The top job of running Denmark’s Maersk Tankers and its product tanker stablemate has been split to deal with the major industry changes following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Claus Gronborg, who has managed the Maersk Product Tankers’ fleet of 52 vessels for the last three years, becomes chief executive from 1 October in a new round of management changes.

He takes over from Christian M Ingerslev, who continues as CEO of Maersk Tankers managing a pool of some 180 vessels that includes the product fleet. Ingerslev also becomes a board member for Maersk Product Tankers.

Gronborg told TradeWinds on Tuesday that the division of the top roles reflects the major trade changes following the invasion and the different demands of the two companies to the reshuffling of routes.

He said the entire global energy system will be reconfigured as Europe imposes a ban on seaborne Russian crude from 5 December and on products two months later.

The company said product tanker rates and asset prices had reached “extraordinarily high levels” this year and Gronborg said the market was likely to strengthen further owing to a limited orderbook and continued high demand for tonnage.

“The market has changed fundamentally since 24 February,” said Gronborg. “We have seen a complete change of trade flows and that basically means the same amount of oil needs to be moved longer distances.”

Razor-sharp focus

His appointment follows management changes last week at Maersk Tankers as its pools were cut by about 30 ships as owners cashed in on booming asset prices to sell their tonnage.

Regulations introduced next year that mark a first step towards decarbonising shipping also add an extra layer of complexity for owners and charterers.

Gronborg said: “We’re being razor sharp on what we focus on at Maersk Product Tankers as this is about optimising the product tankers we own, while Maersk Tankers has a razor-sharp focus on serving all the ship owners in the commercial management business, in the pools that it has. That’s why we’re making these changes.”

“The strategy remains the same,” said Gronborg, who will also remain chief investment officer of Maersk Tankers. He said Maersk Product Tankers was “very happy” with its fleet size but would continue to evaluate the market.

“We’re seeing a bigger focus on both companies and an increased focus at both companies on the decarbonisation regulations that we and the entire industry will be facing from 1 January next year.

“The Russian disruption in trade is important, but it’s also very important that owners, including most product tankers, are ready for the new regulations kicking in on 1 January, because they have an impact on every single tanker vessel in the world.”

Gronborg is a 15-year Maersk Tankers insider, having previously worked as chief commercial officer and vice president of business development. He is also spearheading Maersk Tankers’ new investments into cutting carbon emissions.

Christian M Ingerslev remains CEO of Maersk Tankers. Photo: Maersk Tankers

Maersk Product Tankers — owned by AP Moller Holdings and Mitsui & Co — is commercially managed by Maersk Tankers, while Synergy Group runs the technical management side of the business.

AP Moller Holdings-owned Maersk Tankers announced on Thursday that it was shaking up its chartering and operations business to address the changes in the trading environment and new emissions regulations from 2023.

Tom Hewitson will head its chartering unit in charge of cargoes from large energy companies and trading houses. He has worked for Morgan Stanley, BP and Castleton Commodities International.