December 28 - Cosco Shipping (Coscol) has confirmed that it is seeking to expand the pool of specialist semi-submersible vessels created earlier this year by adding ships from mainland Chinese or non-Chinese shipping companies.

HLPFI understands that there are six semi-subs in the pool at present - two Coscol ships, and one each belonging to Tianjin Cosco Shipping, Guangzhou Salvage and Zhejiang Share-ever Business - and that it controls about 20 percent of the semi-sub tonnage currently available on world markets.

Coscol has confirmed that all six ships, range from 20,247 dwt to 50,000 dwt, are operated by Coscol (HK) Investment and Development, and are able to transport project cargoes including oil rigs, heavy engineering components, barges floated on and off deck.

Coscol declined to provide a timetable for the expansion programme but come at a busy time for the line which has recently launched joint ventures with its long-standing partner NMA Maritime & Offshore Contractors; and acquired 100 percent of the shares in Guangzhou Ocean Shipping from China Ocean Shipping (Group) Company earlier this month.

Industry commentators say that a vessel pool of this nature usually leads to higher earnings, as operating efficiencies are found by matching cargoes to ship more effectively and Coscol confirmed that whilst the pool was originally created to mitigate price cutting competition in the heavy lift and semi-submersible vessel sector and reduce the cost of mobilising and demobilising the vessels, pool members have already seen a rise in charter rates for their ships since it was set up.