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Indonesia's PT Berlian Laju Tanker (BLTA.JK) (PTBL.SI), the world's third-largest chemical shipper, hopes to restructure its $1.9 billion debt by the year-end and will switch its focus to niche liquid chemical and gas transport, its founder and chairman said in a rare media interview. The country's leading oil and gas shipper defaulted on several debt instruments earlier this year and has been talking to creditors about restructuring its operations and finances. Its shares were suspended in late-January when it froze payments on its debt, and its market value has collapsed to $236 million - down 90 percent from the shipping boom of early 2008. "We want the process to be faster. We hope all things can be sorted out by the end of the year," Hadi Surya, a 76-year-old millionaire fine wine collector, told Reuters. "Our main focus is for the survival of Berlian Laju and to overcome the crisis."

Berlian Laju, founded in 1981 and also listed in Singapore, is the latest shipping firm to be squeezed between weak freight rates and higher shipping fuel costs in an oil tanker market struggling through the global downturn. Shipbuilders and freight groups from Japan to Italy and Germany have gone out of business or are scrambling to renegotiate with creditors.


In a joint statement issued last week, Transport Commissioner Siim Kallas and Climate Action Commissioner Connie Hedegaard implicitly said that the Commission will for the time being not be looking to introduce a specific European market-based instrument to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from ships. "A simple, robust and globally-feasible approach towards setting a system for monitoring, reporting and verification of emissions based on fuel consumption is the necessary starting point", the statement said, "This will help make progress at global level and feed into the IMO process. It is therefore our joint intention to pursue such a monitoring, reporting and verification system in early 2013. At the same time, we will continue the debate with stakeholders on which measure can successfully address the EU's greenhouse gas reduction objectives." The statement also included a call to the industry to take its responsibility:

"The shipping industry itself is best placed to take the lead in delivering fast and effective greenhouse gas emission reductions - thereby cutting cost and making the sector fit for the future."


After last year's riots put an end to the dictatorial regime in Libya, the Country is slowly trying to resume the old collaboration relationships with the Mediterranean Countries, especially in the commercial sector. Remarkable signals come also from the goods sector; an example is given by the two new lines that start from Italian seaports and head towards the Northern African Country, one from the Adriatic and the other from the Tyrrhenian Sea. On October 24th, Med Cross Lines will inaugurate a regular service between Koper, Venice and Libya with docks at Misurata and Tripoli.

Other minor seaports (Tobruk, Derna, Marsa el Brega, Ras Lanuf) could become docks on request. The navigation on this line will happen every 14 days and will be made with a ro-ro/container which is able to load every kind of goods, products in containers, rolling stocks and diggers, cars and new and old trucks, various goods stocked in pallets, project-cargos for the oil and gas industry, groupage. If the answer from the market will be positive, Med Cross Lines foresees the introduction of a second ship by February 2013.


Although this year has been characterized by slow newbuilding ordering activity thus far, ship owners have appeared keen on jumping in the more niche markets, like the LPG and LNG transportation business. In its latest weekly report, Clarkson Hellas said that ithere has been further activity this week in the Gas sector, combined with some continued reported interest and concluded business in the mid-sized wet and dry segments of the market. It therefore arguably remains the larger facilities in both Korea and China that remain under the most pressure in terms of conventional demand. With no real volume of new contracts having been placed, particularly for the larger end of the Crude segment of the market and gaps in production now also showing into 2014 and 2015, pressure is certainly mounting on shipyards to relent a little on pricing to try and spur on any dormant interest that exists" the report said.

It added that "unfortunately, even with the best intentions from the side of the Shipyards, owners are still forced to operate in a continually challenging and volatile macro environment - and with no immediate promise of recovery in either the freight or financial markets to justify ordering against existing values for these segments, it still requires bold decision making to commit to contracting at the higher value end of the asset spectrum. Having said this - opportunities are there for those who are in a position to take them and with the major owners remaining poised for action - it will be interesting to see who makes the first move and whether any such move will be enough to catalyse enough volume of demand to positively influence the upper end of the newbuilding market.
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Publication:Pakistan & Gulf Economist
Date:Oct 14, 2012

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