James Pippard is departing as chief executive officer of Connecticut-based pools power Heidmar, tanker market sources told TradeWinds.

The surprise announcement came only 19 months after Pippard was recruited from Vancouver-based Teekay Corp to become the new Heidmar boss, replacing the departed Ben Ognibene.

Neither Pippard nor other Heidmar officials could be reached for comment before TradeWinds' deadline.

However, a tanker market source described the separation as "fact, not rumour".

Another source said Pippard had not departed as of Tuesday, but he declined to express any confidence that he would remain with the company.

New ventures

Pippard had introduced ventures in bunkering and freight forward agreements (FFAs) as he sought to move Heidmar into a new era of pooling and commercial management.

But at the same time, he fought to stem falling pool numbers, which were down about 20% since his arrival, amid a growing field of competitors that includes start-ups by former Heidmar executives.

I think the future of pooling is more flexible, it’s more dynamic

James Pippard

He also increased the importance of Heidmar's London office in relation to its traditional headquarters in Norwalk, Connecticut, building staff and basing the new ventures there.

“I think the future of pooling is more flexible, it’s more dynamic,” Pippard told TradeWinds in London last November.

“I think pooling is about managing risks on behalf of our owners and using our strengths in chartering and FFAs and our bunkering department to absorb that risk and give them what they want in return.”

Pippard spent 25 years at Teekay, working in a variety of commercial management roles in Vancouver, Houston, Singapore and London.

Heidmar has been owned 49% by Greek shipowner George Economou, 49% by financial giant Morgan Stanley, and 2% by Heidmar's employees.

It started as a panamax tanker pool founded by Norwegian Per Heidenreich, but in recent years had seen that business virtually disappear while building numbers in aframax, suezmax and VLCC pools.