Athens: Two weeks ago well respected DVB banker Dagfinn Lunde picked LPG as one of few shipping sectors with strong prospects, something not lost one of Greece’s more dynamic and least media shy shipowners, Harry Vafias, boss of StealthGas.
“We are very bullish on LPG,” says Vafias, “that’s why our goal is to expand to 20% market share from the current 14% that we have right now.”
With $100m of what Vafias calls “dry powder” StealthGas is ready to hit both the second hand market and shipyards as it looks to build its fleet of gas carriers to 50 vessels from today’s total of 33.
“If we need more then we will do a follow on offering in New York,” Vafias reveals to Maritime CEO.
In the immediate offing expect to hear about orders for four more LPG newbuilds in Japan, with contracts due to be signed soon for ships ranging in capacity from 3,500 cu m to 7,500 cu m. These four would go alongside the current quartet in the StealhGas orderbook.
Newbuilds are easier than second hand ships at the moment, Vafias says.
“There are very few ships for sale,” the Greek national says, “because the market is tight and few people are selling but I hope to find a few private ships to buy soon.”
For StealthGas there are no plans at present to expand into different sectors. “We want to stick to what we know best and to stick in a sector where demand and supply fundamentals look very favorable,” Vafias maintains, citing market statistics that show LPG demand growing 6% a year and negative fleet growth. “There is nothing more attractive than small LPG,” he concludes. [15/03/13]
NEED TO KNOW: StealthGas
StealthGas currently owns 33 LPG carriers plus four oil tankers. The average age of the fleet is about 10.5 years and the total carrying capacity of the LPG fleet today is 161,822 cu m. StealthGas ranks number one worldwide in owned vessels in the 3,000 to 8,000 cu m LPG carrier segment. Plans revealed to Maritime CEO today call for the fleet to grow to 50 ships.