The expansion of the Panama Canal has also positively affected the local bunker market. Since the opening of the new locks, Monjasa has reported an increase on the supply volumes of bunker fuels, as a result of the increased number of vessels transiting the Canal.
Monjasa, who opened its first American trading office in 2011, has established a physical presence in the Panama Canal since 2015 and in an effort to establish a leading position as physical supplier in this demanding market, it introduced an operating model backed by ISO standards. Since then, the company is servicing all major types of ships transiting the Canal, including bulk carriers, containerships, tankers, LPGs and passenger ships and it delivers about 35,000-40,000 tons of bunker fuels per month on the 4 barges that the company manages (three in Balboa and one in Cristobal).
After the Canal’s expansion, though, this regional market has become much more competitive, Rasmus Jacobsen, Managing Director of Monjasa America notes. Several oil majors have expressed interest and a few of them have already entered the local market in an effort to capitalise, for their own account, the rising demand for bunker fuels. At the moment, there are about ten physical bunker suppliers active in the area, however Monjasa maintains a leading position, since it remains one of the few ISO-certified ompanies that gives high attention to quality.
According to Jacobsen, the ability for a company to improve its physical supply will play even a more important role, moving forward and this is because of the improved efficiency of the Canal transit operation. Six ships are now passing through the new locks on a daily basis and this number might even double in the near future. As a result, vessels’ waiting time at the anchorage is considerably reduced and therefore the bunker suppliers need to offer higher flexibility and improved efficiency to their customers in order to avoid any delays due to the bunkering operations.
But how Monjasa is planning to improve its physical supply and maintain the quality of its bunkering operations in the area at high levels?
“One way for us to deliver on this promise of quality is by implementing Monjasa’s existing customer satisfaction programme in the Canal upon each supply operation. This is a pioneering approach in this market and we take the feedback we receive very seriously. I believe that such an initiative also assists the overall development of the Panama Canal being perceived as a reliable and increasingly regulated marine fuel hub,” Jacobsen explained.