The compliance of the Cypriot shipping industry with the environmental requirements of IMO 2020 is expected to go smoothly, says Andreas Hadjipetrou, managing director of Columbia Shipmanegement Ltd. He adds that his company already has “fully studied” the issue of scrubbers and is confident that the transition will not be problematic. In the area of financing he notes that Chinese banks are taking the lead.
What is the situation at the Cyprus Ship Registry today? How has the major upcoming change in fuel in 2020 affected that specific sector?
It is common knowledge that Cyprus continues to be the largest third party management centre in Europe and the Cyprus ship registry is the third largest in Europe.
Following the creating of the Deputy Ministry of Shipping and the appointment of Mrs. Pilides the Cyprus ship registry as well as the local cluster are gradually expanding. Naturally, the vessels under Cyprus flag are important for the island however the main contributor to the local economy comes from the activities of the shipping cluster on the island which includes ship owning, ship management, service providers and other related stakeholders.
The IMO 2020 regulations have made a big impact on the shipping industry and they have affected all registries and clusters thus no major impact to Cyprus vs any other clusters. The implications of IMO 2020 have triggered worldwide amongst ship owners both commercial and operational questions. Naturally, the operational elements with regards to the vessel’s ability to carry compliable fuel are been tackled by ship operators and I feel that moving closer into the year the transition process will be smoother than what the market practiced a few months ago. With regard to the commercial decisions, feeding scrubbers or not and the bunker management of the fleets moving forward is primarily a decision to be taken by commercial operators, owners trading the vessels spot and time charters. Naturally, in our capacity as a technical managers we have taken all majors needed in order to ensure that our managed fleet will be able to switch bunkers at the time requested by the commercial operators.
Do you think that shipping will be able to adapt to the new situation? Has everything been calculated, or will we be moving on a step-by-step basis until an adjustment has been achieved?
Certainly yes, we will adapt. Whilst the shipping industry is traditionally resistant to major changes eventually we are able to comply fully with the regulators and the viable wishes of commercial operators.
Naturally, the availability and quality of complaint fuel is still unclear and scrubbers are not consider the environmental solution for the future.
However, it’s important to consider the positive environmental aspects of the IMO 2020 regulations, which will benefit future generations. Nonetheless, the regulation will come into force on the 1st of January 2020 and we are convinced that there will be no step-by-step implementation and eventually operators will ensure that their vessels are trading.
Here at Columbia Shipmanagement, a dedicated team has studied the use of scrubbers and provided in-depth information to our clients as a guide to the upcoming changes. Ship Implementation Plans (SIP) have been drafted for each vessel of our fleet to comply with the new regulations. Our clients can also benefit from efficient voyage planning via Columbia’s Performance Optimisation Control Room (POCR) – the POCR ensures fuel consumption optimisation amongst many other solutions. Columbia is fully prepared for the upcoming changes and ready to operate our fleet in full compliance of IMO 2020 regulations.
How is the banking system currently treating the shipping industry? Are things still tight and when do you see the bankers’ wallets opening up again?
Many traditional shipping financiers and banks have left the shipping industry recently or decrease there portfolios. Banks such as JP Morgan, UBS, Credit Suisse, Maxim Group, Seaport Global Securities or the Commerzbank have fully or partly stopped providing shipping coverage. This is bad news for the shipping industry, not only in Cyprus but worldwide.
Without traditional lenders, ship owners are struggling to finance fleet renewals or investment programmes. The lack of banks willing to invest in the shipping industry is of cause for concern – especially in light of upcoming investments required for Scrubber and Ballast water management systems. There are no indications if and when the traditional European and American lenders will invest in the industry and “open their wallets” again.
However, in recent years Chinese banks and financiers have become prominent lenders to the industry. Far East investment houses are actively investing in fleet renewals and are also open to foreign ship-owners.
The shipping industry has become more attractive to FinTech companies in recent years for private investments. In order to obtain refinancing of their ships, owners need to be open to these new and modern ways of ship finance.
On a positive note, a small number of Cypriot banks are selectively supporting local companies with financing and this is an encouraging signal for the Cyprus shipping community as well as the local banking system.
How were 2018 and the first half of 2019 for your company? What are your plans and prospects?
Columbia Shipmanagement has seen positive growth in 2018, with the addition of a number of clients and ships entering our management and a further empowering of our service portfolio in order to be able to provide to our clients an individualized and tailor made to their own needs. Especially our clients in Greece typically require a very close involvement in the management of their ships and we are able to do this by offering full transparency and visibility in our daily operations.
On the digitalisation front, Columbia opened its state-of-the-art Performance Optimization Control Room (POCR). Monitored by specialists 24/7, the POCR allows clients to have a greater level of transparency and visibility of their operations. The POCR solution allows ship owners, operators, managers and pools the ability to optimize vessel performance (for example, route optimization and preventative maintenance) which in turn enhances vessel employability. Any of your readers is welcome to contact me if they wish to visit our POCR in Limassol during Cyprus Maritime.
Looking at the crew welfare, we have partnered with MCTC (Marine Catering Training Company) earlier this year, who specialize in the management and training of our catering staff onboard. We are committed to ensuring that all seafarers are provided with healthy and nutritious meals on a daily basis. MCTC’s support package includes Health and Nutrition workshops, bi-weekly topics from in-house nutritionists and weekly menus taking into consideration the crew nationalities onboard.
In light of IMO’s theme for the World Maritime Day 2019 “Empowering Women in the Maritime Community”, Columbia launched the CSM TogetHER campaign. The objective to encourage women to further their careers within Columbia – a number of initiatives throughout all offices are underway to support our female workforce. We are also actively increasing the number of female cadets joining our company.
On the business front, Columbia has recently set up CSM Energy, an offshore and energy subsidiary which will provide asset management to the oil, gas and renewable energy markets. Services for clients will be provided along the entire ship life-cycle, from manufacturers and suppliers of materials and components via shipyards, ship-owners, brokers to ship recyclers including waste management amongst other services.
We foresee positive developments throughout the remainder of 2019 and 2020. There are a number of exciting opportunities ahead, with potential cooperations presently being explored.
Source: Shipping International Monthly Review Sept 2019