TMS Tanker conference exudes optimism about market prospects

21st November 2022, Dubai, UAE: The Maritime Standard Tanker Conference 2022, which took place on November 16th at The Atlantis, The Palm, Dubai, was marked by a broad consensus that prospects for the tanker shipping sector are as optimistic as they have been for many years. There was agreement amongst the high level speakers that TMS assembled for the event that tanker market fundamentals have greatly improved and, together with geopolitical events, are driving a significant and sustained rise in freight rates which seems likely to continue. Tonne-miles demand continues to grow as a result of the dislocation of Russian oil shipments, even if overall demand is down, and tanker newbuilding levels are at an all-time low.

The 2022 TMS Tanker Conference, which featured a packed programme of expert presentations and lively panel discussions, was structured around the theme “Reshaping the Market – Tanker Shipping Post-pandemic.” Indeed, despite the overall optimism, speakers agreed there are still a host of challenges as tanker shipping tries to chart course back from the pandemic which has left an indelible impact on economies and societies around the world and which will shape the future of shipping in all sectors, including tankers, for some time to come.

Opening the conference, TMS Editor, Clive Woodbridge, said, “Despite the return of some good times for tanker owners and operators, there is much more uncertainty and volatility in markets than everyone would like. Unpredictability makes everyone nervous. Nonetheless, despite what the world has been through over the past few years, the outlook for tanker shipping is really optimistic and this conference is timely as it represents a chance to discuss and help formulate strategies that can capitalise on these positive trends and deliver a sustained  return to stability and profitability – as well as a reduced impact on environmental issues.”

The opening session, on ‘Recalibrating tanker shipping after the pandemic’ was led off by a keynote speech from Capt. Abdulkareem Al Masabi, CEO of ADNOC Logistics and Services. Other speakers in this all-important session, which set the tone for the day-long proceedings, included Dr. Ibrahim Al Nadhairi, CEO of ASYAD Shipping & Drydock Services; Essam Khoori, Executive Director, DP World; Nikos Michas, Global Tanker Segment Director, Lloyd’s Register; Navin Kumar, Director Maritime Research, Drewry Shipping Consultants; and Friedrich Portner, Chief Commercial Officer, Maritime Cluster, AD Ports Group. Key themes highlighted included the likely sustained nature of the increase in tonne-miles demand; newbuilding constraints; the need for infrastructure investment to support a transition to alternative fuels; the implications of slow steaming as an industry strategy; and the impact of IMO environmental regulations.

Session 2, chaired by Nijoe Joseph, Partner, Stephenson Harwood, looked at how tanker shipping is facing up to environmental challenges. A lively and wide ranging session featured papers from Pawan Sahni, Business Development Director, DNV; Simon Bonnet, Chief Maritime Officer, IRI/The Marshall Islands Registry; Anders Ostergaard, Group CEO, Monjasa; Chris Peters, CEO, Tristar Maritime Logistics; Rajiv Agarwal, Operating Partner (Infrastructure) Essar & Managing Director, Essar Ports; and Franck Kayser, Chief Operating Officer of ASYAD Shipping Company. They were joined as a panellist by Amir Mosadeghi, CEO, Islamic P&I Club. One of the key conclusions of this group was that there was no ‘one size fits all’ alternative fuel choice and that there was likely to be a broad divergence according to the vessel type and size and trade lane.

The final session kept attendees in their seats to the end, with a wide ranging session on support services and how they can help shape the future of tanker shipping. Moderated by Ali Shehab, Global Director of Special Projects and Services, DNV, panellists included Meera Kumar, President and CEO of Diablo Global; Katherine Yakunchenkova, General Manager, Al Safina Security; Jamil Al Ali, Head of Regional and Commercial Development, Middle East, Bureau Veritas; Vishavdeep Gautam, CEO, Fast Freight DMCC and Ramee Rashid, Director, Seamaster Maritime.

Clive Woodbridge concluded: “It was a really stimulating and thought provoking conference that was very upbeat in its assessment of the market. The next 12 months are certain to be interesting for tanker shipping, with plenty of twists and turns, but there seems little chance of any significant deterioration in what is a very positive scenario right now.”