The Maritime Standard held the 13th webinar in its successful Covid 19: A Leadership Perspective series on Wednesday January 27th, asking the topical question: “Will 2021 be a year of opportunity for the shipping industry?” The consensus was that, while there will be many challenges ahead, the rollout of vaccines and the signs of economic and trade recovery were grounds for cautious optimism that 2021 would be more than just a re-run of 2020, and that there would indeed be opportunities for growth and development in the shipping industry.
Moderator Clive Woodbridge was joined by Mrs H.K. Joshi, Chairperson and Managing Director of the Shipping Corporation of India; Ali Shehab, CEO, Kuwait Oil Tanker Company; Nasser Al Busaeedi, Deputy CEO, CSP Abu Dhabi Terminal; Ibrahim Al Nadhairi, CEO, Oman Shipping Company & Oman Drydock Company; Petros Doukas, Mayor, Sparta, and Former Deputy Minister of Finance & Foreign Affairs, Greece; and Chris Greenwood, Regional Director of Business Development, Middle East and Africa, ABS. The result was an informative and engaging discussion as these leading executives drew on their years of experience to predict how the next 12 months might unfold.
Amongst the most upbeat was Mrs Joshi, who said, “I am sure 2021 will bring a host of opportunities. We just need to be able to grab them as they come along.” Similarly, Ibrahim Al Nadhairi argued there were solid grounds for optimism, with good results in bulk and container shipping being seen, for example. However, he cautioned, “Tanker shipping faces capacity management issues this year and freight rates will not be encouraging. That may accelerate the scrapping of older ships though and that would be a positive step forward.”
Petros Doukas suggested that 2020 could be used as a steppingstone for growth, if companies employed the right technology, kept costs low and maintained access to capital. He reminded the audience, “When this is over there will be fewer companies in the market. So, if you are a strong survivor you will emerge into a situation where competition is less and the scope to increase market share is greater.”
Speaking from a port operator perspective Nasser Al Busaeedi reflected that 2020 was a challenging time, but that CSP Abu Dhabi Terminal had nonetheless performed well, handling more than 1 million teu with over 2 million safe working hours. He added, “We have been through a learning curve and we will continue performing in line with trade expectations in 2021.”
Chris Greenwood pointed out that over the past year the industry had shown its ability to accelerate change and evolve to meet risks. He added, “The industry in the region is smart and resilient and so I tend to err on the side of optimism.”
Ali Shehab was, though, more downbeat. He said, “There is light at the end of the tunnel, but it is a long way to reach it. Unfortunately, I believe the industry will continue to suffer and overall, 2021 will not be a year of rebound.”
The webinar was marked by a special celebration to commemorate the retirement of Ali Shehab, who steps down as CEO of KOTC after 35 years with the company at the end of January. The webinar was joined by Capt. Abdulkareem Al Masabi, CEO of ADNOC Logistics and Services, and long-time friend, who praised Ali’s contribution to the industry over many decades. He said, “Ali will be greatly missed as a pioneer in our industry. He is renowned for his dedication and commitment and most especially for his work on the environment which he is passionate about.”
The webinar is now available to watch online. Please click https://youtu.be/dAkfCqOFTqg
Preparations for the February webinar are well advanced, and details will appear on The Maritime Standard website shortly.