How do you set up a transshipment operation in six months in unfamiliar territory, reduce your carbon emissions, build a team of qualified people and make money?
In July 2012, Oldendorff Carriers’ fifth transshipment hub launched in Trinidad and Tobago, the first such facility in the twin-island nation.
Thanks to InvesTT’s customised facilitation services, Oldendorff got approvals, completed construction, hired staff and sent its first shipment within six months. Within four months, the company shipped 2 million bulk cargo tons from the facility. To date Oldendorff Carriers Trinidad & Tobago Limited (OCTTL) as successfully transshipped about 6mio metric tons.
Oldendorff Carriers specialize in carrying raw materials, thus the name bulk shipping. The company operates on average 500 vessels and each year carries around 300 million tons of bulk and utilized cargo as well as performs 14,000 port calls in 125 countries.
The company was founded in 1921 by Egon Oldendorff in Luebeck, Germany which still serves as the head office. Oldendorff's global operations are today coordinated from 18 offices world-wide by 2,100 employees of 60 different nationalities.
Oldendorff Trinidad and Tobago Limited:
Initial Investment - 2012
- Operates two floating cranes in Trinidad’s Gulf of Paria, six miles offshore of Point Lisas
- Spent US$45 million pre-launch, mostly in investments on marine units required for transshipment (2 floating cranes, 1 tug, 1 crew boat)
- Expected to move six million tons of iron ore annually from Brazil to China and the Middle East via Trinidad
- Employs 85 locals, 15 expats
Update July 2015
- Iron ore movements have shifted to originating from Venezuela instead of Brazil
- OCTTL has successfully transshipped about 6mio metric tons since inception
- Oldendorff Carriers has invested in 2 additional floating cranes, 2 additional crew boats and 1 additional tug
- Transshipment volumes can potentially increase to 9mio metric per year and more
- Currently employs 120 locals, 12 expats with additional employment opportunities becoming available soon
Before, shipping iron ore from the Amazon and Orinoco River was carried out in medium size vessels (35,000-45,000mt), with the transshipment operation in Trinidad, Oldendorff Carriers can utilize large ships with up to 200,000mt capacity.
China is the largest global importer of iron ore, and sending large ships holding more cargo from Brazil to China makes the transport of material more efficient. But medium-sized Handymax vessels are more suited to going up the Amazon to get ore from mining companies due to the draft restrictions within the river.
It took four Handymax ships (each carrying 45,000 to 50,000 tons of ore) over 75 days to supply one shipping order to China, racking up the company’s fuel costs, carbon emissions.
The company needed a base close to Brazil where they could transfer ore from smaller ships into one Capesize vessel for the longer voyages to China and the Middle East. This would save costs and carbon emissions. The hub would need deep water anchorage for the large draft ship and calm, protected marine space.
Once Oldendorff chose a site, implementation had to happen fast. The company knows South America — it owns a bauxite shipping operation in Guyana — but building a different facility in another country would cost in time and money, so business friendliness was essential.
Environmental licenses, construction permits and hiring would have to be fast-tracked with minimum hassle, and the hub would need an experienced crew.
The Trinidad transshipment hub increases Oldendorff’s ore shipping capacity while reducing costs and carbon emissions.
It takes the Handymax vessels three days to transport iron ore from Brazil and 1.5 days from Venezuela to Trinidad. From there, the company loads one Capesize vessel that holds 180,000 to 200,000 tons of ore in eight days, and gets to China within 65 to 70 days. The hub can load four to five Capesize vessels every month, with potential to ship 9 million tons annually and more.
The islands fall below the hurricane belt and haven’t had a natural disaster disruption in decades. Trinidad’s Gulf of Paria offers deep, protected water for large draft vessels.
The country’s experience in marine oil and gas built a large pool of high skilled, experienced labour that Oldendorff could draw from. The University of Trinidad and Tobago’s maritime programme produces highly qualified graduates who could walk into management opportunities just like this one.
InvesTT came to the rescue by being a “one-stop-shop” for the entire investment process.
This transshipment hub is a first for the country’s maritime industry. And the project had to get done quickly, which presented another challenge. But the agency quickly broke down what Oldendorff needed, and walked the company through, using its contacts to cut through bureaucracy.
Within five months, InvesTT helped Oldendorff:
- Set up a subsidiary (Oldendorff Trinidad and Tobago Ltd.)
- Navigate legal requirements
- Secure customs and environmental approvals
- Secure construction permits
- Secure equipment and brokerage services
- Hire 85 locals
Oldendorff Trinidad and Tobago Limited CEO Scott Jones endorsed InvesTT as a proactive investment partner who got the job done. InvesTT continues to assist OCTTL in its current expansion efforts.
“We dealt with a lot of other countries and I was very impressed with the level of professionalism, the quality of questions and issues we had to go through and I found it to be very reasonable,” he told local media.
The experience helped build capacity for making future maritime investment even faster and simpler.