Greek Shipping News Cuts
Week 31 - 2006

 

Greek newbulding spree jumps 2006 investment towards $10BN

---Much of the shipping industry may be enjoying summer holidays but those interested in selling newbuilding berths to Greek shipowners would be well advised on stay in contact. In July alone, orders worth $2.33bn involving 31 ships have emerged, with many more said to be at an advanced stage of negotiation.
Ten contracts were confirmed during the month, not including Kristen Navigation which is reported as negotiating a series of aframax tankers at Sungdong S&ME, in South Korea, after ordering three suezmaxes tankers, at Hyundai HI, for a total $238.5m.
Danaos Shipping has confirmed it has contracted Sungdong to build five 6,500teu container ships with delivery slated to begin early in 2009. The Piraeus-based company says price details are covered by a confidentially clause, but brokers are putting the tag at around $100m a ship. It is the largest contract secured by the yard which built its reputation as a subcontractor for Samsung HI. Sungdong was incorporated as an independent shipbuilder in January 2003 and has been steadily expanding its portfolio and orderbook, but is still in a position to provide reasonably early delivery dates. Kristen is said to be discussing upto six 115,000dwt tankers delivery 2009/2010 at around $65m each.
At the beginning of July, Costamare Shipping booked four 8,530teu container ships worth in excess of $119m a ship with Hudong Shipbuilding in China to deliver in pairs in 2009 and 2010. The order was the first placed in China for container ships of this size by a foreign operator.
As the month closed Eletson Holdings confirmed a contract at Hyundai Mipo Dockyard in Korea for the construction of four, option two, 52,000dwt, hi-spec, product tankers for delivery second half 2009/first quarter of 2010. Commercial terms were not disclosed by a tag of $46m has been put on them by brokers, which Vasilis A. Hadjieleftheriadis told Newsfront was about right.
Chandris interests reportedly booked two 170,000dwt tankers at Samsung for $160m, delivery 2010; Cardiff Marine two firm, two options suezmax tankers at $76m each; StealthGas, two 3,300cumtr LPG carriers; Diana Shipping two suezmax bulkers at SWS for $60m each; World Tankers/Poly Haji-Ioannou, two 46,000dwt prodtankers $90m; and Cosmoship two 1,000teu container ships, at $21m each.
Source: www.newsfront.gr, 3 Aug 2006


Needless upheaval over our ships
---Seaworthiness is not about how old ships are - that is simply common sense. Some 20-year-old vessels can be worn out, while other 30-year-old ships are well-maintained.
The decision by the previous Socialist government to reduce the age limit of operational vessels was made in the heat of the moment, in response to the popular outcry that followed the sinking of the Express Samina passenger ferry in September 2000, causing the loss of 82 lives.
Our country should focus on the same areas. Reliable international organizations, with no connections to shipping interests, should be entrusted with the task of monitoring the seaworthiness of our vessels. This is the only way to bypass Greek inflexibilities, which will ultimately result in the seaworthiness of most vessels being questioned and the Greek fleet being dramatically reduced.
In Greece, many decisions are made under the pressure of circumstances. Unfortunately, such decisions merely create the impression of action being taken while actually creating more problems than they solve. This was the case with the reduction in the age limit for ships by the previous government and is also the case with the maneuvers of the current administration.
In the middle of the summer, the Merchant Marine Ministry decided to do the obvious, but in secret, thus provoking the political opposition and trade unions to create an unnecessary upheaval in our coastal shipping sector which could have a dangerous impact on tourism.
Now that tourists are beginning to return to Greece for their summer holidays, all those involved in the tourism sector should adopt a serious approach. Tourism revenues make a crucial contribution to our economy and no one has the authority to interfere with this. Moreover, our ships are a crucial tool for the growth of our tourism sector.
Source: http://www.ekathimerini.com, 4 August 2006


