Grindrod’s new tanker enters service amidst boom

Dec 22, 2004
Author: Unicorn Shipping


Oliphant, a 37,000 deadweight tonnes products tanker, was delivered to Unicorn Shipping, the Durban-based subsidiary of Grindrod Limited, last week. Oliphant is the third of a seven-ship series of new double-skinned, sophisticated tankers, ordered from the Shin-A yard in South Korea. She will trade worldwide within the Dorado products tanker pool which is managed by Heidenreich Marine based in Darien, Connecticut, USA.

The new tanker enters service amidst a shipping climate that is favourable to owners of double-skinned tankers as earnings and values for this class of vessel are firm and the outlook for this market is encouraging. At the time that Grindrod ordered these tankers, average daily earnings on the spot market were around US,500 per day. The current daily rates are well above US,000, and even time charter rates are now up by in excess of fifty percent over the same period.

Although the market has been bullish for several months – pushed further by the seasonal demand during the northern hemisphere’s winter - the respected brokers Clarksons believe that the trend will continue well into 2008. A shortage of refinery capacity in the USA against a growing demand for refined products will not be fulfilled in the medium term as environmental lobbies have succeeded in curtailing the expansion of North American refineries. Analysts believe that China will continue to absorb huge volumes of imported energy, much coming from Singaporean or other oriental refineries, leading to relatively short-haul tanker operations that are not so lucrative as the product tanker trade to the US from West Africa, Singapore and elsewhere, adding substantially to the tonne-mile demand.

On many important trades now, the movement of cargo in double-skinned tankers is mandatory, and over the next few years, all single-skinned vessels will be phased out. This has surged orders for these vessels to the extent that most shipyards capable of building them have full order books well into 2008. It has also increased substantially the value of Unicorn’s fleet of six tankers (upward of 37,000 deadweight tones), a small coastal tanker, and another four long term chartered products tankers, as well as two chemical tankers in the Stolt chemical tanker pool.

In addition, Unicorn has on order a further four 37,000 dwt products tankers, four 12,800 dwt chemical/products tankers and has long term chartered three specialised stainless steel chemical tankers newbuildings for delivery over the next two to three years.

Note – the English name for Oliphant is Elephant


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