Greek Shipping News Cuts
Week 04 - 2004

 

´╗┐Tasman Spirit's crew may be freed

---KARACHI: The crewmembers of the Greek flag carrier - MT Tasman Spirit - could be allowed to leave Pakistan provided the Greek government provides sovereign guarantee of their availability in Pakistan, if needed.
Sources in the shipping industry told The News on Friday that Seafarer Union of Greece has requested Pakistan for the release of Tasman's crew, who have been away from their homes since a long period.
There are eight detained crewmembers of the grounded MT Tasman Spirit, including the ship's captain and salvage master. Three of these belong to the Philippines while the rest are Greek nationals.
Sources claimed that a delegation of Greeks comprising mostly lawyers negotiated the release of the crewmembers with the authorities concerned, here in Karachi. These negotiations remained fruitful and the crewmembers may be allowed to leave Pakistan contingent to certain conditions.
The delegation of Greek nationals would also visit Islamabad soon to pave way for some concrete measures to be taken in this regard.
An official of the KPT, while speaking ion conditions of anonymity, said: "This is a court issue and only the court can take a decision in this regard."
MT Taman Spirit, carrying 67,500 metric tonnes of crude oil, ran aground on July 27, 2003 at the entrance of the Karachi Harbour, last year and spilled thousands of tonnes of oil into the sea causing one of the worst ecological disasters of the country's history.
Source: The News International, Pakistan, by Qadeer Hussain Tanoli, 24 Jan 04


Ship sinks as snowstorms create havoc in east Med
---A freighter with 17 crew members sank in rough seas in the eastern Mediterranean Friday as snowstorms and gales sweeping across the region forced Turkey and Egypt to close key shipping routes.
The heavy snowfalls caused traffic chaos and power cuts in Romania and Bulgaria, and in Italy freezing weather sweeping down from the Baltics forced the closure of many schools and left Rome residents marvelling at the rare sight of snow in the Italian capital.
Strong winds, high waves and a sandstorm brought shipping in the Suez Canal to a halt as authorities shut the waterway linking the Mediterranean and Red Sea. A number of Egyptian ports were also closed.
Snowstorms created a traffic jam in Turkey's Bosphorus and Dardanelles straits, the only outlet for the oil industry in Russia and other Black Sea states. Dozens of oil tankers were queued for passage, Turkish maritime officials said.
At the Dardanelles, closed Thursday due to a heavy blizzard, officials said 68 tankers were waiting for passage.
Poor weather conditions often lead to partial closures of the narrow Bosphorus straits, which wind through Turkey's commercial center Istanbul.
The Greek-owned cargo ship Kephi, which had left Istanbul bound for a West African port with a cargo of cement, sank in gale-force winds about 120 nautical miles west of Crete early on Friday after sending out a distress signal, the Greek Merchant Marine Ministry said.
British and U.S.-flagged ships rushed to the area but were able to spot only one lifeboat with two crew aboard, the ministry said.
"The weather conditions in the area are atrocious. The captain of the U.S. vessel had a lot of trouble approaching the lifeboat where the two people were in. That's why in the end he only managed to get the one out," a Greek Merchant Marine spokesman said.
Maltese authorities said the second crew member had been rescued by a Russian-flagged ship. Of the ship's 17 crew, 16 were Egyptian and one was Greek.
POWER CUTS
Much of the east Mediterranean is trapped between two low pressure systems that moved in from the west and north, said an official at Turkey's Meteorological Service.
"The reason why this storm has been particularly strong is it's actually two systems meeting over a relatively short distance," he said. "But we're seeing the strength of the storm weakening and slowly moving eastward."
Rain, and snow in some areas, is forecast across much of the Mediterranean in the coming three days, and another storm is expected to arrive over Greece and Turkey Sunday, the official said.
In Bulgaria, Turkey's northern neighbor, heavy snow and storm-force winds left more than 100 towns and villages in parts of the northeast and southeast without electricity and some without water. Schools were also closed. Civil defense officials called a state of emergency in some of the affected regions, and strong winds forced authorities to temporarily close Bulgaria's largest Black Sea port of Varna.
In neighboring Romania, officials said strong winds and snow storms over the past two days had disrupted road traffic, knocked out electricity and closed Black Sea ports in southern and eastern Romania.
Italy is also gripped by a cold snap, with the central city of L'Aquila recording minus 15 degrees Celsius overnight. Many schools in southern Italy were shut.
Venice was draped with a thin blanket of snow Friday morning as snowflakes cascaded into the lagoon city on a powerful wind from the Adriatic. (Additional reporting by Rome, Bucharest, Sofia, Istanbul, Cairo bureaus)
Source: www.alertnet.org, by Ellie Tzortzi (Reuters), Athens, 23 Jan 23


