It has in many ways been a wild ride since we started the BunkerTrust project in November of 2017. The project started out attracting a lot of attention from all the stakeholders in the bunker industry – both shipowners/operators, traders, physical suppliers, ports and governmental agencies. I think many, initially, were a bit concerned with getting this transparency. But it seems that both the shipowners and the physical suppliers are seeing (and trying to reap) the benefits.
We were fortunate enough, at that time, to partner up with a select few shipowners to develop the system. On the surface it seemed like a simple task, but dealing with different shipowners with different bunkering and reporting structures, different fleet management systems, different ERP systems, lack of internet on the vessels and many different cultures added some interesting challenges.
Thomas Kuhn in his highly influential landmark book, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions demonstrates how almost every significant breakthrough in the field of scientific endeavour is first a break with tradition, with old ways of thinking, with old paradigms. I wouldn’t claim that BunkerTrust is a “significant breakthrough”, and it is certainly not disruption, but it is very clear that it is a break with tradition and we are pushing some boundaries and when pushing boundaries you must expect some challenges as well.
Currently there is in the region of 240 receiving vessels rating their bunker deliveries on a regular basis. There are 23 registered shipowners/operators on the platform, we have the largest database of registered bunker barges (about 1,750) and we expect to reach in the region of 5-7,000 ratings this year.
We are now starting to show that the system can create value, not only by allowing the bunker purchasers to have another criteria when purchasing bunkers (besides terms, availability and price) – this is a very tangible value.
We can also benchmark different performance parameters on the bunker barges and physical suppliers against the market. A good example of how this is creating value for shipowners is the case study we did for DFDS A/S (“User Reference“).
“We expect that BunkerTrust will assist us, in creating the much needed transparency in the bunker industry andThomas Mørk, VP | Head of Techncial Organization at DFDS A/S
will provide valuable insights into how DFDS can improve our overall bunkering process.”
A more intangible value is that we start to see physical suppliers contacting us to learn how the performance and hence the perceived value by their clients can be improved – so this is now starting to become a new competitive parameter. This means that we will probably see the industry moving in a positive direction, with constantly increasing service, transparency and trust.
Our Quality analysis is also becoming increasingly interesting for shipowners as the lab test results are simply sent to us and we add this as another parameter to measure the performance of physical suppliers and bunker barges.
All of this has been made possible by strong partnerships across the board (all stakeholders), a strong development team and very positive attitude both in the bunker and shipping industry as a whole. It is claimed that the shipping industry is very traditional (which it is) and rigid, but sparked by the recent focus on data driven developments and transparency this seems to be slowly changing.
We are by no means done yet! The support we have seen from all stakeholders shows that we are on the right path and we are determined to carry on with our mission to make the bunker industry more transparent and to provide tools to the bunker and shipping industry to achieve this.
Although we now have a value creating system, we have much more up our sleeve. We will continue to make strong partnerships with marine intelligence companies, fuel testing labs, shipowners, port authorities, other business ventures such as our selves – as these partnerships are the foundation where upon we build our mission.