Well , that was the week that was ! Last week (April 23-28) saw what was probably the largest ever gathering of maritime professionals to descend on Singapore for this annual shipping industry fest. It is estimated that all together , with the number of exhibition visitors, conference delegate attendees and just plain old freeloaders at cocktail parties, more than 20,000 maritime professionals came to town.
This is despite shipping’s ongoing difficulties and the generally uncertain outlook for the global economy.
Tribute should be paid to the Singapore Maritime and Port Authority (MPA) as the principal organisers of SMW. MPA’s careful nurturing of the gathering over the past decade has seen it produce an excellent example of private sector and government partnership.
Helix PR’s team was out and about at many events and social gatherings and we detected a frisson of confidence and optimism returning in many of the people we met. It’s the nature of these events that participants tend to talk the market up buoyed by that fuzzy, light headed feeling often produced by late nights and excessive amounts of caffeine and alcohol. But there are shafts of light. It was encouraging to hear the views of dry bulk market representatives who are no longer looking for the nearest cliff from which to jump. Maybe the market has bottomed out and perhaps those recent rate spikes may be sustainable?
Needless to say the offshore sector took a back seat during SMW. There was not much confidence expressed about the long term viability of many Singapore listed offshore companies with the oil price unlikely to rise much above USD$50/barrel for the foreseeable future. But we met container and tanker market players who were the usual “cautiously optimistic” about the medium term health of their businesses and their fleets.
SMW has evolved nicely since the MPA launched it a decade ago. 10 years previously there were fewer gatherings and the conferences were rather formal, set piece affairs whose organisers often charged frankly too much money for entry tickets. This year’s SMW was instead a much more varied affair with an excellent mix of events which were by invite only and free of charge. In fact , the flash estimates from SMW show these events were , not surprisingly, the most popular last week.
Lloyd’s List rolled out one of its business briefings which was well attended ,as did IHS-Fairplay. The team at Asia Shipping Media, purveyors of Splash247.com, the dynamic shipping news website, put on one of their CEO Summits early on in the week and were probably able to boast the most senior line up of shipping industry titans as panellists of all the events last week.
We have to also mention and give credit to our friends at London Offshore Consultants who repeated their 2015 SMW triumph with the 2nd Asia Marine Casualty Form (AMCF). This event bills itself as ‘by the industry for the industry’ and it certainly lived up to that. The forum attracted more than 500 shipping and maritime professionals over two days – making it by some way the largest shipping conference during SMW. Helix PR was the organiser of AMCF and we are proud to work with LOC on what has become one of the cornerstone events of the week. Until SMW 2018!