Stolt-Nielsen Transportation Group Ltd. (SNTG), a wholly-owned subsidiary of Stolt-Nielsen S.A. announced a co-service agreement for operational matters for the carriage of bulk liquids from ports in the U.S. Gulf to ports in Asia. The purpose of this agreement is to improve service levels for SNTG and JOT customers and increase operational efficiencies while maintaining the commercial independence of SNTG and JOT. To accomplish this goal, SNTG and JOT will identify ports and berths where safety improvements and operational efficiencies such as more efficient loading, discharging, transshipping or barging operations can be achieved by working together to allocate cargoes to particular ships. Both companies will continue to market their ships and services independent of each other, and the contractual relationship between individual carriers and their respective customers will remain private and confidential. The Combined Service Agreement is due to commence on February 1, 2002. In a joint statement, Richard Wingfield, managing director tanker trading, SNTG, and Rick van Westenbrugge, managing director, JOT said, "We recognize that the operational overlap between the various chemical carriers on this route, combined with frequent port congestion, has resulted in delays and inefficiencies in servicing chemical export requirements. We anticipate that this co-service agreement will generate significant efficiency improvements for our customers including improved ship positioning and sailing frequency, shortened delays and voyage lengths, reduced incidence of demurrage and better berth utilization."