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SMT Makes Further Investment in Ghana Seafarers

Captain Joseph Quaicoe has a wide range of responsibilities in his role as SMT’s Ghana Operations Manager. Yet one of his most critical functions is as SMT’s exclusive manning agent for our Ghanaian crewmembers. Capt. Quaicoe sat down with the NN to share his thoughts about the challenges and opportunities for seafarers in Ghana.

Raymond Kwame Affil Meriku

Raymond Kwame Affil Meriku

Ghanaian mariners have an excellent reputation in the global market, thanks to Ghana’s high standards of general education and maritime training, as well as seafarers’ excellent level of English fluency.  As Capt. Quaicoe explains, recruiting seafarers from Ghana offers unique advantages to SMT, given its current business profile: “Engaging Ghanaian seafarers enables SMT to facilitate simpler and more cost-effective crew changes for both our Ghana and Guinea projects. It is also important to consider the current global challenges surrounding crew changes --  local nationals can be deployed to our Ghana project without facing travel restrictions and border lockdowns”. 

SMT began employing Ghanaian nationals in February 2015, when one deck and one engine cadet joined SMT’s transshipment station MV Gdansk. The cadet program has grown exponentially in the last five years – over 25 deck and engine cadets have now served onboard MV Gdansk, as well as 20 cadets onboard shuttle vessel MV Gil and 2 onboard MV Honor. SMT is proud to have 27 Ghanaian nationals – engine, deck and catering professionals - currently sailing on 5 SMT vessels, many of whom have risen in rank from their original cadetships.

Allan Blankson - MV Gdansk

Allan Blankson - MV Gdansk

When asked about SMT’s future plans regarding Ghanaian seafarers, Captain Quaicoe is optimistic.  “All Ghanaian cadets that we have employed over the years came to SMT independently in search of their required sea time.  In the near future, we will deepen our commitment to seafarer education in Ghana through a strategic partnership with the Regional Maritime University, in Tema, Ghana.  This will enable us to identify and recruit the University’s top students at the start of their education, so we can do more to further their educational and vocational development”.  All in all, says Captain Quaicoe, “I believe SMT’s future recruitment efforts look good.  Ghana has lots of experienced seafarers who would work well in SMT’s West African operations.  Making a long-term commitment to the Ghanaian maritime labor force helps anchor SMT’s relationship in the region and widens the network of SMT’s seafarer family.  

SMT Enhances Cost-Savings in Fuel Procurement

Bunker fuel is the generic term for any fuel that powers the engines of a ship. Over the past three decades, the amount of bunker fuel purchased by SMT has grown significantly – from a few thousand tons to approximately 86,000 tons in 2019. As bunker fuel represents a major cost to SMT’s managed fleet, the company recently launched a strategic initiative to better optimize the procurement of cleaner low sulfur fuels at the lowest possible all-in cost. 

In December 2019, SMT’s fleet made a successful transition from High Sulfur Fuel Oil to Very Low Sulfur Fuel Oil in accordance with IMO 2020 regulations. By the start of 2020, SMT’s cost management initiative was fully launched by joining the Dutch bunker fuel cooperative known as Bebeka. Formed in 1961, Bebeka purchases fuels and lubricants for over 1500 vessels on behalf of their over 450 members. SMT has already seen cost benefits thanks to the cooperative’s knowledge, data, and purchasing power.

SMT has further enhanced its fuel procurement strategy thanks to support provided by Norwegian consultancy firm Prosmar. Prosmar analysts conducted extensive interviews with SMT employees from Operations, Commercial, and Business Planning & Control (BP&C) to understand SMT’s best practices and procedures related to fuel purchasing.

The company then hosted a series of webinars in July 2020 for SMT personnel, focusing on the underlying drivers and movements in the bunker fuels markets and offering ways SMT can make better use of real-time market data to optimize the procurement process. 

With over thirty years of experience, SMT already has significant experience in purchasing bunkers with efficiency. Yet this strategic initiative takes the company to the next level, giving SMT the means to utilize fuel quality, quantity, and price data to gain maximum value out of every fuel purchase.

As SMT’s Jilles van der Niet explains, “The joint expertise and effort of the Commercial, Operations, and BP&C Departments, in cooperation with the support and knowledge from both internal and external expertise, makes a significant difference in bunker fuels procurement”.