Michalis Manassakis, Managing Director, KPI OceanConnect Athens, in an interview with maritimes.gr, talks about the role of a leading high quality fuel provider like KPI OceanConnect in the green transition of shipping. “We provide a one-stop-shop for all our customers’ future requirements, simplifying their fuel procurement process and providing customised solutions based on their requirements.” highlights.
Please share a few words with us on the KPI OceanConnect Athens office. When & how did KPI OceanConnect start its operation in Athens, what are the products & the services you offer etc.
Greece has a long-standing tradition of being a leading centre for shipping, and at KPI OceanConnect, we’ve consistently fostered strong relationships with the Greek shipping community. The establishment of our Athens office in 2015 marked a pivotal step, transforming our engagement from a traditional client-vendor dynamic to a partnership with our customers. This physical presence in Greece has not only strengthened our relationships but has also been instrumental in our growth, positioning us as one of the pivotal players in the local bunker market.
We’re dedicated to establishing ourselves as a trusted partner to our clients, consulting on every aspect – from route optimization to offsets, future industry issues, and alternative fuels, consistently maintaining a problem-solving mentality. We provide expert counsel to our partners on a spectrum of critical areas, from navigating new legislation and regional regulation, to shaping alternative marine energy strategies and solutions to offset and decarbonise voyages. We pride ourselves on our integrity, and our partners rely on our openness, honesty, and transparency.
Key players within the shipping industry, especially vessel owners and operators, are faced with increasingly complex decisions around sustainability, compounded by the ever-evolving landscape of alternative fuels. In our role as a leading provider of high-quality fuels, KPI OceanConnect is committed to sharing our knowledge and expertise with customers. This commitment lies not just in delivering quality fuels, but in fostering informed partnerships through the exchange of valuable knowledge. As the industry moves forward with its green transition, guiding our customers through the challenges of decarbonisation is more critical than ever.
Regarding alternative fuels, what are the solutions that KPI OceanConnect can offer to its partners?
It is essential that ship owners and operators work with partners that can provide them with the right counsel and solutions. There are several viable transitional and future fuels being developed in our industry, and we will likely need all of them. According to our industry insight, it seems that the most viable short-term fuels will be biofuels and LNG. As we closely follow fuel developments to support our clients, we also work with our customers to consider each available option and develop fuel procurement strategies to suit their specific needs.
Biofuels can be used as a drop-in fuel. They work within the current infrastructure and comply with regulations. While LNG is another potential pathway offering significant emissions savings, it is only available at select locations globally. Further research and investment in infrastructure is required to make consistent LNG supply a reality. We foresee the development of this infrastructure accelerating in coming years, with the newbuild orderbook promising the delivery of dual fuel LNG vessels in due course. In the long term, KPI OceanConnect sees potential in methanol and other hydrogen-based green fuels.
It’s important that we develop our knowledge of the multiple fuel pathways available and provide a one-stop-shop for all our customers’ future requirements, simplifying their fuel procurement process and providing customised solutions based on their requirements.
Our partnership approach, the value we place on transparency, and our trusted reputation, means KPI OceanConnect can support customers to develop and implement fuel procurement solutions specifically suited to their fleets. Our scale and financial strength means we can supply all types of alternative and future fuel products to help our clients achieve their sustainability and decarbonisation ambitions.
What is the role of KPI OceanConnect in the green transition era and the decarbonisation path of marine industry?
We are here to support our customers in developing the right marine energy strategies to decarbonise their fleets. As a leading, independent marine energy solutions provider, we have the capability and a responsibility to help our clients set these strategies. We have invested time, resources, and manpower to ensure we can offer solutions in the alternative fuels arena.
Our market leading experience of marine fuels and the global footprint of our offices, means we have extensive knowledge to share with clients and help them craft strategies that balance the long-term and short-term challenges of the green transition, including fuel choice and carbon markets. Having long worked as partners to our clients in the traditional areas of marine energy, we don’t see this role changing – even as the energy transition progresses. We always want to be focused on recognising the innovations that will help our clients meet their decarbonisations objectives.
