Syscorp to deploy 4th tanker
Shin Yang Shipping
Corp Bhd (Syscorp) is expecting to deploy a fourth chemical tanker to transport
crude palm oil (CPO) between Malaysia and China in the second half of 2013.
Group financial controller Richard Ling said the 7,000-tonne tanker was being upgraded at Syscorp’s shipyard and might have its engine replaced before being put to service.
“The third chemical tanker, also of a 7,000-tonne capacity, commenced CPO shipment about three months ago,” he told StarBiz.
The 12,000-tonne Merris 1 was the first tanker to launch its maiden CPO voyage last August, followed shortly by the 10,000-tonne Merris 2.
All four tankers were among some 20 vessels – the others being container ships and tugboats – acquired by Syscorp from Swee Joo Bhd after the latter went into voluntary liquidation in 2011.
Swee Joo, one of Sarawak’s oldest and most established shipping
firms, collapsed after it
failed to repay some RM460mil in group borrowings.
Syscorp later sold Merris 1 and Merris 2 to Micaline Sdn Bhd, a 55:45 joint venture between its unit Danun Shipping
Sdn Bhd and leading plantation firm Sarawak Oil Palms Bhd (SOP). The SOP group owns some 64,000ha of oil palm estates, five CPO mills and a palm oil refinery in northern Sarawak.
Ling said the third and fourth chemical tankers were also expected to be placed under Micaline.
“The three chemical tankers in service are all transporting CPO to China from Malaysia. Each tanker is expected to make 18 trips a year, or three trips every two months.
“The current CPO transportation rate is quite good at US$40 (RM121.48) per tonne/voyage,” he added.
Ling said CPO transportation provided a new revenue stream for Syscorp and that the contribution to group revenue was expected to be less than 5%.
Syscorp, which has a total fleet size of 312, currently deploys 18 container ships to serve the Asean region, with several of them plying designated Malaysia-Thailand and Malaysia-Vietnam routes, with the rest serving domestic routes within Malaysia.
The group has a significant shipping
service operation in the Middle East, where it
has currently stationed about 30 sets of tugs and barges.
Expecting Syscorp to play an increasing role as a logistics provider in the Middle East’s industrial and economic developments, Ling said the group was involved in the transportation of aggregate and brick stones for the United Arab Emirates’ (UAE) island reclamation and infrastructure works for housing and industrial projects.
“We have tendered for several more similar projects to be undertaken by the local authorities there.
“Negotiations are under way but there is no concrete outcome yet. We expect decisions on the projects in the next two or three months.
“We have enough vessels (now stationed in the UAE) to handle big contracts. If necessary, we can mobilise more vessels from Malaysia,” elaborated Ling.
The group also provides shipment of building materials on a spot basis for other infrastructure projects for the local authorities.
The Syscorp group owns an RM25mil shipyard in the UAE that carries out repair works for its fleet of vessels and ships from external customers. In northern Sarawak, the group owns two shipyards capable of building vessels of up to 15,000 deadweight tonnes.
Ling said Syscorp had received numerous enquiries to build higher-value vessels, including offshore supply vessels to serve the oil and gas industry.
On the current charter rates for shipping
services, he said these remained weak, as profit margins had been squeezed.
“This year is still tough,” Ling said, adding that shipping
analysts had predicted a more significant recovery of the industry from 2015 onwards.
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