Tanker collaboration Gothia Tankers was launched on May 24th last year. The collaboration was formed by the three Swedish tanker carriers Thun Tankers, Whisby Tankers and Furetank. Last year the alliance's spokesman Joakim Lund told ShippingWatch that the collaboration was based on desire, not necessity, and that the alliance would bet big on the Northern European tanker market. Now it is time to catch up with him, to ask how things have gone so far.
"We've achieved a better coverage of the market, which means we're able to offer broader solutions with ships in various sizes for our customers. No matter what kind of volumes they bring, we can service them," Joakim Lund tells ShippingWatch.
The collaboration has not resulted in a significant increase in customers at Gothia Tankers. Instead, the alliance has enabled the carriers to strengthen their customer relations, he says, as all three carriers can now offer tanker sailing in the range of 5,000 to 20,000 dwt, and the alliance also has a single 40,000 dwt tanker at its disposal.
New partners on the way
"Our strength is that we operate regionally. That's what we set out to do and that's how it's been. We're experienced interest from our collaborative partners in terms of further strengthening the venture. Several external carriers are looking to join, and we're going to seriously consider that. There's significant interest in being part of an alliance, where you can also maintain your brand, and this means you can develop and improve your carrier by collaborating. As such, this benefits operators as well as customers," says Joakim Lund.
He stresses that the collaborative partners must have a high quality profile, and that only certain types of ships fit the customer segment that Gothia Tankers will accept.
New members of the alliance are: Rigel Schiffahrts, Älvtank, Northern Energy Services and Reederei Hamburger Lloyd.
Tough Northern European market
When all the good parts of the alliance have been mentioned, there also some downsides left to consider, especially since the Norhern European tanker market is doing less than well.
"It's a tough market that's been declining too much, and right we're seeing no need to add tonnage that sails outside Europe. It's a tough situation for shipowners who don't have much tonnage, and that's also one reason that several players are looking to join the alliance," says Joakim Lund.
Even though analysts such as Platou have predicted a positive development for the product tanker market in the 2nd half of the year, Gothia Tankers is hesitant:
"There's going to be a lot of pressure on the European refineries from the US and the Middle East, which will affect our business. We're already hearing about this from the refineries. When they suffer, we suffer. And then there's also far too much tonnage available, and this also has an impact, so the market is only going to see improvements on the long-term," says Joakim Lund.