The flow of much of the world’s oil is controlled from a small suite of offices perched over a Tiffany & Co. store in the Chelsea section of London. That’s where John Fredriksen, a Norwegian shipping magnate worth $13.2 billion, manages the world’s largest fleet of supertankers, the most valuable deep-water drilling company and an armada of about 128 other vessels that carry minerals, grains and liquefied gases.
Every morning, he plows through a stack of reports on the operations of his maritime empire. Whenever he makes a bet-the-company move, which he does every few years, Fredriksen sets the data aside. “I still work on a gut feeling,” he says in a conference room adorned with a painting of a supertanker named Kathrine, after one of his two daughters.