satisfactory": "Kefalonia" of Strintzis Ferries, "Penelope" of Agoudimos Lines, "Express Santorini" of Hellenic Seaways and "Zakynthos I" of Anez Lines.
Source: www.hir.org, ATHENS, 29/6/2006 (ANA)
Nightmare claim worries owners
---Revisions to the Athens Convention are giving Greek owners the jitters.
Fresh concerns over the huge liabilities facing the protection-and-indemnity (P&I)clubs under a revised Athens Convention are threatening to unravel efforts to bring in much higher compensation for passengership disasters.
Influential Greek shipowners, including some who are P&I club directors, are becoming increasingly worried about the threat that a payout, which could run to several billion dollars, would mean for the future of P&I cover for cargoships.
A key concern is that the solvency of clubs could be threatened by clubs becoming direct insurers of passenger liabilities under the new Athens Convention protocol.
Club directors fear they could even be caught up in litigation personally and be accused of failing to fulfil their fiduciary duty to the mutual and other shipowners.
The doomsday scenario is of a cruiseship or ferry catastrophe, with the loss of up to 3,600 passengers and 1,500 crew, and oil-pollution and wreck-removal claims on top.
The crew, pollution and wreck-removal claims would fall on some unfortunate shipowner, who would ask his P&I club to take over the claim under the normal pay-to-be-paid rules of the P&I club.
But P&I clubs would have given a guarantee that passenger claims would be paid. Consequently they would be exposed to direct action in respect of those killed or injured.
The P&I clubs have reinsurance of up to a little over $2bn but could attempt to collect up to $3.5bn more from the world's shipowners in the form of an overspill levy. However, the problem a number of shipowners are concerned about is that liability to pay claims at stratospheric overspill levels is limited under the arrangements of the International Group P&I cartel by the clubs' ability to collect the levy from shipowners.
But there is no priority to such claims, with compensation normally paid on a first-come-first-served basis.
Payouts to crew members, for oil pollution and for wreck removal, might mean the clubs are unable to raise sufficient funds from the overspill levy to pay all passenger claims.
But the club that insured the tragedy ship would not be able to rely on the fact that funds are exhausted as they will have given guarantees to governments that precisely these claims would be paid.
Of course, the threat of claims running to billions of dollars from a passengership disaster is very low but there is an argument that the Athens protocol threatens at least the theoretical solvency of P&I clubs and exposes their directors to lawsuits.
A number of other issues are also shaping up to prove controversial as P&I club boards meet over the next few months ahead of a key October International Maritime Organisation (IMO) legal-committee meeting on implementation of the Athens protocol.
But the P&I clubs have a powerful incentive to try to make the Athens protocol workable as the European Commission will likely impose a solution of its own if the IMO convention fails.
Other issues include Royal Caribbean's order earlier this year of the first of a new series of 5,400-passenger Project Genesis cruiseships that dramatically changes previous assumptions that the biggest vessels would be the same owner's 3,600-passenger Freedom of the Seas class.
Greek shipowners who were instrumental in driving down the limit of P&I cover to $4.25bn some years ago are also concerned that the limit has now crept up to about $5.5bn.
The upper limit of P&I cover is calculated from property-damage liabilities under the 1976 Limitation Convention but this is tonnage-related and calculated in special drawing rights (SDRs). The growth of the world fleet and the relative strength of the US dollar against SDRs has produced the 30% rise.
There is also continuing concern about exactly how a scheme put forward by megabroker Marsh to separately guarantee terrorism risks will work as there is an absence of detailed information, including an indication of the likely cost.
By Jim Mulrenan London, published: 30 June 2006
Cost of shipping crude may weaken further
---LONDON: The cost of shipping crude oil from the Middle East to Asia on two-million-barrel tankers may fall for a third consecutive week as vessels available for hire at the end of July outnumber cargoes.
Freight rates for very large crude carriers, or VLCCs, on the benchmark route to Japan, unchanged yesterday, were at their lowest in more than three weeks because of a surplus of tonnage.
Costs, which are heading for their third monthly gain, usually rise at this time of the year as US refiners increase crude imports because demand for petrol peaks in the warmer months.
