‘Bulk carriers are going to have to learn to live with a lot less coal’: Sabrina Chao

‘Bulk carriers are going to have to learn to live with a lot less coal’: Sabrina Chao

In a wide-ranging speech at the start of the London International Shipping Week (LISW) conference today, Sabrina Chao, chairman of Hong Kong’s Wah Kwong, warned growing environmental pressure will put further pressure on dry bulk owners.

“Bulk carriers are going to have to learn to live with a lot less coal being consumed,” she said, explaining that this cut in coal use will be led by China with others such as India.

Tasked by the conference organisers to talk about Asia, Chao, soon to be the next chairman of the Hong Kong Shipowners Association, said the coming decade would see much more ship finance from Asia. “The expertise is already there and confidence to expand overseas is also there,” she said.

Chao predicted that consolidation of Asian shipowning giants will continue, while growing concern about domestic protection was “justified”, she said, mentioning China’s buildup of very large ore carriers.

Unlike the opinion of the speaker that followed her, Euronav’s Paddy Rodgers, Chao said private shipowners would continue to play a pivotal role in the Asian shipping landscape. The challenge for these family run lines would be in recruiting the right staff. “A career in the shipping industry is sadly not something many aspire to,” Chao said.

“Not being a slave to the quarterly reporting of Wall Street has allowed us to sit back and focus on how best to operate our ships,” Chao said.

Chao was annoyed that shipbuilding capacity in South Korea and China had yet to cut back, something she said was “very political”.

Chao appears on the cover of the latest Maritime CEO magazine, distributed at LISW, and available to read online for free here.

Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.

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