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Gibraltar’s strong regulatory framework helped the port’s bunker market weather the pandemic. And as the Minister for Business, Tourism and The Port, the Hon. Vijay Daryanani MP, explains, its marine fuel sector will be integral to meeting decarbonisation objectives.

Gibraltar is seeking to draw on its strong bunkering pedigree to be a leader in green shipping, the Overseas Territory’s Minister for Business, Tourism and The Port, the Hon. Vijay Daryanani MP, tells Bunkerspot.

Speaking on the sidelines of Maritime Week Gibraltar, Daryanani said there is ‘absolutely no doubt’ that Gibraltar is one of the most important bunkering ports in the Mediterranean, and pointed to its strategic location at the gateway to the Mediterranean coupled with the fact that it is ruled by English law.

‘All of these things help in a situation where we are trying to improve our services and where we are very careful in how we carry out these bunkering operations,’ says Daryanani.

One example of these services, says Daryanani, includes the provision of LNG bunkering. A port operator licence was awarded to Shell in January and the energy major completed its first LNG bunkering in March with the refuelling of the Sovcomflot-operated Aframax tanker Lomonosov Prospect by the Coral Methane. And according to Daryanani, the Gibraltar government is seeking to build on this further.

‘It’s something we want to develop,’ says Daryanani. ‘We have sustainability targets, we believe in sustainability. It is the “in” word but we want to be there. We have a very strong green agenda in Gibraltar so it ties in with shipping.’

While Daryanani is keen to underscore Gibraltar’s commitment to LNG bunkering, some have voiced safety concerns. Nevertheless, the Minister is reluctant to make it a political issue. 

‘I don’t like to talk about politics when we are talking about the good of Gibraltar as a whole but obviously there are politicians who will try and damage Gibraltar, irrespective of whether [LNG bunkering] is good for Gibraltar or not.’

He continues: ‘We did the LNG power station. We thought that it was better than diesel, undoubtedly, and for future generations. This is a huge investment from the Gibraltar government because this is what we want, green fuel – and this is as green as there is at the moment.’

While the greening of the sector presents perhaps the biggest challenge for shipping, the marine industry – and by extension the bunker industry – had to also contend with the shock of the global pandemic. However, Daryanani points to Gibraltar’s ‘very strict’ bunkering regulations which he says served the local marine fuels market well.

‘The proof was that we maintained our bunkering figures. When you compare our 2020 figures to our 2019 figures, they’re similar – I think there was a reduction of 2% - so that’s nothing,’ says Daryanani. ‘That shows that we’ve managed to keep the levels to pre-pandemic levels; it shows the confidence that exists in Gibraltar.’

That the Port of Gibraltar was able to weather the storm of coronavirus also bodes well for the Overseas Territory’s decarbonisation agenda, says Daryanani, which it is already looking to pursue.

‘As a jurisdiction we are the port of choice in this area, and what we want to do is build on that and to show sustainability, decarbonisation,’ says Daryanani. ‘But it is not easy.’

But with a strong regulatory framework in place coupled with a consistently competitive bunker market, might these challenges also represent opportunities for Gibraltar to gain some first mover advantages?

‘Gibraltar being small, we are nimble enough to move quickly,’ says Daryanani. ‘We will look to lead on all possible fronts.’

And, according to Daryanani, in-person events, such as Maritime Week Gibraltar, provide an ideal forum.

‘This is great publicity for Gibraltar and it shows that Gibraltar is interested in the maritime industry. We want to lead, we want to be at the forefront, I am very keen on marketing Gibraltar as a port of choice, and I’m very keen on bringing new business to Gibraltar.’ 

Daryanani continues: ‘The Gibraltarian community is very inviting and I think one more very important thing is that we can meet face-to-face. I think people are fed up of using Zoom, sitting in front of a computer screen – people want to interact. You can make a business tick along on a computer screen but if you want to really grow a business you’ve got to interact with people face-to-face and that’s what we’re doing here [at Maritime Week Gibraltar].

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