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Live from Sea Asia

Leading maritime execs say agility needed to cope with volatile markets

Leading maritime execs say agility needed to cope with volatile markets
Leading Asian maritime executives say the shipping and offshore companies need to be agile to adapt to difficult and changing market conditions.

Speaking at a Sea Asia 2015 industry insights briefing, ahead of the conference and exhibition in Singapore on 21 – 23 April, Precious Shipping managing director Khalid Hashim commented on the challenges facing the dry bulk shipping sector which has been hit by a seven year down cycle and a year-on-year fleet growth of 12 – 13% year-on-year between 2009 and 2012.

An upturn expected at the start of 2014 failed to happen and now demand is softening for key iron ore cargoes.

“Iron ore makes up a significant portion of the cargo transported by dry bulk shippers and this softening demand, coupled with increased capacity, has resulted in a significant shift in the supply and demand balance within the global dry bulk shipping sector,” he said.   

He added that the industry is taking action to manage these challenges. “Companies are focusing on driving efficiencies and managing costs to weather these challenging conditions. One of the ways they’re doing this is by scrapping or selling older assets – a move which also allows them to generate more cash.

 “Companies are also raising equity by going back to their shareholders or the market to ensure they have sufficient liquidity to support them over this time,” Hashim said.

Singapore Maritime Foundation chairman (SMF) and managing director (Marine & Technology) at Keppel Offshore & Marine commented on how while lower oil prices have positive impact for the shipping industry, they create challenges for the offshore marine sector.

“Low bunker prices have a positive impact on the shipping industry but our marine and engineering sectors are likely to face some headwinds in securing new orders. Fortunately, the industry has a full backlog of orders that will carry them through this year and into 2016.

“In the meantime we need to focus on increasing productivity, reducing costs and driving efficiencies to manage this volatility,” Chia said.  

Chia added the industry needs to be prepared to seize the opportunities new trends in energy E&P present.

“Liquefied natural gas (LNG) is a new space which will continue to play a bigger role in meeting energy demand. Here in Singapore, for example, we opened our first LNG terminal last year to help secure the country’s energy supply and establish ourselves as a hub for LNG bunkering.

“These projects need the right technology and infrastructure in place and the offshore industry is focusing its research and development efforts to support these trends,” Chia said.  

Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) assistant chief executive (development), Tan Beng Tee explained that the Singapore government is working with the industry to ensure it is prepared to manage changing market conditions.

“Singapore continues to keep abreast of global developments and will continue to work with the industry to address and tackle key challenges and position ourselves strategically for future growth,” she said.

“In order for Maritime Singapore to be future-ready, MPA is introducing schemes to develop quality manpower which is critical to drive growth in this global business,” she added.

This year, MPA will inject another $65m into the maritime cluster fund-manpower development programme to attract and develop talent for the maritime sector.

These changing market conditions and their impact on the global maritime industry will be the focus of discussion at Sea Asia 2015 – an event which has established itself as the leading forum for discussion and debate in the maritime industry.

“Sea Asia’s importance in the global maritime calendar continues to grow,” said Seatrade Global editor Marcus Hand.

“We are expecting more than 14,000 participants from over 60 countries to attend and are honoured that Singapore’s Minister for Transport, Mr Lui Tuck Yew will be opening the event.

“Sea Asia has traditionally drawn the Who’s Who of maritime leadership and this year will be no different with some of the biggest names in the industry debating, discussing and analysing key issues shaping the industry at the three day event,” he said.