What Lies in Store for New Arrivals
we go to press (I enjoyed writing that) a number of newbuildings are making
their way towards Aberdeen to join the ships on the spot market. The brokers
and the shipping press report variable day rates, at best reaching an
acceptable level of profitability and at worst not paying the crew's wages.
There is certainly no repeat of the extraordinary rates achieved a year ago.
We don't often write about money. Its best
left to the financial pages of the Sunday papers but just for once the
relationship between the day rate and the oil price seems to be worth a bit
The question would seem to be - why, with an
oil price which exceeds $20, have a number of exploration and development
programmes been put on hold, or deferred to next year, Why is it that the
number of rigs in Invergordon is increasing again, and one or two drilling
contractors are mothballing semis and waiting for better times. And
therefore why are the anchor-handlers lying against Blakie's Quay waiting
for the sun to come out.
The brokers in Aberdeen have decided that it
is rig moves which make the market sizzle, and with the reduction in drilling
activity has naturally come a greater availability of ships, hence the lower
rates. All this appears logical but why to lack of activity.
Well, according to some of the oil related
publications there are major changes taking place at the top of some of the
major oil producers, and it seems to be an ongoing process for them to shed
staff like snakes shed their skins. Come rain or shine, when it gets to that
time of year they sack a few people.
The process is not limited to the oil
industry. Almost all major organisations have now sacked so many middle
managers that it is no longer possible for them to monitor day to day
activities, and apparently as a result fraud is rampant. Despite the
presence of the Health and Safety Executive, Safety Managers are so burdened
with day to day problems that they are finding it almost impossible to set
policy and plan for the future
Finally these vast organisations seem to have
reached the point where there are so few senior
managers left that they are unable to take decisions which relate to the
future activities of their companies. This then may be the reason for the
lack of activity. There may be no-one left to decide what to do.
If this is the case then they can only keep
on doing what they were doing before, only not quite so well, and the oil
price would appear to be more or less irrelevant.