Marine Link
Monday, January 22, 2018

French Government News

EC Investigation of Proposed French Support of Shipyard

On September 17, The European Commission opened a detailed investigation with a view to examining an aid package which the French Government has put together in support of the Alstom group. At the same time, it found that the conditions are met for adopting an order suspending implementation of and/or payment for the acquisition by the French State of a stake in Alstom and the provision of a subordinated loan. The Commission wishes, however, to continue its dialogue with France and will thus give it one last chance before issuing the order. It has authorised Commissioner Monti, in agreement with the Commission's President, to adopt and implement the suspension order by 22 September unless the French authorities undertake publicly not to take any steps involving…

Merkel Says Siemens-Alstom Is Above All Corporate Decision

Chancellor Angela Merkel

Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Saturday that the German government would positively accompany a tie-up between Siemens and Alstom but said that any link would be first and foremost a corporate decision. Speaking at a news conference with French President Francois Hollande in the Baltic town of Stralsund, Merkel said the German government, at least, does not want to intervene in the corporate decision-making. She said Siemens first has to come forth with an offer. Alstom is the target of a takeover bid from U.S. giant General Electric.

Bureau Veritas To Suggest Safety Rules To French Government

French ship classification society Bureau Veritas will make a number of tanker safety proposals to the French government at a meeting this week. The proposals will help improve tanker surveys and provide early warning of potential structural and safety problems for ships, officials said. Bureau Veritas officials said the group will make three main proposals at the meeting on Feb. 10. The first of these is that all ships over 15 years old should be required to undergo surveys that allow access to all cargo tanks and inspection of ballast tanks. Extra steel thickness requirements would be made. Port inspection reports should also be forwarded to classification societies and a computerized database of vessels' entire structural and repair histories collated, Bureau Veritas will recommend.

Bureau Veritas To Suggest Safety Rules To French Government

French ship classification society Bureau Veritas (BV) was to make three tanker safety proposals to the French government at a meeting last Thursday, proposals are designed to help improve tanker surveys and provide early warning of potential structural and safety problems for ships, BV said. The French government has already pledged to stiffen tanker safety standards when it takes over the European Union presidency in the second half of this year. Bureau Veritas said all ships over 15 years old should be required to undergo surveys which allow access to all cargo tanks and inspection of ballast tanks. Extra steel thickness requirements would be made.

Council Approves Deal Alstom General Electric

  The board of Alstom unanimously approved the offer from General Electric to buy its energy business, said Saturday the French industrial group in a statement. The final proposal, which won approval Friday from the French government, "not only addresses the interests of Alstom and its shareholders but also provides security in relation to the concerns expressed by the French state," Alstom said.  (Reporting by Laurence Frost)

Dutch Company To Build Harbor

Dutch construction group Ballast Nedam won a $63.83 million contract to build a harbor in the Gaza area. The construction will be financed by the Dutch and the French government, the Palestinian Authority and the European Investmentbank. The construction activities, in cooperation with French construction firm Spie Batignolles, are expected to take about 25 months.

Hollande To Meet GE Chief To Discuss Alstom

French President Hollande

  President Francois Hollande and his Economy MinisterArnaud Montebourg will meet General Electric chief executive Jeff Immelt on Monday to discuss the future of French engineering group Alstom, a presidential official told Reuters. The meeting follows news last week that GE is planning a $13 billion deal to buy Alstom's power turbines business, and comes after the intervention on Sunday of the French government and industry rival Siemens of Germany. Reporting by Elizabeth Pineau; Writing by Andrew Callus; Editing by Andrew Roche)

France to Defend Interests in STX Shipyards

Photo: STX France

The French government has told South Korea it will oppose any solution for shipbuilder STX France that is against national industrial interests, Industry Minister Christophe Sirugue told Reuters on Thursday on the eve of a deadline for bids. STX France is 66.7 percent owned by failed South Korean shipbuilding group STX. An insolvency court in South Korea ruled last month that the French arm could be sold either separately from the parent, or as part of a bigger sale. Bids are due by Nov.

FastShip Signs Cargo Agreement

FastShip has signed agreements for wholesale cargo commitments with international freight forwarders AEI Circle International, GeoLogistics and MSAS Global Logistics. The agreements state that the shipping companies must commit to purchase future cargo space on the company's high-speed trans-Atlantic service on a "take-or-pay" basis upon service commencement in 2003. The agreements closely follow the commitment by the French government to establish Cherbourg as the European hub for FastShip's innovative trans-Atlantic service.

