IBIA at 30: What next?

IBIA at 30: What next?

The world needs shipping, and ships need fuel. The marine fuel industry is the basis for our Association, so for the next 30 years IBIA will be part of the global energy transition

We are marking the 30th anniversary of the International Bunker Industry Association this year, a big milestone! One of IBIA’s founding members, Nigel Draffin, shares the history of how our Association was formed in this issue of World Bunkering, starting with the lead taken by Doug Barrow, the first Chairman of IBIA. From the outset, IBIA aimed to be an industry-wide association, open to representatives from fuel producers, traders, brokers, deliverers, ship operators, fuel analysis laboratories, P&I clubs, marine law firms and credit reporting agencies. Today, IBIA continues to embrace a diverse range of members. If you have an interest in the marine fuels sector, you are welcome to join IBIA, and as the market evolves, so does IBIA’s membership base.

In my book, anything that is used to fuel a ship is bunkers. Oil-based bunker fuels are still by far the most dominant energy source for ships today. They present their own set of challenges for stakeholders that IBIA must remain attuned to. Over the years, new fuel types and technology solutions have come into the market to meet tightening environmental regulations. LNG and methanol are two of the alternative fuels that were initially taken up in emission control areas in response to efforts to reduce air pollution that has a negative impact on air quality. These fuels are also contenders in the race to reduce shipping’s overall greenhouse gas impact, along with bio-derived fuels and ammonia. As a result, IBIA now has members invested in exploring and developing all these alternatives. Over the next 30 years, as the energy transition gathers pace, the activities and types of challenges faced by our members will evolve, and so will IBIA.

The first ever IBIA Annual Convention took place in 1993. Ever since, our Annual Conventions have been our flagship conference where our members, invited speakers and other delegates meet to gain insights, discuss industry issues and network with industry peers. In recent years, we have held additional conferences and social events throughout the year, including those organised by our regional offices in Singapore and South Africa.

Our very first London industry gala dinner in February 1995 sowed the seeds for what has become the main social event in the bunker industry’s calendar. Attendance at the IBIA Annual Dinner in London has grown from about 200 initially to around 1,000 as our members and their guests come together for a black-tie event to enjoy the company of old and new industry friends. Long may it continue!

Working groups (WGs) have always been an important feature of IBIA. They are a way of bringing together relevant experts from our membership to work on specific projects or subjects. Today, they include a Future Fuels WG and a Bunker Licensing and MFM WG, and a Digitalisation WG is set to start up. The activities and types of WGs at any time reflect the focus and priorities outlined by the Board of IBIA, and industry needs. One of our longest-standing ones, the IBIA Technical WG, will be relevant for the foreseeable future as we will always need technical expertise in the work IBIA is involved in, especially at the International Maritime Organization (IMO).

IBIA achieved NGO consultative status with the IMO in 2005. This gives IBIA the right to attend IMO meetings to represent our industry’s interests and provide relevant expertise to IMO’s work and deliberations alongside other NGOs representing varies stakeholders in the maritime sector and environmental groups.

The timing of IBIA gaining this direct access to the IMO’s work was auspicious. It coincided with MARPOL Annex VI entering into force, and the start of continuous amendments. Negotiations began immediately to make the initial emission limits more stringent. This global regulation has been, and will continue to be, a driving force for change in our industry. IMO 2020 was the most transformative amendment to MARPOL Annex VI so far. Many more will come as part of the IMO’s work to reduce GHG emissions from global shipping. IBIA contributed significantly to the development of IMO guidelines and regulatory amendments to ensure a smooth transition to IMO 2020. We continue to contribute to IMO’s work and discussions on environmental and safety aspects linked to marine fuels. Multiple fuel and technology solutions to reduce GHG emissions from shipping, and the need for documentation to ensure they are both environmentally sound and safe to use, has increased both the scope and complexity of this work. IBIA is striving, both at the IMO and elsewhere, to be part of the committed efforts and cooperation from multiple stakeholders to identify the solutions that will reduce, and ultimately eliminate man-made GHG emissions.

Shipping has always been crucial to trade, and takes pride in being the engine of global trade. As we celebrate IBIA’s first 30 years, we can take pride in the fact that IBIA and our members are, directly or indirectly, fuelling the engines of global trade, and will continue to do so in the future.

The above is the Director’s report for the Q1, 2023 issue of World Bunkering, the official magazine of IBIA.

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