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Delphi: Competitiveness the key to success

Published: 8 February 2017

With the deliveries of BP Shipping’s new Project Delphi fleet of LNG vessels getting ever closer, Jonty Shepard, a key internal customer, explains the value they can bring to the group.

Ship yard - British Partner (South Korea)
The theory behind Project Delphi , which operate more efficiently thanks to cutting-edge technology, will help to make BP more competitive in a rapidly-changing liquefied natural gas (LNG) marketplace.
Portrait of Jonty Shepard

The challenge, of course, is putting the theory into practice.

Substantial growth in established markets, such as India, China, the US and Australia, coupled with the arrival of new consumer markets, such as Pakistan, Jordan, Egypt and Bangladesh, are significantly boosting demand for LNG. BP is responding to this with increased production – annual volumes will rise by almost eight million cubic tonnes within four years, thanks, largely, to new projects in Texas, US, and off the coast of Mozambique.

The new, technologically-advanced Project Delphi tanker fleet will give BP Shipping the necessary capacity to transport those extra volumes around the world. However, this alone will not guarantee success in today’s fast-moving, evolving environment.  

The kind of market growth we’re seeing has inevitably led to an increase in competition. The big trading houses are starting to get involved in LNG for the first time, and that means we’re seeing profit margins drop as a result.
Jonty Shepard, Global head of LNG at Integrated Supply & Trading (IST)
Infographic illistration Partnership class and Gem class capacity

His point is illustrated by the fact that while BP’s IST LNG trading business volume has grown by 30% in the past year, its margins are eroding. “As well as being bigger, therefore, and more efficient and environmentally friendly, thanks to the ME-GI propulsion system, the Project Delphi ships must also be cost-effective in order to be competitive,” Jonty says.

“We need to be nimble, too, so that we’re ready to respond to further market evolution. As a trading organization, we chase the highest price – and that requires flexibility in the way the fleet operates. Last, but not least, the ships must be capable of loading and discharging at all new ports and floating facilities that are coming online. Access is a major issue with some operators, so this will give us a significant edge. Get all these elements right,” he adds, “and the Project Delphi ships will undoubtedly have a key role in keeping us at the forefront of the LNG industry for many years to come.” 

Project milestones

  • H2441 – Mooring trial which includes running of the main engines, completed 7-8 February 2018 
  • H2442 –Tandem float completed 3 February 2018, repositioned in dry dockto complete block erection, scheduled launch 17 March 2018 
  • H2443 – Keel lay completed 5 February 2018
  • H2446 – First steel cut 5 December 2017 
  • Construction site team at full strength, with 29 people, as of January 2018 

Focus on strategy is essential

 

A laser-like focus on BP Shipping’s newly rearticulated strategy will make sure that the new Project Delphi LNG vessels deliver the cost- effectiveness required by the group, says Oli Beavon, technical vice president.

 

“Our risk management and capability excellence is widely acknowledged, but BP businesses such as IST need us to provide value and partnership, too,” he says. “That’s why benchmarking and a commercial focus constitute a specific workstream in our modernisation programme. We’ve already conducted a significant benchmarking exercise, not only against other oil majors, but also other high- quality operators, to evaluate what good looks like.”

 

The business is working in partnership with IST to ensure a better use of technology to improve efficiency.

 

“The things we are putting in place now will form the cornerstone of BP competitive advantage for years to come,” Oli says. 

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