Chipolbrok lifting project cargo in the spot market to maximise fleet utilisation
When Chipolbrok’s heavy lift vessel Chipolbrok Atlantic headed from China through the Suez Canal to St. Petersburg, the vessel’s DWT capacity was not fully utilised. It raised a question whether there are vessels sailing out there with capacity to spare in the current environment.
Chipolbrok Atlantic, owned by the Chinese-Polish joint stock shipping company, Chipolbrok, loaded with various types of cargo at Qingdao and Taicang headed to Europe. This was well below the vessel’s 31,600 DWT capacity. In reality, Chipolbrok officials told Project Cargo Journal, this does not mean that the vessel is half empty, rather that the type of cargo onboard is space consuming. It is also not unusual for a vessel to visually look half empty while it has reached its DWT mark.
In fact the company is focusing on maximising the utilisation of its operating fleet.The company is committed to project cargo and honouring its contracts tied to certain projects, however, it does offer space to other customers, beyond the contractual obligations. The company is looking “left, right and centre” in the spot market for opportunities that would suit its tonnage. Special focus is given to Chipolbrok’s most important Chinese market.
This also means that Chipolbrok vessels pick up cargo which may be at ports that are not part of Chipolbrok’s regular sailing schedule. However, in order to make sure the ETAs are not compromised, the company is limiting the number of additional port calls to a minimum.
Fleet renewal on the horizon for Chipolbrok
While the market turned upside down and multipurpose vessels caught all the containers spilling over from the container market, Chipolbrok remained focused on project cargo. While the company is not new to carrying boxes, usually from South East Asia whenever space was available, it was an empty positioning job for leasing companies. The company did not carry any containers usually transported by container lines.
Despite not carrying containers, Chipolbrok fleet, even with additionally chartered tonnage was well utilised. The company did not suffer a capacity issue, however, it may run into an issue in the coming years as four of its older Orkan ships built in 2003/2004 require replacement.
Chipolbrok is already looking into the options of replacing the four vessels. The company officials noted the decisions will be made irrespective of the orders placed by other shipowners but rather by positioning itself to meet the demand of its clients.
Part of the company’s shipping capacity is already booked through 2022 by ongoing and new projects. However, the company officials said they make sure there is always space on the vessels dedicated for the spot market, even though, as it has been the case over the recent period, the spot cargoes have to be booked fairly in advance.
Chipolbrok currently has 14 of its own multipurpose vessels on the water, ten of which are the Orkan type 30,300 DWT ships with 640 ton lifting capacity. The company’s Pacific MPPs each have a 31,600 DWT capacity and are craned up to 700 tons. Chipolbrok has another five vessel on charter representing additional 161,000 DWT capacity.
To remind, the company launched the 62,000 DWT multipurpose vessel, Tai Xing earlier this year and expects it to be delivered into service by the Chengxi Shipyard in December this year.
Volatility to remain
For 2022 the company has already prepared itself for the continuation of the current market conditions. Chipolbrok made sure it has the right tonnage available at the requested ports. The majority of the container vessels currently on order will hit the market in the next two years, The shortage of slots on the container vessels may go on for a while.
Chipolbrok sees this development as a positive as it saw a certain back flow of breakbulk and project cargo from container vessels to the MPP fleet. The officials noted that the main focus still remains with the ports and terminals that have to constantly adjust its operations to keep up with the growing demand.