By NATARIO McKENZIE
Tribune Staff Reporter
THE Bahamas Maritime Authority (BMA) is aiming to add ‘quality’ to this nation’s shipping registry, its chairman telling this newspaper that coming off a “well received” Brazil trip last month, the BMA is now targeting Japan and South Korea.
Anthony Kikivarakis told this newspaper that last month’s Brazil trip was designed to build on existing relationships, and seek new business opportunities in Brazil’s rapidly expanding offshore oil and gas market.
“I’m always interested in expanding our fleet,” he said. “Right now we have over 1,600 vessels worldwide registered under the Bahamian flag. One of the countries we hadn’t visited was Brazil. Brazil is an emerging nation, a powerhouse in Latin America and the world, really, with obviously petroleum and offshore drilling.
“The drill rigs and the tankers, because they are offshore, could be registered under any of the major flags. We went down looking for business, and met with 12 different business entities, including their maritime authority. I would say that out of that group we got a good response from about 11 of them.
“The remaining ones were already with us, and the ones that were with us were prepared to do business with us. We met with Petrobras, which is the state-owned oil company in Brazil, and with their transport division. We were well received,” added Mr Kikivarakis.
“We did Brazil and we’re probably going to do Japan and South Korea. Those are our next stops.”
The BMA chairman said that while the Bahamas was witnessing an aggressive challenge from the likes of the Marshall Islands, the the Authority was focused on attracting ‘quality’ and newer vessels to this nation’s shipping registry.
“The Bahamian flag is well respected because of the quality of services we give the ship owners, and because of that the more serious shippers and ship management companies want to be with a respected flag,” Mr Kikivarakis said.
“If you are known for good quality in the industry there is less chance that your ships will be detained when they enter a port. We do most of the cruise ships in the world; some of the largest ships in the world are registered with us.
“We have an aggressive challenge from the Marshall Islands. They are registering quite a number of ships. Our aim is to get newer ships and bigger ships, oil rigs and tankers as well. We want quality in our fleet. We want our fleet to be a newer fleet rather than an older fleet.”.
The Bahamas currently ranks as the world’s fifth largest shipping registry, with 1,600 ships on its books and gross registered tonnage exceeding 57 million.
“We’re likely to get back in the top three. If it means just registering for the sake of registering we don’t want to do that. We want quality. We’re never going to be as big as Panama, we have accepted that, but we want quality ships,” said Mr Kikivarakis.