Clay Maitland

On a quest for quality in shipping

Risk Management 101

Dr. Quenton R. Dokken, Executive Director of the Gulf of Mexico Foundation, which now celebrates its twentieth anniversary, demonstrates what the petroleum industry can do when it heeds the “better angels of its nature”. Continue reading

A blog from Washington

claytoonjpgI have been in Washington, DC for the past few days, watching the legal and political reaction to the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. I would say that the clearest lesson to be drawn from the reaction of the U. S. government is that techniques for the extraction of oil at great oceanic depth are more advanced than those for the prevention of leaks or blowouts, as well as response and remediation afterward.

Closely associated with this lesson is a growing awareness that risk exists. It must be managed; and most important, it must be planned for, and be adequately funded. The Gulf of Mexico blowout demonstrates how costly failure can be.

For the future, hydrocarbon extraction… Continue reading

Volcanic eruptions may create a role for boxships

claytoonjpgYou will have seen my recent brief announcement on welcoming Dr. Hans Payer as a distinguished member of our blog team. He joins Michael Grey, Neville Smith, and Mark Warner who produces our website. They are extremely capable and I am very proud of them.

Hans Payer is also a consultant and adviser to myself, and I believe his appointment is a hugely topical and timely one for reasons that I will explain below.

Because of this, I would like to add a few more details about his career:

Hans is Austrian-born, and holds a Master of Science degree in naval architecture from the University of Vienna, and both Master of Science and Doctor of Philosophy degrees… Continue reading

The long and the short and the tall

claytoonjpgHere’s what has happened since the Grand Bureaucratic Bailout of last weekend (GBB for short):

As far as the shipping sector goes, the shortage, or rather the lack, of capital (politely called liquidity) is now really striking home. Even prosperous and successful brands are being affected. The effect on the quality of much of the world fleet, over time, will be striking and very harmful.

Europe’s nearly 750 billion euro bailout package is intended to stabilise just about everything. While we hope that it will work for Greece and Portugal over the long run, it won’t help the shipping industry in the short one.

The reasons are simple: lending, on reasonable terms, to respectable medium-sized businesses, must be… Continue reading

Slippage, Risk, Quality and Liability

It is increasingly clear that the shipping industry faces an influx of cheaply and shoddily designed tonnage in the tanker, dry bulk and containerised categories; that was the talk behind the scenes at this week’s Mare Forum conference, here in Rome. Continue reading

A chill wind on the Akti Miaouli

I have referred to the effect of Greece’s current agonies on its maritime sector. Not least, the crisis’ impact threatens the continued viability of what cognoscenti (lawyers, Greek shipowners and parliamentarians) call Law 89.

This dandy ordinance was the brain child of some famous shipping tycoons in the 1950s., names available on request.

Essentially, it provides for a broad exemption from tax for a “Law 89” company, which is essentially one engaged in the shipping business.

Obviously, tax breaks for the elite, certainly including shipowners, will now come under scrutiny.

Greece’s current Pasok (Socialist Party) government is under growing pressure to soak the rich, and this includes repeal of Law 89 and other
so-called incentives.

Word on the Akti Miaouli (the famed street of maritime… Continue reading

Trouble looms large

Over the past several days, it has become clear that the European
powers that be have failed to
avert the economic disaster that
has lain in our path like a massive improvised explosive device in Afghanistan.

The conference that I’m speaking at, Mare Forum, holds a session in Italy each year.

This one is entitled “Optimism in the Air”. The headlines, however, say “Banks Brace For Spread of Europe’s Credit Crisis”.

What is now happening is that nobody really knows what’s happening. We do, however, realise that our lack of information about which European banks are vulnerable to sovereign debt problems, and therefore defaults on government bonds, means that virtually all lenders, including those to shipowners, will stop making short-term loans to one another.

This very likely will lead to a second freeze… Continue reading

When in Rome……

I’m in Rome to speak at a shipping conference (of which there are many these days), gazing down from Monte Mario, at a panorama dramatically backlit by periods of sun and brief showers of rain. Continue reading

Further thoughts on deepwater horizon

The Gulf of Mexico drill rig disaster is casting a growing shadow on the discipline, if that’s the correct word, of oil spill prevention, cleanup and response.

Not since the EXXON VALDEZ incident, more than two decades ago, has so much attention been focussed on “measures taken” and “lessons learned.”

There will, we can be sure, be many lessons learned.. One is that the marine environment and its protection is of great political and economic significance.

When a few friends and I formed the North American Marine Environment Protection Association (NAMEPA), three years ago, it was with an awareness that the private sector, the government, engineers and scientists still had to reckon with the peculiar nature of oil spills, particularly those involving large quantities of the stuff.

What we have before us… Continue reading