New round of innovative ship ordering by Greek owners
---Danaos Shipping has again linked up with Seaspan Container Lines of Canada in a project involving the ordering of giant container ships at Samsung HI, in South Korea. It is understood Piraeus-based Danaos will take two of eight 9,500teu container ships ordered at $91m each the second half of last year. To be delivered end-2006 the ships are fixed to China Shipping Group on longterm charters.
Danaos took two of five 8,100teu ships ordered at the same yard by Seaspan early 2003. The smaller ships are to be delivered this year and the latest order lifts Danaos' investment in big ships to $340m. As was the case with the 8,100teu units, the Korean Import-Export bank (Kexim) is financing the 9,500teu ships.
The order is an element of a new round of contracting by Greek owners involving significant ships and heavy investment.
Fast-growing Barclay Shipping has expanded its newbuilding programme, placing an order for three firm, three options 37,000dwt, ice-classed chemical/products tankers at Hyundai Mipo Shipyard, South Korea worth over $192m. The firm ships will deliver 2006. Barclay has an order for two 73,000dwt coated tankers, two options, at China's New Century Shipbuilding for $32m each.
Tsakos Energy Navigation (TEN) has ordered two similar vessels at the same yard. Its iceclass 1A tankers will cost around $60m and are due for delivery in September and December of 2006. Options for two more ships are held with delivery March and June 2007. To Finnish Maritime Authority (FMA) standards the ships will be able to carry petroleum products.
TEN president and ceo Nikolas Tsakos said: "At present, there is not an established period market for this type of vessel." He said that "1A ice-class vessels are currently earning a substantial premium in the spot market for voyages loading from the Baltic, and we believe high-spec vessels of this type will be in even higher demand in the future."
Meanwhile, an unidentified Greek is said to have ordered one or more 207,000dwt, doublehulled bulkers from Universal Shipbuilding of Japan, which Braemar Seascope says are the first double-hull capesize bulkers to be ordered in Japan. They are for a delivery in 2007.
Meanwhile, Dynacom Tankers Management, a buyer this week in the s&p market, has confirmed it is near to joining the growing band of Greek LNG operators. Dynacom's boss, George Procopiou said "we have to start somewhere" and that "two ships are being considered". He also said they "will be built in Korea" but would not comment further.
Source: www.newsfront.gr, 23 Jan 04


