Buoyant Posidonia paints its own picture of the markets

Athens airport this morning tells its own tale of the jamboree that was Posidonia. Slouched and decidely delicate with dark rings around their eyes brokers board planes heading back to HQ – the parties having taken their predicatable toll. I am told – though my Greek is not up to much in order to verify the following – one local newspaper carried the headline last weekend: ‘No drugs or prostitutes in Athens: Posidonia’.

This was my seventh consecutive Posidonia and after a while you get better at reading the mood of this unique show, trying to whittle away at the real messages behind the soundbites from assorted owners.

What is patently clear is that the mood among local owners and exhibitors has picked up dramatically.

This was a record exhibition for the Splash-sponsored Posidonia as it celebrated its 50th anniversary, growing in size by around 10% to more than 1,900 exhibitors.

There was a genuine buoyancy on the exhibtion floor not seen at many shipping events for a number of years and even a power outage on the first day failed to cut the surge in business transactions.

Meanwhile, the remarks recorded from owners by Splash and at the many parties we attended paint their own picture. My take is Greek owners, who let’s face it do tend read shipping cycles better than most, are bullish, but this past week did not want to show their rivals just how gung-ho they are about prospects in the market. This might explain too why there were not too many of the normal high profile ship orders placed by local owners at Asian yards in the past few days.

With Greek owners now in charge at Intercargo, Intertanko, Bimco and the European Community of Shipowners Associations (ECSA), poor old Kitack Lim had to take quite an earful and I imagine the IMO boss was probably quite glad to get out of Athens earlier this week.

Greeks make out that shipping is being unfairly targeted by regulators and they are throwing their arms up in the air, saying there is no clear roadmap to how the industry will be ready for the January 1, 2020 sulphur cap. They might have a point, if you think all owners will essentially need to have their ships SOx ready by this time next year.

Sales and marketing teams from scrubber manufacturers will be heading home today, scratching their heads on how to counter the repeated, vociferous bashings multiple owners lashed on their technology all week in Athens.

The future for LNG as a ship fuel became a bit more clear during Posidonia 18. It strikes me that it will be large owners only who will be pioneers in this department with everyone else – ie the majority – happy to let the big boys do the hard yards first.

Consolidation was another constant theme throughout the week – and not just among owners, but in every strand of the shipping business. Expect this trend to not let up in the coming months.

There remains no show like Posidonia and Splash is already making plans for the next edition in 2020. In the meantime, I wish all those returning home to get some Nurofen and some rest.

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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