Stena Sonangol Suezmax Pool celebrates 10 years of collaboration and trading.
The 10th anniversary celebrations took place in London on May 20. Today on May 26 it is Houston’s turn and, finally, on June 3, it will be Singapore’s turn.
The Stena Sonangol Suezmax pool, established in 2005, consists of some 25 Suezmax tankers, although there are plans to expand the fleet to about 30 tankers in the near future. The pool is operated as a 50/50 joint venture by Stena Bulk and the Angolan state-owned oil company Sonangol. The operation and chartering of the vessels in the pool are managed from Stena Bulk’s offices in Gothenburg, Houston and Singapore. The vessels sail in the spot market worldwide.
Erik Hånell, CEO of Stena Bulk, said, “One of our goals is to expand the pool to about 30 Suezmax tankers. We expect to achieve this with the help of partners and chartering in vessels, but we are also looking at purchasing. However, we are waiting to see how the market develops and are continuously evaluating which alternative is the most suitable.”
Twelve of the approximately 25 tankers in the pool are owned by the owners of the Stena Sonangol Suezmax pool, eight are time-chartered and three are commercially managed. The tankers have an average age of four years. A further two tankers have been ordered by Sonangol for delivery in 2017.
“The pool set-up has numerous advantages, such as getting access to a larger market position and, in general, the ability to spread the risks arising as a result of fluctuations in a volatile market. Access to our global network with support and a high utilization rate as a result of our operational excellence are also important factors”, Hånell said. “We have been extremely successful and are one of the foremost, compared to both the index and other competing pools. Our pool has been the best performing Suezmax pool for nine of 10 years, which is largely a result of our customer focus where innovation, performance and quality are a priority.”
Seven of the tankers in the pool were ordered by Stena Bulk in 2010 and built at the Samsung Heavy Industries (SHI) shipyard in Geoje, South Korea. The vessels are third generation, fuel-efficient Suezmax tankers. Together with SHI, Stena Teknik has been responsible for the development of the ship model, where the focus has been on energy efficiency. The vessel’s technical equipment and design mean that fuel consumption have been reduced by 10-15 percent compared with standard tonnage.
“In recent years, we have expanded with the addition of a number of in-house designed Suezmax tankers of the latest design and with the highest environmental class. In our strategic investments, we focus very much on energy efficiency and, with the help of our technical development department, we make sure that we are at the cutting edge when it comes to both safety and the environment. But we are also evaluating our existing vessels in order to find solutions for further fuel savings,” Hånell said.
Collaboration in the pool also includes further training of Sonangol employees both at sea and at Stena Bulk’s offices. A new maritime academy run by Stena and Sonangol was inaugurated in Angola in summer, 2014. The academy provides maritime education, training and certification for Angolan crews, thus helping to satisfy Sonangol’s maritime expertise requirements. Up to 200 students a year will be able to participate in the two-year program.