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Middle East Bunkering Convention 2024: 5-7 February

Now in its ninth year, the Middle East Bunkering Convention (MEBC) returns to Dubai in February to offer expert comment and informed debate about the issues and challenges impacting the global marine fuel sector and, as always, to provide a sharp focus on the evolving Middle East bunker market.

From the vantage point of early 2024, MEBC will consider the commercial outlook for the industry in the light of the ongoing Ukraine crisis and a tough and complicated sanctions landscape. Speakers at the conference will consider whether stringent counterparty risk assessments and more rigorous due diligence processes are now a fact of life for all companies who operate in the marine fuels value chain – or is there more work to be done.

Other geopolitical tensions also continue to impact the shipping industry and MEBC will consider how vessel trading patterns may be changing in response to a volatile economic climate, on a global scale and regionally. Is ‘deglobalisation’ set to become a future trend and how might this affect various vessel segments?

Environmental regulation will be one of the key topics at this year’s MEBC. Speakers and delegates will consider the impact of CII and EEXI a year on since their implementation by the International Maritime Organization (IMO), as well as the new ambitions in the IMO’s revised greenhouse gas strategy which was hammered out at MEPC.

A raft of legislation will come into play in Europe in 2024 as part of the European Commission’s ‘Fit for 55’ measures. These regulations, such as the inclusion of shipping in the EU’s emissions trading system (ETS), will impact all vessels that call at European ports. MEBC will consider the possible ramifications of such regulations on shipping and bunkering companies, and also discuss the possibility that other market-based measures, such as a carbon levy, could also be introduced in other regions and on a global basis.

Shipping’s energy transition is now firmly underway and MEBC will discuss how the marine fuels sector is preparing for a multi-fuel future and, as the ‘first mover’ shipping companies set out their alternative fuel strategies, speakers will also consider how mid-sized and small companies are assessing their fuel and fleet renewal strategies.

COP28, to be held in Dubai in late 2023, will be a barometer for the world’s progress towards net or absolute zero, and MEBC24 will provide a platform for debate on the outcomes of this crucial meeting as they relate to shipping. The Middle East is fast becoming a key producer of new, low carbon energy sources and MEBC speakers will look at how this is impacting on shipping, bunker supply, and the region’s ports.

Decarbonisation is also not just about energy choices – vessel optimisation, supported by digitalisation and new technologies, can also generate significant reductions in fuel consumption. The options for improving vessel efficiency will be fully addressed at this year’s MEBC.

As new fuels enter the bunker supply chain, this year’s conference will ask how marine fuel physical suppliers and traders are planning to adapt to what will be both a new commercial and operational environment. Also, while decarbonisation is the end goal, fossil-based bunker fuels will continue to be bought and sold for some years to come. As such, MEBC will offer a very useful platform for a discussion on the current global market environment for marine fuels – and the Middle East market in particular – including pricing, availability of fuel grades, and issues such as fuel quality and quantity challenges.

The use of mass flow meters for increased transparency in bunker deliveries has been on the agenda of MEBC every year. In 2024, as the key European bunker hubs of Rotterdam and Antwerp-Bruges mandate the use of MFMs, MEBC will ask if the time is right for the wider of adoption of MFMs in the UAE and the wider Middle East region.

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