The International Bunker Industry Association (IBIA) on Tuesday (31 March) published a message to the bunkering industry on adaptations to maintain operations despite the COVID-19 pandemic:
How quickly the world has changed. No sooner had we navigated relatively successfully into the new 2020 global low-sulphur era, when an unexpected and unprecedented challenge came our way. The coronavirus, or COVID-19, has caused a rapidly developing global emergency with impacts that we will not fully understand for some time yet. The uncertainty is palpable. In the middle of all this, we must remember: shipping is the engine of global trade and the bunker industry fuels that engine. We must keep the engine running.
Efforts to stem the spread of COVID-19 have caused many countries to impose strict measures, in particular limitations on the movement of people. But shipping needs to continue to keep the world’s population supplied with food, energy and other vital goods, and for raw materials and manufactured goods to flow in order to keep the economy going. Around 80% of global trade is transported by commercial shipping, according to UNCTAD statistics. IBIA therefore wholeheartedly supports calls from the IMO and various maritime organisations to ensure that disruptions to shipping services are kept to a minimum.
We are all becoming increasingly well informed about how to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Most of us are now familiar with the concepts of social distancing to avoid airborne transmission of the virus, to wash or sanitise our hands after handling potentially contaminated surfaces and/or being in proximity to people who might have the virus.
Thankfully, as more and more countries impose lockdowns preventing many of us from going to our offices, modern technology facilitates working remotely, and we’re quickly adapting to it. It’s business, just not quite as usual.
It is different for those involved in physical operations. IBIA issued practical advice on precautionary measures for bunkering operations on 16 March. Since then, some countries now avoid all physical interaction between crew on receiving ships and service providers such as bunker suppliers. To keep shipping moving, industry participants are adapting procedures for managing various aspects remotely.
IBIA’s staff in Singapore, South Africa and the UK are operating in line with national guidelines on current COVID-19 safety measures. We have full digital connectivity meaning we are available for our members as usual. We are also working on more ways to connect and interact digitally, both via our website and online platforms to provide alternatives to training and events until it is deemed safe to host these physically.
We hope that you, your family and colleagues stay healthy and that your business has the resilience to get through this difficult period. We are all in the same boat and we all share the same aim: to keep the boat afloat.
Unni Einemo, Director, International Bunker Industry Association
Photo credit and source: IBIA
Published: 1 April, 2020
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