ExxonMobil Marine Fuels (EMMF) has warned that the bunker barge industry faces
a stiff challenge in the near term to carry out fleet renewals and operator training. In the latest issue of its Horespower newsletter, EMMF reveals that it took
an in-depth look at bunker vessel availability on a global basis in early 2000, and found that seventy percent of worldwide bunker tonnage was more than 25 years old. "Old tonnage is not necessarily bad tonnage," says EMMF,
"but it seems inevitable that quality bunker suppliers will eventually be forced to move away from the use of older vessels.
"Barge operators who react quickly and invest in new vessels could reap the rewards of the enhanced freight rates that new vessels should attract. A quality bunker supplier could employ its own bunker barge fleet
in key locations. Quality personnel will have to operate this fleet to the highest safety, health and environmental standards."
EMMF itself now has quality barge operations in
Singapore, Antwerp, Rotterdam, the UK, Alaska and Australia, among others. The barges are
state-of-the-art vessels, operated by highly trained personnel. Every vessel
used by EMMF has been through a rigorous inspection program which looks at
all aspects of ship operation from crew management
to general appearance and
condition. The shore-based and onboard operations of each contractor are looked at in depth.
"Proper management of the risks involved in transporting bunker fuel from terminal to vessel has always been a key factor in determining the quality of the constituent parts of the bunker industry," concludes EMMF. " Today, more than at any time before, it is being recognized as such. And EMMF is confident that its record in this respect is second-to-none."