Tanker owners organization Intertanko is preparing to test a system to give ship owners greater
market clout through increased vessel and cargo information sharing.
"The project will be technically available within six months and will be tested within a year," Intertanko managing director Dagfinn Lunde said. The aim of the project is to set up a protected Web site where vessel owners can input ship position and cargo information.
Intertanko officials said charterers are currently able to dictate market rates because they have better information on availability of cargoes and ships. They can also influence the perception of supply and demand by regulating cargo programs.
The new project would aim to give tanker owners similar information to counter the charterers' advantages, Lunde said. An incentive will be that only Intertanko members who contribute data will be allowed to access information. "The key is getting enough members willing to input data," he said. "There are always more owners willing to read data than provide it."
Lunde said the idea originated from member pressure to do more about the current state of the tanker market. He added that he thinks further cooperation among tanker owners will result from the difficult market conditions. "I think we will see more vessel pooling arrangements and joint ventures being formed," he said, citing the pooling of vessels as a way owners could possibly strengthen their market power and increase vessel utilization. Pooling means that there is a greater chance of having a vessel ready to pick up a cargo without first having to sail in ballast to the loading port.
Intertanko represents 270 companies which own about 75 percent of the world's independent tanker tonnage.