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Polys Chatzioannou: Global shipping is in transition

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Cypriot shipowner Polys Hatzioannou opens his papers at FORBES on Cypriot shipping, changes in international shipping due to the war in Ukraine and the prospect of Cyprus claiming at the appropriate time the lifting of the Turkish embargo on Cypriot ships similar to the sanctions imposed on Russia. & nbsp; Mr. Hatzioannou warns of the uncharted creation that & nbsp; the green transformation of shipping and the path to carbonation, while highlighting the initiatives and the renewal strategy of Safe Bulkers, & nbsp; which is modernized and strengthened competitively by its harmonization in the “green age”.

INTERVIEW WITH MAN DANIEL & nbsp; & nbsp; & nbsp; & nbsp; & nbsp; & nbsp; PHOTOS: ANTONIS G. ANTONIOU

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& nbsp; How is Cypriot Shipping affected by the situation in Ukraine?

In addition to the incalculable cost of human losses and the humanitarian crisis, the Russian invasion of Ukraine has serious and far-reaching implications for the global economy and, consequently, for the shipping industry. The difficulties are initially focused on ships stranded in the Black Sea region and extend to companies with crews from Russia or Ukraine. & Nbsp; If the crisis is prolonged and sanctions are extended and maintained, this will slow global growth and possibly cause serious disruptions to global supply chains and international shipping. PENALTIES

Rightly or incorrectly imposed sanctions by the EU and followed by Cyprus?

The sanctions imposed are a response to the blatant violation of the internationally recognized borders of an independent UN member state, as is the case in Cyprus. & Nbsp; It could not be done otherwise. The world community and the European Union, of which Cyprus is a member, acted unitedly and swiftly. & Nbsp; This should give us optimism, because the imposition of a stronger force by military means should not violate international law and the borders of independent states. & Nbsp;

Do you think that long-term sanctions will have a detrimental effect on the supply chain, which is served by sea?

Certainly as long as the war continues and the situation does not escalate, as long as sanctions are maintained and extended, & nbsp; Both the impact on the global economy and the global supply chains will widen and the situation for international and Cypriot shipping will inevitably change. We can not fully predict the magnitude of the consequences, as their scope is still evolving and evolving.

NO TO CLAIMS IN THE WAR Is it time for Cyprus to claim, through the European institutions, the imposition of sanctions on Turkey for similar violations to those of Russia? Do you think, Mr. Hatzioanou, that the momentum is being created to demand the lifting of the Turkish embargo on Cypriot ships?

Today, in the face of international geopolitical developments, it is more than ever clear that illegal and hostile acts contrary to international law and violating the territorial integrity and independence of a country can not go unpunished. The sanctions imposed in this case provide an important basis for protection for states that have suffered similar violations. When asked if now is the right time for claims, I believe not in the midst of war. But we must prepare smartly and in an organized way, always taking the right place in history. & Nbsp; An important redistribution of roles and geopolitical correlations is imminent and we must build on the decisions taken on the basis of international law for Ukraine, to find a solution as an independent state and not as a regional community. It is obvious that Cypriot shipping can not be sanctioned by a state that has violated its independence and territorial integrity and at least there is no corresponding reaction from the international community. Such sanctions must be lifted immediately so that Cypriot shipping can claim a stronger position, a stronger position in the international shipping scene. We have all the guarantees to achieve that.

Green transition. The European institutions are calling for acceleration. Is the answer to the precision created by the cost of fares and fuel?

Global shipping is currently in transition. Although the environmental targets for zero-emission shipping are clear, shipping appears to be heading for uncharted waters. In a fluid and unclear institutional environment, in the context of the green transformation of shipping, there are many questions about the implementation of measures, the required investments, new technologies, new zero-carbon fuels, with the burning question of who will bear the cost of the transition. On the road to carbonization the cost of transporting products will inevitably be significantly affected. Of course, the adverse effects will be smoothed out as we approach viable and sustainable solutions.

INVESTING IN NEW TECHNOLOGIES

Safe Bulkers is already investing in new technologies with low pollutants as proposed by the standards set by the EU, approaches that upgrade the quality of Cyprus as a Shipping Center.

Safe Bulkers is at the forefront of the global shipping effort to modernize the global fleet and carbonize the industry. In this context, with the aim of harmonizing the Company in the “green” era, we have already invested in a strategy of renewal and modernization of our fleet in a very timely manner in relation to competing companies. Preparing our future in the new marine environment that will be created by the upcoming environmental regulations, from 2019 we have made significant environmental upgrade costs of our existing fleet, mainly with the installation of Marine Ballast Management System (BWTS) and ship cleaners (scrubbers) our fleet, while today we incur additional costs in order to optimize the energy efficiency of our ships. Here we should also mention the pilot biofuel combustion program in collaboration with Cargill, Cargill Marine Fuels and Oilchart, the Lloyds Register (“LR”) and the Cypriot flag that significantly reduces carbon dioxide emissions. At the same time, from 2020, we have started an extensive program of selling older ships and selectively replacing them with more modern and efficient ones. In total, we have sold seven (7) of the oldest ships in our fleet, while at the same time we have proceeded with the purchase of five & nbsp; newer used. At the same time we have an ongoing shipbuilding program for nine & nbsp; newly built ships. All newly built vessels will be built in Japanese shipyards, based on the most modern environmental standards, meeting the future requirements of IMO regulations and especially those relating to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 30% compared to 2008 (EEDI – Phase ), as well as those related to reduced nitrogen oxide emissions (Nox-Tier III). & nbsp; The newly built ships will be delivered between the second quarter of 2022 and the first quarter of 2024, much earlier than the forthcoming implementation of the new and stricter environmental regulations that will come into force after 2025. Today, we have a fleet of 40 bulk carriers cargo (12 panamax, 7 kamsarmax, 15 post panamax and 6 capesize), with an average age of 10.3 years and a total carrying capacity of 3.7 million dwt. After the receipt of the ships under construction, in 2024 the average age of our fleet will remain at the same levels while the total capacity will increase to 4.7 million dwt. Note that 38 of the 40 ships of our fleet are under the Cypriot flag, while the Cypriot flag will be raised on all nine (9) newly built ships that will join our fleet, strengthening the quality of the Cypriot register.

