Capital Link Interviews Darren Laguea, CEO of HEC Europe

NEW YORK, March 06, 2018 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Aegean Marine Petroleum Network (NYSE:ANW), an international marine fuel logistics company that markets and physically supplies refined marine fuel and lubricants to ships in port and at sea, announced on February 20, 2018 the agreement to acquire HEC Europe Ltd, a leading environmental group of companies active in the treatment of maritime and offshore waste. Capital Link, the Investor Relations and Media Advisor to Aegean Marine Petroleum Network had the opportunity to interview Mr. Darren Laguea, the Group Chief Executive Officer of HEC Europe on HEC’s business, the outlook of the ship waste management business and the acquisition by Aegean Marine Petroleum. Please find below the interview in its entirety. A PDF copy of the interview can also be accessed on www.CapitalLinkShipping.com or by clicking on the link below:

http://cdn.capitallink.com/files/docs/HEC_Interview_Final.pdf

CREATING A GLOBAL ONE STOP SHOP FOR THE SHIPPING INDUSTRY
INTEGRATING BUNKERING AND SHIP WASTE MANAGEMENT
INTERVIEW WITH DARREN LAGUEA, CEO OF HEC EUROPE

Capital Link: Let’s open our discussion by describing in broad terms the nature of HEC’s business.

Darren Laguea: HEC collects, transports, and treats oil residues coming from ships and land units (such as industrial facilities and shipyards) and also handles all other ship-generated liquid waste as defined in the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (“MARPOL”). Simply put, HEC works to contain and eliminate oil waste.

HEC continues to grow and so does demand for its services, services that international regulations have made mandatory by requiring all ports around the world to provide port reception facilities, and requiring all ships to deliver their waste to these facilities without exception. This ensures that the waste is properly managed. Hence HEC is one of the largest companies worldwide in the field of oil waste management, with nearly 20 years of experience in operating port reception facilities and having collected and treated millions of tons of oil waste.

Capital Link: Marine pollution has been identified as an urgent issue on the front lines of environmental protection. How does shipping factor into this and what is the regulatory framework that underpins the growth of HEC’s business?

Darren Laguea: Around 90% of today's world trade is carried by the international shipping industry with over 50,000 merchant ships trading internationally and transporting every kind of cargo. This worldwide reliance on seaborne trade and strong prospects for its further growth mean that environmental protection and the tackling of marine pollution should be, and indeed is, at the forefront of the industry's agenda.

The environmental impact of shipping and the key issues that must be addressed include greenhouse gas emissions, acoustic pollution, and oil pollution.

Oil related ship generated waste comes mainly from three sources: bilge water, oil residue and cargo tank cleanings. While vessels have their own waste tanks on board, their capacity is limited and therefore, it is essential that upon entering a port, a vessel be able to deliver some or all of its oily waste to an adequate port reception facility, i.e. an operator who can receive and safely handle and dispose of the waste.

The disposal of ship waste is regulated by MARPOL. Its prime objective is to prevent and minimize pollution from ships -both accidental, from spillages, and from routine operations- including oil and other harmful substances.

154 states have signed MARPOL, which includes 30,000+ ports around the world and are thus subject to its requirements. According to MARPOL regulations ports must provide adequate and proper reception facilities for the handling of ship waste and this is exactly what HEC does.

To stress the need for more adequate Port Reception Facilities by the States that signed the Convention, an Action Plan has been produced at the international level to overcome this major hurdle and achieve full compliance with MARPOL as well as to promote environmental consciousness among administrations and the shipping industry.

As you know, regulatory and industry sensitivity alongside attention to environmental issues is growing. HEC is operating within a sector that benefits both from increasing industry sensitivity and regulatory trends.

The same way a ship needs fuel to navigate, it needs to discharge its waste to continue operating. This is not an optional function, but a mandatory one and it needs to be performed properly and in accordance with MARPOL regulations.

Capital Link: What kinds of ship waste does HEC handles and how is this waste generated?

