The Maritime Standard recently held its most successful Tanker Conference yet, as over 200 delegates registered to attend in person at the Dubai World Trade Centre on Tuesday 23rd November. In addition, the event, the sixth in the series, attracted a high number of guests who logged in online, with TMS building on the success of its trailblazing hybrid conference held despite the pandemic in November 2020.
Conference editor, Clive Woodbridge, said: “This conference is vitally important given the strategic significance of the tanker trades in this region. Moreover, it took place at a crucial time for the sector, as it faces up to a whole host of commercial, operational, environmental and human challenges, and this made it hugely topical and relevant.”
This year’s keynote speaker was Dr. Ibrahim Al Nadhairi of ASYAD Shipping & Drydocks, who set the scene perfectly, highlighting the main strategic challenges confronting the tanker shipping business. Climate change was a particular priority for Dr. Al Nadhairi, as it was for many speakers throughout the day, and he urged owners to embrace the challenge of hitting a zero emissions target by 2050. “This is one of the most important game changers for the shipping industry,” he said. “And it will provide a great opportunity for additional value creation, through the necessary upgrades and investments in tanker fleets.”
The overall theme of this year’s conference was, ‘Charting a course back to market stability, reflecting the need for policies to build the sector back to commercial health after 18 months of unprecedented volatility. The opening session, moderated by industry veteran, Ali Shehab, assessed the short-, medium- and longer-term outlook for the tanker trades and what needs to happen to create a sound platform for recovery. The audience heard from several experienced and influential business leaders, including Captain Abdulkareem Al Masabi, CEO, ADNOC Logistics & Services; Mrs. HK Joshi, Chairperson and Managing Director of the Shipping Corporation of India; Captain Saif Almheiri, Managing Director Abu Dhabi Maritime; Captain Rado Antolovic, CEO, Drydocks World Dubai; Shehab Al Rahma Manager – Oil Terminals, DP World UAE; Panos Mitrou, Global Gas Segment Manager, LR; and Navin Kumar, Director, Drewry Maritime Research.
Captain Abdulkareem lead the way with a well-researched and comprehensive presentation, which struck an optimistic and positive note, pointing out that demand levels are now back to pre-covid levels and increased scrapping is helping to restrict the supply of vessels, boosting tanker earnings in 2022. He was followed by Mrs. Joshi, who described the regional tanker market scenario, the disruption caused by the pandemic, and recent recovery as well as an informed assessment of the way forward. Panos Mitrou provided an invaluable update on the use of LNG as fuel, future prospects, and risks, while Navin Kumar set out the outlook for LNG and LPG tankers and how this sector is adapting to the changes required by IMO 2030 regulations.
The importance of support services for the tanker segment was tackled in the second session by a panel of speakers coming from a broad spectrum of activities within the business. Moderated by Andrew Baird, a partner at WFW, speakers included Ian Edwards, Area Manager, Middle East & Africa, DNV; Saleem Kadernani, Vice President, Commercial for the Middle East, South Asia & Africa Region, Inchcape Shipping Services; Chris Peters. CEO, Emirates Ship Investment Company; Jonathan Hudson, Market Leader, Tanker owners and adjacent stakeholders, Bureau Veritas; Prof. Mustafa Amin Massad, Founder and President, Jordan Academy for Maritime Studies; and Petros Doukas, Mayor, Sparta & Former Deputy Minister of Finance and Foreign Affairs, Greece.
Ian Edwards described the tectonic shifts that have taken place in the market and in particular the changes in regulation and digitalisation which are propelling tanker shipping to a cleaner and more connected future. Saleem Kadernani discussed the vexed issue of crew changes in the pandemic and proposed some interesting solutions, while Jonathan Hudson underlined how class can support tanker shipping in the digital age. Professor Massad underscored the importance of education and training and suggested that even when the battle with covid is over, distance learning courses would continue to be a highly effect means of delivering maritime education and training, while Petros Doukas rounded off the session with a rousing presentation that put tanker shipping in its macroeconomic and geopolitical context.
The tanker industry has a pressing need to harness new ideas and fresh technology to meet its environmental and commercial goals and the third session focussed how initiatives and innovations might shape the tanker business of the future. Expertly moderated by Jesper Kjaedegaard from Marcura Group, speakers in this session included June Manoharan, Director, Lukoil Marine Lubricants; Amit Singh, Sales Director, Gulf Oil Marine Limited; Morten Langthjem, Managing Director- Dubai, Glander International Bunkering; Capt. Zarir Irani, Managing Director, Constellation Marine Services; Ramee Rashid, Director, Seamaster Maritime; and Manuel Calzada, Director, International Business Development, JMP Ingenieros-Drone Hopper.
June Manoharan shared Lukoil’s experience with lubricants on vessels operating on VLSO, illustrating this with two fascinating case studies, and Amit Singh charted his company’s product development journey for the new CAT II 40BN cylinder oil over the past year, leading to successful trials and no objection letter support in recent weeks. Capt. Zarir Irani focussed on the topical subject of cybercrime and pointed out that cyber-attacks on shipping had jumped 300%, showing the industry remains vulnerable due to inadequate cyber awareness.
Reflecting on the positive impact of this year’s Tanker Conference, TMS Managing Director, Trevor Pereira, added, “It was great to have a packed house and to see so much interaction with, and appreciation of our high-quality speakers and presentations. With COP26 fresh in everyone’s minds, tanker shipping’s contribution to reducing climate change pressures was inevitably a key theme and the willingness of the industry to embrace change to achieve tough carbon emissions targets was encouraging.”