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Director’s log

As you may have noticed we’re a little late with the October edition of the newsletter – but we hope that it’s been worth the wait. We wanted to report back from the first of our Regional Panel meetings which took place in Dubai on the 31 October.

Greater engagement with our members is an important element of the OCIMF strategy for the future, introducing this newsletter was our first step and the regional panels are the latest.

Our first regional panel meeting for the Middle East and East Africa capitalised on the General Purposes Committee (GPC) meeting in Dubai which took place the day before.

The regional panel will take place twice yearly in each region (Singapore, Houston, London and Dubai) with a chance for each of the principle committees (the GPC, the Ports and Terminals Committee and the Offshore and Marine Committee) to lead the discussion.

The aim of the regional panels is to gather together member companies based within a geographical region, particularly those members not yet active within the committee structure.

We want to give members in the region the opportunity to discover what the principle committees are currently focusing on. We also want to learn, by listening to the discussion and the issues raised at the regional panels. Regional panels should give everyone a clear global picture.

Issues raised that fall within the OCIMF mission will be passed to the committees to be assessed, prioritised and added either to the global or regional work programme. This part of the panel meeting takes place in the morning and is open to all members and invited guests.

In Dubai, the Secretariat team supporting the GPC and first regional panel were Myself, Pierre Karsenti, Philip Pascoe, Raj Shetty and Oliver Pointon.

Continuity between the GPC and the Regional Panel was maintained by the GPC Chairman Pierre Decarpigny playing a key role in both events.

They were joined by Waddah Ghanem fulfilling the critical role of Regional Champion, who not only polled the key members of the region for their input and encouraged attendance but also delivered an excellent presentation setting the stage for the issues to be debated by the panel. Great support and a very worthy Regional Champion whom we greatly appreciate – Thank You!

Some interesting points and perspectives surfaced during the debate and identified learning points and room for improvement.

In the afternoon sessions invited members met to form regional work-streams separately addressing the issues raised. Terminal matters and a broad spectrum of shipping topics formed the bulk of the work. Regrettably, only two member representatives registered for the Offshore work-stream which had to be postponed.

The afternoon sessions were enthusiastic and quickly elected Chairman and Vice Chairmen from the Region. Mohammed Abdel Rahman Khalaf of Adnoc was elected chairman and Ahmed Salem Al Shawi of ENOC was elected vice chairman for the Shipping work-stream, and Captain Syed Azhar Ali of ENOC as the Chairman and Captain Feisal Saad of Qatar Petroleum Vice Chairmen for the terminal work-stream stepping up to fill these important roles.

The remainder of the afternoon was spent defining the working methodology and prioritising the issues raised and defining how to progress them between meetings. I would like to express my thanks to the large number of GPC members who attended both sessions of the regional panel and freely provided guidance and advice which was critical to the success of the day.

I was overwhelmed by the enthusiasm of the members to make this first regional panel an undoubted success. GPC members who have be contributors to OCIMF over many years provided wholehearted support and encouragement enabling the regional panel members to engage. It was gratifying to see the enthusiasm generated. We are now well placed to capitalise on what we have learnt and establish the initiatives in all four regions during 2014.


Captain David Cotterell

We would love to hear your thoughts on the newsletter. Email to let us know what you think.


Regional panel brings OCIMF closer to members

Around 60 people attended the first regional panel with delegates from across the region.

In his opening address OCIMF Director, Capt. David Cotterell explained the reasons behind the introduction of the regional panels. He said, “We are growing and changing. We started 43 years ago as a voice of safety for the marine industry. We have done this successfully, so why change? We now have 100 members, a membership that has doubled in the last ten years. The oil industry is changing, so OCIMF has to change too.”

The morning session was an opportunity for OCIMF committee members to briefly explain what each did. Raj Shetty, OCIMF’s Senior Technical Advisor, took the audience through some of OCIMF’s work in the last year; and its Ports and Terminals Committee priorities.


Pierre Decarpigny, chairman of the GPC, took the audience through the work of the committee, describing new working groups for specific issues such as e-navigation, and a sub-committee focusing on tanker fires and explosions.

Philip Pascoe, the group’s General Counsel and an expert in maritime security, spoke about the Maritime Trade Information Sharing Centre in Ghana; which will begin a 12-month pilot project in January 2014.

Oliver Pointon, OCIMF’s Inspector Training and Accreditation, described the priorities of the Offshore Marine Committee, the newest of OCIMF’s Standing Committees.

The regional champion Waddah Ghanem, Director of EHSQ Compliance at Emirates National Oil Company, opened the second session with an overview of regional issues. He listed what he saw as the region’s main issues and challenges.

Waddah Ghanem told delegates, “We need to become safer and more environmentally aware.” While stressing that ENOC has a high commitment to safety, Ghanem underlined that the marine sector is one of high risk. He said the region has an ageing infrastructure, as well as an ageing workforce with associated health issues, and this workforce faces new processes, roles and responsibilities and training.

Educating the local workforce towards wanting a career in the marine sector is a challenge, he said; especially with a growing gap of foreign expertise which needs to be filled. There is no regional guidance on minimum qualifications or skills.

Social challenges in the region include pollution incidents, which have a high impact on all stakeholders, and can also have political impacts. He said Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) countries rely on desalinated water, so any ocean pollution has to be de dealt with extremely fast and effectively.