Festival fighting for its survival
---Festival Cruises founder George Poulides is a fighter but the company he has struggled to nurture over the past decade is on the ropes. Festival's three modern cruiseships have been seized after payment defaults and unless Poulides conjures up a fresh injection of funds, his David-and-Goliath struggle against the big guns of cruising could be over.
Rumours have been circulating in the market for some time that Festival has been late paying suppliers but it has until now been able to keep the wolf from the door. The situation deteriorated rapidly when Alstom of France said that it was taking possession of the 1,200-passenger Mistral (built 1999) and 1,550-passenger European Vision (built 2001) and European Stars (built 2002), which were all delivered by its Chantiers de l'Atlantique yard.
History shows that once cruiseships are arrested there is little chance of an operator making a comeback because confidence among banks, suppliers and travel agents slumps. Already there is talk of retailers trying to switch passengers to alternative European lines including Costa Crociere and Mediterranean Shipping Co (MSC). "I'm very sad about the situation, which means I'm pessimistic," said one source. "I don't know if George can find the resources to keep going."
Others criticise the rush to bury Festival while it is still trying to reach a solution with its bankers. A comparison is being drawn with how Renaissance was folded in similar circumstances and the time it took to find alternative employment for its ships. Festival's crisis has surfaced in the wake of Royal Olympic Cruises' 25,000-gt Olympia Voyager (built 2000) and Olympia Explorer (built 2002) entering Chapter XI bankruptcy proceedings in Hawaii.
Similarities exist between the two companies. Not least the fact they are European-based with hefty debts and a mix of old and new tonnage. Also, neither have the capital resources of leviathans such as Carnival Corp. The industry increasingly mirrors its near-cousin, the hotels sector, where a few big multinationals dominate and family-run concerns have been relegated to also-ran, niche participants, say observers. Festival is a private company and its balance sheet is not available for scrutiny. But sources close to the operation claim its short-term debt to a variety of suppliers and creditors may be as high as EUR 80m ($101.5m). This excludes bank financing on its newer ships.
Festival is reckoned to have missed payments of EUR 4.7m on the European Stars, EUR 7.5m on the European Vision and EUR 800,000 on the Mistral. Its bankers have been tracking the situation for months and they called on Poulides to find a solution. But the company, which is lacking in assets, has struggled to refinance.
A move to take possession of Festival's flagships is more likely now because there are fewer passengers to cope with in the winter and losses from idling the ships would be minimised. Also, the Mistral is nearing the end of its five-year French tax lease, which means Festival, the bareboat charterer, has the option to acquire it. But the operator still has to refinance the balance and, although Festival could purchase the ship at a knock-down EUR 80m, its ability to do so is in question.
Technically, for tax reasons, Alstom owns the Mistral with financing from a French bank. Although it has been presented as the yard owner acting against the three Festival cruiseships, sources say it is merely complying with the wishes of banks worried about other creditors launching a pre-emptive strike. The commonly held view is that if Festival cannot recapitalise, as it has done two or three times in the past, the Mistral, European Vision and European Stars will be auctioned and probably bought by the banks. The scenario mirrors what happened to the Chantiers de l'Atlantique-built Renaissance fleet.
The European Vision and European Stars are said to have been funded through normal export credit via Credit Agricole Indosuez and guaranteed by the French government via Coface. It is said the European Stars belongs to a subsidiary of Credit Agricole Indosuez and Festival has it on bareboat charter.
Sources claim Festival also has substantial borrowings with Italian banks, possibly as high as EUR 250m to EUR 300m, as well as with at least one bank in Greece. Alstom says its total exposure on the three ships is EUR 176m. But its direct and indirect interests of 100% on the Mistral, 9.5% on the European Vision and 10.5% on the European Stars should be covered based on "prudent estimates" of resale value.
One broker says MSC or a Spanish Cruise Line will be around to pick up the ships if Festival fails. They were ordered at a time of virtual parity between the Euro and US dollar and because of currency movements, they would cost an estimated 30% to 40% more today. Alstom says the original sale price of the ships and estimated current market value (in parenthesis) is EUR 270m (EUR 180m) each for the European Vision and European Stars and EUR 244m (EUR 138m) for the Mistral.
One broking house approached by TradeWinds made a paper valuation for the European Vision and European Stars of around EUR 180m to EUR 200m each and EUR 120m to EUR 130m for the the Mistral. Including such things as owner provisions, the European Vison and European Stars are reckoned to have cost closer to EUR 300m each.
Financing was 80% of the yard sale price and analysts estimate Festival's debt on the Mistral now stands at roughly EUR 120m and EUR 200m for the European Vision. The European Stars is bareboat chartered and worth about EUR 250m over 12 years.
Unfortunately, rapid industry consolidation could mean there are far fewer operators around to show an interest. Festival's debts are also likely to prevent it finding a buyer for the whole company, say sources. One estimate is that it has been losing between EUR 50m and EUR 60m a year and its obligations are now possibly EUR 200m more than when P&O pulled out of negotiations three years ago.
Credit Agricole Indosuez and Alstom are not expected to lose much. Brokers say Alstom should get at least EUR 100m for its main exposure on the Mistral. Credit Agricole Indosuez is covered by Cofas guarantees. One analyst put total industry exposure to Festival -- banks, suppliers and other creditors -- at up to EUR 750m.
Source: www.tradewinds.com, Geoff Garfield London, 23 Jan 04


Greece, Turkey sign for extension of Ignatia Highway
---"Turkey is closer to Europe via the Ignatia Highway" is the basic conclusion drawn during Thursday's meeting between Greek Transport and Communications Minister Christos Verelis and his Turkish counterpart Binali Gildirim, within the framework of which a memorandum of cooperation was signed for the extension of the Ignatia Highway to Istanbul, both on the road and railway network. Through this agreement, Turkey will advance the upgrading of the road axis, which extends the Ignatia Highway to Istanbul, securing the same level of service of transport from both sides of the borders. It concerns a distance of 253 kilometres from the Greek-Turkish borders to Istanbul. At the meeting between the two ministers, a decision was reached for the setting up of a joint service which will be responsible for upgrading the specific road and railway axis. This service will have offices in Athens and Istanbul. The first meeting of the joint service will be held in Thessaloniki on February 26.
Source: www.robby.gr, 22 January, 2004 - 23:49


Stelios confirms his cruise ambitions
---STELIOS Haji-Ioannou has re-affirmed his commitment to entering the cruise business through his easyGroup of companies, writes Tony Gray. Mr Haji-Ioannou, who is pictured above in Davos on Thursday attending the World Economic Forum, told Bloomberg News: "I believe that either I will buy an existing ship, which means it will happen in the next year, or if I decide to build a ship, which at the moment looks more likely, it will take two years."But the commitments will start rolling in the next few months - I'm committed to that."
http://www.easycruise.com
Source: lloydslist.com email bulletin, 23 Jan 04


