Captain Anoop Sharma took over the reins as Chairman and Managing Director of The Shipping Corporation of India Ltd (SCI) in September last year. SCI is India’s largest shipping company with an owned fleet of 69 ships aggregating to 5.85 million DWT (3.27 million GT) and in addition manages/operates another 53 ships on behalf of various organisations.
Speaking exclusively to The Maritime Standard, Capt. Sharma said, “For the financial quarter ended 31st December 2016, we have reported a net profit of Rs. 12.49 crores, including other comprehensive income which is better than the results reported during the immediate preceding quarter. We are on the definite course for significant improvement and will certainly end the financial year in profit.”
These positive financial trends are being led by the tanker segment, with SCI’s five VLCCs in particular achieving more positive revenue streams. There have also been more positive results in the offshore sector, with SCI taking delivery of ‘SCI Sabarmati’, a 2013-built PSV that had been modified to perform as a multi-purpose support vessel (MPSV) last November. This vessel has now gone on charter, generating good results for the company.
SCI also operates a fleet of five container vessels in the liner trades, serving mainly routes between Asia, the Subcontinent and Europe. Captain Sharma says, “Rates on the Europe trades are improving and that is benefiting our bottom line. We are hopeful that this recovery will continue.”
Looking ahead in 2017, Captain Sharma says he is concerned about rising bunker prices and the newbuildings entering the bulk carrier market. High volume bulk carrier scrapping will be required if things are to improve, he suggests. However he expects to see continued improvements in the liner sector, and in India’s fast-growing coastal trades. He adds, “I am reasonably optimistic about 2017. Our focus will remain on tankers, where we have a fleet of 30 crude and product tankers in addition to our five VLCCs. The liner shipping and coastal trades offer plenty of positive opportunities as well.”
Last year the company entered into a liner shipping joint venture with Shreyas Shipping to restructure its SCI Middle East India Liner Express (SMILE) service to connect the east and west coasts of India with the Middle Eastern Gulf. Captain Sharma adds, “The restructured SMILE service is starting to work well. In addition, the opening of a new container terminal at Kandla will improve the outlook for SMILE service in the future.”
In recent months, SCI has also set up a new wholly owned subsidiary viz., ‘Inland & Coastal Shipping Pvt. Ltd’. This company will target opportunities in the Inland Waterways, where considerable scope for growth exists, Captain Sharma suggests.
Fleet addition and development plans are being worked out to take advantage of low asset prices. Having acquired one offshore vessel and converted to a MPSV, SCI has now contracted to acquire a second platform support vessel, and will carry out some modifications and is expected to be delivered to SCI by mid-2017. Captain Sharma reports that SCI is also on the lookout to acquire two Suezmax tankers and one VLGC in the second hand market. “We have floated tenders and I hope we can conclude these transactions within this fiscal,” says Captain Sharma. “Over the year ahead we anticipate that these investments will play an important role in increasing our revenues keeping the focus on tanker and offshore activities.”