There were no double-hull oil tankers booked to Asia, according to shipbroker reports.
Source: www.btimes.com.my, July 3 2006
European shipping policy needs to readjust its compass
---Rodi Kratsa calls for a combined strategy on maritime, road, railway and river transport and ports.
European shipping policy should focus on protecting the industry by issuing clear guidelines that will allow for better cooperation between shipping companies and clients, in the context of full liberalization, suggests Rodi Kratsa, a New Democracy Member of the European Parliament.
To what extent is European and Greek shipping concerned about the rapid developments in international trade?
The explosion of global trade is due to the massive growth in China and affects the EU considerably. Since 2001, when China became a member of the World Trade Organization, its relations with the EU have grown by 17 percent annually, reaching 210 billion in 2005. Since 2004 the EU is the biggest trade partner of China, which impacts decisively on the system of transport and shipping trade between the two sides.
The rise of Chinese maritime exports by 30 percent has changed the quantity and quality of the organization of shipping and its routes. Therefore, while traffic between Europe and North America remains stagnant, it is soaring between Asia and America and Asia and Europe. This is strengthened by the development of countries such as India and Vietnam.
We must predict developments and prepare. The continual rise of the market, of capacity, of shipbuilding and chartering rates in the last three years is expected to consolidate in the coming period. From the 10 to 15 percent increase in Asia-Europe traffic, we now have forecasts of 10 percent in the coming years. There are signs of a drop in markets by 30 to 40 percent due to the increase in capacity.
China is planning to increase from 10 to 25 percent the portion of its exports via ships of Chinese interests, while South Korea and Japan are entering the market, too, testing the competitiveness of the European fleet.
Phenomena such as the concentration in giant companies such as Maersk Sealand, Mediterranean SHG, Evergreen and CMA-CGM hamper competition and harm small and medium-sized shipping companies and discourage new investors.
Do you think international developments will affect Europe and Greece?
The challenge for Europe is to develop combined maritime, road, railway and river transport, and to use ports as the main link in that global chain of shipping.
Major European ports now play second fiddle to Singapore, Shanghai and Hong Kong. An integrated European port policy is required, promoting their modernization and creating a new operation model with common transparency and competitiveness rules, which the EU is missing.
The global fleet is growing in ship size, too. For 2007, 165 ships of 300 meters to carry 10,000 containers will be constructed. Therefore Greece will have to adapt to the new port requirements if it wants to be a transit trade center after its successful deals with China, not to mention services. A system linking major ports with smaller ones and other means of transport is required as well in Greece and its neighboring countries.
Is European policy in conflict with Greek interests?
The Greek government, shipowners and employees support EU policy on shipping safety, pollution prevention and application of international regulations, while Greeks make major investments in modern and ecological vessels.
I strongly believe that any initiative for new measures must come with an assessment of those already applied and taking into account the competitive context of shipping, respect for the environment, the promotion of research and the protection of labor rights.
We do support the coordination of member states in the IMO, especially in domains related to the acquis communautaire. We are also worried about the ignorance of most European politicians and citizens about shipping, its variety and complexity. Politicians and shipping bodies alike are responsible for that.
I have taken the initiative for the institution of European Shipping Day and I aim at the awareness and cooperation of the society and the shipping world in a joint effort for a new European vision of shipping development. Such efforts will highlight the importance of shipping and the role our country plays in it.
Source: By Dimitris Kapranos - Kathimerini, 28 June 2006
'Integrated' EU policy for the seas meeting
--- Greek deputy foreign minister Yiannis Valinakis on Friday represented Greece at a meeting in Antibes, France, between the European affairs ministers of EU countries with Mediterranean shores, which aimed to establish an innovative "holistic" approach and an integrated EU policy for the seas.
Heading up a Greek delegation, Valinakis stressed that the effort was key to Greek interests, given the country's extremely strong shipping sector, its massive coastline that equalled the shores of Africa in length and its 3,000 islands.
He said that Greece had already submitted its own proposals that emphasised the shipping sector and the creation of a European coast guard to police the EU's sea borders.
The minister and other officials attending the meeting stressed that this was the first time an attempt had been made to simultaneously examine all types of activity involving the sea on a European level, including shipping, maritime transport, sea tourism, development of coastal regions, sustainable development and environmental protection.
