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Big is beautiful when digitalising tanker operations

Wed 19 Apr 2017 by Edwin Lampert

Big is beautiful when digitalising tanker operations

In last week’s comment we discussed what it would take to consolidate the tanker market.

We continue with that theme by putting the spotlight on the intended Columbia Marlow merger. Should the merger get the regulatory green light it will be the most significant Anglo-Eastern and Univan merged in August 2015

As well as being significant managers of tankers – Columbia manages more than 160 of them – both have invested significantly in IT and the whole digitalisation process. For Mark O’Neil, future CEO of the intended Columbia Marlow merger this investment will only accelerate. He told me that alongside its software company Blue Dynamics which has around 50 software programmers looking at developing new platforms and performance optimisation software, the merged entity will be exploring alliances and cooperation with digital providers and software houses in different industries “because I am keen to look at other industries and see how they are doing things, so we can bring in these sometimes enhanced standards, to the shipping and tanker industry.”

It is his view that because “shipping is definitely going down this digital road” to succeed you need an operation of scale to fund the investments required.

Or to quote Mr O’Neil “those that can, are, and those that can’t are making do and that’s what it comes down to: the fact that size really does matter on issues like this. There is no doubt that smaller tanker owners, operators, managers can’t commit the resources to this digitalisation process. On these optimisation issues ‘big is beautiful’.

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