Greek ancient recipe to ‘save’ international shipping
Greek shipowner Procopiou (Dynagas-Dynacom) at MMS 2018: “Only slow steaming is a feasible solution against unrealistic legislative obligations
Floriana (Malta) – The second edition of the MMS Malta Maritime Summit organized by John Gauci-Maistre (GM International) was attended by shipowners and by major stakeholders, as well as by ‘guest star’, the Greek shipowner George Procopiou (Dynagas-Dynacom), who reached La Valletta on his brand new mega-yacht.
Accompanied by his first-born of 4 daughers Eliza, the Greek entrepreneur expressed his opinion with no uncertain terms about the urgent obligations and restrictions to which shipping companies are subject to during a difficult time for the sector due to the volatile market, following a ten-year recession, and in a global macroeconomic context characterized by great uncertainties caused by geopolitical tensions as well as technological, organizational and cultural revolutions.
“I established my company 45 years ago, and today our group boasts a fleet of 125 bulkers, gas carriers, LNG and now also FSU vessels. We made significant investments in new and modern tonnage, with 120 newbuildings ordered in the past 12 years. We follow the evolution of technology, adapting to the times and to the innovative solutions offered.
For instance, six years ago we were the first ones to transport LNG along the Northern Sea Route, adapting our hulls with special arctic class units in order to halve maritime distances, thus reducing harmful emissions by 50%.
It's definitely not a question of costs because we aim at improving our offer, though pragmatically since this development and updating process must be realistic.
The obligations imposed on shipowners by international institutions concerning fuels cannot be complied with because shipyards and suppliers are not capable of performing certain activities. These regulations cannot be applied to our sector in due time since the production of scrubbers will allow for the adaptation of only 6-8% of the world's fleet within the entry into force of the laws concerning emissions. What are we going to do with the ships that are still technically efficient and safe anyway?”, the Athenian shipowner asked during a technical session attended also by Grimaldi Group Naples Energy Saving Manager Dario Bocchetti, who shared the experience of a company already at the forefront of sustainability of its newbuildings and which boasts a fleet of 130 units.
“Modern ships were designed to last for 25 years in optimum conditions”, Procopiou continued. “We do not want to just save money. Shipowners are very sensitive to the environment and we are ready to cooperate, but we cannot do the impossible. We are willing to adopt scrubbers and low sulphur fuels but – apart from the fact that the former simply transfer harmful emissions from air to sea, thus not protecting the environment – we cannot scrap efficient ships without being able to replace them, also because those shipyards capable of building units in compliance with the new requirements are 10% of the existing ones”.
The Greek solution is simple as that adopted at the beginning of the great crisis resulting from the deflationary bubble of 2018.
“First of all, let’s start with slow steaming which, besides reducing emissions up to 60%, allows to deploy several ships simultaneously, thus reducing also the problem of overcapacity.
Then, we can allow units without scrubbers, or using traditional bunker HFO, to operate imposing a pollution tax on companies to set aside a Green Fund for the environment.
We are not keeping aside from our responsibilities. We suggest an immediate solution for all needs, and we do not understand why it cannot be applied”, Dynagas-Dynacom leader concluded.
Shipowner George Procopiou and its “Dream” come true
Greek shipowner George J. Procopiou – a billionaire with a net equity of over 2 billion dollars, according to Bloomberg – and founder of Dynacom Tankers, Sea Traders and Dynagas, was born in Athens in 1946 and studied Engineering at the National Technical University of Athens.
In 1971, Procopiou purchased his first ship in the USA, i.e. a 55,000 dwt tanker, and he currently boasts a 125 units fleet.
In 2016, he ranked 12th in Lloyd's List of the 100 most influential individuals in the maritime sector, while the newspaper Seatrade granted him the Lifetime Achievement award.
With his wife Alexandra he had 4 daughters, the first one being his right-hand man within the group. Also his other two daughters work in his company (with their respective husbands), while the youngest one graduated at the Bocconi University in Milan.
This year the Greek entrepreneur finally made his Dream come true, i.e. his yacht, ranking among the first 40 in the world for its size (106 meters).
Initially launched by the Turkish shipyard Halic Tersaneleri in 1997, after a very long refit carried out at the Greek shipyard Chalkis Shipyards S.A., as well as a significant interiors refit by Ciarmoli Queda Studio (CQS) designed by Procopiou himself with his technical team, the yacht was turned into a very high quality 6-docks ship. The unit includes 23 cabins, three formal dining rooms, one business centre, one wellness centre and two bars, with a crew consisting of 28 members. Its Greek-style frescos make it seem like a floating palace, and its marble floors are one of its unique features.
After half a century in the maritime industry, a dozen years ago the shipowner decided to make his dream come true, starting a conversion initially designed by George Vafiadis and concluded in 2018; its refit consisted of several external changes including a 13 meters hull extension.
Following the precious advice received by John Gauci-Maistre – owner of GM International and specialized in ships and boats registration since 40 years, who organized the MMS Malta Maritime Summit and persuaded his customer to moor his huge yacht at the Grand Harbour de La Valletta during the entire MMS event – the Dream became the biggest super-yacht flying the Maltese flag among the 750 ones registered in the island.
“Having a great yacht such as Dream, belonging to a main shipowner like Procopious, registered under its flag will inevitably induce other shipowners to register their mega-yachts in Malta, also because it provides several benefits, ensuring quality standards and complying with all international regulations”, Gauci-Maistre observed.