BW Gas pooling decision linked to EC fears

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BW Gas will continue to operate its LPG fleet independently of any pool arrangement because of concerns over possible action by regional regulators like the European Commission against pooling arrangements. But it has not ruled out further partnerships with other companies as long as it is done in a manner which is not at risk of regulatory challenge.

The move follows the decision by both BW Gas and Exmar to terminate their participation in their respective pools. BW Gas said it would withdraw from the Exmar-operated MidSize Pool while Exmar will withdraw from the BW Gas-operated VLGC pool.

Andreas Sohmen-Pao, Vice-Chairman of BW Gas, told Ship Management International that the decision to withdraw from the pools was not taken overnight. He also indicated that it was not linked to BW Gas’ recent decision to withdraw from talks over the possible sale of its LPG fleet.

He said: “Somewhat independent of the sale process, we felt it was prudent for us to manage our ships independently rather than on a pool basis. With continuous question marks in the EU over how they look at pooling we felt it was prudent to operate our ships independently. The fact of the matter is that the pools didn’t have any anti-competitive effect because if you look at how weak the market was in LPG over the past 12 months, it demonstrates one is not using the pools to have unfair gain or advantage.

“Sometimes we feel the regulators don’t necessarily look at the results in terms of the market. They look at their own criteria and it was not a risk we wanted to take,” he told SMI.