We will get a chance to hear what’s uppermost in owners’ minds at Posidonia in the next few days.
Posidonia beats all other major shipping events in the calendar in giving participants a real pulse for what shipowners are thinking. Whether it is on the exhibition floor or at the myriad parties and receptions across Athens and Piraeus in the first week of June, the biennial gathering serves as a great moment for owners to rub shoulders and let off steam in decidedly pleasant Mediterranean surroundings.
Likely talking points as Posidonia readies for its 50th birthday are the recovery in the markets, and looming environmental regulations.
“I suspect we’re all a bit bored with heavy topics like sulphur, carbon footprint and digital disruption,” says serial conference attendee and speaker, Dr Martin Stopford, the president of Clarkson Research. “But you still can’t beat a good argument about when the dry cargo market will really recover – i.e. serious money, and whether tankers will get there first. And of course what you would buy if you had a billion dollars spare cash!”
David Glass, the veteran Athens-based editor of Newsfront Shipping Publications, who has attended every Posidonia since 1976, reckons canny Greek owners will be discussing how the markets are moving.
“I think now people are starting to feel it is going to get better though not fly as high as people thought it would a few months back,” Glass tells Splash.
“The attitude will be very, very different from two years ago,” says our columnist and ship financier Dagfinn Lunde. “People are hopeful that without too many trade wars, demand will catch up with deliveries.”
“Shipping finance is and will be the hot topic,” reckons Basil Karatzas, who runs a shipping advisory firm out of New York. Limited finance is available for most owners and Karatzas says there will be deep discussions and lots of head scratching about where the capital will come to the industry this June.
Harry Vafias, the boss of StealthGas, believes fuel decisions will be a hot topic this time around.
“Most people will be talking about emissions,” Vafias says. “Scrubbers versus LNG versus distillates.”
Quite so, agrees Lunde, who points out that IMO’s 2020 sulphur cap is fast approaching.
“People do not have very long to decide. Shipowners tend to wait to the last moment,” he says.
Scott Bergeron, who heads up the Liberian flag, which boasts more Greek ships than any other, agrees with shipowner Vafias.
“With the necessary lead time essentially gone and a nominal amount of owners choosing to retrofit their ships with scrubbers,” Bergeron says, “the practical impact of the 2020 sulphur cap is likely to be a predominant topic during Posidonia. Who will win, who will lose? Don’t bet against the Greek shipowner.”
Panos Patsadas, chartering and operations manager at DS Multibulk, wonders in particular what tanker owners will do with all the environmental legislation coming their way.
“Crude carriers, with a grim half year behind them, will find many owners reluctant to make outlays for upgrades before they see light at the end of the tunnel or lucrative incentives which are far from present,” Patsadas says.
Concluding, Theo Vokos, the executive director of Posidonia Exhibitions, tells Splash: “It can’t be questioned that Posidonia remains the place to do business with Greek owners, keen to evaluate new technologies, source equipment and develop partnerships for their demanding fleet expansion and renewal programmes. So Posidonia exhibitors are positioned at the heart of this multi-billion market, face to face with buyers ready to do business.”
Splash reporters will be bringing readers unrivalled, comprehensive coverage from Athens all week.