The Restis Group is adapting for the future. Like many Greek shipowners, the Group is looking into new areas of operation. Chief executive officer Victor S. Restis here explains why the profile of the Greek fleet is rapidly changing.
Big-spending Greek shipowners are changing the face of their industry. They splashed out a record USD 5.6 bn on newbuildings, resales and secondhand purchases in 2003 but, significantly, the nature of their deals is changing, Cruiseships, containerships, liquefied petroleum gas carriers, and now possibly LNG carriers, have come to figure prominently alongside the traditional tankers and bulk carriers.
"The environment of world shipping is changing and we have to adapt to succeed in the future," says Victor Restis. "As shipping and the world at large become more sensitive and environmentally aware, it is inevitable that a younger, safer and state-of-the-art fleet is called for. This genuine desire to improve, coupled with very low interest rates, new regulations restricting older vessels and world trade growth can be summed up as the main reasons behind Greece's appetite for modern second-hand and newbuilding tonnage."
Enterprise Shipping & Trading, the shipping arm of the Restis group, currently has 50 vessels in its fleet, which is made up of a mix of reefers, container vessels, bulk carriers and tankers. Further diversification is on the cards.
"Even from our start-up days, our company has always been identified with quality and recognised as forward thinking and an advocate of change and progress in line with the times and market environments. It is inevitable that our company will continue to expand provided the economics make sense, without ruling out diversification into new emerging energy sectors," says Restis.
Commenting on future developments in the bulk markets, Restis says "The tanker sector will be driven predominantly by the western world's desire to import refined products from further afield due to the inability to expand current refineries or build new ones. As for crude, China's amazing growth will dictate the demand for crude carriers which, USD/ton, means further expansion of the VLCC fleet."
Regarding the dry cargo markets, Restis believes the "Chinese and Indian drive to develop further, together with a general lack of newbuilding bulk carriers, should ensure a healthy dry market for some time to come - albeit with the inevitable corrections."
For Restis, the tanker market's most dynamic sector is the refined products trade. "We expect longer-haul voyages, in that refineries are getting built closer to the oil producing nations rather than the oil consuming ones, and this should also imply larger stems for USD/ton economies of scale. In terms of country development, we expect India and China to be the star performers."
Restis believes the current newbuilding boom will continue for the foreseeable future. "With the tanker fleet rejuvenation in full swing due to the latest regulations imposing phase-out restrictions on existing vessels, it is very likely that the newbuilding drive will continue. This belief is due to the lack of berth availability prior to 2007, plus the increased demand for LNG carriers," he says.
While indicating that further fleet diversification is a possibility, the head of Enterprises Shipping & Trading has no fears of growing too big and losing focus. He says his company has been careful not to lose focus in its mission to be a leading marine-services provider to the bulk-market industries.
"We have been very meticulous in how we have integrated new business without a loss of management focus. I would note that much of our growth has come as a result of business that our customers have asked us to take on - we think that's very telling," concludes Restis.