Greek government defends scrapping age limit on working ferries
---ATHENS, Greece - The government said Saturday it would apply higher safety standards for ferries, but would scrap a 30-year age limit on working vessels that was imposed after a ferry disaster killed 80 people six years ago.
Opposition parties objected, however, to abandoning the 30-year limit on how long ferries can operate in Greek waters, saying the government was giving in to pressure from ship owners.
The 30-year limit was imposed after the 34-year-old Express Samina sank in September 2000 after striking rocks off Paros island. In the following investigation, it was found that the Express Samina had several problems and had been badly maintained.
Source: http://www.khaleejtimes.com, (AP), 5 August 2006


Costamare naming gives Chinese-Greek links a boost
---Chinese-Greek relations got a boost of major proportions with the christening and maiden-voyage ceremony of the 9,500-teu Cosco Hellas last week.
The containership is the last in a series of five built by Costamare Shipping and chartered to Cosco for 12 years. They are being touted as the largest and fastest in service today.
Blazing sun and a temperature soaring towards 35 degrees did not deter industry figures and bankers, among whom was Credit Agricole chief executive Georges Pauget on a short break from negotiations with the finance minister to buy Greece's second-largest commercial bank, Emporiki Bank.
Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis of Greece and a generous sampling of other cabinet members, former ministers as well as a mob of photographers, cameramen and journalists were on hand to share in the festivities with Cosco group chief executive Captain Wei Jiafu and Costamare president Captain Vassilis Constantakopoulos.
Indeed, it was very much a "captain's" day. Constantakopoulos referred to the fact that the majority of Captain Wei's closest colleagues are themselves captains, while Karamanlis, besides commenting on the importance of the occasion in cementing Greek-Chinese trade relations, reserved some words for the two protagonist masters.
After his visit to China in January, when a decision was taken to further develop trade relations between the two countries, Cosco got its first line to Piraeus up and running by April. "I must admit I have rarely been so impressed both by the effectiveness at a practical level and the speed of [applying] what was agreed," Karamanlis told the Cosco chief.
For Constantakopoulos, who took the opportunity to officially hand over the reins of his company to his sons, the prime minister reserved a more personal message.
"You have been an example of business activity and success but at the same time of social responsibility," he said.
Perhaps as only two former seagoing captains could, Wei and Constantakopoulos paid their respects to the mothers and wives of seafarers everywhere, symbolically presenting gifts to the wife of the vessel's master and the mother of an engineer.
Feng Jiping, wife of the Cosco chief, was godmother to the vessel and as the traditional champagne bottle smashed into its side, showers of fireworks shot up, balloons were released and a hail of metallic paper strips and confetti rained down.
VIPs toured the 351-metre-long ship, which an amusing card produced by Costamare explains is nearly equal to the length of four football fields. Its 700 reefer plugs provide capacity for the equivalent of 14 million chickens, its horsepower equals that of 1,250 family cars and 500 tonnes of paint was needed to cover the whole vessel.
But the celebrations did not stop at the container terminal. Guests were whisked off to a central Athens hotel for a festive banquet with yet more speeches and exchanging of gifts.
Gillian Whittaker Athens, published: 04 August 2006
Source: www.tradewinds.no


Seven score years lead to NASDAQ
---Hanging on the wall in the offices of Euroseas Ltd, just outside Athens, is an embroidered picture of the sailing barque Chios, which traded around the Mediterranean in the late 1870s. When Fairplay caught up with Euroseas CEO Aris Pittas at a ship finance meeting in New York, and asked him about the picture, he said that his great-grandmother had stitched it for her father, Captain Nikolaos F Pittas, owner of the vessel.
It was not always this way. Euroseas represents 140 years and a fourth generation of the Pittas family in shipping.
His family and business histories have been intertwined since the 1870s (when the largest vessels were typically 1,000dwt) to the present day. In the 1920s, his grandfather (one of five brothers, all captains and engineers in the family business) ran a ship management company out of Romania in conjunction with its Piraeus office.
Like many of its Greek compatriots, the Pittas companies were hit hard during the two world wars, with a handful of ships bombed or torpedoed.
He recounted the story of Artemis Pittas, a 2,300-tonner built 1906 and bought in 1930 by the Piraeus-based company George N Pittas Brothers.
The steam-driven vessel was captured by the Germans in 1943, renamed Adolph Hitler and then sunk by the British near Milos. After the Second World War, the company rebuilt.
Barry Parker
Source: Fairplay International Shipping Weekly, 03 Aug 2006


