Talking tugs

Martin Bloem |

Over the past ten years, the world fleet increased from roughly 75,000 ships to almost 95,000 (+26%). The total gross tonnage went from 773 million to 1,300 million (+68%). Typically when tonnage grows faster than number, average ship size goes up. In order to manage this fleet rise, tugs are needed. Consequently, worldwide tug capacity would go up. In fact that is exactly what happens over the past ten years. The number of tugs in the world grew with 47% from 13,000 to 19,000 and GT grew in the same pace (+53%).

World fleet of tugs 2017 - Marstrat

Sofar for the good news. Positive as it looks, a further examination learns that since 2014 the average age of tugs goes up from 21.7 years to 23.4 years. In four years time the global fleet aged on average with 1.7 years. In the years before an opposite trend was visible.

Slightly disturbing is the number of new tugs delivered to the market. In the good old days a monthly delivery of 50 tugs was shown, with a peak of close to a stunning 200 in January 2013. Now monthly worldwide deliveries of 20 ships with no significant peaks are the new normal.

It seems the tug market shows signs of overcapacity. Probably this is caused by a high contracting activity and subsequent deliveries in the period until 2012. After this years new orders almost lineary decreased to the depressed numbers nowadays. On the one side it appears the tug fleet is too numerous and needs rationalization given the increasing age. On the other hand, the drivers of the tug market show positive signals again: oil prices are going up with increased offshore and terminal operations. Moreover, the world economy and seaborne trade show clear signs of recovery. Beyond the horizon there is hope.

There is surely hope for shipyards in the longer term, but in the short term the construction of tug boats is expected to remain expressively weak. In this market only a few dedicated shipbuilders can survive. My bets are on Damen Shipyards Group because of their economies of scale, standardization, diversification, unique approach to R&D and their unbeatable marketing power in upcoming regions across the globe. We cross our fingers for the future, but we are confident for the winners.

Tug deliveries 2017 - Marstrat


Photo gallery Think and Drink 2017

Marstrat |

On September 28th Charles Groenhuijsen gave an inspiring presentation on how Trump led protectionism and disruptive creativity impacts the maritime industry during the annual Think an Drink at KRZV De Maas.

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Is your maritime business ready for recovery?

Raymond Ko |

We hear positive noises in the markets from brokers, researchers, ship-owners and even bankers. The global economy and international trade is recovering from the downturn and our clients see improvements in turnover and margins. It looks as if the worst is behind us!

In the Netherlands most companies active in maritime supply or ship building are still trying to make ends meet whilst other sectors in the Dutch economy are recovering. The investment climate however is good: asset prices are modest, demand is growing and interest rates are still low. The Netherlands is still a very attractive place to establish a maritime business. Rotterdam as Maritime Capital of Europe is going strong and disruptive creativity with 3D printing, block chain, and big data will accelerate maritime business efficiency. Charles Groenhuijsen mentioned all this during the Marstrat Think & Drink.

On the back of positive signs in the maritime sector, Marstrat has been involved in many projects showing diversity of our capabilities. We have put together a platform to drive maritime regional promotion, which is in high demand in various parts of the country and abroad. In the field of financial solutions, we have advised a Dutch family business, a US investment fund as well as a public Norwegian offshore company on funding and shipping finance. We are keen to support you as well to make a deal in an environment where funding is a challenge.

Marstrat has travelled West and East and identified exiting developments in the promising energy market in Mexico. Also in Turkey and Thailand we have put our maritime expertise to work where maritime business activity is recuperating.

Investment Guide Deal Drecht Cities

Regional maritime policy emerging

Martin Bloem |

A new phenomenon is rising in The Netherlands: regional initiatives for promotion and policy specifically focused on the maritime sector. Recently, Rotterdam started the branding campaign ‘Maritime Capital of Europe‘. The city started up a top level Maritime Board for attracting new business from abroad. The Drecht Cities are active under the brand ‘Drecht Cities Maritime Delta‘, and West Holland. Schiedam, a city next to Rotterdam, is starting an initiative and in the North of Holland, the Province of Groningen is gearing up with a new campaign.

Marstrat’s Martin Bloem is specialist in regional maritime partnerships, and was co-founder of the Drecht Cities Campaign. His explanation of the new trend is simple: “International competition is getting stronger and stronger. Not only at company level but also between governments. Maritime companies create jobs and welfare, with a large economic impact. In this context, governments do not want to sit on their hands.

