Adnoc Logistics and Services (Adnoc L&S) chief executive Captain Abdulkareem Al Masabi said he is ambitious for growth.
Asked by TradeWinds about his management style, he said: “I’m always in growth mode.”
It is something that has been evident at Adnoc L&S — a company born in 2016 from the merger of parent Adnoc’s marine services, offshore logistics, tanker and LNG companies —since Al Masabi took the helm three years ago.
The new outfit embarked on what it terms its “safe and smart growth strategy” to develop different segments of the business.
But in 2020, it hit the accelerator, adding 16 deepsea vessels to its fleet — including six VLCC newbuildings, five newly ordered and one secondhand VLGC, and three bulkers. And it seems it is only just getting started with another four ships already acquired this year, six more pending and a new tender launched.
Al Masabi, who spent 11 years at sea on gas carriers and tankers, said the 2020 acquisitions — all concluded remotely during the Covid-19 pandemic — were “very challenging” but completed on time.
The company also looked at fleet renewal in its offshore logistics and how to embrace technology to improve its efficiency, performance and ultimately its environmental and emissions profile.
Adnoc L&S has already made one call on future fuels, shifting its four VLCC orders at Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering over to dual-fuel vessels that will bunker LNG.
Al Masabi said it is impossible to know which will be the fuels of the future, adding that if companies keep analysing this, they will never come to a solution.
He said that regardless of all the alternatives, LNG will continue to be a valuable fuel for at least the next 15 to 20 years, with the infrastructure for it already available globally.
“LNG is the only available solution where we can protect our environment from carbon emission,” he said.
He is also confident that the additional capital expenditure for these ships will pay off.
“We’re not a short-term shipping player which will just flip a coin and sell these vessels at any time,” Al Masabi said. “Our plan is to own these vessels for a long time and I think it will pay off.”
He cited the offset from the emissions, the reduced cost of fuel and a potential premium from charterers for eco-friendly vessels.
But Al Masabi, who likes to clear his head by taking a run or playing football, is also pragmatic.
The next expansion could be in ammonia-fuelling, although Al Masabi said there is nothing yet to show it can be commercially used in vessels.
But he added that because the company is in growth mode, it can still capture the next alternative fuel if it becomes available.
Moving on up
Adnoc L&S is showing no signs of slowing its growth trajectory in 2021.
Al Masabi said the company has bought one bulker, an aframax tanker and two VLCCs in the past three months.
It has also kicked off a tender for up to six LNG carriers — newbuildings or existing modern ships — for delivery in 2025 and hopes to conclude the business during this year.
Al Masabi said that although the driver on the LNG ships is fleet renewal, the company does not plan to dismiss totally its existing 25-year-old LNG carriers and is already looking at conversion opportunities.
Adnoc L&S is also in the process of acquiring six LR2 product tankers from Maersk Tankers. He said the three resales and a trio of existing vessels will be staggered from now until the end of the year.
Al Masabi also revealed that Adnoc L&S is in the early stages of looking at developing LNG bunkering in Fujairah.
He points out that the company’s founding entities were working in bunkering in the region 20 years ago, only stopping in 2008.
“Today, if we wanted to provide such service, we have to look at how it would be different from the others,” Al Masabi said. “We are a big shipping company linked to the Adnoc brand, so whatever we provide has to be unique in terms of our offering.
“We are studying LNG and the alternative fuels as they become commercial, then we might get into this as a support to the industry.”