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May 2, 2023

Aframax tanker Pablo caught fire in Malaysian waters with three crewmembers missing. The ship, owned by Marshall Islands-based Pablo Union Shipping, is registered in Gabon, and was en route from China to the United Arab Emirates when the blaze broke out. Analysis from shows the vessel has a history of shifting Iranian crude. Southeast Asia, a major crossroads for the tanker trades, sees many shadow tankers passing through its busy waters. The growing use of the dark fleet, whose numbers are thought to top 600 ships, is resulting in accidents around the world. Highly respected shipping writer Michael Grey commented that the dark fleet and the sort of people it will inevitably attract are risking the reputation of the tanker sector.

Geneva Dry, a high-level summit for the entire dry bulk supply chain, has been launched today to become the global annual dry bulk gathering. Set to run from May 2 to 3 next year at the five-star Hotel President Wilson on the banks of Lake Geneva, the business event will welcome delegates and speakers from across the world. The team behind shipping news site Splash, organisers of the exclusive Maritime CEO Forum series, created Geneva Dry. Split into sectors, panels will bring together analysts, financiers, miners, traders, and shipowners to discuss where the markets are headed. Sessions include minor bulks, grains, coal, iron ore and decarbonisation with a special digital workshop included. The vast majority of the big players in international trade have a presence in Geneva. The event hopes to create a space for dry bulk deals to be sealed.

Shipowners who are planning to buy ships may face significant delays due to the drying up of available delivery slots in yards in Asia. Broking and banking sources suggest that this situation is set to worsen in the coming months, with most available delivery slots having already dried up for 2025, and disappearing rapidly for 2026. Maersk Broker has reported that no new build slots are available for 2025, and most of the early part of 2026. Additionally, tanker and dry bulk owners face long waits and high prices, given that shipyard capacity has decreased dramatically in the 15 years following the global financial crisis. The ordering boom for containership owners and big names in LNG shows little in the way of diminished appetite, despite the bottleneck. Mark Williams, who heads UK consultancy Shipping Strategy, has urged yards to massively increase capacity to meet green goals stipulated by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) to replace or refit the entire global fleet to meet IMO emission ambitions for 2050. More than 3,500 ships a year need to be built or refitted every year until 2050. Danish Ship Finance predicts yard capacity to increase by 1.5m cgt from 2022 to 2023 with the reopening of 12 yards in China.

The crew of the VLCC Heroic Idun have been released from Nigeria after being held for nine months without bail since August 2021. The tanker and its crew were accused of attempting to lift oil from an offshore platform and were arrested by Equatorial Guinea forces. The vessel was supposed to load crude oil in Nigeria’s Akpo terminal on August 8 last year but was delayed. Later that day, a ship that did not have its automatic identification systems (AIS) switched on approached the VLCC, claiming to be the Nigerian Navy. The VLCC escaped the area under suspicion of an attempted piracy attack, but a few days later, the vessel was interdicted by a navy vessel from Equatorial Guinea at the request of the Nigerian navy. The vessel had a total crew of 26 persons, with 15 crewmembers held in detention at Malabo for several months and the remaining crewmembers left on the ship. After much campaigning, the ship’s owner was ordered to pay a nominal fine, and all crew have been sent back to their homes across the world.

A dredger, the MV Hong Hai 189, collided with a product tanker, the MT Petite Soeur, in the waters off Corregidor Island, Philippines on Friday, resulting in the death of three people, with two others reported missing. The dredger capsized after the collision, and although a nearby vessel was able to rescue 16 of the dredger’s 20 crew members, the safety officer died from their injuries. The tanker only sustained minimal damage, and no crew members were injured. An investigation is ongoing to determine the cause of the incident, and authorities are expected to conduct a port state control inspection of the Petite Soeur to ensure compliance with regulations.

Bunker Holding Group, the world’s largest bunkering company, has secured a new unsecured committed bank credit facility of $1.11 billion from an international bank syndicate. The funding framework has also been raised to $3.2 billion, with a 33% increase compared to the previous framework. The increased credit facility will allow Bunker Holding Group to extend credit lines to clients during the industry’s transition to alternative fuels, which is driving up prices. The new credit facility is linked to sustainability, marking the company’s first ESG-linked credit facility deal. The credit facility includes KPIs for environment, social, and governance, demonstrating the company’s commitment to sustainability. The new credit syndicate consists of 15 banks from Europe, Middle East, and Asia, which underscores the trust shown in Bunker Holding Group across international markets. The credit facility is a major step forward for Bunker Holding Group, as it allows them to stay closer to where their clients operate, said Christian Mens, Group Treasury Director at Bunker Holding Group. The bank syndicate closed the new running five-year facility as of April 2023.

Dynacom Tankers Management, owned by George Procopiou, has placed an order for ten LR2 tankers, each weighing 115,000 dwt, from Shanhaiguan Shipbuilding in China. The ships will have scrubbers and are expected to be delivered from the second half of 2025 to 2026. Although the prices for the tankers have not been disclosed, the order is believed to have taken up all of Shanhaiguan’s remaining delivery slots for 2025.

The US Navy’s shortage of amphibious ships has left the Marine Corps unable to assist in recent crises in Turkey and Sudan. Commandant Gen. David Berger has acknowledged the importance of sea-based options, which are critical in reinforcing embassies and conducting evacuations. The US Merchant Marine has stepped in to address the shortfall in amphibious ships, although they cannot match the capabilities of the US Navy’s ships. In response to the crisis in Sudan, the Military Sealift Command ship USNS Brunswick, crewed by US Merchant Mariners, evacuated 300 individuals from Sudan to Saudi Arabia. The US Merchant Marine is the military branch that moves the most military cargo by volume, and the Marine Corps is deepening its partnership with them. The Association of Marine Corps Logisticians (AMCL) is fostering stronger collaborations between the USMC and the US Merchant Mariners, Military Sealift, and commercial maritime logistics experts. The second annual in-person AMCL Symposium, taking place from August 8-10, 2023, offers a platform for thought leadership and innovation among logistics and supply chain professionals. Through combined efforts, the nation’s security can be strengthened, and the capacity to respond to a wide range of global emergencies enhanced.

You can read previous issue of ‘Currents’ here.

Disclaimer: ‘Currents’ is an online shipping news service by Earl’s Rock Trading (Pvt) Ltd that reports on the latest developments and trends in the maritime industry. We do not take any responsibility for the accuracy or completeness of the information provided in our news stories or for any opinions expressed by the people quoted in them. Our aim is to provide our readers with up-to-date news and insights from reliable sources. However, we do not endorse or take any responsibility for any actions taken by our readers based on the information provided in our news articles. We also want to make it clear that we do not own any of the images used in our news stories, unless stated otherwise. All images belong to their respective owners, and we use them solely for illustrative purposes. If you are the owner of any image used in our news stories and want it to be removed or credited, please contact us, and we will take the necessary action.