KPI OceanConnect can effectively deliver solutions in a rapidly transitioning marine fuels market, with more than 50 years of market experience. We closely monitor the decarbonisation pathways available, while expanding and sharing our knowledge on current and future fuels to create value for our partners as the go-to consultative marine energy provider.
The vessel owners and operators that make up our customer base face many demanding decisions as part of the energy transition – and our knowledge experts aim to resolve any questions or concerns about the availability, quality, and carbon footprint of alternative fuels, with a profound understanding of the evolving energy landscape.
Further to the previous question, could you please elaborate more on the KPI OceanConnect role regarding the EU ETS?
The bunker fuels market will undergo extensive change in the next few years. Increasingly, regulations like EU ETS will drive the transition in shipping’s energy usage. It is vital for ship owners’ and operators’ interests that they understand the drivers of change. At KPI OceanConnect, the support we offer our customers to operate successfully in the emissions trading system is a continuation of our normal marine energy services for them.
It’s important to remember that the allowances in the EU ETS are only one approach to decarbonising shipping. New low-carbon fuels offer another approach for owners and operators. With the EU ETS regulation applying from January 2024, the priority for many operators right now is to understand how they must engage with the EU ETS and what the practicalities of that will look like.
The industry is likely to face a scramble to set up the trading accounts and operator holding accounts that are required to trade in allowances and then pay for emissions. Having these accounts in place as soon as possible will enable companies to be better prepared with a strategy for compliance.
There is risk involved in dealing with EU ETS, and we are committed to guiding our customers through these new processes, and developing tailored strategies for each to follow. We see part of our role as knowledge sharing to support operators to craft optimal strategies and balanced between sourcing low-carbon fuels that reduce emissions and investing in allowances under the EU ETS.
The Greek shipping community/market is constituted both from smaller and bigger in size companies. Which customers’ segments are the ones that KPI OceanConnect is addressed to?
Our company is dedicated to serving the diverse needs of the Greek shipping community, which comprises both smaller and larger companies. We deeply appreciate the pivotal role played by small companies at the heart of Greek shipping and are equally committed to delivering high-quality services to meet the specific requirements of larger enterprises.
Our approach is based on achieving a harmonious balance, ensuring that the distinctive needs of smaller companies receive the same level of attention and expertise as the demands of larger corporations. We offer a comprehensive range of services tailored to address the varied dynamics of the entire Greek shipping market, aiming to support the success and growth of businesses across all sizes within the maritime industry.
What is the ESG strategy & initiatives of KPI OceanConnect?
The adverse environmental impact of traditional marine fuels is clear, and it is important to embrace sustainability and responsible energy practices. Transitioning to alternative fuels is not only crucial to combat climate change and reduce carbon emissions, but it also offers a significant opportunity for the marine fuels sector to lead in the global sustainability and support ESG goals.
The ambitions and the spirit of IMO for shipping is clear. At KPI OceanConnect, we are committed to be a driving force behind this objective and align with this global mission.
We believe in the importance of supporting and giving back to the local communities we operate in. Through our “50for50” initiative, which ran for the third time this year, from 11 November to December 31 December 2023, we donated $50 for every deal we make, to charities which have been selected by our offices worldwide. In the last 2 years – with the unwavering support of our partners – we’ve raised $210,000, touching the lives of countless individuals, and having a positive impact on their well-being.
KPI OceanConnect also demonstrates its commitment to encouraging greater gender diversity and inclusivity by delivering our ‘Women in Shipping’ initiative, which aims to empower and encourage more women to pursue careers in shipping.
Finally, at KPI OceanConnect, remaining true to our innovative and inclusive values, this year we launched our two-year trader trainee program, “get fuelled”. The programme invites individuals from diverse backgrounds to join our company, enabling young talent to enter the industry and progress to various roles and areas within our organization.