Q&A: Aegean shares observations from South African offshore operation
Aegean Marine Petroleum will be presenting at the IBIA in Africa forum in Cape Town on 14 to 16 September about the development a new offshore bunkering project.
It became the first ever company to launch an offshore supply in South African waters earlier this year.
JJ Metey, Director, Aegean Marine Petroleum SA, has given IBIA a preview on the subject in this Q&A.
Q: How long has the offshore operation been going on for now, and has it developed as expected?
A: Aegean Marine Petroleum started the bunkering operation at anchorage in Algoa Bay early April 2016. The tonnage of the bunker delivered at anchorage since April is about 70.000 mt a month, which is slightly above what we expected
Q: Can you briefly describe the service in terms of products offered, possible stem sizes, speed of delivery and hours of service?
A: Aegean offers RMG 380 3.5% and marine gasoil. We currently have two barges available in the area, meaning we have no limits in term of the amount of bunkers required for delivery to the customer’s ships. We deliver as soon as a ship calls the Bay or within our operational constraints. We are a continuous 24/7 service.
Q: So you currently have two bunkering vessels making deliveries. Are you planning to expand soon, and if so, when?
A: Aegean’s fleet of 62 sea-going bunker barges allows flexibility in terms of supply operation. A third barge, the m/t Tinos, is expected to be made available for our Algoa Bay operations in early September.
Q: This is the first offshore bunkering operation in the Republic of South Africa (RSA), and the first to use imported fuel as opposed to fuel sourced from domestic refineries. Both of these elements have caused some controversy locally, both with regards to environmental concerns about the safety of ship-to-ship (STS) offshore supplies in the area, and with regards to the contribution to the local economy. How is Aegean responding to these concerns?
A: Algoa Bay is the first bunkering operation at anchorage in the RSA. After studying the market, we thought about importing RMG 380 to offer the fuel consumed by almost all ships nowadays, but not available from RSA refineries. Furthermore, due to normal refinery maintenance, bunker fuel supply can be short at times. Aegean therefore preferred to not depend on local supply so we can have avails of the products we chose to offer for the customers at any time.
On the environmental side, we understand the concerns of people, especially for people who are unfamiliar with bunkering because it is not part of their profession. Firstly, we would like to assure you that Aegean is an utmost advanced organization in terms of environmental protection; the company cannot afford to have environmental issues. We do deliveries in over 30 countries with an average of 100 STS operations per day. Therefore, we have very strict procedures in place before any STS and our crews are well trained.
Secondly, any bunkering operation to supply a ship is an STS and the principles are the same whether it is a barge to ship or a shore to ship delivery. Deliveries are performed by pumping, and all pumps have an emergency switch to stop any spillages. Furthermore, all our tankers are equipped with emergency spillage kits and in RSA we have a permanent contract with a professional spill response company in Port Elizabeth.
We think the increasing number of ships calling in the Bay will help create more jobs and income for the local community by catering to other ship requirements for products and services. Ships food supply, parts, paints and chemicals, and technical and engineering services. Offering these products and services can benefit the local economy and bring income, directly or indirectly, to the local community.
Q: Do you think the offshore operation is bringing new business to the area or is it competing with existing supply options in RSA ports? Maybe both?
A: Aegean did not set up this operation to compete with already existing suppliers. Aegean’s view was to create a different and new offer In South Africa, bunker supply midway between East and West while not entering into port. Our market is at anchorage while the other marketers in RSA supply only in ports.
Obviously, we also supply into Port Elizabeth Port and Coega Port using our barges, but we are not competing with existing services as no suppliers were supplying by barge in these ports before. We are very conscious about the existing market and do not want to disturb anything with our operation, but rather offer something new that can bring new business to the area.
More information on Aegean’s offshore operations will be available during the IBIA in Africa Forum in Cape Town in September, which will also feature presentations on other regional issues, as well as global subjects. Global subjects including the principles of how to create the ideal bunker port system, presented by IBIA’s CEO Peter Hall, while IBIA’s IMO representative Unni Einemo will provide an overview of some of the major regulatory issues emanating from the IMO.
Should you require any further information regarding the Africa events, contact:
Tahra Sergeant, IBIA Regional Manager
+27 21 7905318 or firstname.lastname@example.org