Greek Shipping News Cuts
Week 12 - 2009


Greek fleet still the world's largest, but make-up changes

As Greeks continue to sell or scrap smaller older ships, the Greek-controlled merchant fleet has declined for the first time since 2005, though in deadweight terms the fleet is now larger than ever. The fleet also remains the world's largest but once again the share of the world fleet is slightly reduced.
New figures prepared by Lloyd's Register/Fairplay for the London-based Greek Shipping Cooperation Committee (GSCC) show that at the end of February, Greek owners controlled 4,162 vessels of 263.6m dwt, including 1,072 newbuildings, compared with 4,173 vessels of 260.9m dwt, including 1,054 newbuildings, at the same time 2008.
Vessels registered under the Greek flag account for 26% of the total as the Greek-flag fleet of ships over 1,000gt shrunk by 76 units to 1,121 ships compared to 1,197 last year and although the average age of the Greek-flagged ships was "impressively young in comparison with the world fleet", it has increased to 9.5 years from nine years in February 2008.
Overall, the stream of newly built ships into Greek hands in the past few years has pushed the average age of the Greek-controlled fleet down and it now stands at a year below the average age of the world fleet at 11.9 years. Last year the average age of the Greek-controlled fleet was 12.5 years and in 2000 it was 20.3 years.
Of the major registries favoured by Greek owners, the home flag was the only one to slip. Other registers favoured by Greek owners include Liberia which upped its total by 102 ships to 574 of 37.3m dwt, Panama increased by 36 ships to 611 vessels of 32.6m dwt and the Marshall Islands pulled in 58 more vessels to total 446 ships of 27.6m dwt.
The European Union flags Cyprus and Malta, like the Greek flag also saw their Greek support decline, Cyprus was down 44 ships of 2,424m dwt and Malta was down 15 units to 2.2m dwt, again perhaps reflecting the s&p and demolition activity.
In terms of the world fleet, Greeks now control 8.2% of the world total compared with 8.7% last year and deadweight tonnage was 15.2% of the world total this February as against 16.4% last year.
When it comes to ship types, Greeks now control 22.3% of the world's oil tanker fleet, down from 22.9% a year ago. In the liquified gas carrier sector, the figure is just under 10%, up 1% on a year ago, while the produc/chem tanker fleet accounts for 9.4% of the total, down from 9.4%, a year ago. The Greek bulk carrier fleet accounts for 18.1% of the world total and just over 19% of the capacity, down from 19.8% and 21.9% respectively on end February, 2008.
Six major IACS classification societies share the bulk of the Greek-controlled fleet: Lloyd's Register with 914 ships (878 ships in 2008), ABS with 787 ships (766 in 2008), DNV with 592 ships (598 in 2008), BV with 541 ships (462 in 2008) NKClass with 470 ships (492 in 2008) and GL with 229 ships (216 in 2008).
-- Filed: 2009-03-16

Mangouras trial to go ahead
---Saturday, 21 March 2009. A SPANISH judge has ruled that three Greek of officers charged following the 2002 Prestige sinking and oil spill should face trial. But charges against the director general at the time of Spain's merchant marine service, Jose Luis Lopez Sors, have been dropped.
The judge in Galicia, the region most affected by the spill, reached the decision after concluding her investigation into the disaster.
Prosecutors claim the master Apostolos Mangouras, chief engineer Nikolaos Argyropoulos and its chief mate Irineo Maloto, all obstructed attempts to tow the vessel away from the coast, on the instructions of the ship's manager.
Capt Mangouras spent 83 days in jail until the P&I club paid euros3m (US$4.1m) bail to secure his release. The case has been highly controversial with much of the shipping industry blaming the Spanish government for the environmental disater because it refused the ship entry to a port of refuge. However the European Court of Justice recently supported the jailing of the master agreed that the amount of bail set by the court was reasonable.

Greek shipping support for MIG
---Mar 19, 2009?. Marfin Investment Group (MIG), Greece's largest business group, belongs mainly to the Greek shipping community and would have never reached its current position without the active support of the shipping industry, MIG vice-chairman Andreas Vgenopoulos said on Thursday.
Addressing a reception at the Piraeus Shipping Club, Vgenopoulos said MIG was the main investment arm of worldwide Greek shipping, investing in the east Mediterranean country and in more than 40 countries.
He stressed that business leaders have a duty to take actions and initiatives supporting the economy and the society in times of an international economic crisis and noted that representatives of the Greek shipping industry were doing their duty by preserving job positions amid adverse economic conditions, maintaining high wage levels and continuing investments, many of them through MIG.
The high-profile MIG executive said a global economic crisis looks like a partly destroyed train running at low speed, risking passengers' lives, moving towards the exit of a tunnel.
Commenting on the Greek economy, Vgenopoulos emphasised on a lack of competitiveness and its high public debt. The situation was getting worse from a lack of liquidity in the market, he said, adding that the domestic banking sector's significant presence in southeastern Europe was worsening conditions.
Vgenopoulos said lower profits by domestic banks would hit public revenues as well, while commenting on an agreement reached with the Greek state to buy national carrier Olympic Airways and its ground service, he said it the result of collective efforts reached after negotiations with several members of the shipping community.

