Countdown to 2020 – 500 Days

How long does it take to become an expert?

In his book 'Outliers', Malcolm Gladwell popularised the idea that it takes 10,000 hours of practice to become an expert in a performance-based field. His research focused on activities like playing the piano, but it's also recently been shown that this benchmark can apply to collaborative knowledge work too.

As Herbert Simon and William Chase wrote in a paper in American Scientist that Gladwell referenced: "There are no instant experts in chess—certainly no instant masters or grandmasters. There appears not to be on record any case (including Bobby Fischer) where a person reached grandmaster level with less than about a decade's intense preoccupation with the game."

In an intellectually demanding field nobody dominates it from their first day, and marine fuel supply is no different. Today marks 500 days or 12,000 hours until 1 January 2020 and the arrival of the global sulphur cap. But, unfortunately, even if your employer gave you five weeks a year off to practice your skills, it would be around half a century before you acquired that 10,000 hours. Even at 20 hours a week it would still take 10 years.

As we've seen in previous blogs, there's more to compliance in 2020 than simply buying a 0.5% sulphur fuel - not least because in many parts of the world you'd need a fuel that's got 80% less sulphur to be in compliance with local regulation. And with the IMO looking into the feasibility of a Mediterranean ECA those areas are continuing to grow. 

One area in particular has been getting a lot of scrutiny of late: the potential for commercial disputes and criminal penalties. It's an issue that's particularly acute in the charter market. For certain sectors, such as the container lines that habitually charter-in upward of 60-70% of their vessels, it has the potential to cause major headaches if left unaddressed. What should happen to any unused non-compliant bunkers? Will it be possible to discharge those same bunkers? If a discharge port doesn't have the compliant fuel a ship needs, who is liable to pay for deviations or regulatory penalties to take on compliant fuel?

Against this backdrop, the day-to-day dynamic of fuel supply and trading continues to evolve with the importance of effective risk management, knowing your counterparty, and having absolute trust between suppliers and their customers and partners. Fuel continues to account for the majority of a ship’s operating costs, and with uncertainty over future supply and demand trends, prices and compliance solutions, fuel suppliers will play a central role in helping their customers manage the seismic change that they are experiencing. Not just in guaranteeing the timely and accurate delivery of quality products and services, but also in creating true partnerships that effectively manage costs, ensure operational efficiency and compliance, as well as mitigating risk.

To achieve this, there not only needs to be a real knowledge base of the customer and their operations, but also actionable insight on the impact of 2020. This will then be combined with the use of technology and processes to simulate scenarios for owners and operators in terms of what their operations look like, and then plan how they can be best optimised in a pre and post 2020 world.

Come 1 January 2020, Bomin will have been supplying bunkers for 44 years, or nearly 400,000 hours. This collective experience enables us to provide customers with genuine consultancy and counsel on what they'll need to meet the demands of their fleet on a vessel-by-vessel basis, as well as reducing risks and costs to their operations. 

If you would like to learn more about how your fleet can successfully navigate this switch, please contact us here.