MUR Shipping: Rising protectionism has caused some reversion to previous trade routes

Tuesday, 13 November 2018 14:48:51 (GMT+3)   |   Istanbul

SteelOrbis talked to Gelu Batrinca, chartering manager of MUR Shipping Romania SRL, about the company’s operations and how trade habits change amid rising protectionism at the SteelOrbis 2018 Fall Conference & 79th IREPAS Meeting.

Can you tell us about Mur Shipping’s history and operations?

MUR is a leading logistics provider in the dry bulk shipping industry. We transport dry bulk cargo across the world for more than 300 clients, from every major commodity sector.

The company was established in 1994 as a shipping division of Macsteel to ship steel cargoes out of South Africa, starting with 1 million mt and our volume has grown to over 48 million mt through third-party business.

Our 13 offices are spread across important trade routes and are located close to our clients, enabling us to offer the very best in service, responsiveness to fast-changing market conditions and the flexibility to develop customized voyages to support all our client requirements.

Our clients benefit from the collective expertise of our skilled and experienced team, our innovative shipping and logistical solutions, and high levels of integrity.

How much do steel shipments account for your business?

Steel amounts to 10 percent of our total portfolio, with a total steel cargo of 48 million mt per year. We also carry raw materials for the steel industry, such as coal, coke, iron ore, etc.

Do you exclusively ship Macsteel products?

No, Macsteel accounts for 2-3 percent of our volume only. MUR deals with different steel companies, just as Macsteel ships with a variety of shipping companies.

Which regions come to the fore in your steel trade?

MUR mostly carries steel out of the Mediterranean, Black Sea, Middle East, India, Asia and South Africa.

Do you expect traditional trade routes to change considering the latest global trade measures?

Yes. We have already seen big changes in steel trading patterns due to sanctions, currency depreciations and higher market prices. In a way, the latest change is back to what it used to be with more exports from the Black Sea and Turkey to Asia, an old trade that otherwise had become very limited. Today, the Middle East’s steel exports are a big change from just five years ago. And now that Iran is no longer active in exports is a huge difference to many markets.

Can you tell us about the most important problems in maritime transport and do you have any suggestions to solve these problems?

There are many challenges ahead of us: counterparty risks, changes in weather patterns and changes in seasonality. It all comes down to doing your footwork and being an expert in the commodity and the area in which you operate. Another big change will be implementation of the 2020 Low Sulphur rules. Some buy scrubbers, some do not, today it is impossible to say for sure which is the best way forward, it is all going to come down to the refinery capacity and pricing of the different kinds of fuel. It is a matter we follow very closely. The Low Sulphur implementation will most likely slow down vessel speeds and thus put more upward pressure on freight rates.

What are your expectations for freight rates in the coming period amid factors such as oil prices?

We expect the freight market to stay firm in the near term. Rising oil prices help keep vessel speed relatively low, while there is strong demand from many commodities.

Any final comments for our readers?

MUR has been a reliable partner to many clients over the years. A client is not just a counterparty, a client requires communication and attention. We must do what we can do to assist in generating new business.

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