While the VLCC market remains its core focus, in the longer term, transitioning to other segments is an option for Tanker International, the company’s boss Charlie Grey tells Maritime CEO.
The UK-based VLCC pool operator established in 2000 today has a fleet of over 60 ships but it has invested in internal digital infrastructure that would support its expansion, for example from suezmaxes to aframaxes.
Grey stepped up from chief operating officer at TI, replacing the former supremo Jonathan Lee, who took on the chairman position.
He reckons tanker freight markets are in the midst of an upcycle, driven by strong fundamentals and volume diversity.
“We have recently seen a change in correlations between suezmax, aframax, and VLCCs, with the first two driving the VLCC markets rather than the other way round,” he says, adding that according to the company’s analysis, the distance side of the tonne-mile equation is set to grow further, setting up the tanker segment for a bullish period.
Grey finds that without a doubt “a pool is the best place to be right now” and that as the operating model of the shipping industry evolves again, pools serve as a stable model.
“Pools serve to futureproof shipowners ahead of the challenges facing shipping, from the global energy transition to supporting compliance and are a great forum for sharing industry knowledge and best practices ranging from sharing insights on data, alternative fuels, or simply building those relationships that could unlock new opportunities.”
The company is also said to be well underway with its digitalisation and decarbonisation transformations and TI’s top man believes that as the dust settles on MEPC 80, it will be challenging for the industry to successfully prepare for regulations such as CII and EU ETS, whilst digitalising its internal processes.
For Grey, this challenge is where the security, collaboration and community element of being part of the pool comes into its own to support multiple owners.
Grey sees the pool as well well-positioned to take advantage of today’s unique circumstances with a “young average vessel age, wealth of data and collaboration mentality” that, according to him, will all be crucial as shipping rides the ever-changing macro-economic waves that have rocked global commerce and the supply chain since 2020. – An example of this is the increased diversity of the global VLCC fleet.
“Tankers International has adapted to create a flexible and agile methodology that delivers value for partners and charterers, including a series of sub-pools covering modern scrubber-fitted vessels and non-scrubber-fitted vessels,” Grey concludes.