Oceanus Hosted Greek Ambassador Visit to Bay Area Houston

May 2nd, 2019

Pictured from left, Tony and Emily Panagiotareas, Ambassador Haris Lalacos, Sumer Loggins, Anna Michalopoulou and Rick Clapp.

The Ambassador of Greece to the United States, Harris Lalacos, made his first official visit to Houston. Bay Group Media CEO Rick Clapp and I graciously accepted the invitation to attend the honorary celebration. The commemorative dinner reception on March 24 at Lakewood Yacht Club included distinguished guests Rear Adm. Paul Thomas commander of the Eighth Coast Guard District, Houston mayoral candidate Bill King, Col. Michael Fossum former American astronaut and COO of Texas A&M University at Galveston, League City Mayor Pat Hallisey, R.W. Bray Southeast Texas Deputy Regional Director for Sen. Ted Cruz, the Consul of Greece Ioannis Stamatekos, the Hellenic Attaché for Maritime Affairs Koutsodontis Nikolaos, Admiral Mike Rodriguez, superintendent of the Texas Maritime Academy, and Port of Houston Executive Director Roger Guenther and Senior Director Charlie Jenkins. Ambassador Lalacos succinctly presented the importance of Greek-American relationships which focuses on energy, maritime shipping, and tourism. Greeks are leading pioneers of the sea for the last 3,500 years with the largest merchant marine fleets in the world, comprising 20% of all merchant vessels. Ambassador Lalacos said, “I’m glad I represent a country which is recognized as a stability provider in our region, as a reliable ally in NATO, a friend of the United States, and a country which has never had a conflict with the United States ever since our respective independence.”

International trade is dependent on Greek-owned ships which provides security, research, and resources that connect people around the world. “Greece is the champion of energy diversification in our part of the world,” says Lalacos. Greece has one of the largest terminals for LNG and plans to build a second terminal in Northern Greece. LNG is cleaner, safer, and takes up about 1/600th the volume of natural gas in the gaseous state. Liquified natural gas is non-toxic, non-corrosive, and more efficient to transport. Greece has managed to secure a major pipeline that brings Azari natural gas from the Caspian sea, passing through land bordering Turkey and transported to Northern Greece, Albania and the Adriatic Sea, to Southern Italy and on to Europe. “We have very solid plans and strong American support to enrich amounts of this pipeline and to build vertical interconnectors going from Greece Northbound. This will revolutionize gas flows in our part of the world.” asserts Lalacos. Their newest project, the Eastern Mediterranean Pipeline, with help from the United States and European Union, will bring through Italy a deepwater pipeline with natural gas from Israel, Cyprus, Egypt, and Greece. Israel has already found natural gas reserves but they need more pipelines to distribute it to the world market. Recently ExxonMobil had positive results with exploratory drilling offshore South of Cyprus, and Egypt discovered natural gas in the Mediterranean. Next, ExxonMobil will be drilling South of Crete while multinational companies drill on and offshore in the Western Part of Greece. “We are hopeful to diversify energy flow and production in the Eastern Mediterranean Basin. This may take place in the next decade.” says Lalacos.

Texas is the largest natural gas producer globally and a world leader in the chemical and petrochemical industry. Houston is an international hub for shipping and energy, which are two areas of primary importance to Greece. We are one of eight cities in the United States with a Greek Consulate, and one of two with a Coast Guard Consulate. Private-owned companies with sustainable solutions take the lead in global partnerships to expand energy sources. Oceanus Maritime Services LLC is a Greek-owned company with headquarters in League City. Oceanus started as an idea between business partners Tony Panagiotareas and Kent Dangtran, and now represents a fleet of 500 vessels belonging to 40 shipping companies. They are one of few companies in Texas to hold an International Ship Management Certificate to operate commercial vessels. Oceanus Maritime leads efforts to assist Greece in developing their energy reserves. The International Maritime Organization (IMO) addresses the human health and environmental impact of the oil and gas industry. In 2020 new regulations will implement that all ships must reduce sulphur fuel content to 0.5% 200 nautical miles from the shoreline. This demonstrates a clear commitment by IMO to ensure shipping meets environmental obligations.

