“While the shape of the shipping industry in North America is fairly stable, we are expecting more expansion in cruise regions and the offshore market with the ever growing demand for energy,” comments Philip Bannerman (pictured), Sales Director for Wilhelmsen Ships Service in the Americas.
Bannerman , who is based at the company’s Houston, Texas office, also believes that Mexico has more potential for development, particularly in the logistics sector.
Commenting on the overall health of the ships agency business in North America, he says, “The shipping market is more ‘mature’ than in other parts of the world, but we can see that energy traders are going to get busier. In addition the supply of agency and logistics to the cruise sector is likely to increase as the industry expands geographically.
“Our main investment focus is in sales resource with the right competence to target the market segments we expect to grow. Focusing in more detail on the cruise sector, he observes that the industry has weathered the global recession very well. “Bookings are strong and ticket prices are rising,” he says. “The cruise industry is continuing to expand in Europe and into new markets such as the Far East and South America.”
“There are major concerns currently, however, over fuel prices and the financial and operational impact of new regulations. On the other hand, the offshore industry in the US Gulf suffered following the BP spill and many assets were either laid up or redeployed overseas. Now, deepwater drilling is starting to resume. Consequently, higher oil prices will be good for this industry and encourage investment in new markets.”
According to Bannerman the concerns and challenges for the traditional shipping sector in North America echoes the global conditions, namely oversupply of tonnage, fuel costs, regulatory pressure and liquidity. “2011 is likely to be a tough year for many of our customers,” he says, “and we see opportunities to improve their operational efficiency by using our global network and wide portfolio of products and services.”
Wilhelmsen Ships Service supplies Unitor marine products, technical services, ships agency services and maritime logistics.