Capital Link’s well-attended “Invest in Greece” forum, held at New York’s Metropolitan Club, explored the shipping business from fresh angles not always apparent at maritime gatherings.
Much of the conference was devoted to capital markets and banking- where Greece’s situation has improved drastically over the past three years. Asimakis Papageorgiou, the Deputy Minister for Environment, Energy & Climate Change, talked big picture but alluded to Greece’s strategy of becoming a hub for LNG cargoes moving into southern Europe. An LNG import terminal at Revithoussa- located near Athens, was mentioned specifically; another terminal, in the north of Greece, was also alluded to.
In his remarks, the Minister touched explicitly on the geo-political considerations surrounding the energy trades, talking about the actions of ISIS in the Middle East as providing a wake up call for needed energy security and diversification. For Greece (and its LNG terminals), which were described as a point of stability in the region, there is an opportunity to provide a portal for “…the entrance of energy into southeast Europe.” Papageorgiou’s remarks came several days before Russia announced that it was scrapping the South Stream gas pipeline- a development which further underscores the importance of shipping.
A late in the day maritime panel, very ably moderated by Citibank’s Christi Volpicelli, included Danaos, Navios, Euroseas, Dorian LPG and Tsakos Energy Navigation (TEN). Panelist John Coustas, the ceo of Danaos explained that the global companies on the panel, representing a spectrum of shipping sectors, are facing “shipping cycles that have nothing to do with Greece”. Coustas was quick to add that a stable Greece provides a solid base for companies to operate from, which in turn enables the companies to gain business by providing a better service.
In response to a question by Volpicelli regarding catalysts needed to improve the fortunes of the respective companies, TEN’s cfo, Paul Durham, said that investors need to believe that the present uptick in the tanker hires is sustainable. Share prices have not responded in a big way to the ongoing rally in the wet trades.
Answering a question later in the session about financing, Durham described the very enviable problem of being able to choose among, and fine tune, proposals from top-tier shipping banks when financing TEN’s nine- ship Statoil programme. Panelist John Lycouris, from Dorian LPG, explained some of the “high class problems” facing his firm- including ways of servicing the rapidly growing Chinese market, where new methods of producing propylene, derived from propane- carried in Dorian vessels, are presently coming into a production phase.