NEW FLEET

Recent manipulations have brought you profitability at Safe Bulkers. Revenue earmarked for the purchase of a new fleet. Is the current season offered?

Overall, 2021 was a very good year for Safe Bulkers compared to the dry cargo freight market. In the annual financial results of 2021, the Company announced improved figures compared to 2020, with its net profits reaching $ 174.3 million and EBITDA amounting to $ 244.3 million. During the year we managed to reduce our borrowing by more than $ 200 million resulting in a low borrowing ratio relative to the value of our fleet ships. & Nbsp; With reduced financial leverage, a strong balance sheet and a sound liquidity position of over $ 380 million, we can take advantage of the opportunities that arise and meet the challenges that may arise, creating value for our shareholders.

In In this context, one opportunity we recently took advantage of last February was the purchase of the Japanese capesize MV “Maria”, with a capacity of 181,400 dwt and built in 2014, for $ 33.8 million. The price is considered very attractive compared to the previous autumn, when this particular ship was estimated by VesselsValue at $ 41.03 million.

Your initiatives in scholarship programs and other actions together with the Ministry of Shipping, bring young people closer to shipping. Are there any actions that will make the shipping industry even more attractive?

To meet the needs and challenges of the international shipping industry, Safe Bulkers, we recognize that the human resources factor is the most valuable asset, the driving force of our business. The big bet today, both of our Company and of the Cypriot shipping, is to attract more young people in the field of shipping, so that our shipping becomes more resilient and competitive in view of the international challenges it is called to face. Our aim is to cultivate the maritime culture in the new generation and to attract high quality talented young executives to the Cypriot shipping industry, thus helping to strengthen the Cypriot flag with a scientifically trained and specialized human resources. That is why, at a time of great challenges for vocational rehabilitation, we have established an annual scholarship program for shipping. For the academic year 2020-2021, we awarded five scholarships worth 10,000 euros each, while this year, after the great interest we saw last year with 32 applications, we are moving forward for the academic year 2021-2022 to announce ten scholarships worth 10,000 euros each. More information about our scholarship program is available on our company website www.safebulkers.com where there will be an announcement.

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& nbsp; DESIGNS IN CYPRUS

With the challenges created by the pandemic and the Ministry of Shipping paving the way with incentives, facilities and strategies, how do you determine the future of shipping on our island? Is the presence of the Cyprus Shipowners' Association in Cyprus dynamic? What are the plans in relation to Cyprus?

As the largest shipowner of the Cypriot registry, we are proud of the performance of Cypriot shipping in the highly competitive international environment. Cyprus is today one of the most powerful shipping centers in the world, while the quality features and flexibility of the Cyprus flag have made it a reliable and dominant choice in the international shipping community. However, the fact is that there is room for further development of the Cypriot register and the Cypriot flag. In this light, with the aim of an internationally competitive Cypriot shipping, it is of strategic importance to attract and establish ship-owning companies in Cyprus, in addition to the already existing ship managers. This will have a direct and significant impact on other companies, which provide complementary shipping services, such as financial services, brokerage, legal and insurance services. In recent years, coordinated efforts have been made by all Cypriot Shipping Institutions in this direction. The contribution of the Cyprus Shipowners' Association is decisive in this joint effort, which with its timeless presence and quality dynamics in the Cypriot shipping industry contributes significantly to the preservation but mainly to the promotion and continuous strengthening of the Cypriot register and the Cypriot flag. Besides, the active presence and participation of the Cypriot ship-owning community in international and European institutions, with the recent assumption, with the support of KEP, of Cyprus of the Presidency of the European Shipowners Association (ECSA), demonstrates the central role it plays in shaping shipping policy on the world shipping scene. At this point I would like to call on all companies established in Cyprus and owned or managed ships, to include more ships than they currently have in the Cyprus flag.

Do you think the Cypriot economy can withstand the shocks of the pandemic and now the Ukrainian one? Do you trust the Cypriot banks?

Of course I also trust the Cypriot banks. The pandemic, and now the Russian-Ukrainian crisis are testing the world economic systems. Faced with growing operational risks, banks need to be constantly vigilant while ensuring that their operations comply with the current sanctions imposed on Russia. & Nbsp; In the multiple crises, the Cypriot economy has shown that it remains resilient to shocks, however the moments remain critical and the coming period will be decisive for the impact of the war on the world economy. The Cypriot economy as part of the European economy will move with great care and in cooperation with our Partners we will pass this cycle successfully.

From the April issue of Forbes magazine

Source: www.philenews.com

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