Singapore: Continuing a theme for this week, this Friday’s regular shipowner profile is with one of the world’s largest bunker vessel operators. The interview is timed to coincide with the launch this week of a brand new bunkering magazine from our sister title, SeaShip News. The owner in question today is Lim Teck Cheng, the ceo of Singapore’s largest bunker vessel operator, Hong Lam Marine.
Singapore is the world’s largest bunkering hub and is taking the lead with the introduction of mass flow meters to try to ease owners’ qualms about the right amounts of fuel being delivered.
Lim argues that one consequence of this quest by Singapore Inc for innovation is a natural further culling of the number of companies within his sector.
“When mass flow meters come in a lot of smaller players will find it difficult,” says Lim, who anticipates the playing field being cut by another 10% making the sector more sustainable in the long run.
There are too many bunker tankers in Singapore now, admits Lim. Mass flow meters can supply 15 to 20% more than before, he points out, which in turn means there will be no need for 15 to 20% of today’s bunker tankers. However, there are a still a number of single hull tankers plying Singapore waters so eventually everything should balance out, Lim maintains.
Hong Lam Marine has 25 harbour tankers plus 12 ocean going ships, a mix of chemical and product tankers. For the latter sector, Lim admits trading conditions have turned sour of late.
“There are too many tankers for not enough cargo so things are a bit tight now,” he says, noting how rates are coming down for product tankers.
While Singapore is not part of any ECA anytime soon, the authorities in the 49-year-old republic are actively looking to be pioneers in the nascent LNG bunkering sector and it is something that Lim is eyeing cautiously too. His company is discussing with Chinese yards and Singapore’s Keppel about ship designs for LNG bunker vessels.
However, Lim stresses: “It is still very early, someone has to come first with an LNG fuelled ship before we do anything. It is not like Europe where you have all these LNG powered ferries and ECAs.”
With an LNG bunker vessel costing anywhere up to $50m –“a huge amount of money” – Lim says there are still not enough regulations in place to warrant the outlay straight away.
Hong Lam Marine was one of more than 100 companies contacted in the research and writing of SeaShip News’s just released bunkering magazine. The full, 30-page magazine can be accessed for free by clicking here. [10/10/14]