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Interview: Changes, challenges & chances

An Interview with Chartering Manager Gokhan Gulcu of Core Shipping.

Changes, challenges & chances

In a conversation with Gokhan Gulcu of Istanbul-based Core Shipping we talk about current conditions in the shipping, transportation and logistics industry, including the challenges and opportunities they present.

Core Shipping was founded in 2015, initially as a freight forwarder. Later, in 2017, the company expanded its offering as a vessel operator. Since then, Core Shipping has served diverse clients in the oil & gas industry, handling projects worldwide.

What goes up, must come down

We were interested to see what Gokhan, as a Chartering Manager, thought of the current decline in charter rates and found him relatively at ease with the situation.

I think this is actually a normal response to what has been a crazy market for the past year and a half. At some point, things have to return to normality.”

Conflicting challenges

That’s not to say that the current state of affairs is not presenting the industry with challenges, however. Notably, Gokhan says, the conflict in Ukraine is exerting considerable pressure.

“The war has changed many things – trade lines and service routes for example. Plus, with the sanctions that are in place, Russian flagged or controlled vessels are often excluded from shipments. These things are having a major impact on the market.”

Turning negatives into positives

The war is not the only factor he says. Perhaps surprisingly, three years on, the coronavirus is still making itself felt.

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“Over the past few years, covid changed a lot of the things in shipping that we took for granted. People are still having to adapt to these changes. Anything that has an effect on bunker rates and freight prices can be an issue. However, as a vessel operator, we are managing to adapt and, sometimes, even to turn challenges into opportunities.”

One positive trend that Gokhan has noticed has been the revival of container vessels transporting breakbulk cargoes.

“Not so long ago, container vessels would not even quote on breakbulk shipments. This has changed to the point that we now see some of them even accepting project cargo without containers. This is certainly an indication of a positive trend.”

Core Shipping is planning to position itself for any market opportunities that arise. As part of this, the company is planning a fleet expansion. Core Shipping is looking to add two multipurpose vessels, with which it will increase service frequency between West Africa and the Mediterranean.

Keeping a winning formula

Despite planning to take advantage of growth opportunities, however, Gokhan feels that Core Shipping must remain true to the winning formula that it already has in place.

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“Our primary goal is always to retain the company’s boutique character, operating a small fleet of multipurpose vessels and handling project cargo shipments door to door. We believe that this is the surest way to provide services of the highest quality, as opposed to a large, corporate system.”

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