LQM Looking to Expand Technical Knowhow, Grow Global Footprint

Friday September 21, 2018

The business of selling bunkers is becoming a much more technical exercise, a fact underlined by both the recent spate of "bad bunker" problems and the changes expected with the upcoming IMO 2020 rule, says LQM CEO, Morten Eggert Troen.

"We are certainly seeing a more technical approach to marine fuel purchasing, demonstrated by recent fuel contamination problems. This is not just in terms of general advice on how to avoid them, but also what to do when those problems happen," says Troen, who recently spoke to Ship & Bunker on how LQM is responding to the current and future industry challenges.

"Of course, the most recent 'bad bunker' problems have been unusual and complex for the whole industry, even for people like us who have been in the market for many years. So we have been talking to technical experts and chemical engineers to understand the fundamentals of the problems and where they came from. The future aim for LQM employees is to guide our clients even more on technical aspects - not only on a commercial level. Of course we will not develop into chemical engineers, but we need to increase our know-how to provide additional value for our clients. Looking ahead to 2020, I think we will see a lot more of these types of technical fuel problems. This has been a reminder to people about what could happen."

Besides strengthening the technical know-how, Troen also comments that where LQM, and the broking model in general, sets itself apart from other intermediaries is in its ability to provide independent advice. This, he says, will also be increasingly important to owners looking ahead.

"As a broker, our number one priority is to give advice to our customers on every single aspect of purchasing, be it market developments, law and regulations, technical aspects like quality, or on matters of compliance. I see this as our most important task, besides remaining neutral and independent in a buy/sell scenario," he says.

Nevertheless, Troen is not blind to the benefit of being a trader heading towards 2020 because buyers will need to increase their credit lines to accommodate the expected rise in prices.

"At LQM we also do occasional trading when it brings value for our counterparts - and it has proven that having a dynamic business model works," Troen says.

Alongside the growth in its technical expertise, LQM is also looking to grow its global footprint - a point highlighted by its recent acquisition of Ches Bunker Services, LLC. (USA).

"There are certain areas I want to strengthen at LQM, and one of them is in the Gulf. Through Ches we reinforce our presence there. Their employees have brought us more than 30 years of experience on the supply and brokerage side of the bunker business. I am also looking to expand our London and Connecticut offices, either by hiring new staff or integrating other shops into LQM to expand and facilitate an even stronger and broader working platform for our business partners," Troen explains.