Greek Shipping News Cuts
Week 29 - 2008
---Friday, 18 July 2008
A GREEK court has shocked the global shipping industry with a guilty verdict and a 14-year jail sentence on the master of the Coral Sea, Kristo Laptalo.
Capt Laptalo, a Croatian national, was arrested a year ago after the Greek coast guard found 51 kilograms of cocaine in boxes of bananas being discharged. He was also sentenced to 14 years in prison and fined euros200,000.
Capt Laptalo has already spent over a year in detention and the trial has been postponed twice.
Stricken bulker assessed for pollution potential
---Rob McKay - Friday 18 July 2008
Stranded: the bulker lost engine power after hitting an object on Tuesday morning about six nautical miles offshore.
THE stricken bulker Atlantic Eagle has been towed closer to the coast of Western Australia, the Australian Maritime Safety Authority and state Department for Planning and Infrastructure reported today.
The Svitzer Salvage tug Wambiri arrived at 1800 hrs local time and towed the 2000-built, 74,085 dwt, Greek-flagged bulker out of King George Sound off Albany and to a protected anchorage two nautical miles north of Breaksea Island just after midnight.
Co-ordination of the incident response had been handed to WA authorities as the ship is now in state waters.
According to local reports, the ship had been bound for Kwinana to top up after loading canola at Albany destined for Jakarta, when the incident occurred.
Ferries in fight for survival
---Subsidies for unprofitable routes overtaken by the cost of fuel
Most of the small ferry companies operating in the unprofitableroutes claim to be facing serious viability problems, as the state subsidy has now become too low in relation to the cost of fuel. Company officials point out that the contracts they signed with the Merchant Marine Ministry were based on the assumption of a price of oil of $80 per barrel, but it has now exceeded $140.
To be sure, the Greek coastal shipping industry presents important peculiarities in comparison to other peer markets, as the subsidized routes coexist in parallel with the deregulated ones. Out of a total of 356 routes, 242 are deregulated, 84 are subsidized and 30 are just strait crossings.
According to data cited in the annual report on coastal shipping by XRTC company, which advises French bank Natixis on maritime issues, government subsidies for the 84 unprofitable routes will total 35 million euros. However, the actual total is seen considerably overshooting that amount, as last year, when disbursed subsidies reached 50 million euros.
In fact, following strong pressure by operators affected, the Ministry has already agreed this year to grant an additional 14 million euros. Operators in unprofitable routes number about 40, the most active being Saos Ferries, NEL Lines, Blue Star Ferries and GA Ferries.
According to banking and shipping circles cited in the report, the coastal shipping market today has potential and opportunities, but also faces significant weaknesses and threats. On the one hand, companies are managed competently and have made considerable investment in renewing fleets, they maintain good relations with banks, have rationalized operations and improved profitability.
Also, there is room for further mergers and partnerships, an outward-looking attitude for the creation of new lines, scope for new investment in new forms of sea transport and more subsidy packages from the European Union and the government.
Ferry operators face threat of fines
The EU's Directorate-General for Competition has recommended to Greece's competition watchdog the imposition of fines on 14 ferry companies for alleged price-fixing practices.
According to a statement issued by the Competition Commission yesterday, it has received a report calling for the imposition of fines on the Union of Coastal Shipowners (EEA) and the ferry operators.
The companies are alleged to have worked together, in collusion with EEA, to determine their pricing policies and limit the supply of tickets and ferry routes made available on the market, the Competition Commission said.
Greece's passenger ferry sector is fairly concentrated, with just a handful of companies accounting for the majority share of the market.
The Directorate-General's recommendation is not binding on the Commission, which will decide by October 9 whether to impose fines and the size of the penalties.
Some 52 different branches of economic activity are currently being investigated by the competition watchdog, including supermarket goods and financial services, in an attempt to ascertain whether unlawful actions have harmed competition in key sectors of the economy.
EEA responded to yesterday's report by saying it will answer all the issues raised by the Directorate-General.
