Prime Minister Gaston Browne recently hosted a courtesy visit from the top Management of Shell US Trading Company.
The Shell team comprised Pierre Tardiff, Manager, Americas Fuel Oil Trading, Brian Conover, Account Manager Americas, Melanie Kunnecke, Fuel Oil Operations Manager, Samuel Gorgen, Fuel Oil Trader, Americas and David Keene, Caribbean Marine Technical Advisor.
Also in attendance at the meeting was the CEO of the West Indies Oil Company Limited Gregory Georges; Chief Operations Officer, Sharon Thomas; and Chief Financial Officer, Carton Bramble.
The visit came on the heels of a meeting with the Antigua and Barbuda Port Authority, which discussed the operations thus far and the port modernization project which was recently unveiled.
During the meeting, the Shell officials briefed the Hon. Prime Minister on the progress of the bunkering of cruise ship operations in Antigua, now in its second year. The business is said to have grown significantly and Shell and WIOC are exploring options to facilitate future growth and improve coordination among the various stakeholders. Both WIOC and Shell representatives conveyed the message that Antigua must position itself as a bunkering hub in the region offering a range of services superior to our regional competitors.
According to the Gregory Georges, CEO of West Indies Oil “WIOC has plans to make additional investments in the seaside infrastructure which will ensure an enhanced delivery of superior services to their cruise ship customers.”
During the meeting, the Prime Minister congratulated WIOC for their success during the last month. It was announced that for the Month of January WIOC Antigua and Barbuda provided 210,000 barrels of fuel to cruise ships. “There is scope for additional expansion, and we are prepared to invest capital to provide LnG for ships.” The Prime minister commented.
The visiting Shell team all agreed that this is the right direction to head, as LnG fuel is the future.
The Prime Minister indicated to the visiting multinational company that his government views the bunkering business as a strategic pillar in its plans to transform the St. John’s port to become a key economic driver for the country. The planned infrastructure enhancements will contribute to the diversification of the energy portfolio and improve resiliency to disruptions caused by natural disasters.
PM Browne stated that his government is ready to partner in the required investments with Shell and WIOC via the National Assets Management Company (NAMCO) for the obvious benefits it can yield for the national economy.
Additionally, there was a discussion surrounding how further efficiencies could be driven in the Bunkering business to enhance the quality of service being offered to the Cruise sector and in particular, modernizing the current operations.
The Hon Prime Minister immediately requested that a Joint Project Team comprised of Shell, WIOC and Port representatives look at the feasibility of installing a fuel hydrant system at the Pier to facilitate easier bunkering of vessels. According to the Shell representatives, “This type of facility would be the first of its kind in the entire Caribbean.”
The WIOC CEO, stated that “the project Team would also look at the fueling requirements for 2020 given the International Maritime Organization (IMO) requirements to reduce the Sulphur levels in fuel oil. This therefore means that depending on the fueling option that cruise ships decide upon, WIOC/Shell must put themselves in a position to meet those requirements.”
Minister of Energy, Public Utilities and Aviation, the Hon Robin Yearwood also joined the meeting and agreed that Antigua and Barbuda should capitalize on bunkering services soonest.
With the Port Modernization project unveiled, WIOC indicated that they are on board with the additional services the renewed port will offer. Mr. Georges said “by WIOC investing in the required seaside infrastructure to support the expansion of bunkering services, Shell and WIOC will be better positioned to provide the port with refueling options that will enhance its viability as a regional port hub.”
Reliable fueling capabilities is a feature that will reposition Antigua and Barbuda as a premier homeporting destination. This is something the PM noted will “transform the cruise industry.”
Agreeing with the Prime Minister, the WIOC CEO illustrated that “homeporting will transform WIOC and the Antigua cruise industry to a premier cruise destination. Cruise calls and Bunkering volumes will increase dramatically and this would certainly mean more fuel offtake for WIOC. “Moreover, the economy of Antigua will benefit as we provide more products and services for the Cruise ships,” he said.
The Prime Minister also requested that Shell explore the possibilities of hiring and training more Antiguans and Barbudans in their local operations.
Hon. Prime Minister, Gaston Browne, Hon. Robin Yearwood, Minister of Energy WIOC – Gregory Georges, CEO, Sharon Thomas, COO, Carlton Bramble, CFO along with Pierre Tardiff, Manager, Americas Fuel oil Trading, Brian Conover, Account Manager Americas, Melanie Kunnecke, Fuel Oil Operations Manager, Samuel Gorgen, Fuel Oil Trader, Americas and David Keene, Caribbean Marine technical advisor.