Darren Laguea: Without getting too technical, as I mentioned before, oil related ship generated waste comes mainly from three sources; bilge water, oil residue (sewage) and cargo tank cleanings. This waste is the result of normal ship operations and thus it keeps occurring and accumulating as the vessel operates.

Oily bilge water is a mixture of liquids that are collected in the bilge of a ship. It is made of a mixture of fresh water, sea water, oil, sludge, chemicals and various other fluids that drain into the bilge as the result of vessel operations. Oil residue (sludge) is the waste from the purification of fuel or lubricating oil or separated waste oil from oil water separators, oil filtering equipment or oil collected in drip trays, as well as waste hydraulic and lubricating oils which are used to prevent damage to engine components, reduce wear and improve fuel combustion. Finally, cargo tanks in oil tankers need to be cleaned before a new cargo is loaded that is not compatible with the previous cargo or before dry-docking.

Besides handling all kinds of ship generated oil waste, HEC also collects, transports, and treats oil residues coming from land units (such as industrial facilities and shipyards) and offshore rigs.

As I mentioned, vessels have their own waste tanks on board, but their capacity is limited. Furthermore, on board treatment of oily bilges and sludge and the related discharge of waste into the sea can be carried out only while the ship is in passage outside designated sea areas, which, generally speaking, limits this only to deep ocean areas. Thus, for a vessel to continue operating it is essential upon entering a port to be able to interface with a port reception facility and discharge all or part of its waste.

Capital Link: What is the interaction between ports, vessels and HEC? What types of services do you perform?

Darren Laguea: HEC is one of the few operators globally who provide the whole chain of Ship Waste Management – we collect, transport, store, treat and dispose of the waste.

As I said, States that have signed the MARPOL convention must provide proper and adequate port reception facilities for the collection and treatment of waste. So, when a vessel enters one of the ports we service, after paying the port fee – which you can compare to a toll both operation – HEC will collect the waste from the vessel with one of our own specialized barges or trucks. The waste is then delivered to either a HEC floating or land-based waste treatment facility which separates oily waste into recovered oil and purified water. The purified water is safely discharged while the recovered oil is sold to industrial users at market prices. Here I would like to make special mention of the fact that our treatment facility is Piraeus has an internationally patented process for the separation of oil and water and the water produced is purified to 5 PPM.

According to European Union regulations port fees are a function of the vessel’s tonnage and the aim is to ensure that they cover the costs of the port reception facilities for ship-generated waste, including the treatment and disposal of the waste. Vessels have to pay the port fee whether they discharge their waste or not. Thus, ships have no incentive to discharge their waste into the sea, where permitted. Instead, they are incentivized to make use of a local Port Reception Facility. The port fee covers a certain quantity of waste that the vessel can hand over. Any excess quantity is given at extra cost.

So, this is a utility-like business model which operates within the regulatory framework and addresses a vital and recurring need of the vessel’s continued operation. Several countries outside the European Union have already started considering this “toll booth” mechanism as a prime means that will enable them to provide proper Port Reception Facilities.

Capital Link: Where does HEC operate today and what kind of infrastructure do you have in place?

Darren Laguea: HEC operates today in three main areas which have been strategically chosen. We operate in the ports of Piraeus, as well as most of the other Greek ports, Gibraltar and Hamburg.

We have an exclusive concession agreement with the Piraeus Port Authority until 2049 to cover all vessels entering the port of Piraeus. It is worth mentioning that Cosco has made a significant investment in container terminals in Piraeus underscoring the significance of Piraeus as an entry point for a significant quantity of cargo coming into Europe. Piraeus is also a major hub for the cruising industry, and cruise ships due to their size and operation generate significant quantities of waste. Out of Piraeus we also serve the needs of all major Greek ports and continue to work with dozens of island ports, marinas, and fishery reserves.

In Hamburg we are one of the three providers of port reception facilities. Hamburg is one of the busiest ports in the North Sea and the Baltic.

