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Laurin Maritime: Wary of product tanker ordering binge

Gothenburg: As Maritime CEO has regularly been pointing out of late, so called ‘hot’ sectors in shipping rarely last more than two years before overcapacity washes away rates.
In our regular Friday shipowner profile, Mikael Laurin, the youthful ceo and president of Sweden’s family run Laurin Maritime tanker firm warns that overordering in the product sector is likely to put a lid on rate rises soon.
“We believe that the orderbook of standard MRs is too large compared to the increase in demand over the coming years,” says the tanker boss, adding: “For chemical tankers there has been a lot of orders lately, but the orderbook is not yet as bloated. The large number of MR orders will, however, likely keep rates for easy chemicals down for the coming years.”
Laurin Maritime was founded in Sweden in 1980 by Agneta and Hans Laurin. The company is still controlled by the Laurin family.
Laurin Maritime took delivery of its first two stainless steel chemical tankers from Oskarshamn’s Varv in Sweden in 1982. It then moved on to coated tankers with IMO II/III chemical class, before pioneering 46,000 dwt chemical/clean product tankers.
Unlike traditional shipping companies, 34-year-old Laurin Maritime delegates the daily management of its vessels to shipboard management teams, consisting of two Masters and two Chief Engineers per vessel.
Today, Laurin Maritime has a fleet of 15 tankers, all MR size and 14 of them are IMO II classified.
“We are looking at different opportunities to increase the fleet, but there are no firm plans at this time,” says Laurin.
While, five years ago the company was mainly focused on the Americas and the Atlantic, and now it trades worldwide with five offices across the globe. The aim, according to Laurin, is to increase the firm’s presence in Asia, where it has a commercial office opened a couple of years ago in Singapore as well as a crewing office in Manila.
In terms of the drivers for the chemical trades at present, Laurin notes there’s a lot of new production coming on line in the Middle East in the coming years, which should increase exports of base chemicals to the Asia and Europe. Further there is a lot of optimism about the increase in chemicals production in the US, due to the availability of cheap feedstock. “It is still uncertain though what products will be exported and to where,” he cautions.
Laurin Maritime’s strategy is to have a stable basis of contracts of affreightment covering about 60% of earnings. In addition to that it trades ships on spot voyages trying to build up trade patterns with minimal ballast legs. [25/04/14]

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