Speakers at the meeting stressed the need to preserve Europe's current advantages in the maritime sector, such as its status as the largest shipping force, its shipbuilding industry, coastal tourism and the production of energy from the sea, including alternative energy sources.
Source: Athens News Agency, www.ana.gr, Greece - Jun 30, 2006
Papoulias reassures Greek Shipowners
---Greece's president Carolos Papoulias has reiterated his and the country's support for Greek shipping. During a meeting with a delegation of Greek shipowners June 29, at the presidential palace, Papoulias said "Greece is the first shipping power" and one of the most important sectors of the Greek economy, and said "this is recognised by all".
The president was commenting after meeting with Hellenic Chamber of Shipping president, George Gratsos, Union of Greek Shipowners president, Nicos Efthymiou, and UGS board members, Michael D Chandris, John C Lyras and Anastasios V Papagiannopoulos.
During the hour-long meeting, the role of shipping in the Greek economy, the importance of the Greek tanker fleet in the world's energy seatransportation sector and the part Greek shipping plays in the country's foreign policy and how it adds strength to Greek diplomacy were discussed.
Source: www.newsfront.gr, 30 June 2006 Vol. 7 / No. 25
Shipping industry wins pollution challenge in London Court
---London - An international coalition representing a large part of the world's shipping industry won permission at a court in London Friday to take its legal challenge over new moves to curb pollution at sea to the European Court of Justice.
A judge at the High Court in London criticized the European Union Directive on Criminal Sanctions for Ship-Source Pollution as 'a muddle from beginning to end' and argued that it should be declared invalid.
Judge Justice Hodge ruled that a reference to the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg was necessary on the basis that aspects of the Directive were currently lacking 'legal certainty.'
Justice Hodge said the directive required EU member states to ensure that the discharge of pollution from ships was regarded as an infringement 'if committed with intent, recklessly or by serious negligence.'
The judge said the shipping industry claimants were concerned that infringements were to be regarded as criminal offences - but the term 'serious negligence' did not have a clearly defined meaning.
Members of the shipping coalition say that, if implemented, the directive could undermine effective global regulation of shipping and result in criminal sanctions for accidental pollution in cases where liability was excluded by international law.
The coalition includes Intertanko, which represents the owners of about 2,500 tankers, nearly 80 per cent of the world's independent tanker fleet.
It also includes Intercargo, the international association of dry cargo shipowners, the Greek Shipping Cooperation Committee, Lloyd's Register and the International Salvage Union.
Source: http://news.monstersandcritics.com, Jun 30, 2006, 17:29 GMT
Growing Importance of the New Greece to the United States
Source: http://www.greeknewsonline.com, Posted on Monday, June 26 @ 11:52:53 EDT
TOP Tankers Announces Its Inclusion in the New Nasdaq Global Select Market
---ATHENS, Greece, June 30 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- TOP Tankers (Nasdaq: TOPT - News) announced today that it is included in the new NASDAQ Global Select Market. The NASDAQ Global Select Market has the highest initial listing standards of any exchange in the world based on financial and liquidity requirements. Prior to the change, the company had been listed on the NASDAQ National Market.
Beginning July 3, NASDAQ-listed companies will be classified under three listing tiers -- NASDAQ Global Select Market, NASDAQ Global Market, and NASDAQ Capital Market. NASDAQ also plans to launch indexes based on these new tiers.
"TOP Tankers is an example of an industry leader that has achieved superior listing standards, which clearly defines the essence of the NASDAQ Global Select Market," said Bruce Aust, Executive Vice President, Corporate Client Group. "NASDAQ is focused on leading a race to the top in terms of listing qualifications. In recognizing these companies, we are highlighting their achievement in meeting the requirements to be included in the market with the highest listing standards in the world," added Mr. Aust.
NASDAQ announced the new three tier listing classification in February 2006. All three market tiers will maintain rigorous listing and corporate governance standards. For additional information about the NASDAQ Global Select Market, please go to: www.nasdaq.com/GlobalSelect.--
Source: Press Release, TOP Tankers Inc, Friday June 30, 7:35 am ET