Adrian Tolson is a leading marine energy expert with over 30 years of experience working on the front line of the industry. He has detailed knowledge and insight on the supply and demand side of fuel purchasing, as well as bunkering infrastructure development; understanding their unique complexities, challenges and opportunities. His experience spans leadership roles with some of the industry’s largest marine fuel suppliers. As Vice President of sales and marketing at Chemoil, he was responsible for successfully driving the company through to IPO, and, as Vice President and General Manager, he established OW Bunker’s physical supply operation in the US. He has also worked for Noble, and most recently Aegean.
The shipping industry has recently been divided over proposed changes to the ISO 8217 standard that relates to bunker fuel specification, with diverging views from many industry stakeholders around how best to make these important revisions. Among those views, and one extolled by Chemoil, has been the lack of opportunity to consult with all stakeholders in the revision process. It is our view, that in its proposed form, the revisions will both add to the cost of bunkering and increase the number of disputes over fuel specifications between ship operators and bunker suppliers.
When the ISO 8217 Working Group meets again next week in London it is fair to say that few of its members will have had significant experience in the day-to-day commercial activities of the bunker supply chain. Considering the significance of current proposed changes to the industry, this seems disappointing.
The last few months have seen a growing debate over many of the changes proposed to ISO 8217. While in some cases the logic behind these changes appears clear, it seems that the economic, practical and achievable has been cast aside for the desirable. While we can all sympathize with this goal, we must also question whether commercial implications and supply chain complications were considered.
The balance of the ISO working group is not the fault of those that sit on it. The industry at all levels must take responsibility here, by failing to become involved in the group’s process at an earlier stage. None of this, however, should prevent the recognition, even at the eleventh hour, that there are faults in the newly proposed specifications. Had the industry been aware of the discussion topics at an earlier stage, the outcome would have been different and frankly, fairer. What is needed — and expected — is cross-industry consensus and collaboration. We must hope that any revisions to ISO 8217 are both balanced and reflect the realities of the marketplace.