This years StocExpo kicked off in Antwerp yesterday, opened by Danny Deckers, senior advisor MPC for the Antwerp Port Authority.
Antwerp port is traditionally thought of as a chemical hub so unsurprisingly has suffered from a drop in chemical throughput, Deckers explained. However the growth in oil markets has compensated for this and port remains one of the most diverse in the world.
Within the port 14 terminals are operated by 11 companies. It boasts the most stainless steel tanks in the world and is constantly evolving nine terminals underwent or are undergoing a major expansion or upgrading since 2005.
One of the key projects the port is now working on is the deepening of the river Scheldt. This project started in February and is expected to take 12 months, although Deckers hopes it may be finished by the end of the year.
Before deepening the port could only handle vessels with a draught of 11.9m afterwards it will be able to accommodate up to 13.1m.
Another key focus for the port, Deckers explained, is the ongoing investments into transportation links to avoid future congestion.
The rest of the day featured presentations on revamping marine oil terminals, the changes in international oil product flows, security of oil supply and many more.
One highlight came from Klaus Dietmar Jacoby from the European Commission, who gave a particularly topical presentation on Europes new oil stock directive.
The current oil stock directives 2006/67/EC (stock obligation), 73/238/EE (mitigation measures) and Council decision 68/416/EE (bilateral agreements) have been around for 40 years, but circumstances have changed, so the regulations need to adapt accordingly.
Over the last few decades oil markets have been globalised, financial markets play a larger role and there is an increasing risk of supply disruptions.
The new Council Directive 2009/119/EC, agreed by Ministers in June last year, imposes an obligation on member states to maintain minimum stocks on of crude oil and/or petroleum products and has now come into force.
Member states have until the end of 2012 to turn the directive into national law and its implementation will be reviewed at the end of December 2012.
The main elements of the new directive are to clarify the procedures for emergency situations, introduce the possibility of spot checks and facilitate reporting measures.
This should lead to an improved assurance for the availability of stocks, and better crisis management Jacoby explained. The next step is to work on a single reporting tool and to study reporting methods. The Commission is currently working on a study looking at the possibilities of weekly reporting and the results are expected in May.
Although the event focuses primarily on aboveground storage, Freddy Tengberg, project manager for RSG Nordic AB gave delegates an insight into a unique underground storage project at the port of Gothenburg.
The cavern was built in the 1970s but has been idle for the last 25 years. Scandinavian Tank Storage is now refurbishing the facility in order to unload vessels for transit storage and load larger vessels for delivery to refineries in Europe, Asia and the US. Around 60 vessels are expected this year, with the first vessels scheduled to arrive tomorrow.
The overriding theme to come from the first day of the conference is that during the economic crisis the terminal industry has remained stable, despite demand suppression and additional capacity in the form of floating storage.
The next two days promise to be just as informative with scheduled on topics including the causes of large tank fires, REACH legislation and how to increase tank storage capacity.