Gibraltar enjoys unique vessel traffic given that it serves as gateway and passage between the Mediterranean -and by extension the Black Sea- and the Atlantic. Over 75,000+ vessels transit the Straits of Gibraltar annually and we have established a partnership with the Gibraltar Port Authority.

Our current infrastructure includes two land-based treatment plants in Greece and Germany, one floating treatment plant operating in Greece, 12 sea collection and transport vessels operating in Greece (seven), Gibraltar (three) and Germany (two) and 23 land collection and transport vehicles operating in Greece and Germany. Our treatment facility in Greece has a waste management patent for the treatment of oily waste resulting in water purification and oil separation.

HEC was established in 2000, so we have been in business almost for 20 years. However, our strong development and growth has mainly taken place over the last few years. In Piraeus, where we maintain hub operations, the investment in our state of the art facilities was only completed and started operation in July 2016. This finished and patented installation was built at a cost of roughly €60million and can be replicated on a smaller scale by HEC to meet the needs of any other locations if necessary.

We expanded into the German market in May 2015, when we acquired Eckelmann's historic environmental business in Hamburg, modernized the treatment plant and its equipment, and commenced operations, gaining much praise from the national and international press.

The opportunity to open operations in Gibraltar was of a strategic importance to HEC. We were given this opportunity after the company formerly providing the services in Gibraltar opted to close their operations. We started operations in January 2016 after successfully obtaining all operational and environmental licenses. Gibraltar operations are conducted by vessels and barge, the oily waste is collected and stored on board. One of the larger vessels serves as a floating installation for the storage of all the collected waste from the other vessels. Once the floating storage vessel is full, arrangements are made to export all the collected waste to our Hub installation in Greece for final processing and treatment.

Capital Link: As it was announced, Aegean Marine Petroleum has agreed to acquire HEC. What is the synergy between the two and the benefit to HEC?

Darren Laguea: The unique opportunity and common vision and objective is to establish a “One-Stop-Shop” for the shipping industry, integrating bunkering and ship waste management. The synergies are unique and extensive.

As we elaborated during the conference call announcing the agreement for the acquisition, we can benefit from Aegean’s global client base, operational infrastructure and global asset base and expand into new geographies.

In terms of customer base, Aegean has an extensive and high quality global customer base. We can now offer to those clients a “One-Stop-Shop” solution and handle both their bunkering and waste management needs. Don’t forget that, as I mentioned before, there is higher regulatory oversight and increasing industry sensitivity from oil majors, trading houses, charterers, shipowners, national and local authorities on environmental issues, of which waste management is a key element. Offering to those blue-chip clients the opportunity to address their combined bunkering and waste management needs through a reliable, reputable and efficient operator like Aegean and HEC can really make a difference in their business, and by extension to our business.

It is worth pointing out that in many ports the waste management service is fragmented and occasional. Local operators do not provide a full service to customers, service on occasion may come from several providers and is subject to different quality standards, and this could be limited to the collection, transportation and/or final treatment. By contrast HEC is capable of providing customers with the full range of services required, giving customers a complete and transparent solution to their disposal route for all their waste.

Furthermore, we are branding all our subsidiaries “Global Green Ports”. We have “Green Ports Hamburg”, “Green Ports Gibraltar” and soon to be renamed “Green Ports Greece”. The brand “Global Green Ports” (GGP) will represent the largest and most experienced environmental companies globally in the field of liquid waste management. It is driven by the maritime environmental initiative, continually responding to increasingly stringent environmental protection legislation, as per the demands of MARPOL. Please note that no port can be acclaimed as a “Green Port” without such infrastructure as the legislation compels. So, our intention is to create for our customers the confidence and peace of mind that they will be getting the same transparent, high quality service throughout all our locations around the world, as our operations will adhere to the same high standards. This is a pioneering initiative which is very much in line with industry trends and requirements.

