Acquiring a tug newbuilding can be similar to buying a new work vehicle from a dealership, but with more customisation options.
Owners should be able to select from existing stock, tugs that are already in production or those built to specific requirements.
Sanmar projects director Ali Gurun explained to Tug Technology & Business how tug newbuilding purchasing should be like buying a new car, and shipyards should be prepared for this.
His views are in response to last week’s editor’s comment, which questioned whether there would be enough demand for new tugs for shipyards to continue to building them on a speculative basis or for their own stock beyond 2019.
Mr Gurun thinks shipyards are building tugboat stock in full knowledge that owners will continue to buy them and to provide operators with as large a selection as possible. “What we have in stock are not speculative tugs, but just available tugs,” he said.
In his analogy, this is similar to a person selecting a vehicle for towage and work from a dealership.
“If I decide to buy a new car, I expect to do some research on the internet and then visit the local dealer and have a look at available cars and have a test drive,” said Mr Gurun.
“I would have the option of choosing available cars with various colours and specs in stock and the ones in the production,” he continued. “Or I may order a dream car that is custom built and can be delivered at a cost and delivery time.”
“I could get a very good deal and enjoy a better discount”
Another option open to Mr Gurun would be if the dealer has a large stock. “I could get a very good deal and enjoy a better discount. If a dealer has good numbers of options, the buyer benefits from a large list and with a better discount.”
Tug owners can approach Sanmar for newbuildings in the same way, as it keeps different types of tugs in stock for purchase. During this quarter Sanmar gained orders for six tugs, of which five have bollard pulls of more than 75 tonnes. These have been sold to Rimorchiatori Napolitani, Bukser og Berging, Orkney Islands and PKL Flote.
Mr Gurun thinks these orders mean it will be selling more tugs than it can build in 2019. However, any tugs that are built but unsold would have a home in Turkey.
“In the unlikely case of oversupply, the tugs can enter our own fleet, however we expect no additions to our fleet this year,” he said.
One method of measuring if there is an oversupply is to monitor the ratio of newbuildings versus sales for each tug-builder. For Sanmar, the ratio in 2017 was one, Mr Gurun expects it to be one this year as well.
“We expect to sell more tugs than we build in 2019 so the ratio will hopefully be more than one,” said Mr Gurun.
Tug builders are enjoying a vibrant market at present with orders double those recorded in 2017 for reasons including a demand for new tugs with higher bollard pull to manage ships of increasing size entering ports worldwide. Another is to modernise fleets with tugs that comply with higher environmental standards.
Sanmar builds tugs for operators such as Svitzer, which started operating Sanmar-built Svitzer Meridian on the River Thames, in the Port of London, UK, on 1 November.
Sanmar has also built different classes of tugs by adapting Robert Allan designs for purchase, the latest being the Gökçay class of harbour tugs, which is one of Tug Technology & Business’ tugs of the year.
Sanmar is building a series of Sirapinar class for owners, such as PKL Flote and Spanish tug owners. It also supplied four Bigacay-class tugs to Svitzer for its Morocco operations this year.