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LR ceo reflects on markets at Vasilopita ceremony

Lloyd’s Register ceo Alastair Marsh led a cutting of the traditional Vasilopita (Greek New Year’s cake) in honour of the London Greek community at the classification society’s corporate HQ in Fenchurch Street on Wednesday.

Looking back at 2017, Marsh acknowledged that it had been a “challenging” year with key markets proving “tough and unpredictable” although generally much improved on 2016.

There had been some improvement in the new construction market, however, with LR “continuing to lead the global orderbook in terms of gross tonnage with a significant 24.3% market share,” he said.

Turning to the future, Marsh declared this year’s outlook for dry shipping “positive” as a reduction in construction of container ships and bulk carriers was slowing the delivery of new ships, helping charter rates return to “healthier levels.”  

Tanker prospects are “more challenging”, however, because of the recent increase in the number of new tankers delivered. Competitive pressures have led to a bout of consolidation among tanker players “similar to what was previously seen in the container market”, he observed, with uncertainty over charter rates heightened by oil price volatility.

Industry “hot topics” remain much as they were a year ago, including new environmental regulations and technology issues such as cyber security and the move towards greater levels of autonomy and digitisation. LR continues to innovate in these areas, said Marsh, citing the society’s work with GasLog on a pilot in cyber security, as well as a 20,000 teu container ship delivered by Chinese yard NACKS to Cosco just the day before with an energy management system cyber-certified by LR.

However, safety and environmental performance of client vessels remains “at the heart of everything we do,” concluded Marsh, with the recent sinking of Iranian tanker Sanchi serving as a stark reminder of just “how perilous” the sea can be.

On that note the LR ceo wished the assembled audience a happy and healthy New Year, before ceremonially cutting the cake and dedicating early slices to St Nicholas, Greece’s patron saint of seafarers, and Greek Shipping.

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