The government's aim to attract more shipping companies to Denmark has met with unexpected difficulties that the Ministry for Business and Growth is currently working hard to resolve.
As it turns out, the rules letting foreign ships sail under Danish flag prohibits certain foreign-owned shipping companies from doing so, even though the shipping companies are already established in Denmark, with operations, offices, and an organization of employees. Specifically, the problem was revealed in relation to French-owned Evergas' efforts to register ships under DIS. Evergas was established a few years ago from the remains of Eitzen Gas, and the company has announced an ambitious plan to expand the gas tanker company with a fleet of new ships.
Ownership stands in the way
But ShippingWatch has now learned that the request has been on the Danish authorities' desk for a long time now without having been approved. According to ShippingWatch's information, the problems are related to the Evergas ownership, specifically the investors behind it, as the DIS rules include a requirement stating that the owner must be present and active in Denmark.
It came as a surprise to both authorities and the industry that there could be problems with Evergas, as the company is already well-established, with an address in Nordhavn, in Copenhagen. Evergas works primarily with the major oil and chemical companies and with trading companies out of the Middle East, and is together with Evergas Solvang the world's largest shipping in long-haul of ethylene and other petrochemical gasses. The company is headed by CEO Martin Ackermann, who declines to comment on the matter. According to ShippingWatch's information there has been hectic activity among a series of players to prevent a failure to let the ships sail under DIS. The Danish Maritime Authority, the Ministry for Business and Growth, and the Danish Shipowners' Association have been working for months to find a solution.
Two possible solutions
The possible solutions are either to determine that Evergas' current presence is sufficient to secure a DIS approval, or that the matter can fall under the EU rules for free establishment within member states, so that the physical presence of the ownership is no longer a requirement. It could still be weeks, though, before the case is resolved.
This is a very important case for Danish Shipowners' Association in particular, and it needs to be resolved positively, especially at a time when Denmark is trying to get more foreign shipping companies and operators to establish branches in Denmark. Vice president of the shipowners' association, Jan Fritz Hansen, also declines to comment on the specifics in the Evergas case, though he confirms that it would be surprising if the efforts to let Evergas join DIS fail.
"I hope it works out and I'll be surprised if it doesn't," says Jan Fritz Hansen to ShippingWatch.