Gulf Navigation said profit last year declined by 82 per cent to Dh26.6 million (US$7.2m). But the company said that the results were positive considering the heavy shocks that the shipping industry suffered because of the economic downturn. "Although 2009 was a very challenging year for the marine industry, Gulf Navigation's performance was remarkable," Abdullah al Shuraim, the chairman, said yesterday. "We generated profits, positive cash flow and operated our vessels to the satisfaction of our clients."
The company, which owns and operates 15 chemical and oil tankers, said revenue fell to Dh338.2m last year from Dh395.9m in 2008. Gulf Navigation was forced to put some of its vessels on the spot market after a charterer broke a long-term contract, it announced in November. Gulf Navigation filed a $52m legal case seeking damages. The company, which is listed on the Dubai Financial Market General Index, was one of many shipping firms dragged down last year as the economic downturn caused a sharp decline in global trade.
Shipping rates have begun to climb slowly after the bottom fell out of the market a year ago, with chartering rates for dry bulk carriers down as much as 90 per cent from record highs and container shipping down by as much as 60 per cent. With the shipping boom over after a five-year surge, Mr al Shuraim said tanker prices were more realistic, opening up opportunities to purchase vessels at a lower cost.
"Combined with our strong cash position, we will be able to expand our fleet to meet the tremendous growth of Gulf chemical and oil production in the beginning of 2012," he said. Last month, Gulf Navigation said it was interested in buying back 10 per cent of its shares by this summer and could acquire an additional eight vessels as part of its growth strategy to ride an expected upturn in demand in 2012.
The company also announced last month it carried 4.5 million tonnes of cargo last year: 1.9 million tonnes of crude oil, 1 million tonnes of petrochemicals and 1.6 million tonnes of dry cargo. @Email:email@example.com