It is hard to comprehend all the disturbing issues that have taken place during this past year. If this year has taught us anything, it’s that the unexpected can always be expected. The impact of the war in Ukraine is mildly speaking devastating. We are in the middle of a humanitarian crisis, heading towards a food crisis, and as it looks, a possible economic crisis. Regarding the humanitarian crisis, we have not taken a backseat. Meriaura has organized an asylum for our Ukrainian seafarers and their families, our company has employed Ukrainians for various tasks within the organization and given monetary donations to Ukraine. This is something we should feel good about.
In the middle of all the absurdness, ships must sail. The pandemic caused chaos and the war in Ukraine created more turbulence in the short sea market. First, we witnessed the vanishing Russian fleet, which had an influence on the available capacity. Second, as trading with Russia halted, many Baltic countries that used to be quite dependent on Russian goods, started sourcing the necessary goods from elsewhere. This resulted in quite dramatic changes in the flow of goods, but our vessels have been well employed nevertheless, as the market has adapted well to these external disruptions and a large portion of the goods are still being shipped within the Baltic and North Sea. As the times are mildly speaking strange, more and more uncertainty is created in the market, that again propels postponements and causes many sudden changes in the fleet schedules. We have also witnessed record high bunker prices together with very high price fluctuation, which have caused operational headaches. A very thorough fleet scheduling and optimization is a key factor in tackling this volatility.
All in all, our markets are shaken, but still very active, and the outlook for next year is somewhat foggy, but not all bad. Looking ahead, despite all the uncertainties we are facing, we have a good setup for achieving a good year. Our tonnage will remain, and so will our contracts of affreightments. We are on our way with the newbuilding projects, not forgetting our Marine EcoFuel that plays a huge role in the ongoing green transition.
2022 is the first year for all Meriaura’s shipping activities operating under the same umbrella. It’s hard to achieve a smooth transition into a well working organization but taking all the ongoing absurdities into account we have succeeded well, and we can all be proud of the results we have achieved this year, and I hope this encourages us to be ever more optimistic about the future.
It seems that the right mindset for battling through these very weird times is to just adapt to the new realities, and accept our ever-changing, more complex world. You could say that each of us needs to make an effort to be optimistic. We need relentless optimism and resilience.
Chief Operating Officer