Penfield Marine | Penfield Marine’s next focus is on building a suezmax presence
Penfield Marine has found a new front for expansion, telling TradeWinds that the shipmanager is laying the groundwork to take in the larger tankers by gearing up to add suezmaxes.
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by Joe Brady · Published by Tradewinds in Tankers

And then there were suezmaxes.

Penfield Marine executives Tim Brennan and Eric Haughn have found a new front for expansion, telling TradeWinds that the shipmanager is laying the groundwork to take in the larger tankers.

“We’re gearing up to add suezmaxes, probably the same as in panamaxes and aframaxes, where we charter in ships first and then go from there,” company chief executive Brennan said.

We’re gearing up to add suezmaxes, probably the same as in panamaxes and aframaxes, where we charter in ships first and then go from there.

“As with the others, we’d expect forming a pool to be the eventual result.”

With the latest expansion, Penfield is beginning to more closely resemble Connecticut pools operator Heidmar, which Brennan led as chief executive before departing in 2012, and where Penfield chief operating officer Haughn also held a management role.

New recruit

At one time or another, the Connecticut neighbour has operated pools in panamaxes, aframaxes, suezmaxes, VLCCs and product tankers.

This month, Penfield is bringing onboard former Heidmar chartering executive Joe Garin, who had worked at the Norwalk-based company for more than 18 years. He had traded suezmaxes there for seven years, with three as head of suezmax chartering.

“We wanted to bring suezmax chartering experience into our team and Joe is the right fit,” Brennan said. “We’ve known him for 20 years and are excited to have him as part of our team.

The main reason to go into suezmaxes is the same as for aframaxes. It’s an area that adds value to our fleet. Just as there are synergies between panamaxes and aframaxes, they’re also there between aframaxes and suezmaxes.

“The main reason to go into suezmaxes is the same as for aframaxes. It’s an area that adds value to our fleet. Just as there are synergies between panamaxes and aframaxes, they’re also there between aframaxes and suezmaxes.”

Haughn added: “We’re exporting so much crude from the US now that it’s going to move on bigger ships, so it makes a lot of sense.”

The latest initiative comes as the entire tanker market is watching for what is expected to be a boost in the freight market connected to the usual winter market approaching and the effects of the IMO 2020 sulphur emissions deadline.

The Penfield partners have been watching closely and are optimistic, if not exactly effusive, at this stage.

“You’re starting to see volume out there right now,” Haughn said. “Owner sentiments are higher than a year ago for sure. Rates are pushing a little higher but there are still a lot of ships around in the different markets.”

‘Sentiment picking up’

Brennan cited similar dynamics.

“A lot of refineries are coming back on line and I agree with Eric that the sentiment is picking up,” he said.

“Rates are firming earlier than they usually would, but to be fair they came off earlier than they usually do as well.

“I think a lot has shifted because of the refinery turnarounds. The main concern is tariffs on US crude and what effects that might have.”

Haughn said a surplus of ships available in the US Gulf has dwindled in recent weeks.

“The overhang is starting to clear out,” he said. “The owner sentiment is not that we’ll just settle for the last done.”

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