Greek Shipping News Cuts
Week 16 - 2009
---Seemingly recovered from his scrape with pharmaceutical poisoning, Gerassimos Agoudimos is again slugging it out with the government, and in particular the Marine, Aegean and Island Policy ministry. In a statement, Agoudimos' company GA Ferries charges there is "an organised attempt" to finish the GA Ferries group "after 30 years of service to the country".
April 11, GA Ferries accused representatives of the ministry "of mistakenly announcing subsidies had been paid to the group" and had "twisted the reality regarding the delays in paying the subsidies". The group said it received no subsidy payments during the winter months although it continued paying wages, and for fuel, bunkers and insurance.
It also said that within days "we expect a positive response to a request for a bank loan which will enable us to pay all our obligations and commence trading again". GA Ferrries said it has been "illegally excluded" from the bidding for the country's unprofitable lines. Without mentioning where and to whom, the company said it has filed an "official objection" regarding its treatment.
The statement came shortly after the colourful shipowner was released from hospital after apparently suffering "pharmaceutical poisoning". The incident occurred after Agoudimos, 70, had visited the Marine ministry to discuss monies he claims is owed to GA Ferries for operating public service ferry routes. Agoudimos maintains failure to pay the agreed subsidies has led to unpaid crew striking on the company's ships and forcing it to stop trading, placing the jobs of some 600 employees on the line.
It has also emerged French bank Natixis has arrested the 1995-built ferry Jet Ferry 1, part of the eight-vessel GA Ferries fleet, with the owner said to be in arrears on some $1.5m in repayments. Jet Ferry 1 was half of a two-vessel funding package of Euro 16m arranged with the French lender in 2007. The other vessel in the package is the 1979-built ro-pax Anthi Marina, the former Spirit of Free Enterprise.
Marine minister Anastasis Papaligouras said paying the subsidies has been delayed because all the necessary documentation had not been submitted. However, saying it "has been insulted many times" by what has been said GA Ferries gave its breakdown of the subsidies situation.
It said it is owed a total of Euro 7,152,594.82. April 7, Euro 199.375.10 was paid and April 8 two payments of Euro 314,135.55 and Euro 457,300.45 were made, leaving Euro 6,181,783.72 outstanding. The full documentation for Euro 5,033,969.92 has been submitted and submissions for the remaining Euro 1,147,813.80 will "be made within the next few days" said GA Ferries.
April 3, GA Ferries announced that because of a lack of funds the group was unable to continue to operate. The day Agoudimos was hospitalised, the company claims "political bodies" had promised to pay Euro 2m but it was not paid and instead the Marine ministry announced a Piraeus prosecutor was to open an investigation into the non payment of seafarers working for the group.
-- Filed: 2009-04-13
Somali pirates release Greek ship and 24-man crew
---Somali pirates released a Greek cargo ship with a 24-man crew in the Gulf of Aden, the Greek merchant marine ministry confirmed. The vessel was actually seized on March 18 and released yesterday, Tuesday, but sailed free during the night. "The ship has been released and the crew are in good health," a ministry spokesperson told AFP. The St. Vincent-flagged MV TITAN had a cargo of iron and was sailing from the Black Sea to Busan in South Korea, when it was seized with 3 Greek, 1 Ukrainian, 3 Romanian and 17 Filipino crew, who were freed unharmed after not even a month. Albamar Shipping, the firm based in the Greek port of Piraeus, which owner-manages the vessel, is said to have paid a ransom.
---The preliminary judicial investigation into former Aegean Minister Aristotelis Pavlidis moved a step closer to completion yesterday with the testimony of his daughter, as the government braces for a crucial post-Easter period.
With the Siemens cash-for-contracts scandal beginning to rear its head again, New Democracy is expecting a rough ride after the holidays.
The conclusion of the investigation into whether Pavlidis accepted bribes from the owner of the SAOS ferry company, Fotis Manousis, to award him contracts for state-subsidized routes to remote islands is likely to coincide with Parliament having to vote on whether to delve deeper into the Siemens affair.
Although a probe into whether the Greek branch of the German electronics and engineering giant paid bribes to politicians to secure state contracts is likely to embarrass PASOK as well as New Democracy, the incumbent conservatives stand to lose more from any damaging findings.
For now, the Pavlidis investigation is grabbing more attention, especially after the testimony of his daughter Angeliki yesterday. She was obliged to answer questions about the purchase of an apartment in the northern Athens suburb of Neo Psychico in July 2005. The property has become an issue of some importance in the investigation, as it has been alleged that Pavlidis used some of the bribe money that Manousis claims to have paid to buy the apartment.
