IBIA Convention – IBIA ponders IMO initiative on “level playing field”

IBIA Convention – IBIA ponders IMO initiative on “level playing field”

Opening the 2015 International Bunker Industry Association (IBIA) Convention in Cancun, Mexico, the organisation’s chairman, Jens Maul Jorgensen, called on delegates to use the event to “get closer top each other” and understand each other more. He told the nearly 100 delegates that they should engage in “open and honest” discussions over the next two days.

In his keynote speech IBIA vice chairman Robin Meech stressed the need for “level playing” once the global sulphur cap of 0.5 percent comes into force in 2020 or 2025. He mooted that IBIA should propose at IMO that countries signatory to MARPOL Annexe VI should enforce a new regulation prohibiting vessels from having onboard fuel which they cannot burn in compliance with MARPOL.

Introducing the wide range of topics being covered Mr Jorgensen said that quantity and quality remained an area where as an industry “we never learn”. But, he added, “we have to”.

This year’s event focuses on “The Americas: A Continent of Opportunities”. In her report on the market in Mexico, Leonor Mondragon Lopez, Director General Navalmex Combustibles explained how regulation has effectively prevented the country from taking advantage of it position as a substantial producer of crude oil and refined products. Although private companies have been allowed to operate in the sector since 1994, state-owned oil company Pemex reatins a dominant position but has little interest in selling bunkers. Consequently very little bunkers are sold at present. However Ms Lopez said that reforms now being pushed through offered a promising future with much greater freedom for private companies to own and operate bunkering faculties.

Niki Vukelja, Vice Chair, Panama Maritime Chamber and CEO of Maritime Advisors & Developers emphasised that the country had a large reserve of storage capacity, with only about 10 percent being used. He explained the Panama Bunkering Procedure was one of several major bunkering projects underway, to coincide with the opening next year of the new expansion of the Panama Canal. While Suez had taken some bunker sales from Panama, Mr Vukelja, said sales were up about 25 percent in 2014 over the previous year. He said however that it was clear what the effect of the expansion would be. It could be that fewer, larger vessels would use the canal but what effect that would have on bunker sales remained to be seen though some observers expected a dip in volumes.

Presenting an overview of the Caribbean market, Anne Ghent CEO of Ventrin Petroleum, of Trinidad, noted the region had a small bunker market but had a strategic position on important trade routes. She pointed out that there was a fair amount of storage but little refining capacity.

Independent consultant Nigel Draffin reported on the situation in Europe. He stressed financial difficulties were causing business failure. Some companies have gone down but other problems were bubbling along under the surface. He noted also the major oil companies were expanding their bunkering operations, reversing a trend seen since the 1970s.

The first morning’s programme was concluded with a presentation by Muchamed Elfian Harun, Assistant Director (Bunker Services), Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA). He stressed that the MPA’s mission was to promote Singapore as a “safe and trusted” bunkering port. He said that the move to mandate the use of mass flow meters (MFM) by 2017 would make the market more transparent. A Technical Reference on MFM would be published in January next year.”

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