3000 and counting
Chris Hewer writes:- THE Liberian Registry has passed a major milestone in its history by registering its 3,000th vessel, the 105,400 dwt aframax tanker Ise Princess, built this year for Fairsea Enterprises SA and managed and operated by Tsakos Shipping & Trading SA of Greece.
Source: The Maritime Advocate online--Issue 386

Greeks fret over shipyard clashes
---While some shipbuilders are struggling, others are playing hardball with Greek owners over contract renegotiations.
Greek shipowners who have booked vessels at some Chinese and South Korean shipyards are feeling like the chips are stacked against them as they try to exercise damage control.
Latest figures show that Greek owners had more than 1,000 ships on order at the end of February, and many companies are trying to either negotiate delivery delays, a reduction in orders or outright cancellations.
Piraeus-based lawyer Vangelis Bairactaris - who has represented numerous clients in newbuilding contracts and is currently involved in more than 30 restructurings or renegotiations with South Korean and Chinese builders - believes that yards have been so concentrated on marketing that they do not have the personnel to deal with the current extraordinary circumstances.
Bairactaris points out that there is a steady flow of news stories about non-performance of agreed terms, whether by owners as buyers of newbuildings or secondhand vessels, charterers, owners in their capacity as borrowers from banks or banks as lenders to owners.
"All the agreements now are simply pieces of paper in lawyers' or owners' offices," he said.
Bairactaris's clients are reluctant to reveal their names but the lawyer says that in some cases there is serious concern. Among the unidentified clients are buyers of a number of 32,000-dwt bulker-resale contracts at Jinse Shipyard from Norway's Arne Blystad.
Bairactaris says buyers are worried about the yard's situation and it is believed that work on the ships is at a standstill.
Bairactaris adds that STX Shipbuilding is believed to have stopped supplying the yard with engines, Sigma has stopped delivering paint and the yard is said to owe a lot of money to suppliers.
"At best, with the current status, Jinse may be capable now under normal conditions to build about four vessels a year," Bairactaris estimated.
It is not only the smaller yards that have disappointed Greek buyers, Bairactaris adds.
Sungdong Heavy Industries is another builder that Bairactaris points a finger at as not co-operating with owners, while he claims that STX is "quoting totally unreasonable prices for the conversion of contracts" and will not consider reducing the number of ships ordered by certain groups.
Alba Maritime, believed to be on Bairactaris's client list, was at one point said to have racked up an orderbook of some 24 capesize bulkers split between STX and Sungdong.
By Gillian Whittaker Athens, Published: 00:00 GMT, 20 Mar 2009 | last updated: 12:45 GMT, 20 Mar 2009

Aegean expands in Greece
---16th March 2009 15:11 GMT. New York-listed global marine fuel supplier Aegean Marine Petroleum Network Inc. has announced a further expansion.
Patras is on the western coast of Greece and ranks as the country's second port in terms of size.
Aegean has been serving the Patras market on a limited basis since the second quarter of 2008 from its base in Piraeus.
The company on Monday said it planned to assign four of its Piraeus' stationed double-hull bunker tankers to the Patras market.
Aegean said early this month that it expected to continue to grow in 2009, even if the global bunker markets were to shrink.
Tavlarios, speaking to Bunkerworld, said the company had expanded "terrifically fast in the past two years" and remained open to further expansion.
Its quarterly result for the three months that ended December 31 showed a 52.8% increase in marine fuel sales volumes to 1,568,770 metric tonnes (mt) compared to the same period a year earlier.
Aegean is an international marine fuel logistics company that markets and physically supplies bunker product.
Nick Jameson, 16th March 2009 15:11 GMT

Hellenic Carriers wins loan waivers
---By Nigel Lowry in Athens - Monday 16 March 2009
Unveiling positive results for its first full year of operation as a listed company, Hellenic reported it had done deals extending to 2010 with the National Bank of Greece and Piraeus Bank to preserve liquidity.
The Fotini Karamanlis-led company lifted net income by 61% for 2008, in spite of taking a hit on interest rate swaps and a $10.6m impairment loss on the value of two of its vessels.
However, average daily time charter equivalent earnings for its vessels also rose sharply for 2008 to $41,352, in comparison with the daily vessel average of $27,311 the previous year.
Ms Karamanlis said the company had already taken a number of proactive initiatives aimed at steering through the current industry turmoil.
Hellenic also declared a reduced final dividend of 2.30 pence per share, following an interim dividend of 9.60 pence per share paid last October.

