US ships’ agent Biehl has been a recognized entity in the shipping industry since the beginning of the 20th century. Respected worldwide and financially sound, Biehl stands poised to lead the way among ship agencies into the 21st century. Biehl maintains its position by retaining highly qualified personnel and utilizing the latest technology available to assist each principal to conduct business. In addition to offering the full range of ship agency services, Biehl also acts as owners’ or charterers’ protective agents or as husbanding agents in connection with dry-docking and other special circumstances.
Founded in 1905, Biehl’s service to the US Gulf Coast in Galveston precedes the establishment of the Port of Houston. Shortly after World War I,Wilkens & Biehl, as it was then known, opened the first office in Houston. Since then Biehl has grown to become one of the largest steamship agents in the US with 17 offices located in the US Gulf and US East Coast. Biehl continues into its fourth generation of continuous family ownership proving that the company can easily adapt to the changing shipping landscape.
Biehl is one of the largest agencies in the US with expertise in handling dry bulk commodities from petcoke and coal to grains and fertilizer. Its customers rely on its value-added services to not only handle their vessels but also provide them with relevant market data and up to the minute information which is critical in handling their business. When requested, Biehl can evaluate project viability, verify design economics and review contractual language to identify potential issues.
Serving the needs of its customers throughout the US Gulf and US East Coast, Biehl agents and offices are prepared to address customer needs. Seventeen local offices eliminate the need to travel great distances. The company’s offices are plugged into the local community, from the port authorities to terminal operators — it acts as its customers’ eyes and ears.
Biehl invests in its most vital asset: its people. Managers communicate with staff and colleagues to exchange ideas, identify trends and ensure continuity across locations. Conference attendance is encouraged as are opportunities for professional development. The Next Generation Program identifies talent within the organization and selects those individuals for additional specialized training. Biehl is proud of its heritage of family leadership and is eager to develop the next generation of shipping managers from within its own organization.
Biehl employees are trained to anticipate and proactively address challenges. In most cases, it resolves operational issues so swiftly, its customers are never aware of them. For example, draft bills
of lading are prepared well in advance of the vessel’s arrival so that, upon completion of loading, only the cargo figures need to be included. Biehl further demonstrates its commitment to advance preparation by providing customers with timely port information, weather updates and most significantly, by offering customers the benefit of years of experience with a particular port, ensuring seamless vessel operation.
Biehl can tailor any service or request specifically to the customer’s requests. Detailed work instructions (which the customer can revise at any time) are developed and discussed to clearly outline customer expectations. Once completed, these instructions are shared between offices to ensure continuity of service. These work instructions are also regularly reviewed to evaluate customer satisfaction.
Due to the considerable amounts involved, Biehl places utmost importance on safeguarding
customer funds. Both bonded and well insured, Biehl is able to cover whatever issues may arise. Its advanced accounting software enables it to create customized reports and data that can be exported to customers’ specifications, eliminating double data entry and saving its customers both time and money. For some large volume customers, it also provides designated accounting services staff that are attuned to a particular customer’s needs and is better able to respond to their requests.
Biehl is a firm believer in measuring performance. Its ISO system tracks and records multiple aspects of its operations. ISO-dedicated staff visits each office quarterly, and all offices are subject to annual ISO performance audits. Biehl ensures a high level of performance through extensive internal training and by requiring Association of Ship Brokers and Agents (ASBA) testing and certification of all operations personnel.
As a member of both Multiport and the Association of Ship Brokers and Agents (ASBA), Biehl annually submits to two independent audits to ensure continued membership in good standing with each organization. This attention to fiscal control contributes to the company’s positive financial standing with no debt and ample opportunities for expansion. The company owners allow the profits to remain within the company to be used for expansion both internally and through acquisition.
INTER BALT is the forwarding and ships’ agency arm of major Polish coal trader, the Weglokoks S.A. group. It was founded as a limited liability Polish company in 2003, with its head office in Gdansk. It also has branch offices in the country’s remaining major ports such as Gdynia, Szczecin and Swinoujscie. Today, the company has about 45 employees, including six who are highly skilled and experience in the dry bulk sector of the shipping business.