A recent decision by Blue Star Ferries, one of the country's largest ferry operators, to freeze the cost of ticket prices for the summer caused a series of aftershocks, with smaller operators saying the move is designed to squeeze them out of the market.
Blue Star ferries CEO Michalis Sakellis said yesterday he was confident that the Commission will find there was no form of price collusion.
ANEK representative Manolis Galanakis declined to comment on the report, saying he was examining the recommendation.
Interview with Chairman and CEO Michael Bodouroglou, Bloomberg TV, June 26, 2008
---The Bloomberg TV interview with Michael Bodouroglou Chairman and CEO, Paragon Shipping Inc. is available at: http://www.paragonship.com/Index.cfm?page=irinterviews&ItemID=65
Restis increases interest in blank cheque company Seanergy
---Restis interests has increased their stake in US-listed blank cheque company Seanergy Maritime Corp. In an announcement Seanergy says affiliates of the Restis family picked up 2.90m shares from three separate investors in recent days and now hold a 21.9% of the dry-cargo player.
Seanergy, which raised $220m from its September 2007 IPO, welcomes Restis' increased involvement. Dale Ploughman, ceo of Seanergy, said: "We are very pleased with the increased support from the affiliates of the Restis family. This demonstrates tangibly our positive outlook on the fundamentals of the dry bulk sector and on Seanergy's prospects once it becomes an operating company following shareholder approval and completion of the proposed transaction."
It is not clear how much Restis paid for the shares and the stock price remains pretty much unchanged at $11.24 each.
As reported in May, Athens-based Seanergy has agreed to acquire six dry bulkers from affiliates of the Restis family, including a newly built ship and one under construction. Seanergy is paying at least $395m for the fleet of two handysizes, two panamaxes and two supramax newbuildings.
-- Filed: 2008-07-17
DryShips Inc. Completes Acquisition of Ocean Rig ASA
---July 14, 2008, ATHENS, GREECE - DryShips Inc. (NASDAQ: DRYS) today announced that Primelead Limited, a wholly owned subsidiary of DryShips Inc., has effected a compulsory transfer of all remaining shares in Ocean Rig ASA and as a consequence of the compulsory transfer and cancellation of the treasury shares held by Ocean Rig ASA, Primelead Limited is owner of 100% of the shares in Ocean Rig ASA.
As of July 10th, 2008 Primelead Limited controls 163,611,380 shares, equivalent to 100% of the shares and votes in Ocean Rig ASA, calculated based on an issued share capital of 170,374,980 shares less 6,763,600 treasury shares, which have been cancelled and will be deleted on or about the third quarter of 2008.
---18 Jul 2008
Avin International S.A. intends to enter the Sri Lankan market to provide cost effective transportation and supply of oil and petroleum products to the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation.
Recently the company submitted an extremely competitive offer to the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation in response to the tender for the afreightment of crude oil for a period of one year.
The tender was submitted directly to the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation by their brokers Albatross Maritime S.A. in Greece.
Avin International is the parent company of the Vardinoyiannis family network which in addition to shipping is also engaged in the business of owning and operating petroleum refineries in Greece and manufacturing and distribution of sports goods.
Avin International S.A. was founded and established in Greece in 1977. It has since constantly expanded, carrying the Greek flag across the globe.
The company is a major tanker operator, active in the shipment of crude oil and petroleum products.
The company has also been very active in undertaking various shipbuilding programs, in Split, Japan, Ukraine - and currently in Korea.
The company has a long tradition in quality of service, safety of operation and environmental protection in the marine shipping industry.
A team of highly effective, professional and focused shore and shipboard staff demonstrates their commitment and responsibility towards their customers, shareholders, employees, and society in general.
Avin International S.A. is represented locally by their agents Ceyline Shipping Ltd which is a premier marine services provider in Sri Lanka.
BG said to have fixed GasLog duo
---A Greek player may have lined up work for its LNG resale purchases.
Two LNG-carrier-newbuilding resales bought by Ceres family-backed GasLog Group are rumoured to have been fixed to BG Group.
