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International News


Many chemical tankers calling the US Gulf will need to make alternative plans after a huge fire ripped through a Texas petrochemical plant early Wednesday morning.

Authorities have ordered residents within a 6.4 km radius of the TPC Group petrochemical plant in Port Neches to evacuate after a series of blasts ripped through the facility.

The plant has been evacuated and all staff members have been accounted for, officials said, but the fire is proving hard to get under control.

Other neighbouring energy firms have had to cut production in the wake of the blaze.

Total has slashed production to minimum levels at its 225,500-barrel-per-day Port Arthur, Texas, oil refinery because of its proximity to there TPC site. The two facilities lie about 6 km apart.


The past week saw freight rates for both clean and dirty handy tankers in the Black Sea and Mediterranean surge to record levels, according to brokers Gibson.

Analysts at Alphatanker also reported on Friday how the cross-Mediterranean tanker market had caught fire in the wake of the release of a number of date-specific cargoes plus delays building following bad weather in the region. Rates on the benchmark MR1 trade (TC6) from Skikda to Marseille were standing at WS 337 on Friday compared with WS 195 one week earlier.

“Such supercharged rates have made this sector one of the best performing asset classes in recent weeks. But the Handy sector has interestingly been devoid of investment in recent years, with effectively no order book and an ageing fleet,” Gibson noted in its latest weekly report. By the end of next year there will be just 279 handies that are less than 15 years old, according to Gibson data.


Norway’s Odfjell and Navig8 Chemical Tankers (N8CTI) have reached an agreement that will see Navig8 add four stainless steel chemical tankers into Odfjell’s Chempool25.

The agreement sees the Odfjell pool grow to 19 vessels made up of 10 Odfjell vessels, five vessels from Chemical Transportation Group and the four new additions from Navig8. Odfjell will operate all of the vessels in the pool.

Kristian Mørch, CEO of Odfjell, commented: “We are pleased to welcome N8CTI as a partner. N8CTI brings first-class vessels to the pool, and we look forward to the cooperation and to further develop our pool partnerships. With this expansion, Odfjell will operate one of the largest fleets of modern 25,000 dwt stainless steel chemical tankers in the world. This is another step in consolidating the chemical tanker industry, and it enables us to offer unparalleled flexibility and service to our customers.”

The Navig8 vessels are expected to enter the pool in the first quarter of 2020.


The piracy situation in West Africa has descended to new lows with a VLCC raided by armed men yesterday and 19 crew kidnapped. The attack on the Anglo-Eastern-managed Nave Constellation took place 66 nautical miles south of Bonny Offshore Terminal, and 24 nautical miles east of the Egina FPSO.

Nineteen crew members were reportedly kidnapped, including eighteen Indian nationals and one Turkish national. The vessel was laden and outbound from the Bonny Offshore Terminal, underway at approximately 13.3 knots. It was not under escort at the time of the attack, security consultants Ambrey pointed out in an alert.

The Nave Constellation is owned by Navios Maritime Acquisition according to VesselsValue.

A spokesperson for the owner and the manager of the tanker commented today: “Navios as Owners and Anglo Eastern as Technical and Crew Managers’s prime concern is the safety and early return of the 19 persons taken by the pirate gang. All the appropriate authorities, including the Flag State, have been alerted and are responding and all the necessary action is being taken to secure their wellbeing and early release.”


BIMCO’s chief shipping analyst Peter Sand remains cautious despite the recent sensational highs.

Stakeholders have long been talking about a demand boost from the new IMO 2020 sulphur cap as refineries increase their crude oil demand and their exports of the new compliant fuels, benefitting both crude oil tankers, but in particular oil product tankers.

We are, however, still waiting to see to what extent this may benefit the tanker shipping industry. Data from the EIA shows that although US refineries’ crude oil throughput has risen from its low point in mid-October, it remains below levels in the corresponding weeks of 2017 and 2018. This same trend can be seen in weekly US oil product exports. Both these numbers will need to rise if the US is to deliver part of the 2020 boost, the exact timing and extent of which remains uncertain.

Added to this uncertainty is the high fleet growth experienced in both the tanker markets: 4.8% growth in the oil product tanker fleet and 6.3% in the crude oil tanker fleet. The high growth rates are the result of increased ordering ahead of the much talked about 2020 boost, but have caused market fundamentals to deteriorate. These ships will still be sailing when any boost from the sulphur cap has become just a memory, and except for the recent peak in freight rates, the market has shown no need for this extra capacity in recent years.

The new ships include 65 VLCCs delivered in the first 11 months, already the highest deliveries on record since 1974, bringing the year to date VLCC fleet growth to 8% as only four have been demolished. This fleet growth has not been matched by similar demand growth, leading to further pressure on freight rates when the seasonal boost fades away and any short term game from the sulphur cap passes.

Rates spiked in mid-October as the strong Q4 seasonality mixed with a variety of geopolitical factors including sanctions on Iran, Venezuela and certain shipping entities as well as tensions in the Middle East. Freight rates have since fallen as fundamentals have begun to catch up with the market, but remain elevated.

Freight rates will remain at these elevated levels for the remainder of the year and into the start of 2020. Traditionally the strong seasonality then ebbs away over the course of Q1, but the IMO 2020 sulphur cap, will bring a boost to tanker shipping, and may therefore keep freight rates elevated for longer than in a usual year.

There is good news to be found in BIMCO’s projected growth for 2020, with the crude oil fleet expected to grow by 1.6% and the oil product fleet by 1.8%. While it is good news that the fleet growth is slowing, the effects of high fleet growth this year will be felt in the market in years to come.


Malaysian-owned AET has been awarded long-term contracts by Shell’s Brazil Shipping I Limited for three suezmax shuttle tankers.

AET will own and operate the newbuild vessels, which will operate in international and Brazilian waters. The charters are expected to commence in 2022 and the estimated contract value is $245m.

“These long-term time charter contracts will further reinforce AETs position as one of the global market leaders in the niche dynamic positioning shuttle tankers market in addition to fortifying its position as amongst the world’s leading international petroleum shipping solutions providers,” the company said.


Greek owner John Angelicoussis has returned to South Korean yard Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering (DSME) to order three more vessels.

Maran Gas Maritime, an affiliate of Angelicoussis Shipping Group, has added one 174,000 cu m LNG carrier at the yard with delivery scheduled in the first quarter of 2022. Additionally, Maran Tankers Management ordered two 318,000 dwt VLCCs at the yard with delivery scheduled in the third quarter of 2021.

The total value of the orders is around $380m.

Angelicoussis currently has another 12 LNG carriers on order at DSME.


Goldman Sachs raises 2020 Brent spot price to $63/bbl from $60 previously, according to emailed report. Long-term anchor price still seen at $55/bbl.

Bank now forecasts WTI spot price at $58.50/bbl with long-term anchor price at $50Goldman updates forecasts after OPEC+ agreed to bigger output cuts than expected OPEC’s Oil Surprise Came as Skeptics Were Doubting Price Rise Bank sees shift in OPEC+ strategy to managing short-term physical imbalances rather than trying to correct perceived long-term imbalances through open-ended commitments Forecasts that global oil supply/demand balances will be 0.3m b/d tighter than previously expected as a result Still cannot rule out risk of poor compliance by Iraq, Nigeria and Russia Still maintains 2020 U.S. shale production growth forecast at 600kb/d as poor financial performance, excess leverage and focus on emissions “sharply” pushes up cost of capital