Chartering a 45-year-old tanker because no other suitable tanker was available points to how charterers might behave in the immediate post-2020 environment
I like to think there was a lot of soul-searching at the headquarters of one of the world’s largest independent oil traders before it chartered-in a 45-year-old tanker to lift a cargo of crude oil in the Caspian Sea.
I like to think the charter was on the agenda of a meeting of the operational executive board and that the director of sustainability and corporate social responsibility gave a thorough briefing to the board of the consequences should this particular tanker be rammed (as has happened before) or even sink (as has happened before).
I like to think the head of chartering was asked to explain to the board how this vessel fitted in with the company’s chartering policies and that the board was given sight of the vetting that was undertaken on the tanker, the ownership company, and the technical and ship management companies involved.
I like to think the board of directors, having taken these and other mitigating factors into account (Grigoriy Bugrov is double-hulled from new and has just passed a special survey) arrived at a conclusion to proceed with the charter on a basis more than simply profit.
Of course, I am being deliberately naive, but there is little doubt that should Grigoriy Bugrov run into difficulties or cause one litre of pollution, the consequences will impact the tanker industry as a whole. It will be the tanker industry that will be faced with calls to adopt new legislation and retrofits (triple-hulls anyone?) in the wake of any disaster involving such an elderly vessel.
And, as usual, the charterer of the vessel, the company that made the voyage happen, will barely be mentioned in the mainstream press or its role in the affair highlighted.
Hopefully, the voyage will pass without incident. However, the other worrying factor in this event is that in my opinion, it is an indicator of what will happen in 2020. If there is a shortage of available tonnage in full compliance there will be little hesitation in turning to less than optimum alternatives, and the whole industry could suffer the consequences.
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