Stolt Tankers’ new boss believes the chemical tanker sector is ripe for consolidation.

The Netherlands-based division of Oslo-listed Stolt-Nielsen is the biggest operator in the world, with a fleet of 160 ships.

Chief operating officer and president-elect Maren Schroeder told delegates at a capital markets day in London that smaller shipowners are being deluged by the need to deal with sanctions compliance, environmental legislation and geopolitical disruption.

“It’s really about a company being able to react, to cope with all that administration and to react fast once we know how these regulations will look,” she said.

“And you need to have scale for that,” the COO added.

“We do see a lot of smaller operators struggling and we do believe there will be room for consolidation in the future,” Schroeder told the meeting.

Stolt Tankers has an annual revenue of $1.7bn and Ebitda of $527m.

Fleet renewal is under way through orders for 12 new ships in China.

But the COO also said the company will rely on secondhand deals, life extension work on the existing fleet and being asset-light in terms of chartered-in vessels.

“We believe in a good mix,” she added.

No capacity added

“We order ships to replace old tonnage that goes out of the company. So we do not order to add capacity to the market, but simply to replace existing ships,” Schroeder said.

“Building to our specification also helps us to have good interchangeability with the existing ships in the fleet. And that adds more flexibility to our network,” she explained.

Schroeder added that Stolt Tankers will always look for attractive secondhand acquisitions which allow the company to target specific gaps in the fleet.

The company said on Wednesday that it expects record chemical tanker rates to increase further in the second quarter.

Stolt Tankers is now forecasting a rise of 8% to 10% in time charter earnings between April and June, compared with the first three months of 2024.

This is up from an increase of between 6% and 8% predicted during its first-quarter results statement in April.