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New conference is a showcase for Rock’s maritime sector

Maritime experts from across the world will be able to learn what Gibraltar has to offer the global shipping industry during the first Gibraltar Maritime Week, a conference that started yesterday.

The Chief Minister Fabian Picardo gave a “warm Gibraltarian welcome” at the start of a two-day event at the Sunborn organised by UK-based Petrospot Limited together with local authorities.

Yesterday’s event saw some 250 delegates from 19 countries, including the USA, UAE, Denmark, Norway, Cyprus, Greece, Germany, Spain, Morocco and Portugal among many others.

“Gibraltar is known for being one of the largest bunkering ports in the Mediterranean,” Mr Picardo told the delegates.

“And I hope that during your time here you see is what the other things we are able to do in the shipping industry are and how well we do them.”

Mr Picardo gave a special mention to Minister for the Port, Gilbert Licudi, and Captain of the Port, Manuel Tirado, and hoped many more events of this nature will be held on the Rock.

“On a clear day like today, you can see right across the Strait and you can see one-fifth of the world’s oil making its way past this choke point,” Mr Picardo said.

“And what better place to establish a marine academy which will be offered at the University which is at a great vantage point of that great crossing points at the Strait of Gibraltar.”

“That geostrategic location has always made Gibraltar important.”

“It is what has made us punch above our weight internationally in terms of the shipping industry.”

Mr Picardo highlighted the main aims of this conference was to increase knowledge and education, understanding key technical areas of shipping in Gibraltar and networking.

Apart from the two-day conference, guests will also be able to go on technical tours on HMS Echo, GibDock, the bunker barges, the Gibraltar Port Authority building and the Maritime Services Exhibition in the Gibraltar Cruise Terminal.

Llewellyn Bankes-Hughes, managing director at Petrospot, told the Chronicle: “The whole purpose for this week is to show the world what Gibraltar has to offer.”

“Gibraltar has a lot of maritime secrets, everyone knows about bunkering in Gibraltar but if they stay for longer for a crew change or maintenance, these are all other services that can be done here.”

“People around the world do not necessarily know that but Gibraltar is in a great position because there are so many ships passing by, with 50 or 60,000 in a year, is the perfect place to do that.”

“Gibraltar can give them good service, give them what they will get more of them coming.”

“Bunkering is a big thing here so it is a big part of the conference.”

During the conference, delegates heard from Victor Morales of Peninsula Petroleum, John Ghio, Deputy Captain of the Port with the Gibraltar Port Authority, and Ian Crutchley, of Veritas Petroleum Services, who spoke about bunkering.

Mr Ghio said 75% of Gibraltar’s shipping industry over the past four years can be attributed to bunkering.

Despite the high demands, however, Mr Ghio highlighted the role the GPA plays in ensuring the services are well-regulated and protocols are followed, and that it is easier to update codes of practices to ensure they are in line with the global shipping market.

However, there are limitations at play in Gibraltar, and Mr Bankes-Hughes said the Rock’s “size is a factor”, with 14 anchorages for vessels to refuel.

LNG is the fuel of the future to a certain extent, Mr Bankes-Hughes said, with shipping fuels moving away from sulphur-based fuels to CO2-based fuels, and hydrogen-based fuels being the future.

“It is available everywhere, and LNG will be big for the next 30 years,” Mr Bankes-Hughes said.

Gibraltar was chosen as a location to hold the Gibraltar Maritime Week because it is keen to make itself known, Mr Bankes-Hughes said.

The week-long event will alternate with Las Palmas de Gran Canaria every two years.

“The feedback from those attending is that they are very excited and they want to see what is what,” Mr Bankes-Hughes said.

“To have trust in a port you have to know it a bit better than just some place on a map.”

“This gives the opportunity to see people, meet people, get to know industry people and that sort of thing is invaluable.”