The year 2017 marked a new high for the S&P sector in shipping with smart money betting on a rebound for many segments. Few people are more adept at reading the highs and lows of shipping cycles than Arne Blystad, the Norwegian who helped in no small part chalking up last year’s sales and purchase record.
Blystad has kept his cards close to his chest in terms of fleet buildup but in an exclusive interview with Maritime CEO today he reveals his container fleet, made up of smaller tonnage, has now hit double figures. Set up less than 12 months ago Songa Container now has 10 ships afloat with more likely to join the fleet soon.
Blystad has also been very aggressive snapping up dry bulk bargains in the past year, something Blystad believes will pay dividends in the months ahead with the sector poised for growth.
Songa Bulk was founded in 2016 by the Blystad Group. Herman Billung, former CEO of John Fredriksen’s Golden Ocean, was tapped to run the company and in a short space of time Songa Bulk has built up a 15-strong fleet comprised of three capesizes, 10 kamsarmaxes, one ultramax and a supramax.
“I believe 2018 will be a decent year for many segments within the shipping space , but not all,” Blystad tells Maritime CEO, adding: “I do believe dry bulk and the container feeder market will maintain their steady improvement.”
Blystad’s sprawling shipping investments also include crude, chemical and product tankers while his heavylift vehicle, Offshore Heavy Transport has five semi-submersible heavylift vessels.
I believe 2018 will be a decent year for many segments within the shipping space , but not all
Blystad, 63, has been through enough cycles to remain cautious while others talk up the markets. Financing of assets remains tricky for many, he points out, while the uncertainty brought about the sulphur cap looming in 2020 could be a serious headache for many owners he believes. What worries the seasoned owner the most though is the prospect of a new avalanche of ship orders killing off any nascent recovery.
“There is the scare again of too many people being tempted to contract new vessels within segments with a good potential,” he says. For now, Blystad is content scouring the markets for more secondhand bargains.