Is benchmarking right for the tanker sector?

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Denis PetropoulosBenchmarking may not be the most suitable measure for the tanker sector as the industry looks towards owners and charterers for assurance amidst the volatile times shipping has seen over the past few years.

Observing owners and charterers is a tell-tail sign of the industry’s performance and their profits give the industry a clear indication of the effectiveness of how they go about managing their assets, Denis Petropoulos (pictured), President of Braemar Group Asia, told delegates at The Connecticut Maritime Association’s Shipping 2016 conference.

“Owners need to benchmark their suppliers – especially bunkers, lubes, and in technical areas in outsourcing repairs and maintenance. However many continuously benchmark themselves against their peers to ensure best practices and effectiveness.

“But do they need to be a better operation than their peers to charter the vessels?,” he asked. “They may have to answer to outside investors or to family investors or just themselves as to their effectiveness. Traditional ship owning was about profitably transporting cargoes to the demand areas. The changes in trade patterns over the past 10 years are part of that strategic thinking. Their real profits are from timing of asset play,” he said.

For both owners and charterers, measuring performance against others is hypothetical, Mr Petropoulos said. “There is not a real measure made and it is only subjective – best practices, watching other people’s problems and how they are handled is a way of comparing performance with others.”

What is paramount to the charterer is the freight rate – the headline number, he concluded.

“A charterer wants to pay no more than the next, normally his wish or ego persuades him to try to undercut. That’s not to say a charterer won’t favour an owner with an historical relationship but the rate is the rate – if a charterer pays a point more it is because the ship is the best vessel for him at that moment.”