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Torm's ongoing expansion reliant on Asian officers

Torm's ongoing expansion reliant on Asian officers

Copenhagen: Danish company Torm's rapid product tanker and bulker fleet expansion continues with the takeover of two newbuilding contracts involving 85,000 dwt Kamsarmax bulkers on order in the Far East and delivering in 2010.

Details of the deal, believed to have been signed on Monday, are not yet available but it is thought the Copenhagen- and Nasdaq-listed firm is paying a significant premium on current newbuilding prices.

The ability to employ Asian, mainly Indian, officers and crew is key to the expansion. Earlier this year, Torm won the first ever concession from the Danish Government, allowing non-Danish officers to be employed in the operation of 26 products tanker acquired in the $2.3bn takeover, with Teekay, of OMI Corporation. The products tankers are now technically managed and manned out of Mumbai.

Describing the manning crisis as "one of the biggest bottlenecks the shipping industry faces", Torm president and ceo Klaus Kjærulff says he hopes the new Danish Government - to be elected after a general election on November 13th - will allow a similar exemption for ships currently on order. Despite a heavy advertising campaign to attract young people, there is a critical shortage of Danish seagoing personnel.

Torm has 75 cadets in training and plans to take on between 25 and 50 more each year from now on. The company's ships on order include ten MR products tankers of around 50,000dwt under construction at Guangzhou in China and six 110,000dwt products carriers at Dalian.  [31/10/07]