Ten vessel owners discuss their plans


Singapore: In under three months SeaShip News has established itself as the portal that shipowners turn to. In this short space of time we have conducted many shipowner interviews. Below are key takeaways from the first ten profiles we have concluded. 

China Navigation’s managing director, Tim Blackburn, revealed how his owned fleet, which currently numbers 14 vessels, is set to nearly double with eight 31,000 dwt multipurpose vessels and four 40,000 dwt handysize bulk carriers for delivery in 2013 and 2014.

Neil Glenn, the managing director of sister firm Swire Pacific Offshore (SPO), meanwhile, said his company is on course to have a fleet in excess of 100 vessels by 2015. SPO currently has a fleet of 81 vessels, with a further 26 on order to deliver over the next three years. 

Also keen to grow is Masterbulk. One of bulk shipping’s more conservative players has a strong balance sheet and is ready to take advantage of cheap prices both for newbuilds and second hand ships. In a rare interview Stephen Fordham, executive chairman of Masterbulk, stressed, “We will invest, however, only when we think the time is right.”

Elsewhere, fast expanding Jaya Holdings is looking at expanding its geographic footprint to enter the markets in Australia, India, Mexico and Brazil.

Jaya Holdings ceo Venkatraman Sheshashayee told SeaShip News that this expansion would take place in a “planned, staged manner”. Jaya already has a strong presence in Southeast Asia, Africa and the Middle East.

Jaya has a mixed offshore support fleet of 28 vessels and a further eleven on order.

On the current OSV market conditions Sheshashayee admitted: “The market continues to suffer from historical overhang. Vessels continue to be delivered from Chinese and other Asian yards, still keeping the supply-demand equation slightly adverse. We hope to see this improve in the coming months.”

Also looking further afield is offshore vessel operator Hallin whose ceo John Giddens said he is looking to enter West Africa and Australia as Hallin grows beyond its traditional operating areas of southeast Asia and the North Sea. 

Another offshore operator spoke to us about plans to get into AHTSs. OSV operator Chellsea is eyeing the AHTS sector its ceo Gautam Chellaram told SeaShip News. “Outside PSVs we will at the right time consider the AHTS sector,” he said.

Cementing SeaShip News’ place as the shipowner portal SE Shipping Lines (SESL), the Singapore offshoot of wind turbine manufacturer Suzlon, spoke to us in late October in a rare interview about plans to continue to increase its fleet size as well as spread its cargo base. Speaking to SeaShip News Gaurav Bansal, ceo of four-year-old SESL, said: “Short-medium term plans include a continuation of fleet growth through period – including bareboat and/or acquisition, depending on market availability; concurrent to fleet growth will be a drive to increase cargo commitments through all sectors of the heavylift, project and breakbulk market.”

In our first three months we also canvassed overseas firms with growing presences in the region. For instance, Canada’s largest dry bulk player, Fednav, is looking to build its presence in Asia and specifically boosting its log carrying capabilities, we reported earlier this month. 

Fednav opened an office in Singapore in April last year, which complemented the company’s regional presence in Tokyo and Brisbane. However, the Singapore office is unique among Fednav’s overseas offices as its local managing director Carl Lee explained to SeaShip News. 

“We saw … an opportunity to generate some separate activity in the Far East, independent of Fednav’s mainstream shipping operations that are controlled by our head office in Montreal,” he said, adding: “Fednav Singapore is the only overseas office to have such a mandate and we are working closely with our colleagues in Australia and Japan to develop Asian-specific business.”

Another big global name – Maersk – spoke to us in November. Container shipping has a way to go before it can return to sustainable profitable ways, and the industry must forget the old strategy of chasing high utlisation rates at all costs, the chief executive of Maersk Line in Asia Pacific, Thomas Knudsen, said in an exclusive interview with SeaShip News.

“The industry is still not at a long-term sustainable profit level and there is still some way to go,” Knudsen said.

In a swipe to peers within the industry, Knudsen said: “The industry as a whole has to get used to not expecting utilization to be in the 90s all the time. Chasing high utilization at any cost is and will not be sustainable.”

On the box front we also spoke with Singapore feeder operator Orient Express Lines (OEL) which is eyeing the Indonesian market. OEL currently focuses on Malaysia, Singapore, the Indian Sub-Continent and most recently Myanmar.

Part of Transworld Group Singapore, OEL has trimmed back its fleet of late but is now scouring the market for charters and also to buy small boxships below 15 years of age.

The ceo of the company, Biju Oommen, told SeaShip News that Indonesia is on the cards, with the ports of Jakarta and Surabaya in focus, where OEL expects growth along with the group's liner division.

“We have trimmed capacity because of the volatility,” Oommen conceded, before adding, “However, we could charter another two vessels if the volumes remain steady.”

On top of that Oommen revealed: “We would consider buying vessels which are below 15 years and are continuously on the lookout of good tonnage.”

Stay tuned to SeaShip News to find out exclusives on what the region’s shipowners are planning. For more owner profiles from across the world check out the new fast growing LinkedIn group Maritime CEO.  [14/12/12]



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