How start-up tanker operator Penfield Marine plans to spread across the globe with a larger, more diverse fleet.
The company has experienced highs and lows during its first year of operations.
The Connecticut-based tanker operator has recovered from having its first office hit by Hurricane Sandy, which saw it move to new premises in the US and this week, and it opens its doors in London for the first time. Further expansion in Asia is in the script for the next couple of years.
Penfield’s staff has grown to nine and its operated fleet has swelled to five vessels since the start-up launched in July 2012, with former Heidmar executives, including Tim Brennan and Charles Tammara, at the helm. Its progress to date is just about where the founders hoped it would be a year in, Brennan told TradeWinds at the new Penfield office in the Connecticut town of Fairfield, about 30 kilometres (18 miles) up the coast from Stamford.
London is an important location both for clean and dirty cargoes.
Both before and after the Heidmar stint, Gavarone worked at Banchero Costa of Italy, where most recently he focused on project business. “We’re very pleased to be working with him again,” Brennan said. “We’re hoping to add one or two people there [London] by the end of the year. “Right now, two of our five ships are trading in the east. London is an important location both for clean and dirty cargoes — it’s imperative that we have a presence there, and Giovanni has extensive background in clean trading.”
Penfield’s focus to date has been on long-range-one (LR1) products tonnage, with four vessels chartered in and one under commercial management. The fleet to date has been trading dirty, but Penfield is evaluating its latest entry — the 73,700-dwt King Daniel (built 2008) — to see whether it may be able to begin trading clean cargoes.
The King Daniel is about to be delivered to Penfield on an initial charter extending to a year plus options, Brennan explains. The vessel is owned by Koenig & Cie, which is controlled by Delos Shipping and Tennenbaum Capital Partners. Penfield remains open to expanding beyond its initial focus on LR1s, Brennan says. “LR1s have been a good way to start, but we’re very comfortable with other tankers and have been looking at opportunities that include aframaxes and suezmaxes,” he said.
Our focus is on trading. We have a fund that we’ve used to support that trading.
“Our focus is on trading. We have a fund that we’ve used to support that trading. It includes Penfield and other investors we’ve had previous relationships with both at Heidmar and Glencore. The investors have been pleased with the results so far and have committed more resources. We expect to start another trading fund in order to take additional tonnage in other vessel classes.”
Penfield is managing the growth from newly refurbished offices in an historic workshop adjacent to the train station in the Southport section of Fairfield. The fledgling outfit took a blow last October when its original waterside offices in Fairfield were destroyed by Hurricane Sandy.
The partners spent a month working out of Haughn’s dining room before moving into temporary quarters that lacked windows. “It’s nice to see the light of day again,” Haughn said.
Penfield would like to launch a Singapore office by the end of 2014, Brennan says, while adding staff in both Fairfield and London.
The partners see a tanker market that is very slowly lifting off the floor, he explains. “It depends on the sector, but personally I think we’ve come off the bottom,” Brennan said. “Let’s say there are going to be higher lows going forward, but it’s going to take a while for the market to come back. This affects that duration we’re looking for when we charter ships in. We need sufficient length on the firm period, but also enough options to give us flexibility.”