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Interview: Total Marine Fuels Global Solutions discusses sector growth, IMO 2020, and future plans

04 Sep 2020

The following interview is part of pre-event coverage for the upcoming Singapore International Bunkering Conference and Exhibition (SIBCON) 2020; where Manifold Times is an official media partner:

International bunkering firm Total Marine Fuels Global Solutions (TMFGS), which also ranks among Singapore’s top ten bunker suppliers for 2019, is in the midst of preparations for a change within the marine fuels industry, learns Manifold Times .

The Singapore bunkering publication took an opportunity to interview Jesper Rosenkrans, Global Sales & Business Development Director at TMFGS, who shared the company’s plans and investments for sustainable growth post IMO2020.

He further discusses how TMFGS provides additional services to their clients, the increased complexity in the credit and compliance landscape, the company’s operations in China, and more.

MT: What are the current areas of growth within the bunkering trade which TMFGS see major development in?

JR: One of the most important areas of growth currently is LNG bunkering, where we see a rapid development in infrastructure and investment in assets.

LNG as a marine fuel is no longer just a development on the horizon; it is ready to be the fuel solution of today and tomorrow.

As a global leader in LNG, the next 12 – 18 months promise to be equally busy and exciting for us, with further assets launched to serve the two biggest bunker hubs in the world in Rotterdam and Singapore, as well as the Mediterranean.

Our first chartered LNG Bunker Vessel (LNGBV), the largest one ever built, has just arrived in Rotterdam. She will go into service within the next few weeks. Her sistership is currently being built in China and should reach the French port of Marseilles by the end of 2021.

Finally, we signed an agreement with Pavilion Energy to jointly develop an LNG bunker supply chain in the port of Singapore. The latter covers the shared long-term time charter of a new 12,000-m3 LNG bunker vessel to be commissioned in 2021.

Securing our position as the global leader of LNG bunkering is important for us, as we collaborate with our shipping clients to sail beyond IMO 2020.

MT: Is TMFGS also investing in these areas and what are the reasons for doing so?

JR: As highlighted, LNG provides the environmental and economic profile to be the fuel solution for shipping today and for the years to come, and we have prepared for this through significant investments in assets and infrastructure.

In addition to LNG, we are also actively developing commercial biofuels solutions for our clients, with the first deliveries already taking place in Europe.

MT: With bunkering being a tight margin business, what are the other value-added commercial areas which TMFGS is working on to maximise margin?

JR: Margins do tend to be tight in our industry, so while we always need to be price-competitive, we are constantly working towards providing extra value for our customers. Two such value-drivers are in assisting with price-management solutions, and leveraging our geographical reach to bring additional flexibility.

As part of an integrated group with significant trading capabilities, we are able to tailor pricing solutions to meet customer needs. This includes providing embedded physical options, changing the pricing index, offering conversion to/from fixed price contracts, or building LNG prices on either gas- or oil- related indices. The core of this offering is that we will meet the business requirement of our customers, who can choose the index and structure of pricing for their bunkers according to their wishes.

In terms of geographical reach, we have a strategic network of supply locations that supports our customers. In Asia we see this with Singapore, China, and Korea, and in Northern Europe through key ports such as Rotterdam, Le Havre, and Hamburg.

MT: Has the various commodity-trading mishaps in Singapore changed the way TMFGS manages its credit and due diligence?

JR: As an oil major, we are committed to stringent and dynamic risk assessment. Our business model is built on reliability, and we have been actively managing enterprise risks –also in the space of credit and due diligence. We remain committed to ensuring that our customers know that when they deal with TMFGS, their business is in safe and trustworthy hands.

As part of a global organization, we are in a robust position and have good controls around any market exposure. When we deal directly with our customers, this in turn means we can pass that risk management onto them, helping to reduce their risk. We have really good relationships with our customers, and appreciately working actively with them on all matters.

MT: How has TMFGS adapted as an organisation to industry disruption driven by IMO 2020?

JR: We were aware that IMO2020 was going to impact the market significantly and create a changed landscape for the industry. We moved early in anticipation and preparation for that, which has been reflected in our organizational design and recruitment over the last couple of years.

IMO2020 was a game-changer, and we recognized the need to be ready for that with new thinking and fresh ideas, combined with deep technical and industry knowledge.

We needed to be ready and able to handle a dynamically changing market and new products, so there was a conscious and active strategy behind how we prepared for this ‘new normal’.

MT: With the main bunkering ports established; do you see any up-and-coming alternative bunkering ports presenting themselves as attractive marine refuelling locations?

JR: Clearly, Singapore remains the biggest and strategically most important bunkering hub for the Asia region – and indeed the world – and we really do not see a situation where that changes.

In terms of developing locations, China is emerging rapidly. Recognizing this trend and reflecting our aim to be part of this growth, we were delighted to enter into a joint venture with Zhejiang Energy Group to launch Zhejiang Petroleum Marine Fuels Co Ltd. Through this JV we are able to offer international shipping companies a safe, reliable, competitive and high quality fuel supply solution across the Zhoushan – Ningbo – Shanghai zone.

MT: What services can potential bunkering partners of TMFGS introduce for themselves in order to increase their standing with your good company?

JR: Safety is the principle value of TOTAL – and a benchmark for how we operate.  This is also reflected in the partners we work with. Fundamental to this is shared standards. We have a rigorous vetting process, which is key to ensure those values and the focus on quality and safety are reflected in our partners.

Similarly, it is important for us that we share a core set of values, and the desire to build a long-term partnership. We aim to do business in a way, and with companies, that allow us to build relationships that stand the test of time.


Photo credit: Manifold Times
Published: 4 September, 2020

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