Informed sources say the 154,800-cbm ships, which were originally contracted by energy major Chevron at Samsung Heavy Industries in South Korea, are said to have been committed for periods of two to three years.
Both vessels are set for delivery in 2010. The charter deal, if confirmed, would see them free for business again in 2012/2013, giving GasLog a breathing space to take stock of how it wants to operate the units and allowing time for the current oversupplied vessel market to become more balanced.
Neither GasLog or BG would comment on the talk.
Chevron ordered the diesel-electric newbuildings, which can burn three types of fuel diesel, gas and heavy fuel oil in 2005 for $192.1m each. No clear details of the resale price have emerged. However, speculation appears to centre on a level of between $220m and $230m.
GasLog surprised the market in March when talk first emerged that it was in the process of wrapping up a deal for the pair.
The company has a long relationship with BG, having worked with the company on LNG for a number of years. GasLog subsidiary Ceres LNG Services currently manages BG's owned LNG tonnage.
When news of the resales broke, industry punters immediately speculated that the ships would go on BG's charter books because of this long-standing connection. But other possible chartering names have been thrown in the mix since then.
The former Chevron duo are the first fully owned ships for GasLog, which also controls a 25% stake in the 145,000-cbm Methane Nile Eagle (built 2007) originally contracted by BG to lift product from its Egypt LNG scheme.
GasLog chief executive Jeppe Jensen said earlier this year the company was pursuing a growth strategy and was keen to get the two ships in to kick off its fleet and show the market that it means business. He has also said the company plans to grow its fleet further in the next two years either by further acquisitions or organic growth, while yards have spoken of an open tender by GasLog for LNG newbuildings for 2011 delivery.
By Lucy Hine, London, published: 18 July 2008
---Delays and hurry to blame for latest fiasco
July 16, 2008
After sitting in a tanker off the coast of Limassol for two weeks, the 35,000 tonnes of water cargo that was supposed to be pumped to the national grid Tuesday has been found to be unsuitable for drinking and will be taken to Yermasoyia dam instead.
According to the results, the water was not found to be altered and seemed to satisfy all EU requirements, but the decision to pump the water to the dam was based purely as a precaution.
The contract is for the supply of 8 mln tonnes over 160 days until mid November.
The next Ocean Tankers ship is now expected to load another cargo of 57,000 tonnes of water and embark from Greece.
In all, six tankers will be used for the transport of the water to Cyprus from the Greek port of Elevsina, all of which are either leased by Ocean Tankers or the company has an option to buy. The only limitation is the maximum draught of 10 metres to allow ships to pass through the Salamina straights.
The government of Cyprus is footing the bill of EUR 40 mln, of which EUR 5 mln is paid to Greece for the water supply and EUR 35 mln to the tanker company.
Reservoirs were 7.5% full at the end of June, while new water wells have also been tapped. In some areas, such as five villages near Limassol, are being supplied with bottled water after it was discovered that their water supply had become contaminated.
Tanker manager casts doubt on lab results
By Jacqueline Theodoulou
THE EXECUTIVE Manager of Ocean Tankers, the company in charge of transporting water from Greece, yesterday publicly cast doubt on State Laboratory analysis of the water.
The lab results showed that the first shipment of water from Greece, which was sat in a tanker off the coast of Limassol for over two weeks, was not suitable for consumption due to increased chlorination levels. Initial reports said the water would be used to regenerate groundwater supplies, but yesterday it emerged it would be earmarked for agricultural purposes.
He added that a second tanker was on its way from Piraeus and should be here by tonight, while the next one would follow on Sunday.
Questioned over the issue yesterday, Health Minister Christos Patsalides said the State Lab, for clearly precautionary reasons, had recommended the water be sent to Yermasoyia, as due to the chlorination, the water had presented a bad odour.
Polynikis said there were certain people who were trying to undermine the efforts to bring water from Greece.
The minister said the water was not unsuitable and assured Cypriot consumers that the water that would reach their homes would be of excellent quality.
Kyriacos Kyrou, senior officer of the Water Development Department, explained that the water would be used for watering the eastern parts of the Limassol district.