I was delighted to be invited to this event in Amsterdam earlier this year.ESS, or Electronic Shipping Solutions to give them their full name, have been developing electronic Bills of Lading and associated documents for a number of years, and whilst the idea of eB/Ls have been around for a while ESS have certainly succeeded in making this work. Take a look at their website www.essdocs.com to see how it has come on from solving problems in the oil market to the most recent news that Cargill have adopted the system across all of their products.
Amsterdam was not so much about eB/Ls but much as electronic nominations.We all know that oil barge movements in Europe depend so much on faxes, yes 30 year old technology! ESS has developed an electronic platform for making nominations together with producing documents, such as the barge receipt and timesheet, electronically. The advantages of such a platform are quite staggering and this Workshop was organised under the ESS-Databridge Development Group (DDG).
Oil Tanking were our hosts for the day and they provided the meeting room at their terminal, although it was a little tight this was no reflection on Oil Tanking’s generosity but a reflection on the popularity of the event.
Who was there?
I’ve already mentioned ESS and Oil Tanking, in addition there was a good cross section of the barge industry players:
Barge Owners/Operators were represented by folks from BFT, Interstream, RTR Barging and Somtrans.
Terminals, in addition to Oil Tanking there were representatives from Seatank, Vopak and Zeeland
Oil companies and traders were out in force with Argos, BP, Cargill, Chemoil, Glencore, Gunvor, Litasco, Morgan Stanley, P66, Petrobras, PetroIneos, Reliance, Shell, Trafigura and Unipec.
I was there for HubSE – more about our involvement later.
Gianna Rechichi, ESS, opened the workshop and outlined the afternoon and led us into a video recorded by Tony Yates, BP titled ‘It’s All About Timing’.
BP has been a long-time supporter of ESS’ eB/L product but has not been at the forefront of this latest initiative and Tony explained how BP’s take up has been slow because of other commitments.It was pleasing to hear that BP are fully supportive of this and will play a full part. Tony’s view was that if you don’t take a part you are either a dinosaur or you have no time - BP is no dinosaur!
Next up was Adrian Challinor, Glencore, who gave us ‘The Big Picture: Barges @ 30,000ft’.Adrian is very keen on making electronic transactions within the barge industry where he sees significant time savings and efficiencies for Glencore. The standout fact for me was that he believed eNominations would save 8 or 10 minutes per nomination. A staggering saving and an improvement on my last report in this respect where I commented on LEAP’s Barge Workshop 8th May in the latest Asdem Barge Newsletter.
Guy Jarman, Morgan Stanley took to the front of the room to give his view on ‘Capturing the Benefits to your Bottom Line’. Drawing on Morgan Stanley’s experience where they have been using eNominations for over a year he sees material benefits already and calculates that the turnaround of barges can be improved dramatically when using electronic documents which not only reduces demurrage exposure but improves jetty utilisation too.
Before the tea break there was a panel discussion which generated a lot of discussion.
My turn next! My presentation was ‘Making Time for Demurrage’ and we, at HubSE, are excited to be collaborating with ESS in the barge arena. What we aim to do is take a feed from ESS where we will know the date and time of the nomination. Once the barge has sailed we will have barge port movements. Put these together with a few other details and we can make almost instant laytime and demurrage calculations. We can apply the rules according to the sales contract, TTB rules or LEAP’s terms once they are agreed, and apply them to the data. This would work even in trading chains where the terms may not be back to back – what is important is using one set of data, entered once and applied according to the terms agreed. Once this is established we can move on to produce statements that will allow monthly net settlements with counterparties or even a clearing system for payments – imagine only one payment or receipt one per month!
Martijn Schaeffer, Oil Tanking told us the ‘The Terminal Story, Standardisation and Integration’. This was very interesting and it was so obvious once he had told us – eNominations bring standardisation and speed. Instead of receiving nominations from different sources on different formats, such as fax and email, eNominations brings it all together and avoids incomplete data being received and manual data having to be entered.
Ernst Herger, Cargill, gave his paper on ‘Competence and Confidence in CargoDocs’which was extremely interesting in which he stated Cargill’s confidence in ESS’s solutions – this confidence was reinforced just a few weeks later when they announced that they were extending the use of eB/Ls across their agricultural products and their bulk iron ore shipments. Read the press release here http://www.essdocs.com/news/cargill-expands-use-cargodocs-ebls-agricultural-cargoes-south-america-europe/ A great endorsement from one of the major commodity groups in the world.
Whilst there was a panel discussion half way through the afternoon all the sessions generated a lot of discussion.It is true to say that there were a lot of questions some which did not have answers at this point. Whilst that can be frustrating for some participants I see this as an advantage in that whilst a lot of these facilities are in place, some are under development and this is a real opportunity for participants to join this group and shape the future.
Cynthia Worley, ESS, closed the day by summarising where the industry is and where it is heading and encouraged everyone who wants this to happen to contribute to the working groups that will be created shortly to identify the value that each sector of the market can leverage by the use of electronic documents and data transfer.
HubSE are excited to be part of this future and if you want to find out more about this initiative and HubSE’s part of it please contact me firstname.lastname@example.org. If you want to know more about ESS and are keen to join the working groups please contact email@example.com
Let us know what you think about electronic documents and nominations. Are you excited about this? Maybe you think none of this will work? Please add your comments here.