September 13, 2023
“Fight The Sea Blindness” Featuring Captain John Konrad, Author and CEO of gCaptain
For today’s COBT, we had the pleasure of hosting Captain John Konrad, Founder and CEO of gCaptain and Author of "Fire on the Horizon." John is a highly experienced US Merchant Marine officer with a diverse background and has worked on container ships, oil tankers, and offshore supply vessels across the world. gCaptain is a leading global maritime and offshore industry news platform offering insights, information, and resources on shipping, offshore drilling, safety, technology, and more. We are struck by how important the relationship is between energy and shipping and John proved to be the perfect expert to help us explore shipping, energy, global trade, geopolitics, technologies, inflation, regulatory impact, and more.
John first shares his journey from an interest in sailing and computers to attending the Naval Academy (and then the Merchant Marine Academy) to becoming a captain, his experiences in the offshore oil industry, and the inspiration behind "Fire on the Horizon." We discuss the gCaptain platform and the importance of raising awareness about the shipping industry and its role in the global economy, key geopolitical challenges in shipping, the importance of ton-miles, shipping efficiency, and the shortage of shipyard capacity globally. John explains shipping’s recent impact on inflation, the challenges of using alternative fuels, how the uncertainty of future regulations is impacting construction of new ships today, and how countries are preparing for new routes opening across the Arctic. We also cover the critical "choke points" around the world, the aging workforce in shipping, the need for increased attention from the US government, as well as the space’s increasingly numerous and attractive investment opportunities. As you will see, the time flies as we go from one interesting angle to another. Shipping may be one of those industries you just think you understand, until you realize how much you are missing.
To start the show, Mike Bradley highlighted key economic events over the next week and noted that Brent and WTI prices surpassed $92/bbl. and $89/bbl. respectively, due to concerns of a widening global crude oil supply deficit in Q4’23 of 3mmbpd. He pointed out that the last time the global crude oil supply deficit was this wide was Q3’21 and that the US SPR was over 600mm barrels and today it’s 350mm barrels, which provides little price manipulation latitude this go around for the Biden Administration. He also noted the last time 12-month crude oil time spreads were this deep in backwardation was June 2022 when WTI price was trading over $110/bbl. He concluded by noting that energy equities have generally lagged behind the current surge in crude oil price mostly because equity investors want to see how crude oil price trades when Saudi eventually begins pushing crude oil barrels back into the market. Arjun Murti mentioned a recent opinion piece predicting peak fossil fuel demand this decade (by Fatih Birol in the Financial Times) and highlighted the math of global energy needs for long-term demand, the need to depoliticize energy discussions, and the importance of a healthy North American oil and gas sector.
We greatly appreciate John’s thorough tour of the complex and multifaceted world of shipping. John is not only incredibly knowledgeable, but the experience of talking with him was a reminder that sometimes the best way to understand energy better is to go to an adjacent industry and look back with a different vantage point on all these questions the world has on energy, the environment, and national security. Simply put, the discussion with John was outstanding!
We certainly hope you enjoy. Our best to you all!
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