The age of vessels plying the region is another issue; posing a big risk to the environment. While some GCC states have policies on vessel age, he said small parcel vessels generally do not comply, and while the likes of Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the UAE have a 20 year age limit there is still significant tonnage which does not comply.

Security is another big issue. He said piracy is at unprecedented levels, causing a significant threat to international trade, with the region’s waters providing a vital economic conduit and an indispensable international shipping lane.

The Strait of Hormuz remains a high traffic bottleneck – with 14 million bpd going through every day – making it a hotspot for potential accidents, according to the EHSQ Compliance manager.

When the floor was thrown open questions were asked and answered on a wide range of subjects including: the safety of mooring ropes on board; loading master’s certification and whether those who were extremely experienced but uncertified would still be able to operate; and the need for a conversation with port operators regarding larger vessels mooring on jetties not built to accommodate them.

All attendees agreed there was a greater regional need to share data on incidents, fires and explosions; but all also agreed there was a culture that seems unwilling to share in the region. David Cotterell was quick to point out that OCIMF sees such reluctance elsewhere, and OCIMF continues to promote greater openness in the industry.

But perhaps the first Middle East and Africa Regional Panel Meeting is a step towards that greater transparency craved by all.


Over to you...

Aladdin Mamdouh, RMA, BP Egypt

"This is very interesting, especially since I have become more involved in OCIMF. I am interested in inspection, the rapid changes we are seeing there, and what the changes mean. OVID is new, and I think there are still obstacles to overcome.

"I hope to achieve more clarity by attending today, and by attending an OVID inspection course, which will provide better insight into how vessel owners respond.

"The panel is a good opportunity to raise the issues, and makes the distance shorter between OCIMF and the Middle East."

AladdinMamdouh.162125.JPG Aladdin Mamdouh, RMA, BP Egypt

John Ross, VELA International

"I think it’s good to involve members in the region more; getting them aligned with OCIMF’s aims; and bringing us all closer to OCIMF.

"If we don’t have these meetings, the connection with the committees is not so close. You can get a lot of information, and get it directly.

"I’m concerned with general safety issues. SIRE is a big issue; we have to keep the membership informed about it; it’s such a big system and we must maintain quality and integrity."

JohnRossVELA.164212.jpg John Ross, VELA International

Alan Johnson, NYK Line

"I go back many years with OCIMF in vetting and inspection, and I’ve always recognised them as the leading light in the industry.

"I think it’s a very good idea to have a regional forum like this. It’s good to see the state of the industry, and to see what’s going on in the region.

"It’s also a great networking event, of course."

AlanJohnson.162713.JPG Alan Johnson, NYK Line

Ibrahim Lamah, Nigeria LNG

"I have come from Nigeria today to attend this event. I see great benefit in getting in touch with the rhythm of the industry; it’s interesting to hear about papers and responses from the actual creators and users at the regional forum. I think it’s important to have African representation at the panel, and I would like to see more.

"I hope we are going to share what’s important to our region and collectively work towards resolution of the problems.

"My main concern is maritime security, and I appreciate the specific work being done by OCIMF in this area. Ports and terminals are important, and we are without port and terminal safety.

"I look forward to attending the next regional panel."

IbrahimLamah.164157.JPG Ibrahim Lamah, Nigeria LNG

Fazel A Fazelbhoy, Synoff

"My curiosity was piqued to attend as a non-member. I used to manage Topaz, but now run my own business. I am more impressed with OCIMF now I have been here than I was before.

"I felt there was an ‘us versus them’ culture, but this isn’t true, and I hope this outreach is a sign of things to come. OCIMF seems very keen to work towards achieving joint objectives.

"I would have liked to have seen questions sent before the panel, if only so we could polarise our thoughts in advance, and share issues ahead of meeting.

"I’m concerned with seafarer competence. The training is becoming a computer game; I’m concerned that basic competencies are being left out, and of course, there are ways to cover up the gaps in your knowledge.

"My second big concern is that in such a long-standing industry, the number of accidents is horrifying, and we need to work on addressing this as soon as possible."

FazelAFazelbhoy.162912.JPG Fazel A Fazelbhoy, Synoff

Michael Neuhaus, Aethon Marine Services

"The forum is an excellent idea, but I would have liked people to come more prepared, with ideas, issues and questions. I think some work beforehand to prepare is a good idea. People here are not used to raising issues though; and many of them fear repercussions for raising something. But this is a step in the right direction; even if we have a long way to go.

"I’d like to see more transparency and communication between operations, production and commercial.

"Education and experience are key issues, too. I don’t mean teaching marine skills in schools, but we have to find ways to encourage on the job learning and training."

MichaelNeuhaus.163023.JPG Michael Neuhaus, Aethon Marine Services

Thank you

A big thank you to Waddah Ghanem who took on the critical role of Regional Champion. He not only polled the key members of the region for their input and encouraged attendance but also delivered an excellent presentation setting the stage for the issues to be debated by the panel.

OCIMF-Middle-East-Conference-2013-Web-800px-8469.171103.jpg Waddah Ghanem, Regional Champion

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Next time

The October edition has been given over to our first regional panel - and we hope that you have enjoyed reading about it. For more information, and to find out when we'll be in your region go to /organisation/regional-panels/.

If you have an idea for an article for the newsletter, or a question that you would like to put to the secretariat email us at

The November edition of the newsletter will be with you on the 29 November.