The Odfjell Group is one of the leading players in the global market for seaborne transportation and storage of chemicals and other speciality bulk liquids.
|Societas Europaea (OSE: ODF)|
|Founded||November 17, 1914|
Number of employees
The Odfjell fleet comprises more than 80 ships in total. The ships are trading worldwide, calling all major ports in USA, Europe, Asia/Pacific, India, Middle East, South America and Africa. The ships transport around 600 different kinds of liquids, including organic and inorganic bulk liquid chemicals, acids, animal fats, edible oils, portable alcohols and clean petroleum products. Odfjell’s ships are mainly registered in Norway (NIS) and Singapore, and are primarily manned by Norwegian and Filipino mariners.
The tank terminal division consists of seven tank terminals, strategically located at important international shipping hubs in Belgium, USA, Singapore, South Korea and China. Odfjell Terminals is also part of a network in South America, consisting of another 13 tank terminals partly owned by related parties.
Odfjell has offices in 18 locations around the world, and is headquartered in Bergen, Norway. The company employs around 2,700 people and posted annual gross revenue of USD 843 million in 2017.
Odfjell has a wide range of customers, from the oil majors and largest chemical manufacturers to smaller logistical companies and traders. The use of chemicals is integrated in virtually everyone’s day to day life, and the value chain from production to the end customer is complex and substantial. Odfjell specializes in optimizing the mid-stream component of this intricate chain. The worldwide presence and the combination of shipping and tank terminals give Odfjell a unique position to handle and secure cargo from beginning to end.
Odfjell is among the oldest existing shipping companies in Bergen, Norway. The roots go back to 1890 when captain Berent Daniel Olsen moved to Bergen to be a part of the modern shipping industry. The first joint ship owning company was registered in 1914 by Olsen’s sons, Fredrik, Abraham and Andreas Odfjell. As their logo, the Odfjell brothers adopted three interlocked rings in red, blue and yellow, representing each of the three. Fredrik and Abraham incorporated the joint ship management company AS Rederiet Odfjell in April 1915, and in 1917 the brothers took over the shipping company AS DS Storli.
Odfjell during World War II
At the outbreak of World War II, Odfjell managed a fleet of seven ships. The German occupation of Norway split the Odfjell fleet in two. The three ships in home waters were ordered to serve German occupants, whilst the four ships on the high seas were controlled by Nortraship, the Norwegian Shipping and Trade Mission, who was established in 1940 to administer the Norwegian merchant fleet outside of German-controlled areas. The home fleet suffered terrible losses. Two of the three ships were lost and 41 people perished. Three of the four ships in the Nortraship fleet came through the war unscathed. The only ship lost had been requisitioned by France and was sailing under French name and flag with a French crew.
Fredrik and Abraham Odfjell passed away in 1950 and 1960 respectively. Their sons, Bernt Daniel Odfjell and Johan Odvar Odfjell took over the company. During the 1950s, Odfjell pursued two paths: the general cargo liner trade and operation of small tankers. The latter ships gradually became more sophisticated and specialised, capable of carrying sulphuric acid.
During the 1960s, the company made a strategic repositioning by expanding the chemical tanker business. MT Lind was Odfjell’s most significant ship in this period. The vessel was built for Odfjell by the Norwegian Stord Verft and was the world’s first purpose-built stainless steel tanker. During this period, the shift in focus from general cargo vessels to purpose-built smaller chemical tankers was completed.
Odfjell also entered new markets: Tank terminals and offshore drilling rigs. In 1963, Odfjell started its own chartering department, Minde Chartering, which was an important step towards making Odfjell a fully integrated shipping company. In 1969, Odfjell opened their first tank terminal, the TAGSA terminal in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Following the 1973 OPEC oil embargo, the economic situation in the shipping industry worsened dramatically. Old, well-established shipping companies went under, and laid-up crude oil tankers became a familiar sight in many Norwegian fjords. The situation was turbulent for Odfjell as well, however, after having carved out a profitable niche in the chemicals trade market, the Company was not as hard hit as shipping companies in other trades. As it was almost impossible to convert other types of ships into chemical tankers due to new strict regulatory regimes, the chemical tanker market was largely spared of surplus tonnage.
