Bergen: Amid tough times one of the most famous names in Norwegian shipping is increasingly turning its back on its traditional shipowning role in favour of diversification.
Tschudi Group, whose shipowning heritage dates back to 1883, is increasingly focused on offshore, logistics and ports.
The Tschudi Shipping Company AS dates back to 1883 when the shipping company Tschudi & Eitzen was established. The founders of Tschudi & Eitzen AS were both captains onboard the world’s first sailing tankers.
The company subsequently operated a wide range of vessels starting with sailing and steamships and moving onto general cargo vessels, tankers, bulk carriers, OBOs, submersible heavylift vessels, chemical tankers, gas carriers, tugs and barges as well as container and roro vessels.
The Tschudi Group currently owns a fleet of multipurpose container vessels, tugs and offshore vessels in addition to operating containerlines between northern European ports in the Baltic and North Sea.
Tschudi Shipping Company was also involved in the privatisation and now owns the former national and oldest shipping company of Estonia, ESCO.
Jon Edvard Sundnes, ceo of Tschudi Shipping Company, tells Maritime CEO, that multipurpose/small container vessel rates have been “a disappointment” and the company’s concern as owners is that they will remain so. As a result Tschudi has sold most of its tonnage in this segment. In terms of vessels owned, these days Tschudi is bigger in the offshore support vessel domain.
“For OSVs we expect seasonal variations but still that levels will be fairly strong,” Sundnes says.
Nevertheless, the focus these days is, as mentioned, less on vessel ownership, as Sundnes explains.
“Because of our position as port/terminal owners in northern Norway and logistics/liner operator and project cargo operator our focus is more on the cargo and port development than on vessels just now,” he says, adding: “We have a strong belief that we can build on our special competences with regard to northern regions and also on Russia and neighbouring countries.”
Tschudi also runs a small, but growing third party shipmanagement business.
“We will grow the business gently, but we do not foresee any giant steps in this respect,” Sundnes says. He expects there will be further consolidation amongst some of the smaller operators and also smaller shipowning companies possibly seeking to outsource because of an increasingly demanding regulatory regime.
Moreover, in weak markets cost levels and cost control will be important, Sundnes stresses.
“Some locations may be too expensive and/or lack the recruitment basis for shipmanagement. That is where Estonia as a rather cost efficient European location and still having many seafarers as a recruitment basis for shore based personnel is considered favourable also for providing services to the region’s owners,” he says.
Tschudi as a company is pinning much of its future on the growth in industrial activities in the Arctic.
“We expect that there will be a significant growth in activities related both to oil and gas but also to minerals,” Sundnes says. This will require specialised tankers, bulkers and project cargo/MPP vessels, he reckons. In addition there will be a need for transhipment in ice-free ports in the region, he says, both to utilise the ice-classed vessels better but also to use the ice-free season as efficiently as possible.
“That is where we come in with our strong location as port and terminal owners in Kirkenes and our oil transhipment services in Honningsvaag, northern Norway,” Sundnes suggests.
These locations represent what Sundnes describes as “ice-free wedges” into the Arctic.
This is strong position based on favourable locations in the Arctic region which we believe many operators can benefit from using and we are open for cooperations,” he concludes.
Born in 1955, Sundnes graduated as a naval architect. He worked as a surveyor for DNV in the early 1980s, then as a ship and project broker at Fearnleys and has subsequently held various management positions including managing director of First Olsen Tankers and Mega Tankers until he joined Tschudi & Eitzen in 2000. [30/07/14]