Tanker pool operator Signal Maritime has won a heavyweight customer to boost its fledgling MR operation, in a cooperation that is also to extend to joint decarbonisation efforts.

Energy giant Shell will put 10 product tankers into Signal's MR pool, the Athens-based company said in a press statement on Friday without identifying the vessels concerned.

"The two partners have also agreed to investigate further synergies and pooling opportunities in other tanker segments," Signal said.

Signal set up the MR tanker pool earlier this summer. Shell is the first client to put ships in the pool, apart from companies that belong to the wider Martinos family. The venture was set up by family scion Ioannis Martinos.

The MR pool currently manages four vessels, including three by Astra Ship Management and one by Thenamaris.

Informal discussions with potential clients to expand the MR pool had been underway as Signal started marketing itself to clients in June, company chief executive Panos Dimitracopoulos told TradeWinds at the time.

Signal has already been a force in tankers, with an aframax and LR2 pool that currently manages 19 such vessels owned by companies such as Capital Ship Management, Ionic Shipping and Songa Shipping.

Signal counts on its proprietary Signal Ocean data platform to provide superior real data and analysis.

"Shell’s partnership in the MR pool comes after Shell became an early adopter of the Signal Ocean platform in product tankers," Signal said.

"The two partners expect digital technology to help improve commercial results through the MR pool structure and other potential synergies."

That will include moves to "collaborate on carbon emissions reduction initiatives", Signal said, without providing further details.

Signal had earlier said it expected optimised fleet scheduling, which results from its data, to help clients minimise carbon emissions.

According to Shell Shipping’s website, the energy giant manages six tankers, of which it identifies one – the 49,700-dwt Silver Etrema (built 2016). All tankers in its fleet, which Shell describes as its “Silver Class”, joined the company as newbuildings after 2015.

Signal said it is working on drawing additional clients to its MR pool.

"Plans for further expansion of the pool with select partners are in progress," the company said.