These days, it seems the president of a tanker company is only one detention away from being head of a criminal organisation.This was the underlying fear for many executives attending the annual Intertanko tanker event in Rome.
As the sun beat down on the ancient ruins in the hotel garden, speaker after speaker passed on their experience of ever-harsher implementation of rules and regulations. This is very different from the situation 30 years ago.
The rise of the independent tanker owner was entirely due to the oil majors’ desire to pass on the corporate risk of transporting crude oil and oil products to third parties.
Of course, some independent tanker owners became very wealthy, largely because they could operate without the overheads associated with large corporations.
But increasingly, regulatory compliance is forcing the independent operator to adapt many of the features of an oil major, but without the sheer size and scale that would allow them to fight and survive multiple prosecutions. How many times could a small independent tanker owner fight criminal prosecutions in the post-2020erafrom a vessel burning the incorrect fuel, or a scrubber failure mid-voyage.
As one owner said, it may be time to sell the fleet to an oil major. He would be happy to manage the ships for the oil major, and it would let him sleep, knowing he will not become the head of a criminal organisation overnight.