Greece celebrated Greek Embassy’s Official Independence Day at Annunciation Greek Orthodox Cathedral in Houston for the first time in history. On March 25 1821, Greek revolutionaries fought for their freedom and victoriously won against the Ottoman Empire. They established hard-earned independence in 1830. The festivities were hosted by the Consul of Greece Ioannis Stamatekos and over 200 Houstonians. The Pappas family graciously donated beautiful selections of wines and Nikos Nikos provided an elegant dinner. It was quite a traditional Greek experience. Besides the exciting opportunities for energy development, Ambassador Lalacos says, “The help that we need is not grants, it’s investment; mutually advantageous, profitable investment. When it comes to investment, the greatest asset [of Greece] is its well-educated workforce.”

This three day weekend of Greek hospitality and festivities elucidates the importance of working together. We have common goals of peace, prosperity, and positive international relationships. We all want independence, security, and a safe, diverse supply of energy. Greece and America are always friends, always allies. Investing in each other is paramount to success and building long lasting friendships. We can work together to overcome challenges as well as preserve liberty, freedom, and sovereignty. It was a symbolic moment to visit with Ambassador Lalacos and maritime officials. We encourage more Greek-owned businesses to come to the Houston Bay Area. We’d like to see more Greek-American collaboration to establish energy independence and a robust economy in both countries.

Business Buzz

February 1st, 2015

Summer Roberts at Desk - Bio Pic3-Mentors honors Summer Roberts

Financial Professional Summer A. Roberts of Roberts Wealth Management was honored during an exclusive “Financial Professional Training Conference and Awards Ceremony,” in Laguna Niguel, Calif., by 3- Mentors, Inc. in January.

She was presented with a “2014 President’s Award” by 3-Mentors’ founding members Gary Reed, David Gaylor and Rodney Harris and was also recognized as the “Breakthrough Individual of the Year.”

“The President’s Award is given to a select few Financial Professionals as recognition for demonstrated excellence within their practice and outstanding client dedication,” Gaylor said.

“3-Mentors recognizes the drive and determination it takes to bring a financial practice to the next level. For that reason, we grant the “Breakthrough Award” to individual producers that reach this important step in their career.  Summer was one of three individuals nationwide to receive this prestigious award.”

“We chose Summer,” Reed said, for this important distinction as someone that consistently performs at a very high level within her industry and is held in the highest regard by both peers and clients alike.

Harris added, “Summer exemplifies a client-centric philosophy by never failing to put her clients’needs at the forefront of everything she does.  She truly embraces her responsibility to assist her clients’ in the protection, growth, and distribution of their wealth, with the most balanced approach possible.”

“Today’s retirees, and those approaching retirement require more than just a financial professional. They need someone to help them navigate their retirement planning, not only as a trusted guide through the various challenges, but also to help identify the myriad of opportunities that exist.  We are proud to be one of those firms and to provide these services for the people of Houston,” says Summer.

For more information about Summer and her firm’s services, you can reach Roberts Wealth Management at 281-549-6515 or visit their website at www.RobertsWealthTexas.com

Dana Tobeck earns SFA Honoree Award

The Space Flight Awareness program recently recognized Barrios Technology‘s MAPI employee Dana Tobeck with the prestigious SFA Honoree Award for her dedication and commitment to the ISS Program.

Tobeck, a principal project controls specialist, was recognized for her leadership in establishing work plan and management systems. Tobeck developed a measurement system along with training for MAPI management that ensures quality Annual Work Plans (AWPs) and provided management insight into work variances.

Tobeck has worked in the space industry for over 15 years on various NASA programs.  She earned a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Houston, as well as a graduate degree from Texas A&M University.

The SFA Honoree Award is one of the highest presented to NASA and industry.

ExxonMobil to be honored

The Greater Houston Port Bureau will recognize ExxonMobil’s exemplary contributions to the Port of Houston and the surrounding region at the Port Bureau’s 86th Annual Maritime Dinner Aug. 22 at the Bayou City Event Center.

“The Port Bureau Board of Directors selects a person or company that has made a lasting impact on the port region to honor at our dinner,” said U.S. Coast Guard Capt. (Ret.) Bill Diehl, bureau president.

“ExxonMobil contributed significantly to the port region in 2013 and 2014 through community events, educational programs and industry expansion, adding to its long history of driving economic activity along Houston’s waterfront and supporting the surrounding community. We are privileged to recognize their contributions.”