INTER BALT is the largest supplier of services for vessels loading Polish coal at all Polish ports with an approximate 15–20% share of the whole Polish shipping agency market.
The company’s current focus is on providing ships’ agency services for the benefit of shipowners.
INTER BALT’s success is driven by its people, and by their unrelenting focus on delivering high-quality and comprehensive ships’ agency services.
In 2010, INTER BALT served as a port agent for 350 vessels, an increase of over 50% from 2009. About 50% of that volume occurred in the ports of Gdansk and Gdynia. INTER BALT’s agency team also supports services in shipyards, and is involved in another branch of activities — shipbrokering.
As the representative of the Weglokoks Company in Katowice on the Polish coast, INTER BALT also provides comprehensive services in the field of coal forwarding in Polish seaports. Apart from forwarding services for Weglokoks S.A. Katowice and other operators, it trades in coal on the local domestic market.
INTER BALT offers end-to-end dry cargo management solutions to principals for the last eight years and provides customized answers, which incorporate procurement, shipping, port logistics, land transportation and shipping consultancy.
Ninety per cent of the dry bulk commodities carried by INTER BALT’s customers are either coal, iron ore or biomass.
THE ROLE OF THE SHIPS’ AGENT
INTER BALT recognizes that owners need excellent services,
and for that reason its employees work around the clock to find better, cheaper ways to satisfy its principals and to make the necessary arrangements for handling owners vessels.
As the port agent, INTER BALT comes into contact with individuals and organizations. These include ships’ masters, officers and crew, customs, immigration, port authorities, towage companies, boatman and stevedores.
Depending on circumstances, owners need a range of services, including the arrangement of repairs, surveys, medical attention and so forth. This list is by no means exhaustive, but merely serves as an illustration of the diversity of people and organizations that are involved at one time or another with a vessel and its cargo during a port call.
INTER BALT helps its principals to comply with legal requirements, both Polish and international. It is important to remember that, in recent years, new legislation has been introduced which includes PHICS in Polish ports, and the Paris MoU, a new inspection regime. Therefore, as a ships’ agent, INTER BALT must take particular note of these developments, and adapt its working practices accordingly.
INTER BALT’s major clients include the four companies: GFD Suez, SUEK AG, Weglokoks and Vattenfall who between them represent 90% of INTER BALT’s principals.
INTER BALT works hard to remain competitive in the bulk agency market, and must deal with competition from companies including Inchcape, Rentrans and Anchor.
FOCUSING ON THE FUTURE
In the last few years, there have been changes in the Polish coal industry, with mining experiencing a fall. As a result, INTER BALT must adapt to the changing requirements of the market. Its new focus is therefore on the imported coal market, as well as on the import of biomass, to replace the fall in coal export quantities that are the result of the recession.
An introduction to the Venezuelan market
The Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela (Repu´blica Bolivariana de Venezuela), is located in the upper north-east corner of South America in the Northern Hemisphere, bordering the Caribbean Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean, between Colombia, Guyana and Brazil, and has a territorial extension of 916,445km2 and a population of 27,635,743 (July 2011 est.).
The petroleum sector dominates the country’s economy, Venezuela is one of the world’s main oil exporters and its oil reserves are among the top ten in the world. Oil typically accounts for roughly 90% of the country’s export revenue, more than 50% of the federal budget, and around 30% of Venezuela’s gross domestic product (GDP). Venezuela’s GDP is $309.8 billion (2011 est.), equivalent to US$12,400 (2011 est.) GDP per capita (2011).
PDVSA (Petro´leos de Venezuela, S.A.) is Venezuela’s state- owned petroleum company. It oversees the exploration, production, refinement, and export of oil as well as the exploration and production of natural gas and the commercialization of petcoke.
Other important sectors for the Venezuelan economy include iron ore, steel, aluminium, coal, sulphur and construction materials.
As a priority sector for the Venezuelan economy, the commercialization of oil and gas evolved into a much more complex operation over the years, requiring specialized services that could fit the demanding needs of all counterparts (oil majors, traders, vessel owners/operators) involved in the energy sector.