In 1979, the Odfjell family decided to split the Company in two, based on differences in outlook on future activities. The split was effective from 1 March 1980. Bernt Daniel Odfjell and his son Dan Odfjell took over the deep-sea chemical tanker fleet, with Skibsaksjeselskapet Storli as their main corporate entity, and including the terminal business. Johan Odvar Odfjell and his son Abraham Odfjell took over the small tankers, later developed into Jo Tankers, and the offshore rig business through Odfjell Drilling and Consulting Company (ODCC).
The family split and the challenging market condition during the 1970s and early 1980s left the Company considerably smaller and financially rather strained. To regain the leading position in the chemical tankers segment, the strategic focus was set on consolidation and growth. The Company partnered with Westfal-Larsen, a new tank terminal in Houston, Texas was established, and the Company invested in new orders and acquisitions of second-hand tonnage, to fund these investments, Skibsaksjeselskapet Storli went public, and in 1986 the Storli share was listed on the Oslo Stock Exchange.
During the 1990s, the Company continued to expand. National Chemical Carriers (NCC) of Saudi-Arabia replaced Westfal-Larsen as chemical tanker partner. The Company entered the Asian tanker market and became a player in the regional short-sea markets in Asia and the Americas. In February 1998, the Company changed name from S/A Storli to Odfjell ASA, with the implementation of the current company logo. The three interlinked rings are retained as the ships’ bow mark, signifying the original three Odfjell brothers.
The expansion continued into the new millennium, both in the deep-sea and short-sea segments, as well as tank terminals. In year 2000, Odfjell announced the merger between Odfjell Tankers and Seachem, and added 20 new ships to the fleet. At the time of the merger, Odfjell was the world’s second largest operator of chemical tankers, Seachem the fourth. Later the same year, Odfjell acquired the Botlek Tank Terminal in Rotterdam, Netherlands, and renamed it to Odfjell Terminals (Rotterdam). Thereafter, the involvement in tank terminals increased rapidly. In 2012, Odfjell re-entered the gas carrier business through an acquisition of two second-hand 9,000 cbm LPG/Ethylene carriers.
In 2015-16, Odfjell went through a two-year transition phase, focusing on building strength and preparing the Company for growth. The Board of Odfjell SE launched a cost cutting programme in January 2015 to significantly improve the financial performance of Odfjell’s Chemical Tanker business. For the annual report presentation in 2017, the Company showed positive results and a significant improvement in the financial performance and competitiveness, despite a challenging global market situation.
Odfjell SE is the ultimate parent company of the Odfjell Group, and is a public limited company traded on the Oslo Stock Exchange. The Odfjell Group includes Odfjell SE, subsidiaries incorporated in several countries and the share of investments in joint ventures. Odfjell SE provides an in-house management, Odfjell Ship Management (SM).
Odfjell SM offers a fully integrated service, with fleet management, crewing, procurement- and logistics, technology support, newbuilding and QHSSE (Quality, Health, Safety, Security and Environment). SM provides direct support to ships operating in regional trades, and ships in the deep-sea fleet, as well as professional crew management.
Odfjell Tankers AS
Odfjell Tankers AS, a subsidiary of Odfjell SE, controls and operates a fleet of more than 80 ships, including owned, time- and bareboat chartered vessels, and newbuildings on order. With offices at strategic locations around the world, Odfjell Tankers operates globally and regionally with tonnage ranging from 5,000 DWT to 75,000 DWT. The majority of tonnage is owned and managed by Odfjell SE.
Odfjell Terminals BV
Odfjell Terminals BV is a subsidiary of Odfjell SE. Odfjell SE owns 51%, Lindsay Goldberg 49%. Odfjell Terminals operates seven tank terminals at strategic locations around the world, including three in China, two in USA and one Belgium. In addition, Odfjell Terminals has a cooperation agreement with another 13 terminals in South America, including Peru, Brazil, Argentina and Chile. These terminals are partly owned by related parties.
At its 20 ports around the world, Odfjell Terminals offers a total 1.47 million cubic meters of storage space in 552 tanks. Odfjell Terminals BV is headquartered in Rotterdam, Netherlands, and the tank terminal network employs more than 400 people.