Dry CargoEuropeMaritime CEO

Thorco Shipping: Open minded to new opportunities

Copenhagen: It’s been six weeks since the multipurpose carrier Thorco Cloud sank in the Singapore Strait after a fatal collision with a Stolt Tankers vessel, in which three crewmen lost their lives and three are still missing.

Thomas Mikkelsen, the CEO and partner of Copenhagen-based Thorco Shipping, says there’s no new information regarding the collision – as of yet. However, they are in close contact with the local authorities regarding the ongoing investigation.

Thorco Cloud was hit in the starboard side and subsequently sank within few minutes. Currently an investigation is still ongoing and until all the loose ends have been gathered and we have the full picture, we cannot say much about what exactly caused the collision”, Mikkelsen explains.

The tragic sinking has left several families without their beloved ones, and Mikkelsen says they are working closely with the crewing agent to ensure that the families and the surviving crewmembers are being cared for.

“It has been a tragic incident with the worst thinkable outcome. The fact that three crewmembers lost their lives and three have not been found, is the worst thinkable for a shipping company. We are deeply affected by the immeasurable loss their families have suffered and our deepest sympathy and thoughts go out to the them”, Mikkelsen tells Maritime CEO.

Thorco Shipping is currently awaiting any news regarding a possible salvage of the wreck. However, the company expects to have a clearer picture of the situation during February.

Even though Thorco Shipping didn’t have the most pleasant start to the new year there is much to be optimistic about. They have just added five modern 17,954 dwt tweendeckers in order to keep the fleet young and up-to-date.

“We are always open minded with regard to new opportunities and are as such always evaluating options in the market. It goes without saying that market conditions presently are not talking in favour of fleet expansion. However, we believe long term in shipping and want to think long term – therefore we also find it interesting to explore market options at the present level,” Mikkelsen elaborates.

He also adds that the the company has plenty else going on at the moment. Thorco has helped out with Shell’s FLNG project as well as opening up an office in Spain.

“Over the years Spain has become a very important market to us. We have established some very good contacts here and we have created more and more cargoes. So to further support this growth, we thus have chosen to open an office near the centre of Madrid, and we will now see if we can get even more out of this by being close to the clients,” Mikkelsen tells Maritime CEO.

However, the weak market has led to a visible capacity surplus in most shipping segments. Mikkelsen believes that we in are in a historically low market, but he is not too keen on giving any predictions for the future.

“I have been very surprised about the market development during the last years and what used to be a trend has turned out to be the opposite. So it has been very dangerous to speculate about the future, as the future has shown us to be unpredictable”, he says.

Long term Mikkelsen trusts that there will always be a market for transportation of goods at sea. However, he believes that there might be more uncertainty to come during 2016.

“We have a historical low oil price slowing down this industry, the entire world is looking at the economy in China and stock markets all over the world are dropping. Presently there are so many destructive factors, which somehow are creating a global negative atmosphere, and this of course has an impact on the shipping needs”, he explains.

Mikkelsen finds it hard to believe that shipowners will be able to survive for a longer period in the current market and he is adamant that we can only hope for an improvement.

“I personally think we have to accept the fact that the present market will be the reality for the majority of 2016. We are all affected by a great number of factors globally. All shipping segments – except tankers – are at an all time low level and due to this, we have seen an increasing amount of cannibalism from segment to segment: the bigger bulkers are looking at smaller quantity and seeking alternative cargoes, and containers are doing more breakbulk. However, in Thorco Shipping we believe that when a door closes another opens, and we stay optimistic and seek these opportunities,” he concludes.

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