Port agency requirements were no exception in this changing market. This market niche came to require the following: a sound know-how of the dynamics of the oil and gas industry and of the dry bulk cargo market, the ability to deliver services covering all main ports and terminals, and the financial stability and capacity to cover the principal’s obligations and payments of the expenses that the vessel may incur while in Venezuela.
Agemar (Agencia Mari´tima de Representaciones, C.A.) was founded in 1969 as a Port Agency in Maracaibo, Estado Zulia, where Venezuela’s main petroleum deposits are located, gaining
vast experience since the beginning of the Venezuelan oil economy. It was amongst the first companies to provide international shipping agency services in the country.
After more than 40 years of experience,Agemar has built an excellent record of operations, developing very close and long- lasting relationships with PDVSA, PdvMarina, PdvCaribe and Deltaven, as well as with world class companies in the oil and gas industry and in the dry bulk cargo market. Other industries and local clients that it serves include Pequiven and Fertinitro in the petrochemical/fertilizer sector; and Carbones del Guasare in the coal sector.
Agemar moved its head office from Maracaibo to Caracas, from where the agency’s general operations are now conducted, and has established nine branch offices located at the waterfront near to each of the PDVSA Terminals, and near to the main public ports around the country, including: Maracaibo, Punto Fijo, Puerto Cabello, La Guaira, Carenero, Puerto La Cruz, Guiria, Pedernales and Puerto Ordaz.
Branches handling dry bulk cargoes include:
- Maracaibo (La Ceiba, San Francisco – El Bajo, Boya 65 – Bulkwayuu) for coal shipments;
- Punto Fijo (Amuay & Cardo´n) for petcoke shipments;
- Puerto La Cruz for coal shipments and also from Jose Terminal for sulphur, petcoke and urea shipments; and
- Puerto Ordaz for aluminium and iron ore shipments.
Today, Agemar is a leading port agency in Venezuela. It serves world class companies around the world; attends oil tankers, product tankers, dry bulk carriers, chemicals carriers, project cargoes, cruise ships, offshore platforms, crew attendance and bunker deliveries; and complies with the most demanding and diverse standards of oil majors, traders and first class owners/operators as Agemar’s principals.
The company has also served clients in other markets via joint ventures with others agencies in Trinidad & Tobago, Colombia, Curacao, Bonaire and the Bahamas.
These experiences, local knowledge and developed skills supported Agemar’s year 2006 ISO 9001:2008 certification as port agents by Bureau Veritas.
Canada’s Navitrans Shipping Agencies
Navitrans Shipping Agencies has been established for over 25 years and serves worldwide ship owners, charterers, brokers and all of the shipping industry.
With its expertise in the agency business, it is able to assist any operator or charterer when calling any port in Canada, East and West Coast. Navitrans specializes in a range of products including grain, iron ore, steel, wood, coal, liquid and any other products which trade in Canada. Navitrans is also an agent for various cruise vessels which call at ports on the West and East Coasts of Canada, St Lawrence, Great Lakes and the North of Canada.
Navitrans Shipping Agencies are available 365 days per year to assist any operator and/or charterer when their vessels call at Canada’s ports and need assistance with operations including loading and/or discharging, inspections, repairs, medical assistance and any husbandry items the vessel may require during her transit and port stay.
Navitrans guarantees a quick, positive, efficient response to its customers, and its wide experience with a range of contacts mean that it can help with any matters that arise.
The company’s major clients are the grain houses as it handles many grain charterers; clients also include some esteemed owners and operators worldwide. Customers come back to Navitrans time and time again, due to the quality of service and its round-the-clock availability.
Challenges faced include the various inspections that vessels are required to undergo (either for grain loading or port state control), but with its experience, it can prepare all vessels ahead of time. Also, in the winter, the weather plays a very big role when preparing a vessel and her crew. Again, Navitrans’s expertise, and its 25 years in the business and in the region, mean that it can prepare all parties ahead of time.
Penavico and Multiport enter into co-operation
Beijing Head Quartered, China Ocean Shipping Agency — better know as Penavico — and Multiport Ship Agency Network have jointly entered into a co-operation agreement for ships’ agency service. This agreement came into force at the beginning of this year.
