Singapore: One of shipping’s blue chip names, BW Group, has undergone a remarkable transformation since the onset of the downturn in 2008, ditching its former bulk reliance for a far greater exposure to gas.
Speaking exclusively to Maritime CEO in our regular Friday shipowner profile, Andreas Sohmen-Pao, the ceo of the company, casts his mind back five years ago and compares his fleet then and now.
“We have shifted more emphasis into gas,” he says, adding that more than 50% of BW’s portfolio is now gas-related, the fastest growing area of business for the fleet.
“All sectors are really dependent on how the global economy shapes up,” he says. “Gas, particularly LNG today is very strong, but people have ordered a lot of ships, so it will probably moderate somewhat over the years. But gas is doing better than oil.”
In a recent research report DVB Bank said there was some 8.3m cu m, or about 16% of the existing fleet, due to be delivered from shipyards during the next two years.
BW has also shifted into offshore deepwater oil and gas production. “Historically we were more focused on dry bulk and oil,” he says.
BW has not ordered a new tanker or bulker for the past six years, the focus being LNG ships.
Speaking earlier this week at the Sea Asia show in Singapore Sohmen-Pao bemoaned all those who have added to the doldrums by still ordering.
“I spend more sleepless nights over supply than demand,” the normally unruffled ceo said, “as a fundamental principle, you worry about things in your sphere of control – there is nothing we can do about demand, but ordering is within our own control.”
He said BW has led by example trying to right the supply/demand balance in the tanker segment, by scrapping and laying up ships where necessary.
“If enough people slow steam, lay up, scrap and stop ordering, the problem will resolve itself,” he said.
NEED TO KNOW: BW Group
Operates a fleet of 93 owned, part-owned or controlled vessels including tankers, LNG and LPG carriers, and FPSOs. World-Wide, founded in 1955 in Hong Kong by Sir Y.K. Pao, became the world’s largest shipowner by 1979. Helmut Sohmen became chairman in 1986 and took over Norway’s Bergesen in 2003 and rebranded firm as BW. Son Andreas Sohmen-Pao is ceo.