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REVIEW | ON THE OCEAN: PART ONE


“We realise that the world of project shipping is changing rapidly.”


Svend Andersen, BBC (in 2017)


company’s suspended management, including founder Niels Stolberg, on suspicion of fraud and incorrect accounting.


Warning shot HLPFI asked: “Is the Beluga debacle an isolated incident, or a warning shot over the bows of an industry just beginning to feel the true ramifications of a recession which hit the rest of the world three years ago?” Since we first put pen to paper, HLPFI has reported on a number of mergers and bankruptcies in the multipurpose sector, as well as a handful of new shipping lines launched.From Beluga’s ashes, a new player in the heavy lift shipping arena was born. In May 2011, US-based private equity firm Oaktree Capital Management, the principal shareholder of Beluga Group, established Hansa Heavy Lift as a new and totally independent shipping company. Since the sinking of Beluga, HLPFI has continued to


and started with profitability depressed by low oil prices, which impacted on demand for heavy lift shipping services from the energy sector. Te story of SAL and “K” Line is just one of many that


HLPFI has followed with interest for the past ten years, as the global financial crisis and several other factors have changed the face of the multipurpose shipping market. Perhaps the largest and most memorable of the


bankruptcies in the past ten years is that of the Beluga Group in 2011, along with an investigation into some of the


RED BOX WEATHERS THE STORM


One company that has been weathering the storm in the shipping sector is ZPMC-Red Box Energy Services, which founder Philip Adkins attributes to the company’s commitment to changing the business model under which logistics contracts that underpin major energy infrastructure projects are won. Adkins says that he was already predicting the eventual failure


of the spot market in the heavy lift sector back in 2007, which is why his previous company, Fairstar decided to focus on securing high-value, long-term and multi-voyage contracts. Along with his team, that meant focusing on gross margins, not market share He says that approach was key to Fairstar winning the heavy


marine transportation contracts for the Ichthys and Gorgon LNG projects in Australia. He added that Red Box looked to carry on


20 | HLPFI10


follow the fate of its founder, Stolberg, whose trial still rumbles on. Meanwhile, Hansa Heavy Lift - which inherited most of its staff and ships from Beluga – has continued to keep its head above water in a challenging market. As the multipurpose sector rode the crest of a wave in


2007, we reported on a new shipping service set up by Flamar and Oldendorff Carriers, dubbed OXL (Oldendorff eXpress Lines). Eight years later, Flamar and OXL filed for bankruptcy. At that time, Tomas Daenens, ex-chartering director, said that Flamar and OXL were not the first to file for bankruptcy since the downturn in the multipurpose sector, “nor will we be the last”. Daenens was not wrong. In 2016, Dutch multipurpose


from where he had been forced to leave off when Fairstar was subject to a hotly-contested takeover by its bitter rival, Dockwise. “We intended to continue to focus on premium customers


with high value engineering projects, requiring state-of-the-art vessels, which would need major capital investment,” he said. “Over the last ten years, no-one has built a greater number of semi-submersible ships and special purpose module carriers for the heavy lift sector. “Red Box won a large proportion of the module shipping work


that would be involved in the Yamal LNG project by winning the trust of the contractor. That is all about reputation for service and delivering on promises.” Red Box became an instant success in a sector with significant barriers to entry. With USD500 million of firm contracts and 100 percent utilisation of its fleet, it is in the enviable position of having a predictable and highly profitable earnings horizon for the next three years.


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