Penavico has said, “Penavico, China’s largest ships’ agency organization, with over 80 offices in China, is pleased to have concluded the MoU [memorandum of understanding] with Multiport as this creates substantial opportunities for Penavico to expand the ships’ agency services for its customers on a global scale.”
Albert Hoek, managing director of Broekman Shipping Division and executive committee director of Multiport, has stated that Multiport is proud to have Penavico as its
exclusive partner-member for China, as Penavico’s covers the whole of China. Excellent communications and a very practical open exchange on business opportunities have now been formalized in an MoU that will be put into practice over the forthcoming months. Multiport now has 112 members in 110 countries around the globe.
Penavico will celebrate its 59th birthday this year, and at the same time will also move into its new office building in Beijing.
Multiport — the ships’ agency network of independent agents — was established in 1978 and the partnership agreement with Penavico provides full coverage of the whole of China, which is of great interest to all customers of the Multiport membership.
PT Indo Dharma Transport: serving the Indonesian market
PT Indo Dharma Transport (PT IDT) is a reputable shipping agency and logistics service company in Indonesia. The company is known for its extensive experience and professionalism. It focuses on business services such as shipping agency, stevedoring/transshipment, tug and barge, heavy equipment support, custom clearances and export/import documentation and the rental of grabs of all sizes.
As a ships’ agency and logistic services company, PT IDT is committed to considering the principal as its ‘golden asset’. For this year, the company’s credibility is built on: its wide networking; strong relationships with government, coal producers, buyers, port authorities; and logistics services.
IDT also acts as a ships’ agency for tanker/chemical vessels, as well as general cargo around Indonesian ports. It is an exclusive agent for one of the country’s reputable fertilizer receivers.
PT IDT’s business is strongly tailored to the requirements of its principals, and its services are available 24 hours a day.
To strengthen its credibility, PT IDT has branch offices in five regions:
- Java and Sumatra region: Jakarta, Surabaya, Gresik and some others are affiliated with some ports such as Merak, Ciwandan, Cigading, Panjang,Tarahan, Semarang and many other ports in Java.
- Central Kalimantan region: Sampit (the iron ore sources port), Pangkalan Bun,Teluk Kumai.
- South Kalimantan region: Banjarmasin, Jorong, Muara Satui, Kotabaru/Batulicin,Tanjung Peutang,Tanjung Pemancingan, North Pulau Laut Coal Terminal, South Pulau Laut Coal Terminal (IBT),Tanjung Mangkok and Sebuku.
- East Kalimantan region: Adang Bay, Balikpapan, Samarinda, Muara Pantai (Berau), Lubuk Tutung and Sangata.
- Sulawesi region: Kabaena, Kolaka, Pomalaa and Luwuk and Ge Island.
PT IDT handles a lot of shipments with various commodities in the import/export activities in Indonesia, especially coal and other mineral commodities. It is the exclusive ships’ agent for the export of iron ore and nickel ore, both growing mineral commodities in Indonesia. The company is also the ships’ agent for the big coal players in the Indian market, as well as other markets in Asia and Europe.
PT IDT also offers stevedoring services for coal and other mineral commodities (bauxite/nickel) in the Kalimantan region and Sulawesi Tenggara. It has its own heavy equipment, as well as five landing craft to service its clients needs efficiently and in a timely manner. Its trimming equipment includes a large number of dozers, wheel loaders and excavators.
In terms of tugs and barges, PT IDT serves and delivers coal cargoes in a timely fashion, handling barges of different sizes, from port to port and ship to ship (transshipment).
Grab rentals: PT IDT provides sets of grabs with hydraulic systems. These adjustable grabs are remote/robotic,
with capacities ranging from 5m3
. The company has its own experienced mechanics and supervisory staff who all work to ensure the satisfaction of all its clients.
PT IDT also has great strengths in the processing of customs clearances and other export-import documentation in all Indonesian ports.
Inchcape Shipping Services helps Indonesian coal trade tackle tough challenges
Amit Bhardwaj, country general manager for Inchcape Shipping Services (ISS) in Indonesia, shows how the company is helping firms capitalize on Indonesia’s fast-growing coal trade by providing marine transportation outsourcing solutions.