According to sources, Angeliki Pavlidi told MPs on the investigative committee that her uncle in South Africa gave her the money to buy the property. However, this appears to contradict evidence that suggests the instructions to transfer the money were faxed from Kos.
Pavlidi's uncle, Anastassios, who is the ex-minister's brother, is due to face the panel of MPs today.
Other witnesses who testified yesterday included the president of the Coastal Shipowners' Union (EEA), Apostolos Ventouris, who told deputies that he has never been asked to pay a bribe in return for being awarded a contract for state-subsidized routes.
---With the testimony of former minister of Aegean, Pavlidis' case first phase was completed today. Mr. Pavlidis admitted that the apartment he bought for his daughter in Palaio Psychico did not cost 156.000 as he had stated initially as this was the rateable value of the estate, but 235.000 euros What he stressed is that he had no intention to mislead anyone and has no objection prosecutor to order the opening of his as well as his daughter's bank account.
He added that the sum of money for the buying of the apartment was provided by himself (80.000 euros) and his brother who gave his daughter an additional 20.000 for modernizing it. On reference to his close associate Mr. Panayiotis Zachariou, Mr. Pavlidis stated that he did not accept his resignation despite the fact that he wanted to because that would seem as if he admits the charges pressed by Mr. Manousis. As per Mr. Manousis, Mr. Pavlidis branded him unreliable.
The members of the examining committee will continue hearings next Wednesday in order to reach their mutual final conclusion that will be submitted to Parliament Plenum along with the probative material in April 27.
E. Antonaros. Governmental spokesman Mr. Ev. Antonaros stated that a serious parliamentary procedure is in progress and that the government wishes the case to be deeply and fully investigated
G. Papakostantinou. PASOK representative Giorgos Papakostantinou stressed that PASOK PMs will participate to the procedure of the investigation conducted by the preliminary examining committee with a sense of responsibility.
Prestige legal backlash simmers
---RENEWED controversy surrounding the judicial enquiry into the 2002 Prestige sinking has surfaced following disclosure of the level of payment made to a naval architect for his findings of what went wrong.
In addition, critics complain that Criado, as a naval architect, had the credentials to examine the structure of the tanker but was not equipped to evaluate key decisions over whether the Prestige should have been sent out to sea or towed to a place of refuge.
The College of Naval Architecture in Ferrol, Galicia, which put forward Criado to carry out the study, declined to comment to Fairplay.
Source: Fairplay International Shipping Weekly - Newswatch 16 Apr 2009. http://www.fairplay.co.uk
5 Greek tanker companies on Tanker Operator's Top 30 List
The list of Top 30 Tanker Companies include 5 Greek tanker owners and operators. The list presented in the TANKEROperator Annual Review, March 2009 "has been compiled in terms of deadweight tonnage and includes companies owning or operating mainstream large crude carriers, chemical and products tankers of over 10,000 dwt. Not included are FPSOs or gas ships. The information has been taken from company websites, Equasis database and other sources, also from the companies themselves where they have submitted fleet details."
The Greek companies are:
Nr. 12 Kristen Navigation (Angelicoussis Group) (6 mill dwt, plus 3 mill dwt newbuildings)
Part of the Angelicoussis group, Kristen Navigation has 26 VLCCs, five Suezmaxes and six Aframaxes in service with a further two VLCCs, seven Suezmaxes and two Aframax newbuildings to come.
One newbuilding, the 320,000 dwt Astro Chloe, entered service at the beginning of January this year.
Another subsidiary, Maran Gas, looks after a fleet of LNGCs and LPG carriers.
Nr. 16 Tsakos Energy Navigation (TEN) (4.7 mill dwt, plus 525,000 dwt newbuildings)
TEN is the Tsakos Group publicly quoted tanker company, which as three VLCCs, 10 Suezmaxes, seven Aframaxes, three LR2s, seven Panamaxes, 14 MRs, plus an LNGC on its books.
In addition, there are five Aframaxes on order.
Nr. 17 Dynacom Tankers Management (4.58 mill dwt, plus 3 mill dwt newbuildings)
Dynacom has seven VLCCs on its books, having sold a couple of single hull tankers for conversion to FPSOs. The company also manages seven Suezmaxes, several of which are ice class and one Aframax.
Also in the fleet are 11 Panamaxes, some of which are also ice class.
There will probably be more sales sooner rather than later, as some of the
older fleet is of single hull construction. These will be replaced by a programme of newbuilding VLCCs and Suezmaxes.
