Scorpio Ship Management is to enter the dry cargo market in earnest and will open a new Singapore office to handle the business in the second half of this year.
Managing director Emanuele Lauro said the company, a panamax tanker specialist that runs the Jacob-Scorpio Tanker pool founded with Germany’s Jacob Tankschiffahrt, would transfer two late 1980s-built double-hulled ore-bulk-oilers to Singapore as “a trampoline” for the expansion of its dry bulk interests.
He added that it would be open to adding newbuilds or secondhand tonnage to the fleet as opportunities arise, and said Scorpio would also look to establish long-term relations and possibly joint-venture deals on ships with producers and charterers.
The company’s close connections with major trading companies may also be seen as likely to ease its passage in the early days. The OBOs are coming to the end of three-year charters with Clearlake, running unleaded gasoline and coal between the continent and the US.
The still-unnamed dry bulk venture represents a further step in the continuing expansion of Scorpio, which was given its current shape by prominent Italian shipowner Glauco Lolli-Ghetti, who died last year, and is now run by his daughter Maria-Amelia as president, with her nephew Emanuele as managing director.
Further growth is on the cards for a company that less than four years ago owned just three ships and had three more on charter. Now the company owns five vessels and has 13 on charter, and manages or has an interest in more than 40.
Scorship, its KG joint venture with Konig & Cie founded 18 months ago, has just taken delivery of the second of six panamax 73,500-dwt panamax tankers from China’s New Times shipyard, with the two new arrivals chartered to China Oil and the first of them now placed in the pool.
The remaining deliveries are due next year and Mr Lauro says Tobias Konig’s initial prediction that Scorship could have 15-20 ships funded by the end of 2008 still looks realistic.
As for the JST pool, it now has 16 ships in the water, with seven more panamaxes on order at yards in China and South Korea, and Mr Lauro said he views a fleet of 25 to 30 ships trading in the west as providing sufficient critical mass.
With those sevenpending deliveries due between May and August this year, the pool should reach that target soon. He also anticipates boosting the pool’s complement of vessels trading in the east to 10 by the end of next year. It would be logical to assume that they would also be run out of Scorpio’s new Singapore office.
Mr Lauro cited the energy of Tobias Konig of Konig in locating investors and financing for new ventures, most recently through the Marenave fund, as further cause for optimism.