J.R. Gardner moved with his family from Houston to Göteborg in January 2015. Here we get the chance to follow J.R. the General Manager for Suezmax Chartering during a hectic week in Göteborg and London.

NameJ.R. Gardner
TitleGeneral Manager, Suezmax
FamilyWife and one son, 12 years old


GOOD MORNING – it’s the start of another week here in Göteborg! The normal day starts with a walk into the office from our apartment over near the Scandinavium (the event arena). The walk is a great way to clear my mind, pod-casts help pass the time! My primary role is the ‘trading’ manager of our Suezmax Tanker Pool. The Pool is currently at twenty vessels trading world-wide. It’s a guarantee each day is going to have a new challenge!

A 09.00 group (chartering / operations / freight-claims) meeting around our ‘FIKA’ table in our office gets everyone up to speed on how the vessels performed over the weekend. We also take the chance to update our colleagues on how the market is looking on a return per day basis – todays levels are near USD 50,000 per day for our sector!

It’s a good start to the week! The Suezmax tanker market has begun to show the expected signs of life we’ve been forecasting for the last three to four weeks. We have one ship unfixed at the moment and free of cargo in the U.S. Gulf. The decision on how to handle her next employment and maximize returns is squarely on our shoulders – what do we do with her? Send the ship to West Africa for a ‘standard’ run (West Africa to Eu-rope)? Will our Houston office be able to find a better paying cargo in their local market? Do we load a cargo in the Caribbean market for discharge in China? Do we hold out another day or two, just in case there is a ‘replacement’ cargo to be covered where we might be able to achieve a bit of a higher premium in return? The above points are the basis of our daily dialogue, in the team, how do we maximize our returns every day with each cargo opportunity we see and our fleet/vessel positions?

The bell has been rung by one of my colleagues! If you are in the Stena ‘house’ you might hear this on occasion. This means one of the vessels is fully fixed now for her next employment, in this case, she will be performing a voyage from West Africa to Europe. As the day begins to wind down, it’s been a productive one! Our vessel is still without a cargo and charterer but the team is confident we will find a high paying cargo for her! Houston will have their business day to see what opportunities they can develop. The day has included preparing for a Pool meeting later this month (in Göteborg) and making arrangements for a trip to our Singapore office. Late day news – A business trip to London has been placed back on the calendar for Tuesday (tomorrow.) The purpose will be to meet with another vessel owner who has shown an interest to place vessels into our Pool.


06.00: On the way to London for a lunch meeting with our Suezmax owner. To be followed by a meeting with a former colleague, he now works for one of the largest vessel charterers in the world . Our meetings with the vessel owner were productive, nothing concrete, but we continue to build momentum with them.
It’s not the last of the meetings! End of the day, Houston has managed to seize upon an opportunity with our aforementioned ‘spot’ vessel; provided it all comes together the end-results will be very nice for our group. At this point in time the vessel is ‘on subjects’ – this means the ship is unavailable to other clients, while our ‘subject’ counter-party begins to work on their clearance of the ship, this process normally takes two business days. 23.00 – Back home, it’s been a long day – ready to go again tomorrow!


THE MARKET HAS RETREATED A BIT; it’s a simple case of too many ships, not enough cargoes!
We are working to determine our plans for the next vessel coming open. This time the challenge is a ship which will be free of cargo in Durban in a few days. The same sort of evaluation takes place for this vessel as it did for our ship on Monday. As I mentioned, every day has a different challenge; it’s a combination of strategic positioning of the fleet world-wide, market strength/weakness, and ensuring the team is properly evaluating each option while always communicating with our customers in the appropriate fashion! Hopefully, Houston will have good news during the evening hours, they have two vessels on ‘subjects’!


I have been with Stena Bulk for 4,5 years now, each day and year have presented new challenges and growth opportunities for myself and (more importantly) for my family, we look forward to the rest of our time here in Göteborg, Sweden and look forward to the next challenge! We arrived in Göteborg January, 2015 and as we’ve learned… it’s not a bad time of the year to move to Sweden –‘it just gets better!’ We moved to Sweden from Houston, this idea takes a bit of get-ting used to!

My family and I have come to appreciate a few things about living here in Göteborg/Sweden;
“Fika” – a family favorite!
Swedish pastries – Princess Cake and Semla
Our walks throughout the city. Göteborg is a great place to explore on foot
Our son’s growth. The way young people are treated here has been fantastic! He was four days in school before he said ‘Mom, I can do the tram alone’.


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