Norwegian tanker operator Iver Ships will
join forces with Japan's Mitsui O.S.K Lines to form the second biggest clean tanker alliance in the Asia Pacific region. Iver said the two companies would merge their medium-range (MR) tanker fleets over the next six months to form a pool of 12 45,000 tonners. "Our customers -- the oil majors and petrochemical companies -- are globalizing to form bigger units, and they're looking to concentrate on a few service providers capable of doing a bigger part of the job," Iver CEO Hans Jorgen Firing said
. "That's why we decided to become a bigger player in this market... so we could be one of the chosen few," he said.
The fleet will operate anywhere between the Mideast Gulf and the U.S. West Coast.
Pooling of assets is a growing trend in the tanker industry, as owners struggle to hold their own against an ever more consolidated oil industry, and as they focus on servicing bigger contracts. Iver's fleet of 24 product and chemical tankers currently operates in Asia, the Caribbean and Latin America, and will be joined by four new tankers this year. Six will join the new Asia Pacific pool
Mitsui O.S.K. is one of the world's biggest shipping companies, controlling over 600 ships, and handling about 30 percent of Japanese oil imports. It has 10 product tankers, of which six will enter the pool with Iver. The alliance will compete with two other major pools in the same size range. The Dorado pool has 10 MR tankers and is managed by U.S.-based Heidmar Marine. The TPP pool has 13 MRs and is an alliance between four players Torm, Pacific Carriers, Sanmar Shipping and Primorsk Shipping. - (Reuters)