Shipping’s borderless trend

Oslo: Geographical and market boundaries are becoming less important than multi-discipline knowledge, delegates attending the conference on the second day of Nor-Shipping were told.

Giants from both the offshore and shipping sector joined for an interesting debate discussing  borderless businesses, strategic alliances and improved information systems.

Peter Evensen, the president of Teekay, described how his company had diversified from tankers to gas to offshore over the past decade and grown revenues from $2bn to $12bn over the period.

Evensen emphasised the transnational aspect of the company and their decision to have a global crew, not seafarers from one specific nation. He emphasized the important aspect of ‘borderlessness’ in the company’s operations.  While the world is seeing deals between Russia, China, Japan, not seen before, protectionist measures are still in place, he warned, such as the US Jones Act, and Brazil’s local content shipbuilding policy.

The president of Clarksons Research Services, shipping research guru, Dr Martin Stopford talked about what business model will work for shipowners going forward.  He highlighted that in the dry cargo sector of shipping the rates now are the same as 60 years ago, and the model has been a gambler’s business, where the Greeks have much been the most successful players.

“One needs to accept that this business model is now out of date, and that information management is key,” he explained.

Stopford elaborated that technology is behind in shipping and that the industry had taken economies of scale to the extreme while weak customers relationships, and too little spending on technological development and management was hurting the industry.  He urged better management, information systems and more automation, a popular rallying call from the well known analyst over the past year. Stopford talked about the Google Self-Driving Car project and how shipping should look at mirroring it.

Stopford believes shipping should be able to shave 30% off its current costs by upgrading existing infrastructure.

“All the shipping industry needs is a clear vision,” he concluded.






Hans Thaulow

Hans Henrik Thaulow is an Oslo-based journalist who has been covering the shipping industry for the last 15 years. As well as some work for the Informa Group, Hans was the China correspondent for TradeWinds. He also contributes to Maritime CEO magazine. Hans’ shipping background extends to working as a shipbroker trainee with Simpson, Spence & Young in Hong Kong.
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