IBIA Annual Convention holds ‘open and honest discussions’ on global bunker issues


IBIAIBIA, the International Bunker Industry Association has held its annual industry-wide convention, with Chairman Jens Maul Jorgensen, calling for ‘open and honest discussions’ in an industry which ‘never learns’ but where ‘we have to’.

The 2015 Convention which ran from 2nd to 6th November and attracted over 100 delegates was held in Cancun, Mexico. It started with two days of industry training, with courses on the bunker industry and disputes, delivered in both Spanish and English reflecting the theme of the event ‘The Americas: A Continent of Opportunities’.

Cancun was chosen as the location because of its growing bunker business potential. Mexico is a significant producer of crude and refined products, but regulation has hampered the development of the bunker sales market. However, new reforms being pushed through now offer many opportunities for private companies to own and operate bunkering facilities.

Fuel quality was, unsurprisingly, a hot topic. Michael Green, Intertek Shipcare’s Technical Manager told delegates that fuel sample testing results indicated that fuel quality had increased significantly since the introduction of the 0.10% sulphur in fuel limit for ships in Emission Control Areas (ECAs) in January this year. Increased use of distillates and hybrid fuels meant that residual fuels are still important to the industry, but the most dramatic change had been the almost complete disappearance of 1.000% sulphur fuels.

However, IBIA Chairman, Mr Jorgensen, Director of Oldenforff Carriers’ Bunker Department noted that the fuel quality received by ship owners was poor, indicating that they do not get what they pay for. He went on to say that one third of the problems, lay with the ship with mistakes caused by inexperience and another third of problems were down to inexperienced surveyors. The final third was the result of suppliers under supply and poor quality caused by blending, and he repeated his previous call for the IMO to regulate fuel quality.

IBIA Vice Chairman Robin Meech, stressed the need for ‘level playing’ once the global sulphur cap of 0.05% comes into force in 2020 or 2025. He went on to suggest that IBIA proposes to IMO that all countries signatory to MARPOL Annexe VI should enforce a new regulation prohibiting vessels from having on-board fuel which cannot be burnt in compliance with MARPOL.

Different speakers at the event delivered reports on bunker storage and sales across the world, from Panama looking ahead to the impact of the canal expansion, to the Caribbean’s strategic position with considerable storage but little refining capacity. The discussions also focused on the challenging business environment in Europe which is causing financial difficulties for many, and leading to the major oil companies expanding their bunkering operations reversing a trend not seen since the 1970s.