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Tanker Shipping & Trade

Tanker Shipping & Trade

A mixed trading picture for Turkish tanker interests

Mon 09 Oct 2017 by Barry Luthwaite

A mixed trading picture for Turkish tanker interests
Yards are winning export orders – but in different segments of the tanker market

It is very much a consolidation period for the Turkish mercantile marine, which has only 18 tankers on order. Money is tight, necessitating cuts on investment, with expenditure concentrated on secondhand acquisitions.

Three years ago Turkey’s major group owners were big investors in wet tonnage, which has by now delivered into the fleet. The existing fleet, which comprises 300 vessels aggregating 8,565,227 dwt, is dominated by small and medium chemical tankers (139) and product carriers (99). Crude oil transport is delivered by 33 vessels aggregating 4,677,297 dwt. Turkey will always have strong players in chemical and products trades, moving cargo from Black Sea and Mediterranean ports to European destinations. The whole merchant fleet comprises 99 owners, but 85 owners trade four or fewer units, underlining the diversity of ownership – but also the lack of concentrated volume in the hands of individual owners. Among these 85, 53 are single-ship companies. 

Leading owners Palmali Shipping, Geden Line, Chemfleet, Besiktas Denizcilik, and Yilmar Shipping & Trading operate the biggest fleets. Geden Line, once Turkey’s biggest shipowner, is troubled by big problems, which has forced the sale of several tankers. These vessels were ordered as prestigious newbuildings at high prices, but drew lower-than-expected prices on enforced sale. Geden was unlucky to be hit by two hijackings within a year. Its financial problems are set to continue. The company is battling for survival, and its failure would be a major blow to Turkish prestige.

In recent months Turkish shipyards have performed strongly in winning export business. There has, though, been less success with stainless steel chemical tankers and product carriers. Productivity dipped and customers like Essberger lost patience with lengthening delays. Signs of better days are being welcomed. RMK Shipyard delivered the 7,000 DWT product carrier Rose PG in September 2017 to Pritchard-Gordon Tankers Ltd, based in Tyne and West Sussex. The same month saw the laying of the keel of an exercised option for a sistership, to be named Lily PG. It is scheduled to be delivered in Q2 2018.

RMK is currently the most successful builder for tanker tonnage. It is putting finishing touches to the first of a pair of 9,400 dwt bitumen tankers for Tarbit Shipping, Sweden. The vessels were designed by FKAB Marine Design. Both were ordered in 2015, with the second unit due for delivery in April 2018 (there will probably be slippage, though). In June this year the Istanbul shipyard will build its biggest ship: a single 15,000 dwt product carrier for an undisclosed Turkish account. Delivery is due in January 2019.

In recent years the Turkish fleet has been transformed from an ageing one into a modern fleet that complies with the strict regulations applied to chemical and products transport. Domestic owners employ home management or handle such matters in house. One of the most successful Turkish companies is Chemfleet, established in 2006 solely for chemical tanker management. The company now has under its wing 12 units covering small, medium and handysizes. In the past decade, Turkish fleets have gone from some of the worst casualty victims to some of the safest. Management demands dense and comprehensive inspections and audits for tankers on a regular basis. One of the latest overseas companies to open an Istanbul operation is London-based Borealis Maritime, which in 2016 established its own technical management division for its own fleet as regular traders to Turkish ports. The company will offer its services to other owners trading tonnage in the Black Sea/Marmaras region.

Vessel type no dwt
Medium chemical 2 27,000
Medium products 2 50,000
Small chemical 7 50,816
Small products 2 12,808
Small tanker 2 14,016
Suezmax 3 469,214
Total 18 623,854
Shipowner no dwt
Active Shipping 1 158,000
Atlantik Denizcilik 2 27,000
Atlantis Tankers Ltd 3 55,658
Ditas 1 158,000
Gungen Denizcilik 1 153,214
ICDAS 1 7,500
Palmali Shipping 8 57,332
Turkish owner 1 7,150
Total 18 623,854
Vessel type no dwt
Chemical carrier 9 77,816
Crude oil 3 469,214
Product carrier 6 76,824
Total 18 623,854


Shipbuilder                  Total 2017 2018 2019
no dwt no dwt no dwt no dwt
Armada Shipyard 6 43,316 4 29,016 2 14,300    
Hyundai 3 469,214 2 311,214 1 158,000    
ICDAS 1 7,500 1 7,500        
Selah 4 77,000 1 13,500 2 38,500 1 25,000
Selah Makima 1 5,658 1 5,658        
Turkter 1 7,150 1 7,150        
Volgograd 2 14,016 2 14,016        
Total 18 623,854 12 388,054 5 210,800 1 25,000

Source for all figures in these tables: BRL Shipping Consultants. Data as at 15 September 2017

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