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Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Athens Tanker Event – The Big Picture

Wednesday morning's early session at INTERTANKO's Tanker Event in Athens gave delegates the opportunity to look beyond the oil and tanker markets to the global drivers behind changes which not even the most advanced forecasting models can predict. 

In an invigorating session chaired by INTERTANKO Chairman Stephen Van Dyck, delegates were invited to open their eyes to a wider influence on the global oil and tanker market and consider the driving forces of globalisation, sustainability and environmental change.  

Professor Helen Louri, Director of the Greek Prime Minister's Economic Office, established the basic principles of globalisation and provided the basis for discussion by explaining the five key drivers to enhanced competitiveness within the globalisation strategy: economic reform by opening the regulated markets; improving employment rates; improving knowledge through education, innovation and research; social cohesion through equal opportunities; and sustainable development. In reflecting upon this message, it was generally felt that globalisation must be regulated by international agreements – a key area of focus for INTERTANKO's work. 

Moving on to the details of the globalisation process, Simon Lisiecki of BP Shipping described the efforts within BP to invoke a change which would allow the company to fulfil its market objectives while also ensuring environmental sustainability. BP's key method for maintaining this balance was increased investment in technology which brought with it improved environmental performance in areas such as fuel consumption efficiency, reduced air emissions and biodiversity protection by reducing the transfer of harmful aquatic organisms in ballast water. 

Odd Anker Hassel from Cambridge Energy Research Associates continued in a more theoretical sense and gave an explanation for the predicted change in market drivers, focusing on the key geopolitical uncertainties such as a fair distribution of wealth, maintaining cultural identity, delivering a high standard of living, caring for the environment, and coping with demographic change. 

Hassel continued by explaining that the drivers for tomorrow's market would be based on current perceptions of our future. As perception dictates behaviour, a change in behaviour would see a change in the way people use energy, moving from a fossil fuel reliance to an efficient fossil fuel use combined with a renewable energy, and then finally to a state in which renewable energies are dominant. The manner in which people would perceive and react to these key uncertainties would therefore dictate the pace and scope of environmental regulations. 

It was then left to INTERTANKO Executive Committee member, Manolis Vordonis, Executive Director at Thenamaris Ships Management, to piece together some of the ideas and concepts aired during the session and reflect on how the tanker industry should develop its business based on an emotional perspective. Explaining that the industry continually came under criticism for being compliance driven, Vordonis was eager to point out that by raising awareness and understanding of environmental issues, and initiating an element of social responsibility within the industry, business decisions could be made on an emotive level which would eventually ensure a balance between technological development; financial gain; the dependency on oil; and a need to protect the environment. 

In concluding his emotionally delivered presentation Mr. Vordonis questioned whether the industry could move forward in the global environment with a purely financially driven mentality. 

Contact: Tim Wilkins