Week 4 of the year saw plenty of deals, a mystery bidder for Eagle Bulk Shipping was revealed, the emergence of a new tanker pool giant and ongoing tensions in the Middle East reverberated through shipping markets.

But first, TradeWinds’ Paul Peachey managed to get hold of Mathieu Philippe, the CEO of the only European start-up to join the lucrative market hauling price-capped Russian oil — Fractal Shipping. In a wide-ranging two-part interview, the CEO opened up on the rise of Fractal and painted a worrying picture of what is to come.

In the second part of the interview, Philippe says Asian investors are ready to pump equity into tanker start-ups as the company looks to newer ships to shift its business outside of Russian trading.

Tanker owner Hafnia and trader Mercuria are teaming up to operate panamax tankers in a new pool. The Hafnia Panamax Pool will commercially run 10 vessels from the companies’ US, European and Asian offices.

Trafigura is the latest company lining up to order very large ammonia carriers, or VLACs, as demand for the trade is set to grow. Shipbuilding sources following Trafigura’s shipping activities said the commodities trader is in talks with HD Korea Shipbuilding & Offshore Engineering — the holding company for Hyundai group yards — for six vessels.

A Greek dry bulk owner made a serious run at Eagle Bulk Shipping last September — and it was not Star Bulk Carriers, which now has a pending agreement to acquire the New York-listed company. Star is paying $500m for its rival in a deal that continues a decade of consolidation by the company.

George Economou has hired a new Greek manager to help grow his rapidly evolving and expanding shipping empire. John Papagiannakopoulos, who was portfolio manager at Tufton, is joining TMS Group as head of “tactical opportunities”, the Greek company said on Wednesday.

Eagle Bulk Shipping chief executive Gary Vogel won’t have a role in things after Greece’s Star Bulk Carriers takes over his outfit, but he will have a fatter wallet, reports Joe Brady. Vogel is set to walk away with a $9m pay package if the Star combination comes off as planned later this quarter, according to a recent filing with US securities regulators.

Meanwhile, Chevron has appointed Barbara Pickering to lead the oil major’s shipping division. She is taking over from Mark Ross, a name familiar to those in the LNG sector, who retires after 33 years with the company.


Dubai, now a bustling maritime hub, stands as a prominent city-state in the world of shipping. Photo: Bloomberg

Paul Peachey looks at how Russia’s war in Ukraine and the changing tanker market have cemented Dubai’s role as a key shipping centre.

Dubai is seen by some as the “new Geneva”, with shipping playing a significant role in the economic growth of the United Arab Emirates. The ease of setting up businesses, the low tax environment, comfortable lifestyle, comparatively cheap office space and advantageous time zones have all contributed to a shift of mainstream shipowners and brokers to Dubai.