Limassol: In these stretched times owners are increasingly asking shipmanagers to tighten costs, especially related to crew outlay, says the boss of a top European shipmanager.
Sergey Popravko, managing director of Cyprus-based Unicom Management Services, tells Maritime CEO owners are suggesting he looks at areas such as longer crew contracts, optimisation of crew change, freezing of crew wages and even crew reduction.
“While we appreciate crew cost control is needed, ship safety remains paramount and neither we nor our owners would compromise the safety and quality of operations due to cost optimisation – it is always a difficult balance,” Popravko stresses.
Founded by Acomarit, the Swiss based shipmanagement company and Sovcomflot in 1991, Unicom now manages 87 ships and has offices around the world including in Singapore, Manila, Vladivostok and St Petersburg.
“Unicom chose to switch from speculative shipping to a more industrial focus and so we continue deepening our specialisation in gas transportation, offshore supply and the management of ice-breakers,” says the Russian national.
While the word ‘consolidation’ is sweeping across many sectors in shipping – from dry bulk to shipbrokers – Popravko reckons it’s harder for shipmanagers to come together.
“Moving forward,” he says, “I do not see consolidation but what I do see is growing competition among the shipmanagers, which may or may not see interesting changes in the key players and shipmanagement clusters.”
As an ice shipmanagement specialist, Unicom is well placed for the continued opening up of the Arctic to commercial shipping. Unicom sent its first managed vessel via the Northern Sea Route (NSR) in 2010 and has since prepared and completed several more voyages via the NSR.
NSR Administration compliance is notoriously difficult – in 2013 alone more than 20 vessels were rejected for NSR passage – but Unicom can boast that not a single vessel it has prepared for NSR transit has been rejected and all voyages were executed safely.
“With growing interest in navigating the Arctic and harsh environment zones, Unicom has a competitive advantage in today’s marketplace,” Popravko concludes. [03/12/14]