Photo: Rubis When it comes to meeting your superyacht bunkering requirements, you may not yet be familiar with the name of Rubis. Rubis is a well-established trading company which specialises in the global distribution, terminal storage and sale of high-quality petroleum products. With significant distribution volumes of these products (an impressive six million cubic metres in 2019) their direct marine supply is concentrated in Western Europe and the Caribbean and their products include low-duty and duty-free gasoline, diesel, low and ultra-low sulphur diesel, FAME free diesel, jet A1, fuel oil and high-performance lubricants. As both a multinational physical supplier and a publicly listed company, Rubis employs over 3,500 personnel, enabling them not only to benefit from extensive expertise within the supply chain (and driving forward the highest-possible professional and safety standards) but also granting the company significant presence across numerous jurisdictions and thus giving them increased purchasing power. Add to this the fact that Rubis owns their own tank terminals and distribution facilities (or has long-term capacity rental agreements) and the result is a supply chain of strength and integrity, allowing them to bring the best of both worlds in terms of both quality of fuels and price to the superyacht sector.
Going global: An expansive step for Rubis
With this extensive set of marine fuel supply resources in their arsenal, Rubis has recently completed a major consolidation in order to aid connectivity and further bolster their position within the industry. This takes the form of their new bunkering and superyacht services network which is now fully active, covering the best part of the North Atlantic, Northern Europe, and many of the Caribbean islands, as well as giving them a solid foothold in a section of the northeastern part of South America in the territories of French Guyana and Suriname. In most cases, this will cover extended cruising around the entire North Atlantic and Caribbean area for displacement or semi-displacement vessels with reasonable bunkering capacity onboard. The network includes and is being further developed through North Europe: Guernsey and Jersey in the Channel Islands and the following locations in Bermuda and the Caribbean: Antigua, Barbados, Bermuda, Cayman Islands, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, St. Lucia, St Vincent, Suriname, The Bahamas and Turks & Caicos. Photo: RubisRubis’ new consolidated network is ideally placed to serve newly built or refitted yachts on English Channel routes from northern European seaports. In addition, Scandinavia, and beyond is becoming a much more popular cruising ground and many vessels visiting here will be heading south to the Mediterranean or back across to the Caribbean for their winter season. The new consolidated network will allow vessels to extend their potential cruising area knowing that they have a trusted bunkering supplier which traverses the Atlantic, thus offering great assurance for those wishing to venture into these less travelled waters and maintain confidence in their fuel supply.
To gain a real-life, operational perspective on superyacht bunkering and to learn more about how the new Atlantic Marine Bunkering Network can benefit the superyacht industry, we speak to the highly-experienced captain Iain Flockhart, who has already banked more than 250,000 nautical miles in his role as Master. How important is the quality of your fuel supply chain for a superyacht captain?
As a large yacht captain myself, one of the greatest worries when travelling away from areas where top quality marine fuel is taken for granted is that you never know what will turn up in the tanker trucks when you are bunkering. Most captains and engineers have had concerning moments when, despite taking samples, they find that what has been delivered into their tanks has been worryingly low-quality fuel. Any responsible captain, manager or, for that matter, even the third party fuel agents themselves, should demand that their fuel is delivered through an unimpeachable supply chain. Photo: Rubis Channel IslandsWhat have your experiences been where the quality of your fuel has not been assured and what were the consequences?
I have not been immune to this and it became very critical on one occasion as we replaced our final set of fuel filters a couple of miles out of the port of Heraklion on Crete after a terrible passage from Port Said with heavily contaminated fuel. The weather was not great and a total loss of both MEs and AEs would have been disastrous given the conditions at the time.Photo: Rubis Channel IslandsHow can you assure that the quality of the bunkering is not compromised, wherever in the world you happen to be travelling?
There are plenty of services that will offer you a ‘one-stop-shop’ solution for your bunkering and lubricant needs in that you contact a single person/company and they will arrange bunkers for you wherever you happen to be on the planet. These fuel brokers provide a very useful resource in researching potential physical suppliers.
However, it should always be taken into account that brokers cooperate with hundreds of different suppliers that all work to varying standards of service. The sourcing, storage and delivery of the MGO or AGO fuel is not under their direct control and standards can vary so much across the market that it is very hard for them to ensure a consistency in quality. Part of the reason for this is that these companies/brokers are traders and as such focus on the deal itself, rather than conducting their own assurance checks. The quality of the fuel can suffer as a result, with far-reaching consequences.
How can Rubis help you assure the quality of your fuel is consistent?
Rubis, as one of the largest physical suppliers to superyachts, ensures the highest standards across its network and is respected by reputable fuel brokers. It would always be prudent to contract brokers for the deal if that is your choice but establish who the physical supplier is to ensure the quality of both the product and service.
The advantage of the new Atlantic Marine Bunkering service that Rubis are offering is that they are the de facto supplier of the fuel, and are not just buying it as required from whoever is selling. Demand Rubis supply and you know that you will be getting that much-needed assurance of high quality throughout your entire trip around the North Atlantic.Photo: Rubis Channel IslandsFinally, looking to the future, the new rules relating to lower sulphur content in marine fuel take effect for all ships globally on 1st January 2020 (reducing the current limit of 3.5% (m/m) (mass/mass) to 0.5% (m/m)), and therefore many more vessels will be obliged to meet these standards. What is the significance of this for you as a captain?
Constant tightening of regulation, especially relating to all MARPOL issues, is here to stay, that is for sure. It is therefore beholden upon everyone within the supply chain, right through to the end-users of captains and owners alike, to not only be aware of, but to act with full responsibility and accountability in terms of both technical and safety standards. Photo: RubisThis requires appropriate qualifications, compliance with environmental standards in accordance with the conventions and having a solid auditable paper trail. This is a record of procedures to ensure it is documented should you ever need to protect not only your own livelihood and reputation as a captain but also that of the vessel and your owner.
With a well-placed network of bunkering locations like Rubis has, for example, it reassures me to think that they will be able to meet all of the needs according to the new regulations for ships and higher specifications for yachts in the future. It is great to see a single company that has full control of its own supply chain and is able to maintain quality throughout, launch such a well-connected network covering this vast area. For a captain, this inspires confidence to know there is a support service of the name Rubis that can be relied on. Additional agency services
As a company which is always looking ahead, along with the launch of their new integrated bunkering network, Rubis are also adding another valuable offering by way of consolidated local agency services with partner businesses, including general port services of arrival procedures (VTS), customs and Immigration formalities, pilotage, linesmen, berthing, local knowledge of cruising grounds for preparing detailed itineraries, local suppliers for provisioning and much more.
Going digital: the Rubis Atlantic App
Finally, as their latest innovation for 2020, you will be able to download from their website the brand new Rubis Atlantic App directly onto your smartphone or tablet simply by scanning the QR code displayed, with no need to go through any app stores!
The app will have all the details of Rubis’ marine supply locations, the services provided by the company, key personnel, contact details, downloads, videos, and up-to-date information, social feeds, news, events and more.
To find out more about Iain Flockhart Captaincy and Consultancy visit www.saoralbaholdings.com.