Economou holds court

George Economou is urging his fellow Greek owners to follow his lead by entering the offshore market in search of higher returns on their investments.

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Economou, whose empire includes DryShips and Ocean Rig, says a foray into the offshore drilling segment is a lot like investing in a private school education.  

He warns that entering a new sector can lead to loses in the beginning but believes the sacrifice is worthwhile.

“There is no reason why the Greeks can’t excel in more than the traditional dry bulk tanker and container,” he told the TradeWinds Shipowners Forum at the Posidonia conference in Athens Tuesday. “I urge everybody that can [enter offshore] to do that.”

Nikolas Tsakos, a Greek owner who has been linked with rig purchases of his own in the past, was less keen for his brethren to branch out, suggesting shipowners need to get their own house in order first.

Tsakos told the forum: “Instead of us looking which is the next industry to destroy we should try and fix our industry which is [the] bread and butter of Greek shipping and the families and stay out of oversupplying other industries.

“The bread and butter – right now we do not have any butter but the bread – for our business is conventional shipping.

"So let’s try and fix that as it’s an insult that we carry cargo with 99% efficiency and sometimes we have to pay to do that and are making losses. We have to try and correct it and everybody knows what they have to do in that.”

Only a handful of Greek owners presently operate in offshore. Today, the list includes the likes of Gregory Callimanopulos with Toisa and Sealion, Victor Restis with Golden Energy Offshore, Basil Papachristides with Hellespont Offshore and Evangelos Pistiolis’ jack-up newbuildings.

Ocean Rig is one of two public companies controlled by Economou and the Wall Street veteran feels being publicly-listed is to his advantage.

“I think the good thing about the last 10 years with companies going public is that it has created the opportunities for everybody to play the game the way they want,” he said. “You can do your own technical management, you can outsource it.

“I view it as a great restaurant where you have a fantastic menu you can choose from. You can either take individual appetizers or main courses and deserts or you can take the set menu.”

He explained: “The set menu means you follow one guy that has made it. Take us for example, we may provide the opportunity to give a full menu at some point.”