The establishment of bunker industry organisation Marine Fuels Alliance (MFA) reached a milestone in early October when it appointed its first Executive Officer, Anthony Mollet. Manifold Times took the opportunity to speak with Mollet, who shares the MFA’s raison d’etre and planned vision for the international marine fuels sector:
MT: What are your roles and the phases of development for MFA since its launch?
AM: Having been employed in October, my role is to construct the business and formulate the Management and Executive levels. An initial website (https://www.marinefuelsalliance.com) has been created and this will be developed into an online procurement portal.
Equally important is work in engaging with the myriad of stakeholders across the bunker industry. It is essential to gain maximum exposure and then endorsement of what we are aiming to do, in order to attract maximum supplier membership. The intention is to launch in Q1 2022. We are focussed on getting the infrastructure and foundations solid first.
We are targeting any organisation with any involvement in the bunker industry. We have several very productive ongoing dialogues with companies such as data providers, lawyers, insurers, manufacturers, fuel testing agencies and Port Authorities in some countries. They too are recognising the importance of raising standards and have suppliers operating to the highest levels of quality and risk control as possible in the ports.
The MFA will be as wide-reaching and engaging as possible. As an association, we are here to support the bunker industry and provide fresh ideas and approaches to help members compete.
MT: What is the MFA’s vision and how has it come into existence?
AM: The MFA’s vision statement is “To build a network of independent bunker suppliers powered by its members to enhance their capabilities and extend outreach to new markets and opportunities”.
The concept was born from conversations and analysis between a group of experienced bunker industry professionals over the last two years, all of whom recognise the perilous state many independent bunker suppliers find themselves in. Across every element of day-to-day business practice, it is essential to maintain the highest quality of operational performance and administrative management.
For small suppliers, the issues are their ability to promote themselves, raise their profile and gain new business and having access to the wide range of resources and products that are more readily available to their larger rivals.
MT: What is the value proposition for members and stakeholders?
AM: We recognise that access to areas such as legal advice, insurance policies, credit reports, financial risk management tools, I.T and new digital solutions, together with education and information about sustainable fuels, are often expensive and beyond the reach of a small supplier.
Equally, the services offered by these companies are not generally targeted to suppliers in remote locations or where there is little chance of gaining significant uptake and revenue. So, the intention is to create more resources through scale, to connect stakeholders in new ways to gain the much-needed access and support.
We have learned through dialogue that the need to standardise matters such as Terms & Conditions and the KYC process is vital. We are setting up protocols and processes to help this standardisation, with an ultimate goal to create an MFA bunker-charter or “kite-mark”.
A committee will be focussed on claims and claims management. There will be a credit and sanctions checking protocol. We are looking to create a set of Terms and Conditions that all members will uphold. The value therefore to the shipowner / bunker purchaser is a far greater level of assurance, reliability and repeatability of service provision by any MFA member they transact with.
We recognise the factors of fear and uncertainty for suppliers in countries where larger competitors are developing technology and adapting to new fuels more quickly. Volumes for supply will invariably reduce, yet for so many, their own investments in assets, cargoes and staffing have to be maintained.
MT: How will the MFA function and how is it funded?
AM: The initial Advisory Group of individuals and companies is being amalgamated into an Executive Management and then into sector-specific Executive Committees. The intention is to ensure bunker suppliers who become members have access to join and participate in these committees.
Paid Membership for online subscription will be from independent bunker suppliers. The MFA is a non-for-profit organisation and membership fees will be used not only to both maintain its own operation, but also to help fund attendance to networking events and customer visits. It is envisaged that MFA members will work together to promote the Alliance and use time on business travel to discuss its work and seek essential feedback from customers.
The fee structure is being finalised. We recognise we have to balance the cost versus value for members.
We are inviting other business to join as Partner Companies, those wishing to promote their company or specific products through the MFA online portal.
Shipowners, Operators and Charterers will be invited to join as Associate Members. We are already talking to a huge list of such companies, seeking endorsement and engagement with the MFA concept, to prove to suppliers the clear benefits of joining.
On each board will be at least:
Editor’s note: Readers interested in knowing more about the MFA and its future plans are welcomed to contact Anthony Mollet at: [email protected]
Photo credit: Marine Fuels Alliance
Published: 23 November, 2021
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