Is that advice best for my vessel, or best for your wallet?

Is that advice best for my vessel, or best for your wallet?

“The best advice that I can give you”, said the orthopedist after inspecting my left knee, “is that you schedule an arthroscopy to trim a small amount of damaged cartilage”. He calmly continued: “We can perform this procedure at my private practice, and your insurance will cover most of the cost. We can book you for next week.”

This was some twenty years ago, and I had injured myself while lifting weights at the university gym. Although I was experiencing significant discomfort, and the doctor’s plan of action sounded fair enough, I was not at all eager to undergo a surgical procedure. So, I told the doctor that I would sleep on it and went back to my dorm room to do some research on the procedure that he was recommending.

By the end of the week, I had figured out that the doctor had conveniently omitted three rather important pieces of information from our conversation. First, that arthroscopic surgery had, back then, a roughly 50% success rate – essentially a toss-up between coming out with improved mobility or further damaging my knee. Second, that there were less invasive and potentially more effective alternatives available – physical therapy prominently amongst them. Third, that the doctor stood to earn a cool $10,000 dollars from the procedure.

I suppose that, even when a modest amount of money is involved, one can’t be too careful in checking – is that advice best for me, or best for the other guy’s wallet?

Now, when large amounts of money are involved, savvy businesses invest a great deal of effort in verifying that there is no conflict of interest when a recommendation from a third party is adopted. In the shipping business, the folks in charge of fuel procurement purchase tens of millions of dollars worth of fuel every week. They are keenly aware of the fact that the motives behind any recommendations regarding the location, quantity, or price of fuel to be purchased should be viewed with a healthy dose of skepticism.

For instance, imagine receiving a recommendation stating that your vessel should lift 800 tons of fuel at a specific port in the Mediterranean in three days. So far so good. Until you learn that this recommendation comes from a party that is controlled by a fuel supplier. Hmmm. Is it possible that they have had those 800 tons sitting there for a while and that they are eager to offload them? Is it possible that they figured prices in the Mediterranean are about to drop and want to nudge you into a commitment at today’s higher price level? Frankly, given the sums involved, such hijinks should hardly surprise us.

In order to generate fueling recommendations, a third party would need access to your commercial schedules, TC rates, RoBs, and consumption curves. Are you comfortable providing all that data to them? Providing them access to your VMS? Knowing that any of their data scientists could, with a few lines of code, extract insights about your past, present, and future operations – all to be leveraged during their negotiations with you?

When you receive a bunker procurement recommendation from BunkerPlanner, you can rest assured that there is no hidden agenda. We do not sell fuel and we do not receive commissions from brokers or suppliers. You remain in control and engage the broker, trader, or supplier of your choice. Our only business is in generating the bunkering plan that is best suited to each one of your vessel’s voyages. If you value impartiality when considering your bunkering strategy, contact us for a confidential discussion.