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BUNKER INDEX :: Price Index, News and Directory Information for the Marine Fuel Industry
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Bunker issues tackled at Mexico convention

Fuel quality a key topic as IBIA chairman indicates that bunker fuel being delivered to ship owners is 'poor'.

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Updated on 09 Nov 2015 10:09 GMT

The International Bunker Industry Association (IBIA) 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 IBIA Convention, which ran from 2-6 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. The theme of the event was 'The Americas: A Continent of Opportunities'.

In a statement, IBIA explained that Cancun had been chosen as the location of this year's annual convention 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," IBIA said.

Fuel quality was a hot topic at the event. 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.

According to IBIA, its chairman, 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.

Jorgensen's comments come nine months after he addressed an audience of over 1000 marine fuel buyers, suppliers and traders at the association's annual dinner in London, where he said that the early results for 2015 had shown that there had been a "marked improvement in bunker fuel quality" with 8 percent of samples found to be off specification (off spec) compared with 10 percent in 2014. The results were based on samples taken by testing company Intertek ShipCare.

"Test figures for standard submitted samples during 2014 show around 10 percent of all samples were deemed to be off specification based on a single test result with respect to the fuel grade purchased," Jorgensen said in February.

During last week's Cancun event, 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.

Other 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.

Related Links:

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Marine fuel quality improving, says IBIA chairman

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