Ever the contrarian Phrixos Papachristidis reckons it is the dry bulk and offshore shipping sectors that have the most upside potential.
The ceo of the Hamburg-based Hellespont Ship Management thinks that the offshore sector could face more challenges (particularly for PSVs) because of the crisis in oil market and the sizable fleet under construction. He argues that demand for the dry bulk will grow modestly and it will take time to absorb the surplus of ships.
“We don’t like to prophesize but we are optimistic about the long term in the tanker market as well as in the dry and offshore markets,” says Papachristidis. There is much that worries the head of Hellespont as he explains.
“The uncertain economic outlook of China, the driving force behind the growth of waterborne transportation in recent years, the significant orderbook for most tonnage types and size categories and the ever increasing raft of regulations affecting the cost of running ships, not always with commensurate beneficial impact on safety.”
Nevertheless, he is confident that “in the long term the industry will adjust and for the better as it always has done”.
The Hellespont Group has been active in shipping for almost 70 years. Today, the company is a provider of marine transportation services for their own vessels and those of their partners, be they investors or owners.
“We provide technical and commercial management services for a fleet of tankers, bulk carriers, platform supply vessels and anchor handling tugs via our 1,200 seafarers and 140 shoreside staff based across Hamburg, Athens, Singapore and Manila,” Papachristidis explains.
Hellespont Group today manages more than 20 vessels: four suezmax tankers, four panamax product carriers (LR1), two medium range product carriers (MRs), two 17,000 dwt chemical carriers, two capesize bulk carriers, one ultramax bulk carrier, four platform supply vessels, two anchor handling tugs (AHT) and one anchor handling tug supply vessel (AHTS). Last but not least the company will shortly take delivery of some more bulk carriers on behalf of customers.
The group was founded in 1946 in Montreal, Canada by Phrixos’ grandfather, Phrixos B Papachristidis, following his acquisition of nine war-built tweendeckers from the Canadian government.
Papachristidis, the third generation at the helm, says that it’s hard to say where are we in the current shipping cycle: “Markets are affected by many uncontrollable variables. Tankers are on the upward sloping segment of the cycle, offshore and dry bulk are close to the bottom of their cycles. But history has taught us that the opposite could come true for these markets in a very short space of time. I think the next 12 months will remain challenging for dry bulk and offshore shipping, but will continue to be moderately strong for tankers. We are always optimistic about our industry, so as a whole we believe it will fare well in the long term.”