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Stena looking at China with measured interest

Stena looking at China with measured interest
There are opportunities in China and elsewhere in Asia but as a family-owned company that wants to stay that way, Stena Group is taking a very careful and measured approach to expansion ceo Dan Sten Olsson told Seatrade Maritime News.

As to how and where the group, whose shipping business has been in China since 1990, can be involved in this, Sten Olsson said that “the potential is everywhere” but it is important to see where the group has something to contribute and the resources to do so.

He believes at this point this can best be achieved in the tanker business and in ship management as well as on the drilling side, where the group’s oil and gas arm Stena Drilling has three semi-submersible rigs and four drillships, and has made contact with Yantai CIMC Raffles on possible newbuildings in China. Sten Olsson added that an important part of the tanker business is the gas carrier segment where the group manages 30 LNG and LPG tankers.

In terms of joint ventures (jv) with Chinese companies, Sten Olsson said: “We are every now and then exploring that type of cooperation but so far nothing has materialised but someday it will I’m sure”

He added that it takes time to put jvs in place because he believes they are meant to be long term arrangements and in principle should last at least 20 years. “So we are very careful in entering such agreements and it should have very solid foundations,” he said.

Giving an example, Sten Olsson said that Stena had previously been approached to do a jv in the VLCC space in China but had declined because they prefer the suezmaxes. This in turn is not a good fit for the Chinese market and so the deal did not work out. “We have had many such discussions but we are careful because we want the fit to last,” he reiterated.

Stena Bulk president and ceo Erik Hanell echoes this view saying that it favours deals with corporates, charterers and other Chinese ship owners that may want to leverage on Stena’s knowhow while providing an inroad into the Chinese market.

Part of the reason for naming the vessel in Hong Kong was also because Stena Bulk is interested in Chinese partners and financing opportunities as well co-as investors in similar kinds of ships, he said. This could take the form of the partnerships that Stena Bulk has with Golden Agri and Concordia but Hanell remains open to options.

“We are open-minded to ideas as to how we want to play it but in general we are a ship owner and would like to have commercial control in one way or another, so that it fits within Stena Bulk’s overall logistics system,” said Hanell.

He sees other opportunities in the LNG industry in China as it is set to develop further as the massive country starts to upgrade its power distribution infrastructure to the cleaner burning fuel.

“LNG going forward is going to be an energy source to count on quite a lot in Asia and China especially as investments increase,” said Hanell.

“We would love to (be involved); if the opportunity is there, we would for sure look at it. We don’t have anything right now in the pipeline but we are always on the lookout and make assessments whether there is something for us or not,” he concluded.