A surprisingly wide range of themes grabbed Tanker Shipping & Trade readers’ attention in 2018: Craig Jallal looks back at the top five most-read stories
The most-read story in 2018 was the March 2018 report by Singapore-based shipping consultancy ShipsFocus Intelligence which ranked the top chemical and parcel tanker operators in what it characterised as a ‘game of thrones’ market scenario.
The analysis revealed that nothing had changed in the rankings from the previous year.
“Stolt Nielsen, Odfjell and MOL Chemical Tankers retain their respective pole positions in 2018 as the world’s top three chemical and parcel tanker operators,” the ShipsFocus Intelligence’s report said.
Since then there have been changes in the composition of the fleet. All will be revealed in the chemical tankers feature in the February/March issue of Tanker Shipping & Trade.
In the second most popular article in 2018, I tried to answer the question: Why did the alternative investment management fund Oaktree Capital Management invest in OSM? The answer revealed a lot about how staying with a tried and tested formula for investing can reap rewards whatever the industry or the state of the sector.
That formula has been clearly stated by Howard Marks, who according to Forbes had a net worth of US$1.91Bn in 2017: look for the dislocation in an industry. Oaktree has spotted that shipping is undergoing a period of dislocation and that the time is ripe to invest in the margins of the industry where price/value discovery is not as transparent as in the freight or S&P side. Hence the investment in shipmanager OSM.
Mr Marks has no time for industry experts and forecasting models, no matter how complex and computerised. His philosophy, which has seen Oaktree grow into a US$100Bn business of fee-generating assets, is simple. Learn all you can about the sector, find the intrinsic value and invest in the equity side to gain control.
The Intertanko Questionnaire 88 has become one of the most important commercial documents in the tanker industry. It is a virtual passport to trade and therefore any revisions are closely followed. This 2018 news story reported on the fifth revision since its introduction in 1988.
Q88 LLC president Fritz Heidenreich justified the revision. “This revision incorporates recommendations and feedback that we have had from our subscribers since the last revision in 2015, demonstrating that the revised Questionnaire 88 is a collaborative effort for the benefit of our industry.”
At the time of the release, Q88 asked owners and operators to check the details on their ships held on the database and to notify Q88 of any revisions.
One theme that will continue into 2019 is the continuing degradation of Venezuela as a crude oil loading destination. The West of England P&I Club issued a statement on 10 December 2018 warning members of security problems at anchorages in the country. In one incident, a vessel waiting to load was boarded by four men wearing what appeared to be National Guard uniforms armed with handguns, who ordered the crew to hand over cash and valuables.
There are numerous attempts of bribery in Venezuelan ports and in June 2018 Tanker Shipping & Trade reported that the national oil company was insisting on exports via ship-to-ship transfer. The reason given was a dispute over payment for deepwater loading facilities.
IMO’s 2020 global sulphur cap received little coverage at the start of the year, mainly because tanker operators were not ready to announce their chosen options for compliance. Therefore, when a Teekay executive mentioned at a bunker conference in April that the organisation was going down the distillate route, Tanker Shipping & Trade readers took notice.
As the year progressed there commenced a round of companies announcing to shareholders how they intended to comply. Frontline and Torm declared that at least part of their fleets would be fitted with scrubbers and had invested in the manufacturers that would supply the units. This opened the floodgates on scrubber stories and by mid-December, there have been no less than 58 news stories in Tanker Shipping & Trade in 2018 featuring the word ‘scrubber’. As the year drew to a close it was difficult to conceive of a new angle on the whole IMO 2020 global sulphur issue.
Then Taiwan announced it was going to implement the legislation 12 months earlier, followed only days later by an even bigger bombshell when the Singapore Maritime Port Authority announced it will ban the discharge of washwater associated with the wet, open-loop configuration of exhaust gas cleaning systems.
The reaction to that decision is going to be the starting point for rest of the IMO 2020 global sulphur cap debate in 2019, so now would be a good time to book your place at Sulphur Cap 2020 Conference, Awards and Exhibition in Amsterdam in May 2019.
What were your favourite Tanker Shipping & Trade stories in 2018? Email me, Craig Jallal: firstname.lastname@example.org