Nr. 25 Thenamaris (3.69 mill dwt, plus 540,000 dwt newbuildings)
Thenamaris manages two VLCCs, eight Suezmaxes, 14 Aframaxes/LR2s, plus eight MRs.
In addition, the company has two Suezmaxes and two Aframaxes on order.
Nr. 29 Minerva Marine (3.1 mill dwt)
Last year the company took delivery of its first VLCC Andromeda.
In addition, Minerva manages three Suezmaxes, 17 Aframaxes and 10 MRs.
The complete list of Top 30 Tanker Companies is available at http://www.tankeroperator.com/pastissues/to09review.pdf
Diana Shipping Inc. announces agreement to acquire owner of a capesize newbuilding vessel
The closing of these transactions is subject to the completion of certain transactions by and among the parties to the shipbuilding contracts and necessary financing arrangements. Diana expects the closing to take place in May 2009.
The President of Diana Shipping Inc., Anastassis Margaronis, commented:
Hellespont seeks partners to join new tanker pool
---Exclusive by Christopher Mayer, Hamburg - Wednesday 15 April 2009
Christian von Oldershausen: Interest has been strong
The Hamburg-headquartered group, which has deferred delivery of two newbuildings, the 17,000 dwt chemical carriers Hellespont Commander and Hellespont Crusader, in response to the market downturn, is aiming at a fleet of between 25 and 30 vessels built from 2000 onwards and ranging in size from 10,000 dwt to 20,000 dwt, according to Christian von Oldershausen, chief executive of Hellespont AG in Hamburg, whose team is behind the venture.
Hellespont currently operates 19 vessels ranging from the 105,535 dwt aframax Hellespont Tatina to platform supply vessels.
Two of these, the Hellespont Daring and Hellespont Dawn have been delivered recently. The group has 12 vessels on order including the Hellespont Commander and Hellespont Crusader, the last in the series, which were to have been delivered in October and December 2009 but which will now join the fleet late in 2010. Delivery has been deferred and renegotiated due to current market conditions.
With tonnage oversupply in all trading regions and the number of fixing days forward at an all-time low, charter rates were below historical averages and spot charter rates were reportedly below $0.70 per dwt per day, said Mr von Oldershausen.
'Red letter day'
Jonathan Boonzaier analyses shipowner Victor Restis's deal to ship cargo for the Iraqi government.
Jonathan Boonzaier analyses shipowner Victor Restis's deal to ship cargo for the Iraqi government.
Last Friday was a red letter day for Greek shipowner Victor Restis when his company, Restis Group, announced that it had lined up a new joint-venture agreement with the government of Iraq that involves the transport of the nation's dry seaborne trade.
The Iraqis claim that this currently stands at 20 million tonnes per year and is set to increase further. Therefore it sounds like quite a coup for Restis.
But the jury is still out on just how much of this volume will end up in the hulls of the Restis fleet. Not many concrete details have emerged so far. All that was officially revealed was a rather ambiguous statement that Restis Group will cover the nation's total dry-cargo transport needs for seaborne imports and exports.
But does this mean the company gets to grab every dry-bulk cargo coming into Iraq or just those brought in by Iraqi government entities? Therefore, a key query, one that was not answered at the announcement ceremony, is what percentage of cargo flowing into or out of Iraq is on the government's account? The Iraqis also did not provide a detailed breakdown on what is imported into the country and in what volumes. Dry-bulk sources speaking to TradeWinds are under the impression that the majority of Iraq's dry-bulk imports are grain cargoes that in recent years have averaged the five-million-tonne mark, according to statistics bandied about by sources. Most of this is shipped on vessels of up to panamax size through the Iraqi port of Umm Qasr.
The other dry-bulk cargoes mentioned are fertilisers and building materials such as aggregates but these are quite small in volume compared to grain imports. After all, Iraq does not have any major manufacturing industry so there is hardly a need for vast imports of coal and iron ore.
It is likely that the Restis venture will get the lion's share of grain imports purchased by the state-controlled Iraqi Grain Board, so a substantial amount of cargo will come its way but nothing close to the 20 million tonnes mentioned during the announcement. The volumes, however, are expected to increase this year as Iraq's domestic grain production has been decimated by a severe drought.
Grain-industry observers point out that a large percentage of the annual Iraqi grain imports are purchased via ad hoc tenders that are frequently done on a free-on-board (FOB) basis, leaving the shipping requirements to the commodity traders from whom Iraq buys whatever grains it needs.
Reforms to the Iraqi economy are also expected to put a lot of the country's grain in the hands of private importers as the government tries to boost the private sector. These importers would probably be free to arrange their own transport requirements.
