Coscol looks abroad for new members of shipping pool

Cosco Shipping aims to add more specialist semi-submersible ships to its six-strong pool

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 20 December, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 20 December, 2012, 3:19am

Cosco Shipping (Coscol) is seeking to expand a pool of specialist semi-submersible vessels by adding ships from mainland Chinese or foreign shipping companies, a senior executive said.

The pool currently comprises six semi-submersible vessels, including two at 50,000 deadweight tonnes (dwt) that were recently delivered to Guangzhou-headquartered Coscol by Hong Kong-listed shipbuilder Guangzhou Shipyard International. The other four ships in the pool are owned by Tianjin Cosco Shipping, Guangzhou Salvage and Zhejiang Share-ever Business.

Coscol deputy general manager Guo Jing said all six ships, which vary in size between 20,247 dwt and 50,000 dwt, are operated by Coscol (HK) Investment and Development. They can carry a diverse range of cargoes including oil rigs, heavy engineering components, barges and other project cargo and are specially built to partially submerge to enable cargoes to be floated on and off the deck.

Guo gave no timeline for the expansion, but his comments coincided with the launch of Netherlands-based Cosco Shipping Europe and Cosco Shipping America, two joint ventures formed between Coscol and its long-term partner NMA Maritime & Offshore Contractors.

The two new ventures, together with Coscol's head office in Guangzhou and local Coscol agents, will market the semi-submersible fleet.

Under the pool arrangement, commercial operation of ships, including chartering and marketing of the vessels, is run by a central organisation while ownership and ship management is for individual owners. All charter and lease income earned by vessels is pooled and shared among the ship owners according to an agreed formula. A pool usually leads to higher earnings as a result of improved operating efficiencies from the better matching of cargoes to ships.

Guo said the pool was created in February when Guangzhou Salvage contributed the 30,000 dwt ship Hua Hai Long. Zhejiang Share-ever Business, which operates more than 20 vessels, added its latest ship, the 38,000 dwt Xia Zhi Yuan 6, to the pool in August after it was delivered in the summer. Coscol operates a fleet of about 100 ships, including general cargo ships and vehicle carriers, in addition to the submersible ships.

He added the pool was formed to "mitigate price cutting competition in the heavy lift and semi-submersible vessel sector and reduce the cost of mobilising and demobilising the vessels". Guo said pool members have already seen a rise in charter rates for their ships since it was set up.

The six ships control about 20 per cent of the world market for semi-submersible ships.