O.W. Bunker & Seka to cooperate at Crete bunker station
---The O.W. Bunker Group announced today that following an agreement with Seka S.A., O.W. Bunker Malta Ltd. will be using Seka's Kali Limenes installation to store cargoes and supply all grades of marine fuels and marine gas oil from the bunker station located south west on the island of Crete. The two companies hope the cooperation will increase competitiveness and attract a wider customer base.
The cooperation means that although O.W. Bunkers and Seka will bring in their own cargoes for their own account, they will cooperate in pricing and marketing issues, so that they are not competing against each other. Both companies will undertake marketing for Kali Limenes, which offers quick and efficient ex-pipe bunkering at 3 available docks in a sheltered bay approximately 7 miles from the international merchant shipping routes.
Dimitris Stathogiannopoulos, Marine Sales Manager for Seka, told Bunkerworld that they have sold around 4,000 metric tonnes (MT) of bunkers at Kali Limenes since November last year. The company begun offering fuel oil from the bunker station in December 2003 for the first time. Before then only marine gas oil (MGO) was available.
Seka's reasoning for entering into a cooperation with O.W. Bunker at Kali Limenes is to work with an international and professional group who can expand the customer base through its extensive global network. According to Mr. Stathogiannopoulos, the companies will also cooperate on the cargo side, in effect using O.W. Bunker's more in-depth knowledge on sourcing cargoes.
While O.W. Bunkers will be solely concerned with the bunkering side of business at Kali Limenes, Seka can also arrange a whole host of others services including fresh water, general ship provisions, crew changes and underwater cleaning.
Panayotis Bachtis, Managing Director for O.W. Bunker Malta, told Bunkerworld that he believes O.W. would help improve the competitiveness of the Kali Limenes bunkering operation due to the company's experience in sourcing cargoes and following market fluctuations. He mentioned that O.W. Bunkers already had its first cargo in place and ready to go at what is a new physical bunkering location for the group. This first cargo was sourced from the private Motor Oil refinery in Piraeus, in which Seka has a share. In the future, O.W. will look into other sources, in particular fuel oil cargoes of Russian origin, which would help both in reducing cost and boosting quality.
Already today, the competitiveness is evident. Indications for bunkers at Kali Limenes were at $151 for IFO380, $165 for IFO180 and $306 for MGO, very close to today's indications in Piraeus. Additional costs are limited to agency fees, which are currently set at $350 lumpsum for vessels up to 5,000 dwt, $600 lumpsum for vessels between 5,001 - 20,000 dwt and $900 lumpsum for vessels above 20,000 dwt. There are no calling costs or harbour fees and no overtime fees, even with bunkering being available on a 24/7 basis.
The main advantages of Kali Limenes, in addition to its location, is that it offers a quick turnaround for bunker-only calls. According to Mr. Bachtis, pumping rates of up to 1,000 cubic meters (m³) per hour and 3 docks means tankers for example can refuel quickly. With 3 available docks, there is no length restriction, while max draft is 40 ft or 13.45 metres.
Mr. Bachtis said he hopes to boost turnaround at the station up to its full capacity. The bunker station has four shore-based storage tanks, of which two are said to have capacity for 15,000 m³ and 10,000 m³ respectively for IFOs. Two tanks are reserved for MGO with 9,000 m³ and 2,000 m³ respectively. There are blending facilities in situ.
According to Seka, the Kali Limenes Bunkering Station is in a most advantageous position for ships sailing from the Western to the Eastern Mediterranean and vice-versa, as well as from Gibraltar to the Suez Canal and vice-versa.
Source: www.bunkerworld.com, 22 Jan 04


