Interview with Peter Hall, CEO of The International Bunker Industry Association (IBIA)

ship bunkering
File photo: VladSV / Shutterstock.com

By Paul Gonzalez-Morgan, Editor, Gibraltar Shipping

Peter Hall has over 40 years’ experience in the marine industry and is an accomplished marine executive having served as a CEO of a major international port, and has several years’ experience as a board member of an international charity and as a ship operator.

Having completed a successful seagoing career, culminating in six years command experience, Peter moved into senior port management, initially managing oil and gas terminals and then becoming responsible for the safety of all marine operations, before becoming Harbour Master responsible for planning, safety and support in the fastest growing port in Europe.

Peter Hall
Peter Hall, Chief Executive Officer of IBIA

He was then appointed CEO and Harbour Master of Gibraltar Port, the largest bunker port in the Mediterranean, where he also advised the Government of Gibraltar on marine matters.

Captain Hall is a member of the Nautical Institute and a Younger Brother of Trinity House. He is also the marine director of the Vine Trust- an enabling charity that connects people to change lives.

Your career has been dedicated to the marine industry for over 40 years. How has your knowledge and experience helped you in your role as CEO of the [International Bunker Industry Association (IBIA)] ?

I am amazed when I look back at how my experience has brought me to this point. Being at sea for 20 years and gaining command equips you for many roles, as it requires leading teams, responsibility, managing at times a complex picture, having to respond on your own initiative and of course dealing with many cultures. I then went into the port industry and gained experience of adapting technology, understanding the commercial chain and developing multi-million pound projects and indeed honing a competitive edge. Through this I was fortunate to get the position as CEO and Captain of the Port of Gibraltar, where I gained an insight into international diplomacy and indeed a good grounding in the bunker industry.

All these attributes are factors in helping me do my current role, along with a personal ethic of good steward-ship and corporate social responsibility.

The IBIA is the voice of the suppliers, buyers and other stakeholders in marine fuel supply with over 880 members in 91 countries. What are your main responsibilities?

My responsibilities are to ensure the Association grows both numerically and in its influence in shaping and contributing to the international scene. My other objective is to deliver value for money to the membership.

Gibraltar welcomes this year’s IBIA Annual Convention. How important is Gibraltar in trade volumes, fuel quality and bunkering safety?

Gibraltar is the largest supplier in the Mediterranean in its own right and ranks in the top ten worldwide ports for bunker supply. That’s important to the world fleet, how-ever, in terms of quality supply in all its aspects Gibraltar -if not leading the way- is very close to being number one in this regard.

Gibraltar has systems that are wanting to be adopted by other countries and emerging bunker operations. In fact, leading bunker ports are looking to Gibraltar to adopt current practices around the rock – a great compliment to the people and systems in Gibraltar. What can attendees expect from the IBIA Annual Convention?

The first aspect is this is the first international forum following the IMO decision on the 2020 sulphur cap with such an array of experts, this is an ideal opportunity to get a view on just exactly what the decision means.

As usual, there will be a first-hand opportunity to hear from shipowners and suppliers on the state of the industry and just how it is changing and what the challenges are. Plus we are looking at the key factors that make an ideal bunker hub. How innovative is the energy sector when developing new “fuels of the future”?

The energy sector is very innovative, we have oil refiners developing ULSFO, we have emerging “new fuels” such as LNG, methanol, hydrogen plus renewable fuels and systems. These are emerging technologies that will take time to develop economies of scale but with increasing support in both subsidy and regulation, they will start to progress to centre stage. Equally just like Gibraltar is doing with LNG fueled power generation, we are seeing many cross industry applications which have primary and secondary objectives – meeting power generation objectives and potential LNG bunker capability for the future is a win-win scenario.

How do you foresee “Brexit” affecting bunkering trade between UK and Europe, and do you expect Gibraltar to be impacted?

Shipping is an international business and Gibraltar is positioned on an international seaway, I don’t envisage Brexit challenging the international law of the seas.

The IMO sulphur cap coming into force in 2020 balances the EU EEZ sulphur ECA so no change there. Therefore, from a bunkering perspective and Brexit, there should not be any impact and Gibraltar remains positioned to develop bunkering further. I do think, however, that thought could be given to other marine services, particularly the ships stores supply chain. Gibraltar is currently dependent on ships spares and stores much of which are shipped via Algeciras, therefore Brexit negotiations could impact goods transfer. Gibraltar becoming independent in this regard by building a supply chain that does not depend on Spain would be an asset.

Training & development is of great importance in the bunkering sector. What role does the IBIA play in ensuring industry skills are equal and above bench-mark?

IBIA is the largest training organization for bunkering in Singapore, the largest bunker hub in the world. In this we are assessed by both the maritime authority and the academic system.

We are also developing links with universities and professional bodies such as IMarEST. In this way we not only channel vocational experience but also ensure it is in line with educational standards and learning objectives. IBIA has experience of not only developing people but also developing the industry.

Member feedback and expert opinions are always useful. How does the IBIA probe its members and channel feedback / new ideas?

We carry out a two-yearly survey with our members asking them what we can do better and how we can change. We also have on going work groups that are open to all members to participate in, and this often results in topic led work groups that are suggested by members to “scratch and Itch”.

Finally we have an open system of questions and answers and a panel of people who want to donate their experience for the benefit of the industry.

Please describe your memorable shipping experience and tell us about your favorite ship:

My memorable shipping experience and favorite ship are combined and an easy choice. The vessel was called the “Amazon Hope” and the voyage was from the UK to the jungle city of Iquitos. It is amazing to think that it is the same distance from the UK to the mouth of the Amazon to that from the mouth up the Amazon to Iquitos. The six-week voyage was both a challenge to marine skills and an overwhelming sense that this could make a real difference. The journey occurred as a result of my wife and I working in Peru on a “Taste of Mission”- three weeks working with street children left a big impact on our lives. I wanted to contribute to the work and a year later and a lot of planning, we were ready to sail a 24-meter “ex mod fleet tender” to the Amazon.

The charity is called the Vine Trust and now has four ships operating around the world- connecting people to change lives, with a simple concept. The trust provides a ship equipped to provide medical care, with mini operating theatre, dentistry, pharmacy and testing facilities, volunteers (doctors, dentists, nurses, etc.) donate two weeks of their time to help change lives. Our latest vessel has just been built in Bristol, and is currently being fitted out in Rothsyth our third vessel “Jubilee Hope” was converted in Gibdock with the support of many Gibraltarians. I cannot believe that fifteen years later, over one million people have had their lives changed as a result.

Gibraltar Shipping is Gibraltar’s premier maritime portal, featuring key interviews, updates and news. This story is republished with permission.