by the Rev. Winston Rice, Chaplain, Ministry on the Rivers and Gulf
Lower Mississippi River Chaplain Michael Nation and I recently represented the Seamen’s Church Institute (SCI) at the MARE FORUM USA 2011 in Houston, TX. Because of SCI’s deep commitment to maritime education and pastoral care of those who transport America’s energy products—especially petroleum and coal—we especially connected with this year’s Forum’s topic, “Maritime Transportation of Energy.”
The nine international conferences hosted by MARE FORUM in 2011 bring together a large scope of policy makers and maritime industry executives to discuss business strategies and policies. A “Who’s Who” list of presenters made this year’s Sixth Edition Conference in Houston successful, especially close SCI friends like Commander of the Eighth Coast Guard District RADM Roy A. Nash, American Bureau of Shipping CEO & President Christopher J. Wiernicki and USCG’s Director of Prevention Policy RADM James A. Watson.
While alternative energy sources and their development remain topics of high priority, statistical analyses shared at this conference suggest that carbon-based fuels—especially natural gas—will remain crucial to the world’s economies for many years to come. Oil extracted from bathymetric depths in the world’s ocean basins has led to the recent deployment of the first-ever FPSO (Floating, Production, Storage, Offloading) vessel in the Gulf of Mexico and two commercial shuttle tankers to service it. Presenters also predicted that the closing of two Northeast refineries in 2012 creates an opening for additional vessels to move products from the Gulf Coast to the Northeast whose operators SCI’s Houston Center for Maritime Education plans to train in the coming years.
SCI enjoys participation in these thought leadership discussions to promote the dignity of mariners transporting our nation’s energy products while learning about new trends for energy transportation. Whether in SCI’s ministry to international oil tanker crews, inland coal or petroleum barges, coastal towing or emerging liquid natural gas (LNG), we support the human spirit and dignity of mariners carrying out our nation’s evolving energy strategy. We find it a privilege to provide individual pastoral care, new maritime education classes and ongoing thought leadership to an industry we love.
SCI thanks the MARE Forum, along with groups like Connecticut Maritime Association and the Journal of Commerce who regularly invite us to the table and strengthen our ability to serve mariners worldwide.