Bid to find lost Persian armada
---Archaeologists have embarked on an epic search for an ancient fleet of Persian ships that was destroyed in a violent storm off Greece in 492 BC.
The team will search for sunken remains of the armada - sent by Persian king Darius to invade Greece - which was annihilated before reaching its target.
Waters off Mount Athos in northern Greece, the site of the disaster, have yielded two helmets and a spear-butt.
Experts will return to the site in June to look for more remains of the fleet.
"This is an extraordinarily target-rich area for ancient shipwrecks," Dr Robert Hohlfelder, a maritime archaeologist at the University of Colorado, Boulder, US, told BBC News Online.
"Usually, when shipwrecks are found, the archaeologists are asked to create the history around them. We have the history, now we've got to find the shipwrecks."
Historical cue
An account of the 492 BC disaster is related in The Histories, by the 5th Century BC Greek writer Herodotus. He says the ships were smashed against Mount Athos.
Last year, the team discovered a shipwreck containing amphoras, pottery containers used for transporting foodstuffs. How, if at all, this wreck relates to the disaster is not known.
The archaeologists also found a bronze spear-butt, called a sauroter, at a site where, in 1999, local fisherman raised two Greek classical helmets from the seafloor.
The sauroter was found in the possession of an octopus, which had dragged the spear-butt inside a jar in which it had made its sea-floor home.
The survey could help resolve arguments about how triremes - ancient galley warships used by the Persians and Greeks - were constructed.
Recycled boats
In trireme battles, victory hinged on slamming other ships with a heavy bronze ram on the front of the ship.
Not a single trireme wreck has ever been found and archaeologists on the survey are divided over the likelihood of finding one on this expedition.
"We will not find a trireme. They contained very little ballast so they floated. Although the rams may have sunk," team member Michael Wedde told BBC News Online.
Classical texts refer to triremes being rescued, towed to dry land and repaired to be reused.
"There's some question over whether they sank," said Dr Shelley Wachsmann of Texas A&M University in College Station, US. "Most ships we find have cargoes because those bring them to the bottom,"
But Dr Hohlfelder said there was a possibility a trireme could have sunk to the sea bed: "Underwater archaeologists have wish lists. A trireme is certainly one of the top ones on most people's lists. And I think this is one of the best places to look for them."
It is also possible that supply ships - which supported the warships - were carried to the bottom, weighed down by their cargoes.
The project is a collaboration between the Canadian Institute of Archaeology and the Greek Archaeological Service.
Katerina Dellaporta, of the Ephorate of Underwater Antiquities in Greece, and Dr Wachsmann are leading the research.
Around 20,000 men were lost in the disaster, which shook Persia at a time when it had its sights on assimilating mainland Greece within its empire.
Source: BBC News Online, By Paul Rincon, 19 Jan 04


Events Diary (Piraeus/Athens)
send your news and annoncements to: news.desk@marine-marketing.gr
.
DNV course: COMMUNICATION AWARENESS
Date: 29 - 30 Jan. 2004 at DNV Maritime Service Centre Piraeus
Lecturer: P.Riccardi
For more details, please contact DNV at Tel: 210 4100 200 or visit http://www.marine-marketing.gr/users/dnv
.
BIMCO MASTERCLASS WORKSHOP - BILLS OF LADING
Date: 18-20 February 2004, Hilton Athens, Greece
Topics include:
* The Importance of the Bill of Lading as a Receipt for the Goods
* The Importance of the Bill of Lading as a Contract of Carriage
* The Importance of the Bill of Lading as a Document of Title
* Liens on Cargo and Sub-Freight
* Claims in Tort and Bailment
* Switched Bills of Lading
* Case Studies
* Optional Assessment
For more information go to www.bimco.dk
.
INTERNATIONAL FORUM - PORTS & SHIPPING
Date: 31 March & 1 April 2004, Inter-Continental Hotel Athens, Greece,
For more information: Hazlis & Rivas Co. Ltd, Tel. (+30) 94 08 750-2, Fax (+30) 94 08 753, hans@hazliseconomist.com, http://www.hazliseconomist.com
.
POSIDONIA WEEK 2004
Posidonia Cup - Friday 4 June 2004
Venue: Faliron Bay, Athens - Piraeus
Posidonia Congress - Monday, June 7 2004 (morning)
Venue: Piraeus Port Authority, Conference Centre
Exhibition - Opening Ceremony - Monday, June 7 2004 (evening)
Venue: Piraeus Port Authority Exhibition Center
Exhibition - Tuesday, June 8 2004 to Friday, June 11 2004
Venue: Piraeus Port Authority Exhibition Center
Information: Posidonia Exhibitions SA, posidonia@posidonia-events.com
.
GREEK SHIP FINANCE FORUM - 6th Ann MARINE MONEY CONFERENCE
Date: 14 October 2004, at Athens Ledra Marriott Hotel
The 2003 forum attracted a total of 162 individuals during the day including presenters. From our records this includes 48 shipowners and shipowers representatives, 54 bankers and financiers, 13 lawyers and many others besides. That is substantially better in numbers and in quality than any other comparable conference in Greece.
For the 2004 conference, the organisers expect nothing less, so make your plans now.
For more information please go to http://www.marinemoney.com or contact Marine Money Greece at: Tel: +30 210 9842 136, 210 4190 164 E-mail: marine.money@marine-marketing.gr
Source: Organisers Announcement