Norwegian shipowner John Fredriksen is counting on fossil fuel dependency and tight vessel supply to keep his ships busy for many years.

But his companies’ newbuilding plans have left room for ships that can be competitive in a more sustainable future.

The multi-industrialist behind Golden Ocean and Frontline among others has spoken out to Oslo business daily Finansavisen with the outlook behind his fleet exposure.

“I know we are facing a shift towards more sustainable growth, but that will take time,” Fredriksen told the Norwegian paper. “And we are surely seeing the effect of the wish for rapid changes now, especially on energy prices.”

Both on the dry and wet side, Fredriksen’s listed and private companies have taken on more newbuilding exposure than some others, and that represents a bet on continued global growth, driven by the same raw materials his ships are carrying today.

“People can quickly forget that the populous parts of the world are entirely dependent on fossil fuels, and will be for quite some time to come,” Fredriksen told Finansavisen.

“In bulk and tank, fleet growth is now at its lowest in 20 years, and the same goes for the orderbook. We have invested a lot in efficient tonnage that can be competitive for the future, with demands for lower emissions. For that reason, these are two shipping segments I am following closely, with great interest now.”

The Norwegian business newspaper cited continuity in demand growth as the background for his position at the shipyards.

“The demand for raw materials like coal, iron ore, and oil has grown at the same pace as global development for decades,” it quoted Fredriksen as saying.

Fredriksen’s long-term bullishness echoes remarks of his right-hand men in tanker and dry bulk shipping, Lars Barstad at Frontline and Ulrik Andersen at Golden Ocean Group.

Barstad recently described the short tanker orderbook as an “alarming development” for global transportation, despite the obvious upside of such a supply shortage for the company he leads.

“We’re starting to see the early signs that tankers could become a bottleneck in the energy logistical chain,” he said last week, as TradeWinds reported. “Not every country in the world is blessed with oil. There’s also an asymmetrical relationship between population growth and oil resources.”

Predicting a rebound

Andersen, chief executive officer of stock-listed dry bulk owner Golden Ocean, also took a bullish view of his segment, addressing a shorter-term outlook.

He recently told TradeWinds: “We have a very weak market environment at the moment, but we do believe that there’s got to be a rebound before the turn of the year, driven by increasing iron ore output from Vale, continued inefficient allocation of coal and restocking in China.”

That corresponds to Golden Ocean’s strategic decision to lock in charter coverage for most of its capesize and panamax fleet for the third quarter while leaving the fourth quarter largely open.