As for Iraqi exports, with 84% of its export volume taking the form of oil, this is likely to mean that most bulkers discharging their cargoes in Iraqi ports will be sailing out in ballast.
Victor Restis has clearly landed himself a plum deal with the government of Iraq but only time will tell just how juicy the fruit will really be.
Published: 23:00 GMT, 16 Apr 2009 | last updated: 11:26 GMT, 17 Apr 2009
Piraeus Port to freeze tariffs in h2 of 2009
Piraeus Port, Greece's largest port, is expected to freeze its tariffs for the second half of the year in a bid to boost its transit traffic, financial daily Imerisia reported citing statements of the company's CEO at a meeting with the International Maritime Union.
Cyprus:Taxation of Ship Management Companies
The Department of Merchant Shipping recently issued a circular reminding ship managers of the arrangements for assessment and payment of their tax liabilities for 2008.
Ship managers are normally taxed on the basis of the tonnage and age of the ships under their management. However, under Section 19 of the Income Tax Law 2002, they may opt to be taxed according to the prevailing Income Tax Law at a rate of 4.25% on their income from ship management services.
Ship managers that opt for the alternative basis of taxation must provide the Department of Inland Revenue with annual confirmation of the ship manager's status issued by the Department of Merchant Shipping, certifying that the company is eligible to be taxed on this basis.
Ship managers that have not opted for the alternative basis of taxation should obtain and complete the relevant declaration for the taxation of ship management services. Forms may be obtained from the Department of Merchant Shipping or downloaded from its website, which also includes a calculator for the accurate calculation of the tax on each vessel.
The Department of Merchant Shipping has also announced a new tax exemption. Ship managers are entitled to tax exemption in respect of:
"any community ship to which the provision of ship management services in relation to its crewing and technical management is entirely contracted to a Cyprus or a community ship management company, which has an office in Cyprus staffed with sufficient (in number and qualifications) personnel, for technical, administration and accounting matters relating to ships."
Community ships for which the ship management agreement was valid throughout 2008 will be entitled to the exemption.
For further information on this topic please contact Elias A Neocleous at Andreas Neocleous & Co LLC by telephone (+357 25 110 000) or by fax (+357 25 110 001) or by email (email@example.com).
Source: Contributed by Andreas Neocleous & Co LLC, March 18 2009
Bimco Case Study Workshop - Athens, 22-24 April 2009
When holding courses on chartering topics BIMCO is invariably confronted with requests for more in depth case study sessions. In order to accommodate these requests BIMCO has now developed a new type of chartering course with the main emphasis on case studies, plenary discussions and interaction.
These three-day courses will focus on three topics: Bills of Lading, Laytime and Time Charter and the cases will examine common problems arising from these areas.
The Workshops are designed for participants who already have some shipping experience and they are expected to, and will be encouraged to, contribute actively during group work and the ensuing plenary discussions.
>Bills of Lading
More information about the Case Study Workshop in Athens: Programme and registration http://cts.vresp.com/c/?BIMCO/79b7e5945d/8c4cdd647f/876554e2be
ABS Strengthens Global Engineering Organization
---April 16, 2009 (Houston, TX) Effective 1 May, ABS will introduce a strengthened global engineering organization designed to further improve service delivery to clients and reinforce technical capabilities. The new organizational structure is similar to the very successful approach the society has used to administer its global survey services in recent years and is intended to provide better administration of its ship and offshore engineering services, more technical support to the engineering staff conducting plan reviews and promote greater technical consistency.
The key component of this new organizational structure is the creation of Assistant Chief Engineer (ACE) positions within each operating Division, reporting directly to the ABS Chief Engineer Robert Giuffra in the Corporate headquarters in Houston. The Assistant Chief Engineers will be responsible for technical engineering standards and interpretations in each division, technical monitoring of the engineering work undertaken, investigating client feedback, and providing guidance to the Divisional Vice Presidents of Engineering on technical issues that arise.
Appointed to these new positions are Robert Spencer in the Europe Division, based in London, Roy Bleiberg in the Americas Division, based in Houston, and Wei Bao (Bill) Shi in the Pacific Division, based in Singapore.
The existing Vice President of Engineering positions remain. However, with Robert Spencer, currently Vice President of Engineering within the European Division moving into the Assistant Chief Engineer position, Dimitrios Kostaras has been named ABS Vice President of Engineering for Europe. The position will also be relocated from London to the large ABS office in Piraeus.
Founded in 1862, ABS is a leading international classification society devoted to promoting the security of life, property and the marine environment through the development and verification of standards for the design, construction and operational maintenance of marine-related facilities.
Source: ABS Press Releases