Interview with Tim Gifford of Graypen port agency
Tim Gifford talks to IBIA about the importance of close links between the agency business and the bunker industry, and the role of both agencies and IBIA in providing coordination and communication between various parties involved in this essential service to global shipping.
I am proud to be the Group Chairman of Graypen, a leading port agency company with an established network of offices through the UK and Northwest Europe. For almost 50 years the company has grown and now handles more than 6000 port calls per year, which of course regularly involves the close coordination of bunker supplies to the vessels in our care. In view of this important aspect of our agency responsibilities it is essential that we maintain a close awareness and understanding of the international bunker industry.
Are there any specific issues that are particularly important to you and your business?
The supply of bunker fuels in an optimal way is a critical aspect of ship operation, so the timely supply and smooth delivery are elements which require the agent’s close attention to avoid delays to the vessel and eliminate any downtime. This requires close and continuous contact with various parties including ports and terminals as these organisations sometimes fail to recognize the importance of ships receiving bunker supplies in a manner that is coordinated with the cargo loading and/or discharging operations. As such, the closer our relationship is with the bunker suppliers, the smoother we can ultimately make the physical delivery, in a manner which is good for the vessel and at the same time synergetic with cargo operations and compliant with terminal regulations.
How do you see IBIA as a vehicle for Graypen in your sector of the shipping industry
As the supply of bunker fuels is critical to the successful operation of vessels in our care, it is important that we have a positive relationship with the bunker suppliers and the various parties involved in the physical supply chain. IBIA provides a recognized global medium through which we can secure these relationships, both locally and across a wider international horizon, which is why Graypen applied for membership.
How else does being a member of IBIA benefit your role and your company?
Through IBIA’s wider membership and the various networking opportunities that it arranges around the world we shall be presented with a number of positive opportunities to attend and meet fellow members with whom we can exchange ideas and develop opportunities for cooperation. Our membership of IBIA provides us with a perfect environment to continue our strong activity in coordinating the smooth delivery of bunkers to clients across our network.
What are the challenges for IBIA in your industry sector?
I believe that IBIA has a real opportunity to present itself to the wider shipping industry world as a strong and coordinated group which is championing the safe and environmentally sensitive supply of bunker fuels, whether conventional oils or LNG, as that product evolves on a more widespread basis.
My feeling is that this ‘wider’ shipping industry does not fully understand the critical nature of bunker supplies and regards this element as an irritant that should not be allowed to interfere with cargo operations at working terminals, when of course a smooth and seamless supply of fuel to vessels is critical to providing a timely and cost-effective shipping service from which the terminals themselves derive benefit. As such, hopefully IBIA can carry this message onto the broader stage to highlight the importance of bunker supplies being more, not less, coordinated.