In terms of asset synergies, currently Aegean has several vessels in lay-up. HEC can use several of them, ensuring that they start making an immediate return by redeploying and repurposing underutilized assets. We can also use some of the land-based storage facilities and office space throughout Aegean’s worldwide port network. Aegean’s global footprint and its experience in these locations will undoubtedly help by accessing developed relationships with the port authorities and local operators as well as all of Aegean’s back office functions.

Capital Link: Clearly, Aegean provides you with extensive synergies and growth opportunities. But how do you plan to grow? Can you serve every port Aegean serves?

Darren Laguea: This will be a selective process, but in a way, it is a good problem to have, when you have to pick and choose the best locations out of an attractive list. We have to see which locations make sense both for HEC and Aegean. But the opportunities are there.

Generally speaking, when we look at new locations we take into consideration several factors. For example, we are looking for mature ports with a large diversification of shipping services, with over 5,000 vessel calls per annum. The port must be part of the international shipping routes, have the appropriate legislation in place and of course we look at limitations regarding new licenses, and current concessions.

When it comes to entering a new market, we follow a strategy that maximizes our operational flexibility and minimizes our risk. It is company policy to keep land-based Capex low until the operations in the respective port have been able to develop and prove its growth for the first 2-3 years. During this period, we would deploy current underutilized assets (vessels and barges) to carry all operations by floating means.

Capital Link: Concluding, what are the competitive advantages for HEC and what does the future hold?

Darren Laguea: What makes us stand apart is our track record, infrastructure and footprint in liquid waste management. HEC is already a global leader in this growing market. One of the areas I would also like to highlight is our continued investment in R&D. We already have an internationally patented operation in Piraeus and continue to invest in research, in order to achieve tailored, state-of-the art services that involve all stages of waste management, developing innovative patented treatment processes.

The HEC acquisition by Aegean will create the first global “One-Stop-Shop” which will service both the bunkering and waste management needs of the shipping industry. This is an innovative and pioneering initiative.

The industry in which we operate benefits from regulatory trends, and the services we provide address core and recurring needs of the shipping industry. We operate in a growing industry with strong prospects of innate profitability.

The combination of HEC with Aegean will enable HEC to accelerate our ability and vision to create a Global Green Ports Network taking full advantage of the synergies presented by Aegean’s client base, global infrastructure and asset base. We believe that the addition of HEC, with is high margin and sustainable growth business, can help generate a new era of growth and stability for Aegean.

About Aegean Marine Petroleum Network Inc.

Aegean Marine Petroleum Network Inc. is an international marine fuel logistics company that markets and physically supplies refined marine fuel and lubricants to ships in port and at sea. The Company procures product from various sources (such as refineries, oil producers, and traders) and resells it to a diverse group of customers across all major commercial shipping sectors and leading cruise lines. Currently, Aegean has a global presence in more than 30 markets and a team of professionals ready to serve its customers wherever they are around the globe. For additional information please visit: www.ampni.com.

About the HEC Group

The HEC Group is a leading environmental company active in the treatment of maritime and offshore waste, using both chemical and mechanical technologies, in order to support vessel and terminal operators, as well as various governmental and regulatory bodies and port authorities. The vision of the HEC Group is to create a dynamic global network (Global Green Ports) that will become one of the largest international reception facilities networks worldwide. H.E.C., through its affiliates, provides its services to some of the largest international shipping and oil and gas companies. The HEC Group operates in a highly regulated and legislation driven market. Treatment of marine waste is mandatory with regulations applying to all vessels prohibiting the dumping of vessel-generated waste at sea. The waste treatment process takes place both in the HEC Group’s modern land-based facilities and in their floating facilities. For additional information please visit: www.hec.gr

Capital Link
Capital Link is a New York based Advisory and Investor Relations firm with strategic focus on the maritime sector. Capital Link is compensated for providing Investor Relations and Media services to several listed companies, including Aegean Marine Petroleum Network. The interviews are for informational and educational purposes and should not be relied upon. They do not constitute an offer to buy or sell securities or investment advice or advice of any kind. The views expressed are not those of Capital Link which bears no responsibility for them. For additional information please visit: www.capitallink.com

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Source: Capital Link