France Sees Quick Accord on STX, Sees Naval Deal Taking Longer

(File photo: STX France)

France hopes for agreement over the future of the STX France shipyards at a Franco-Italian summit on Sept. 27, but a separate deal on warship co-operation would take longer to negotiate, French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said on Thursday. "I would like us to have an agreement between the French and Italian governments on STX for the summit on September 27," Le Maire told reporters after a meeting with suppliers in the aerospace sector. France clashed with Italy in July after ordering a "temporary" nationalisation of STX…

GE CEO Immelt: Expects to Close Alstom Deal

General Electric Co Chief Executive Jeff Immelt

General Electric Co Chief Executive Jeff Immelt said on Wednesday that GE is still going to "work constructively" with the French government on its bid for the power business of Alstom and that he expects the deal to close. GE has encountered resistance to its $16.9 billion proposal from the government, which has sought to encourage Germany's Siemens as a potential rival bidder. "It's a deal that's executable. It's a deal we're experienced in. It's a deal we expect to close," Immelt said at the Electrical Products Group conference.

Veolia's Control of Corsica Ferry Company up to Board Vote

Image: SNCM

Government representatives on the board of Corsica ferry operator SNCM will vote on Monday to decide whether Veolia can retake control of the troubled business. The vote is tricky for the government as siding with Veolia could lead to protests by SNCM unions in Marseille ahead of European elections in two weeks. Veolia wants to put loss-making SNCM (Societe Nationale Maritime Corse Mediterranee) under court protection to shield it from a European Commission order to repay 440 million euros ($605 million) of state aid. Veolia has also said it will not put any more money into the ferry company.

Boats Head Home After Erika Clean Up Closes Down

Ships sent to pump out oil trapped in the holds of the wrecked tanker Erika, which sank off France's northwest coast last December, have completed their task, French oil giant TotalFinaElf said. The French government announced earlier this week that it had decided to leave the broken wreck where it was, some 70 km (40 miles) off the coastline, saying that to try to move it further out to sea or raise it was too risky. The Maltese-registered Erika broke in half in stormy seas on December 12, and spewed up to 15,000 tons of oil onto the rocky shoreline. Thousands of tons of oil remained trapped in two sections of the ship, and the government ordered a clean-up during the summer months when the seas were normally calm.

EDF Will Win French Offshore Wind Projects: CEO

Electricite de France SA will win government contracts to build wind farms off the French coast, Chief Executive Officer Henri Proglio said during a press meeting in Paris, Bloomberg reports. The French government is scheduled to pick the winners of the off-shore wind farm contracts this week, Industry Minister Eric Besson said yesterday. France’s energy regulator recommended EDF, as well as Alstom SA and Denmark’s Dong Energy A/S to build four of the five planned offshore wind farms, Les Echos reported on March 31. EDF was very aggressive on the price, the newspaper said (Bloomberg).    

Sarkozy Presents Legion d’Honneur to Le Ponant Captain

Patrick Marchesseau Captain of Le Ponant, a cruise ship belonging to Compagnie du Ponant, a subsidiary of the CMA CGM French Group, has received from the President of the Republic of France, Nicolas Sarkozy, the insignia of Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur. This honor is in recompense for his courage and professionalism during the hostage situation on the vessel under his command in April 2008, off the coast of Yemen. The ship was returning from the Seychelles to the Mediterranean, with a crew of 30 and no passengers, when it was attacked and boarded by Somali pirates. The French Government and the French Armed forces were fully mobilized and assisted CMA CGM for the safe release of the hostages. Captain Marchesseau showed great self control in the management of this crisis.

Talk Of Tanker Ageism Gives Markets A Lift

Tanker markets continued strong at the end of the week with talk of new French oil company age restrictions on acceptances said likely to put further pressure on rates. French oil major Elf has adopted a 20 year age limit policy on terminals as well as tanker chartering, brokers said. This was on top of the immediate imposition of last week's French government safety charter calling on oil companies only to accept ships over 15 years if they had a drydocking report in the last 30 months and had been inspected in the last six. So far the impact had been greatest for Aframax and Suezmax tankers, rather than VLCCs, but brokers predicted that the rule would hit older VLCCs, lifting the West Africa market, as units move out of the area where the most Elf/Total terminals are.

