Oil crisis for tanker shipping
Until 1973 nearly everything was simple, with continual growth in the shipping company. Sweden is one of the world’s leading shipping nations, alongside Norway and Greece. Certain worrying clouds begin to be seen, above all, relating to oil from the Middle-East. In 1972 four new 350,000 ton ships are ordered from Kockums and a further three the following year. A contributing factor to these large orders is to obtain a depreciation base and thereby reduce the company’s taxes, as they calculate that they would still generate profits in the future too. It should be remembered that at the time corporation tax in Sweden was more than 50 per cent. Some of the ships were also built against a contract with an American oil giant, that was later cancelled when the ships were completed. The decision to order the ships however will show to have been ill-advised.
The Salén group of companies is forced to lay-off personnel, at the same time as selling off assets in other operations such as shareholdings in NK and a total of twelve ships – tankers, dry-load ships and refrigerated ships – and what is more, at bargain basement prices. In terms of tonnage, the Swedish merchant marine fleet is halved between 1976 and 1978.