Typical subjects of regional policy are economic promotion and acquisition, Small and Medium sized Companies (SME) policy, education and technology, and creating a favorable business climate in general. Active politicians with heart for the industry often initiate regional policy. While governments with strong support of industry carry out first investments.

Marstrat is able to set up local or regional maritime initiatives in Europe or beyond. Bloem: “We can take it from a first idea, through campaign set up, to the physical program management. If more regions join, at the end of the day we would create a true, flourishing maritime economy of regions.

Marstrat shipbuilding


Diederik Legger |

Turkey; where east meets west, where ancient meets modern, but also where maritime recovery meets continued struggle for the countries shipyard industry.

Shipping is a global industry. Turkish shipowners are benefitting from the gradual improvement in some (but definitely not all!) main shipping sectors but the shipbuilding industry is still lagging behind.

Turkey is among the top-ten shipbuilding nations. The Turkish shipbuilding industry is strategically important for Turkey because of the contribution it makes to the national economy. In addition, as one of the country’s core industries, it has a positive effect on deficit reduction efforts by bringing foreign currency into the country and driving employment. The government wants to boost the national export and import volumes to 500 billion USD each by the year 2023.

But the financial crisis that started 10 years ago had a major negative impact on the Turkish shipbuilding industry. And the sector is recovering only very slowly. To overcome the negative consequences of the global economic crisis, the Turkish shipbuilding industry is trying to take measures to tackle the overcapacity problem. In particular, it has begun to economise and merge shipyards. Furthermore, Turkey is leaving the commodity markets and has focus to build specialised types of vessels rather than the standard ship types in response to market demand and trends.

Because, much like other shipbuilding nations, Turkey is lagging behind China, South Korea and Japan in terms of output, especially so with larger ship types such as bulk carriers, tankers and containerships. Turkish shipyards will focus on the construction of smaller-tonnage chemical and oil tankers. In the mega yacht segment, Turkish yards produce an annual volume worth 300 million euros, taking third place globally.

MARSTRAT R&D open hull

Fix the roof when the sun shines?

Harry Doze |

A pro-active approach to operational management

Are you poised to harvest the next upswing? Can you quickly expand capacity? Can you flexibly adjust to shifting geopolitics, changing wages or new technologies? And adjust when the downturn comes? If you said yes to all of these questions, you are truly in control. Wherever the work takes place. Even when you rapidly gear up capacity by outsourcing key operations.

More than ever, being in control means you have your data and processes in order. In such a way that you can rapidly mobilise people and companies to work according to your standards. Wherever they are located. In that case you are really the master of your value chain. You know what is going on continuously. You take rapid decisions and outshine your competitors. Through sound insights obtained from data, harvested through your state-of-the-art ICT systems. If you look hard in the mirror: are you that company? If yes, congratulations! But if you are not quite there yet, can you afford to wait for the sun to fix the roof?

I say: fix the roof now! And incidentally, when you have your data in order, you might as well get more bang for your buck. Do some serious data mining to improve your products and processes. Develop new business by harnessing the power of good data and turn it into a valuable asset for your customers. That way you are not only superior in how you do things, you also provide surpassing value to your customers.

Marstrat shipbuilding - 2

A Dutch perspective of the Thai maritime sector: Sound opportunities in supplying specialised products in niche markets.

Raymond Ko |

Maritime consultancy Marstrat B.V. and Netherlands Maritime Technology in collaboration with research partner Kasetsart University, have recently delivered a market study to highlight opportunities for Dutch companies in the Thai maritime market.

The Netherlands has an active trading relationship with Thailand and in terms of the maritime sector there is a long history. Today a number of Dutch players are active in the field of equipment supply, vessel construction and maritime services. Given the favourable economic outlook in the region and major government incentives focused on infrastructure improvements, the requirement for modernising the shipbuilding sector is high, although maritime policies and governance could hamper this.

The report gives an overview of sectors such as ports, shipping, offshore, the navy, fisheries, yachting, cruises and ferries. Emphasis is on the shipbuilding and repair industry, whilst the report covers local policies, regulations and institutes influencing the sector.

There is momentum to develop the shipbuilding sector as part of large infrastructure investments in the Eastern Economic Corridor and Chao Praya River as well as other maritime hubs. In particular in respect of specialised vessels as well as ports, delta technology and logistics. Expected requirements are in (eco) design, supervision and supply of equipment as well as support in developing maritime policies and education.

The study was assigned by the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Bangkok. Interested parties can contact the Embassy by sending an e-mail to ban-ea@minbuza.nl for further information.