Martinos takes $5m holding in StealthGas
---Proceeds from share sale will be used to fund acquisition of LPG carriers, writes Nigel Lowry in Athens- Friday August 04 2006
SHIPOWNER Thanassis Martinos, whose activities include serving on the board of Vafias family-led StealthGas, is to buy $5m worth of new stock issued by the Nasdaq-listed owner and operator of liquefied petroleum gas carriers.
The transaction is to be completed through a Martinos controlled company, Nike Investments Corporation, which has agreed to buy 400,000 newly issued shares.
While the shares were priced at $13 at the opening of trading yesterday, the deal was concluded at $12.54 a share, which StealthGas said was the average of the closing prices of the common stock over the five trading days ending August 1.
The company, which at present has a fleet of 28 small and medium sized LPG carriers, has enjoyed positive reviews since its debut as a public company last year but its share price has failed to take off.
Even before joining the board of StealthGas last year Mr Martinos had shown an interest in the LPG sector.
Earlier in the year he acquired a significant shareholding in a Norwegian-managed fleet of four LPG carriers.
Source: www.lloydslist.com


Tsakos Energy Navigation Announces Strategic Alliance With Flopec
Initial stage to involve four vessels
Recently announced cooperation with Neste Oil expands to five vessels
ATHENS, Greece, Aug. 1 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Tsakos Energy Navigation Ltd. ("TEN") (NYSE: TNP) today announced the further strengthening of its strategic relationships with Flota Petrolera Ecuatorian (Flopec), a state-affiliated Ecuadorian tanker company, and Neste Oil, the state oil company of Finland.
TEN's relationship with Flopec has been expanded through Flopec's 49% acquisition in a newly formed joint venture entity that controls TEN's 2003-built panamax tankers, Maya and Inca and the 100% acquisition of TEN's 2003-built product tanker Aztec. Additionally, the current Flopec charters for the Maya and the Inca have been extended for an additional five years upon expiration of their current employment, in August 2007 and May 2008 respectively. Separately, Flopec has also time chartered the 2003-built panamax tanker Andes for five years, commencing at the end of the third quarter of 2006 at terms similar to those for the joint venture vessels Maya and Inca. The rates for the three vessels are market related with a minimum rate above the vessels all-in breakeven expenses.
Assuming only the minimum rate the gross revenues to be generated, for TEN's account, by these three new chartering initiatives should exceed $57 million. In addition, from the establishment of the two-vessel partnership and the sale of the Aztec, TEN expects to realise a capital gain of about $49 million to be booked in the third quarter of 2006.
TEN's relationship with Neste has been further enhanced through the three year employment of the 2005-built MR product tankers Ariadne and Apollon. This complements the three 2006-built LR Aframax product tankers, the Proteas, the Promitheas and the Propontis that Neste took on time-charter as part of its strategic alliance with TEN last month. These new charters, to commence in September and October of this year, call for a minimum rate that is well above the vessels' all-in breakeven rate, with a 50:50 profit split on the upside. TEN calculates that the two new charters, just by earning the minimum rate, will generate gross revenues in excess of $45 million during the corresponding charter period. With these fixtures, TEN has succeeded in securing long-term charters at attractive rates on all vessels acquired from Western Petroleum S.A in March of this year.
"In line with our business strategy, the cornerstone of our operations is to build long lasting relationships with significant international oil companies that allow us to not only further enhance the utilization rate of our fleet, which is one of the highest in the industry, but also to secure rates that will positively impact our bottom line and create new opportunities for the future," stated Mr. Nikolas P. Tsakos, President & Chief Executive Officer of TEN. "We are particularly pleased with these latest strategic initiatives as they greatly enhance our cooperation with two leading, state-affiliated oil concerns, Flopec and Neste Oil, and elevate the charterer-owner relationship to a higher level, where both partners stand to extract mutual benefits. With these strategic alliances under way, we view the future of our Company with even greater confidence and optimism," Mr. Tsakos concluded.
Source: press release