July 7 - Saga Forest Carriers International and Westfal-Larsen Shipping have joined forces to form a joint shipping pool operation - Saga Welco.

The 50-50 owned joint venture will combine the open hatch fleets of Saga Shipholding, Westfal-Larsen though AS Masterbulk, and Attic Forest, totaling 52 vessels with two newbuilds scheduled for delivery in 2017.

The management of Saga Forest Carriers and Westfal-Larsen intend to integrate both operation's regional and head office functions by October 1, 2014.

"The commitment from Westfal-Larsen and Saga to establish Saga Welco AS will strengthen our ability to meet the future demands from existing and new customers" stated Lars Traaseth, Saga Forest Carrier's ceo and president.

Einar Didriksen, president and ceo of Westfal-Larsen Shipping AS, explained: " We will operate a large fleet of open hatch vessels equipped with gantry cranes with a lifting capacity up to 70 tonnes. We specialise in forest products and breakbulk cargoes, but are also carrying project cargoes such as windmills."

The deal is subject to obtaining the necessary antitrust and regulatory approvals.