France Could Nationalise Saint-Nazaire Shipyards

The French state is considering nationalising the Saint-Nazaire shipyards before selling it to new investors if no deal can be reached with Italian shipbuilding group Fincantieri, Le Monde newspaper said on Friday. Shipbuilders MSC and Royal Caribbean have already expressed an interest, the newspaper said. State-owned Fincantieri has made a bid for STX France, which specialises in building cruise ships at France's Saint-Nazaire shipyard. The sale forms part of a broader sell-off of businesses following the demise of the South Korea's STX shipbuilding group. However, completion of the deal has been delayed as the French government has made clear it does not want Fincantieri alone to hold more than 50 percent of STX…

France: STX France talks with Fincantieri to Continue

File Image (CREDIT: AdobeStock)

French industry minister Christophe Sirugue said he would meet Italy's Fincantieri in a week's time to discuss its bid for STX France, but added France was still against Fincantieri gaining dominance in the governance of STX France. "Our position is that we do not want Fincantieri to be the sole majority shareholder in the governance of Saint-Nazaire shipyards," Sirugue told Reuters on Friday, speaking on the sidelines of a news conference in Paris. "We continue to work with Fincantieri and we will probably have to meet again in a week's time".

Siemens Asks Alstom For More Info

 French Economy Minister Arnaud Montebourg

Germany's Siemens wrote to Alstom on Tuesday asking for more information ahead of a likely offer for the French company's power business, French Economy Minister Arnaud Montebourg said. Alstom is already in talks with U.S. conglomerate General Electric over a 12.35 billion euro ($16.9 billion) bid for its power arm, which it is due to review by June 2. Under pressure from the French government, however, it has opened its books to Siemens as well. Sources have told Reuters that…

Erika Captain: Tight Budgets Overrode Safety

The captain of the tanker Erika, which sank off France's west coast in December causing a huge oil spill, has said crews had to work to such tight budgets that safety standards could not always be met. The ship's captain, Karun Mathir, said many shipowners were obsessed with cutting costs "to the point of pushing crews through safety and endurance thresholds". "There are certain things that nobody dares to say, but the job has changed a lot, everything is going too fast, everything is dominated by money," the 36-year-old captain said. The Erika's crew was winched to safety when the vessel split apart and sank in stormy seas on Dec. 12.

Calais DFDS Ferries to Restart Tuesday; Talks to Reconvene

Photo: DFDS Seaways

DFDS Seaways Calais-Dover ferry service, suspended by a workers' blockade of Calais port during the weekend, will resume on Tuesday morning, Transport Minister Alain Vidalies said after talks with the parties involved. Ferry workers, industry executives, the Channel Tunnel operator Eurotunnel and the French government are due to reconvene later this week for further talks to settle the labour dispute after breaking up without agreement on Monday, Vidalies said in a statement.

French Government, TotalFina Targeted In Erika Protest

Thousands of protesters from western France marched through Paris on April 1 to demand tighter shipping laws in the wake of the Erika oil tanker spill, which devastated parts of their region. The march was called by action groups from western France, along with local politicians and environmentalists. Police estimated 2,000 people attended. Oil giant TotalFina, which chartered the Erika, was targeted by protesters in two separate incidents before the march. Earlier on Saturday, activists dumped sand and oil in front of what they believed was the home of TotalFina boss, Thierry Desmarest. According to police, they left the scene upon realizing that they had the wrong address.

EU Approves French Shipbuilding Plan

The European Commission said it approved a guarantee system planned by the French government to step up investment for its shipbuilding industry. Under the scheme, guarantees will be granted to financial institutions providing loans to French shipyards to finance the construction of large ships with a contract value above $51m. The state guarantee for the loans will reach a maximum of 80 pct. Guarantee premiums will be charged and vary according to the risk on a case by case basis. The premium level will cover the risks of payments and the administrative costs of the scheme, the EU executive added. The commission said the scheme does not constitute state aid and does not threaten to distort competition. (Source: Forbes)

Maritime Reporter Magazine Cover Dec 2017 - The Great Ships of 2017

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