BUSINESS

Greek shippers swing toward tanker orders

By Nikos Roussanoglou

Greek shipowners invested a total of 1.7 billion euros in March and April alone in newbuild orders – mainly tankers at Asian shipyards – as shipbrokers’ data show. This constitutes a marked increase in investing in this particular market compared with previous months.

This comes in stark contrast with other categories of ships where activity is close to zero. The main example of that is the dry-bulk carrier category, as its market remains in decline and will likely stay that way for the next couple of years at least.

Consequently, Greek shippers are again turning toward tankers, where rates are maintaining a steady northbound course. This applies not only to crude oil carriers but also (albeit to a lesser extent) tankers carrying refined oil products such as gasoline. All analysts and shipbrokers agree that the increase in rates that started in the second half of last year is sustainable both for this year and for the next two, taking also into account the self-containment that shipowners have displayed without overcrowding the market with orders for hundreds of new tankers.

Data from the Golden Destiny shipbroking group, which is based in Piraeus, showed that Greek shipowners invested a total of 700 million euros in orders for 17 new tankers in March, while April witnessed a similar picture: A sum of 966 million euros was invested for the order of 15 new ships, 12 of which are tankers. This means that more than 3 billion euros has gone toward orders for new vessels, most of them tankers, in the first four months of this year.

Among the companies that have been particularly active recently are Arcadia Shipmanagement, owned by the family of Constantinos Angelopoulos, which has ordered two Suezmax tankers with a capacity of 158,000 tons and a value of 60 million euros each, and Maran Tankers, owned by the Angelicoussis Group, which has ordered two VLCCs with a capacity of 319,000 tons, costing 86 million euros each.

Cardiff Marine, owned by George Economou, has been particularly active as Golden Destiny figures show that it has ordered four Aframax tankers (of 115,000 tons apiece) costing 51.3 million euros each, as well as two 158,000-ton Suezmax tankers for 60 million euros each, for a total investment of 325.2 million euros.

Still, it should be noted that the funds invested so far this year in the global market are significantly lower than in the same period a year earlier, owing to the crisis in the dry-bulk sector. This trend has been reflected in investments made by the Greek shippers, too. In the first quarter of the year the sum spent by Greeks on used ships or on new orders at shipyards added up to 2.5 billion euros, against almost 6 billion euros in the same period last year.

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