Conversation Insight: Carsten Ladekjaer, CEO, Glander International Bunkering
Glander International Bunkering is one of the oldest bunker traders in the world and has helped develop the worldwide system used by shipowners and charterers when bidding on a charter. After being acquired by International Bunkering Middle East in 2013, the company’s growth accelerated with offices in the United States, United Arab Emirates, India and Singapore. It is also present in Montreal, Florida, Spain, Norway and Geneva. Glander CEO Carsten Ladekjær talk to Surabhi Sahu and Claudia Charpentier on the decarbonization objectives of the shipping industry, the emergence of new fuels on the market and Glander’s expansion plans.
What are your prospects for the coming year?
When we look at the 2021/22 fiscal year compared to the previous year, we remain cautiously optimistic. With the recovery of world trade in 2021, we expect to see a new “normal” shipping and bunkering market.
Is Glander looking to expand into new geographic areas?
More recently, our Montreal office became our second location in North America and our ninth in the world, specializing in northern territories such as Canada and the east coast of the United States.
Do you think the shipping industry is doing enough to meet its carbon reduction targets? What are the new fuels of the future and what do you think of LNG in particular?
There will be no silver bullet to decarbonize our industry, and it will take years. In order to meet the 2030 and 2050 targets set by the IMO, LNG is unlikely to be sufficient as a stand-alone solution, and it is not necessarily suitable for everyone. LNG is seen by many as a stopgap solution and a stepping stone for some, for lack of more feasible and readily available long-term alternatives. Longer term, we expect to see a mixture of ammonia, methanol and hydrogen among the sustainable solutions, but there is still a long way to go before the industry is ready to make a significant change.
What do you think of having a carbon credit / offset system to respond to decarbonization as well as a proposed IMRB fund?
The carbon offsetting system could play its part in such measures, but it will not by itself lead to complete decarbonisation.
The proposed IMRB fund is quite interesting in my opinion. It’s a new way of funding R&D in the area of decarbonization, and as long as it creates a level playing field for everyone, I think it could work. The fact that several large associations of shipowners such as BIMCO, Intercargo, Intertanko etc. be behind the proposal also fills me with optimism and hope.
What is your outlook for bunker sales in Singapore this year? Were you surprised by its strong growth last year amid COVID-19?
Last year, we noticed a shift in demand caused in part by COVID-19, and in some cases in favor of higher-speed ports like Singapore. The correlation between these changes and regional lockdowns was quite remarkable, and that’s what surprised me the most. This year, I think we could see demand growth in Singapore and the rest of the world, alongside the recovery of the global economy.
What are your plans for the Fujairah bunkers market and its growth prospects?
We have always had a strong concentration and a strong presence in the Fujairah bunker market. After seeing an increase in demand during the IMO 2020 transition, the Fujairah bunkers market has been somewhat negatively affected by regional sanctions, COVID-19, as well as low oil prices caused by an declining demand. I am convinced that Fujairah is making a strong comeback and we will continue to focus strongly on this market in order to maintain and develop our valuable relationships with our suppliers and all of our customers who are building bunkers there.
What do you think of scrubbers?
Right now, we are seeing a price gap of around $ 120 / mt in Singapore between HSFO and VLSFO. From an economic point of view, this should make scrubbers attractive again. Additionally, we are seeing that in some shipping segments, which are currently under pressure, having a washer can mean the difference between balancing with current freight rates or not. Whether scrubbers have a long-term future in shipping is a good question. Some scrubber manufacturers argue that with a modular approach scrubbers can be upgraded over time with the potential to mitigate NOx and particulate emissions, and comply with future legislation. There are many factors to consider, and I guess it’s fair to say that the long-term future of scrubbers is not entirely clear yet.
Will demand for HSFO remain strong worldwide and will this even prompt some of the smaller ports to start offering HSFO?
In order to provide HSFO, you need to dedicate supply assets, which means you need to have some demand flow. Access to competitive products is also required. If these parameters can be met, you may see some providers in smaller ports start offering HSFO. In the meantime, I think such cases will be the exception and that we will continue to see the supply of HSFO limited to higher throughput ports.
The collapse of Hin Leong happened last year. This was followed by GP Global and the downfall of some other commodity traders. How has the industry evolved after these episodes and how is the availability of credit for the industry as a whole?
Following the collapse of Hin Leong, new suppliers quickly emerged and others stepped in to fill the void. As a result, the supplier landscape has changed rapidly in Singapore with new entrants as well as established players eager and ready to take their market share. You can say the same has happened in other places where GP Global was a big player. As a result, the left-behind credit gap was quickly closed by other market players.
Looking next at the credit situation in the global bunker market, I have the impression that despite the rise in oil prices, it has remained somewhat balanced at least so far. In my opinion, this can be explained by the following factors: new market players have stepped in to offer additional credits to customers; existing market participants have increased their appetites to provide credit to some of the healthiest major shipping segments; High freight rates allow customers in some important segments to pay on time and therefore free up credit for more deliveries with the same supplier or merchant and global demand has not yet fully recovered. The big question remains whether this will continue or if we will see the credit situation tighten in the future.
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