Danaos seeks to delay deliveries
---DANAOS Corporation, the Athens- based container ship tonnage provider that is listed in the US, is seeking to delay deliveries of newbuildings and admits the recent sharp fall in second-hand ship values has led it to breach certain loan covenants. However, Danaos is probably better positioned to ride out the storm than many other companies thanks to its strong timecharter portfolio.
The company has an orderbook of 30 vessels and expects to take delivery of seven vessels this year, nine in 2010 and 14 in 2011, with aggregate remaining payments of $549M, $823M and $807M, respectively. On the other hand, in mid-November it said it had $7.3Bn in contracted revenue, with 75% of capacity covered up to 2017.
However, sharp falls in the value of second-hand vessels in the final quarter of 2008 affected Danaos too and the company is now in talks with its lenders to waive certain covenants. The main reason for breach of covenants is the interest rate swaps that the company uses to eliminate volatility of its debt.
A sharp decline in interest rates led to a big negative effect on its accounts, Costas explained.
Danaos is in discussions to arrange financing for the unfunded part of its newbuilding fleet, which it expects to obtain since all those vessels are already chartered for long-term periods. In addition, the Danaos board has decided to suspend dividend payments, saving more than $100M per year.
Source: Fairplay International Shipping Weekly - Newswatch 19 Mar 2009

Excel Maritime (EXM) - Delays Earnings As Negotiations On Loan Waivers Carry On; Sell
>We believe its counterparty defaults are exposing Excel to other covenant violations. These include its interest coverage ratio, which requires EBITDA of at least 3x interest expense and net debt-to-EBITDA, which cannot be greater than 6x. Based on our model, Excel is at 3x interest cover currently and could be around 2.5x after 3Q09. Its net debt-to-EBITDA stands at 4x currently but that is projected at 6.5x after 3Q09.
>Excel appears to be in violation or close to violating a total of five covenants. These include its leverage covenant, fair market value of assets covenant, minimum net worth covenant, interest coverage covenant and net debt-to-EBITDA covenant. We are surprised that it has not come to market to issue equity as several of its peers have done, which could have provided it with a loan buffer. We do not expect its lenders to force the company into liquidation as Excel had $225 million in cash balances for debt repayment as of 3Q08; however we expect that the banks will take a more active role in Excel which should limit the value available to equity holders. We therefore move Excel from Hold to Sell.
Source: Dahlman Rose & Company LLC <>

TEN posts highest ever annual income
---(Mar 20 2009). Tsakos Energy Navigation (TEN) reported a 25% increase in voyage revenues last year and an 11% increase in net income.
The average TCE rate per vessel per day increased to $34,600 from $29,421 in 2007, while the sale of one vessel netted $34.6 mill, compared with a sales gain of $68.9 mill in 2007.
During the fourth quarter of last year, voyage revenues were $156 mill versus $131 mill in 4Q07, a 19% increase.
Net income for the quarter was $27.6 mill (no capital gains) versus $52.2 mill in 4Q07 (including $30.8 million of capital gains).
Average TCE rate per vessel per day increased to $33,768 from $29,935 during the period.
For the full year, revenues from voyages were 25% higher compared with 2007, while the average number of vessels increased from 41.7 in 2007 to 44.1 in 2008.
In 2008, 83% of total operating days were under timecharter with either a fixed rate or profit sharing, compared to 76% in 2007. The number of days employed on timecharter with profit sharing increased by nearly 18% in 2008 from 2007. Utilisation of the fleet was 97.3% in 2008 compared with 96.6% in the previous year, due to slightly lower drydocking activity.
However, operating expenses per vessel per day increased to $9,450 from $7,669 in 2007. This increase was primarily due higher crew wages and the decline of the US dollar against the Euro as compared to 2007. In addition, the cost of insurance and repairs increased.
Overhead expenses decreased to $1,514 per vessel per day in 2008 from $1,565 in 2007. Interest and finance costs increased to $82.9 mill in 2008 from $77.4 mill in 2007, due mainly to negative fluctuations in the value of interest rate swaps.
In the fourth quarter, operating expenses per vessel per day increased to $9,662 from $8,542 seen in 4Q07. This was mainly due to increased insurance expenses and repair costs incurred during the drydocking of vessels.
The dollar began to strengthen in the latter part of 2008, therefore there was no significant change in crew costs in 4Q08.