The right place at the right time

Should the vessel be heading from the US to Japan or across the Atlantic? Maersk Tankers posted a profit in 2015 as it works on better predicting the market, which includes advanced data analysis to determine where to send its vessels for best rates.

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The customer was happy too and it was a perfect hit, a home run. The data is giving us the confidence to do this now.
Cesar Niño, Assistant General Manager and Charterer at Maersk Tankers New York

Building business on facts 

For Eva Errebo, Head of Intermediate Chartering at Maersk Tankers, Active Position Taking is all about using its resources in the most efficient and intelligent way. 

There can easily be a 40% difference in the earnings between staying in a local market and sending a vessel somewhere different – and for an operator of more than 100 vessels, that can make a big difference on the bottom line, Errebo says.

“Our top priority is of course to win consistently in the market,” she adds. “That means we have to make money and we have to beat our competitors. To do that, we have to make sure that we engage and employ our fleet in the most optimal way.”

Previously, Cesar Niño – Assistant General Manager and Charterer for Maersk Tankers in New York – might have made the best of it and looked for a cargo to pick up in a nearby location. But when he turned to Maersk Tankers’ new analytical setup, which builds on statistical modelling and forecast data to predict where the best opportunities will come up next, he spotted something promising on the other side of the Atlantic.

“I knew I could do better in Europe thanks to the data, so I gave a discount to the customer on this particular vessel to go there,” Niño says. “In a sense, I let the market beat me – and in the past this would have been a no-no – but in the end, we beat the market and benefited in the longer term.”

Taxi to Hamburg

By arranging the trip to Hamburg to cash in on higher rates, Niño was leaning on the analytical setup and forecast data that Maersk Tankers is using to position its vessels for their next cargo, a little like planning a taxi service to be where the fares and demand will be highest.

This is part of a wider drive called Active Position Taking, under Maersk Tankers’ new Taking Lead strategy. It aims to beat the market by making the best decisions, using both historical data and forecasts to support and supplement experience and business acumen.

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“The customer was happy too and it was a perfect hit, a home run. The data is giving us the confidence to do this now,” Niño says.

“There is no one single or simple thing that can give Maersk Tankers the edge, but the data – and the tools and processes around it – can change the odds in its favour,” says Nicholas Allin Hansen, Head of Market Analytics. “Maersk Tankers has always relied on data and analytics, but now the depth and scope of the analysis is providing a solid, unbiased and structured market view that can similarly be applied on an ongoing basis.”

“We can do several things that improve our decision making,” Hansen says. “We can quantify the effects of fundamentals such as vessel supply, transportation demand and the oil price. In addition, we also have a better understanding of the cross market effects, such as how developments in one sector affect others.”

When the world is your market

Niño and the New York team previously only considered their own market, which covered the Americas. Now they think a bit more broadly as they plot how to maximise returns. 

On another occasion, Niño directed a tanker to Japan because he knew from the data that the market there was healthy and stable compared to that in the Gulf of Mexico.

“In the past we were maybe more protective, and focused on the local market rather than a wider view,” he says.

“At some point you doubt that this new system will work, especially the most experienced guys. But now you can see the results,” Niño adds. “It doesn’t matter if we’re the best in the market when it’s lean, when we could be mediocre in another market and make more money.”

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