Coal mining is a fast-growing industry in Indonesia and a significant portion of this activity focuses on the island of Kalimantan. In 2010, coal exports totalled 291mt (million tonnes), up nearly a quarter on the previous year. Now there are plans to increase overall coal production from around 320mt last year to 500mt by 2020.
Tugs pulling large barges laden with coal are a regular sight on the Mahakam and Barito rivers where they pass Samarinda on the east of the island every five minutes on their way to offshore anchorages. A similar sight can be seen in the southeast at Banjarmasin.
These barges carry between 6,000 to 8,000 tonnes of coal and the volumes on these rivers are so high there is often congestion at bridges and other river crossings, as well as tugs waiting for access to the dredged river channels to take coal out to loading platforms.
Such congestion is one of many transport problems that mining companies face on Kalimantan. Other issues such as poor infrastructure and unclear rules and regulations, have created a need for coal mining companies and buyers to seek expert consultancy and advice.
ISS — a major global maritime services provider with a history stretching back 164 years — reinforced its presence in Indonesia in 2009 by forming a strategic alliance with SSY Indonesia. A joint venture agency company (PT Equator Marindo) was formed and branded as ISS-Marindo providing best in class port agency services across the archipelago.
Besides general agency, ISS-Marindo offers stevedoring services including grab leasing. With single window management and streamlined multiple branch operations, the ISS-Marindo network covers Samarinda, Banjarmasin, Merak, Anyer, Surabaya, Balikpapan and of course, Jakarta. To ensure quality, service levels are continuously monitored based on feedback from customers.
Then, in response to customer demand, ISS established PT Marindo Indonesia in 2010 launching the only independent company in the country focusing solely on tug, barge and transshipper outsourcing services. By consciously steering clear of asset ownership of tugs or barges, PT Marindo Indonesia prides itself on offering a fair and independent service that puts its clients’ interests at the heart of its activities. It has quickly expanded from its headquarters in Jakarta and now has offices in East and South Kalimantan.
PT Marindo Indonesia manages the logistics needed for river transport, including tugs, barges and related operational issues. Services include day to day maintenance, supervising drydocking, repairs and routine inspections of tugs, barges and transshippers. The company also provides monthly technical and financial
reports, showing how it has spent and saved money for its clients and how it has performed against agreed key performance indicators.
With offices in Samarinda and Banjarmasin, PT Marindo Indonesia shares best practice with other experts in the same field around the world, and has established itself as a trusted source of transportation information, advice and technical expertise for local mining companies. By taking care of the day- to-day operation of coal shipments from Kalimantan, it has enabled principals to streamline their operations and focus on their core business.
It is predicted that, increasingly, mining companies will find owning their own assets, such as tugs and barges, and then outsourcing their operational management to logistics experts, will be far more cost-effective than directly employing their own staff to do the job.
PT Marindo Indonesia focuses its attention on the challenges and opportunities faced by the local mining and shipping industry. It firmly believes that meeting such challenges is crucial for the future growth and prosperity of mining in Kalimantan and Indonesia at large.
One hundred per cent of PT Marindo Indonesia’s business currently comes from Kalimantan, where it has four staff based in its two offices on the island. The company handled 3mt of coal for barging and trans-shipping activities in Kalimantan in 2011 and this year it expects to carry 5mt in line with the continued growth of the industry.
Meanwhile, ISS-Marindo managed around 3.5mt of coal last year and expects to handle 4mt in 2012. It employs ten people in Kalimantan, where around 40–50% of its business is focused.
Both companies plan to expand their operations in Central Kalimantan in the short term and Sumatra in the medium term.
Not content with just offering marine agency and tug and barge management solutions, ISS, along with its strategic partner, SSY and preferred vendors, is developing further services to provide better control over the supply chain of a coal shipment from mine to vessel — cargo agency solutions including quantity and quality assurance, barge coordination and physical testing and inspection services. Such a package of tailor-made services will reduce the risks inherent in cargo carriage whilst providing a constant information flow to customers.