Mr. Sergio de la Torre Delgado
Please elaborate a bit about your career leading up to your current position in GAC. How many years have you been active in shipping & logistics?
I started my career as a Trade Manager with a Spanish manufacturer, distributor and retailer of ceramic tiles. As I have always had a passion for the maritime sector, I decided to become a port agent in 2014. It was a fulfilling experience that led me to join the GAC Group in 2018. Now, I am the Branch Manager for both GAC Gibraltar and GAC Spain.
My active involvement in both the Gibraltar Port Operators Association and the Algeciras Port Community COMPORT enables my team and I to work closely with local stakeholders, board administration offices, and port authorities to share industry views and improve shipping and logistics operations along the Bay of Gibraltar.
When was GAC Spain established? What is your main line of logistics business?
We opened our first office in Algeciras, Spain, in November 2022, to serve as a key strategic shipping and logistics hub for the Mediterranean region. Our operations out of the Port of Algeciras offer a range of integrated ship agency services, including husbandry, bunker fuels, customs clearance, crew change support and ship spares logistics for the 110,000 vessels that pass through the Straits of Gibraltar each year.
This office complements the services offered by GAC Gibraltar, which opened in 2019. Our two offices in the ports of Algeciras and Gibraltar work under the same umbrella and in close cooperation with one another. This means that we are able to provide vessels transiting across the Bay of Gibraltar with the benefits of two major ship agents in one, including comprehensive coverage, cost savings, seamless and effective services, and more.
Gibraltar is geographically located at the south of Spain but legally part of the UK. Can you operate there as well. If so, please tell our readers about your activities in Gibraltar?
Our Spain and Gibraltar offices work closely together to circumnavigate issues in this complex part of Europe and provide the same services for all manner of vessel and cargo types. This dual presence means that we can cover all our customers’ operational needs regardless of the circumstances, regulations or requirements.
For example, there are situations where a vessel that is expecting to take bunkers in Gibraltar has been diverted to Algeciras, and vice versa, due to unforeseen port delays. However, our customers would not notice any ramifications as the close collaboration between our offices means the service they receive is exactly the same.
Naturally, there is concern about political developments between the UK and the European Union and how this can impact Gibraltar. So far, we have not seen an impact as we fully understand the complexity surrounding the border and how we can help our customers overcome any potential issues.
That is why it is important that I sit on the Gibraltar Port Operators Association and AESBA (its equivalent in Algeciras) on behalf of GAC. It enables me to remain fully informed of issues surrounding border controls and cargo regulations, and relate that information to our customers. Transparency is vital in this line of work if we are to keep the confidence of our customers. Further, our presence in both Gibraltar and Algeciras means that they can always count on us for smooth, fast and reliable support, no matter the challenge.
Gibraltar and Algeciras are both hubs and I suppose they can be even more so in the field of offshore and renewable energy. Is the field of renewable, offshore and so on areas where GAC are active? Can you tell our readers about some of your activities and initiatives in this field?
Spain is looking to take advantage of plentiful wind supplies in the Iberian Peninsula to boost its renewable energy capacity. As a global company, GAC has had a hand in a number of crucial offshore wind projects around the world and, as such, has developed the expertise and operational capabilities to support future developmental projects as well.
Spain’s offshore energy development remains very much in its infancy but our offices in Algeciras and Gibraltar are building the capacity to support these projects once they pick up their pace. This includes offering logistics services and agency services for port calls, spare parts delivery, and crew changes and embarkation and disembarkation services. We also have good working relationships with energy suppliers around the world, which is also important if these projects are to be realised.
Can I take it that GAC is neutral and basically can represent any owner, offshore rig or vessel operator?
GAC Shipping is a global leader in ship and hub agency services, representing more than 3,500 customers and handling as many as 101,000 jobs annually. We provide complete peace of mind for all ship and rig owners and operators – in port and at sea. Our bespoke solutions, delivered 24/7, ensure that customers are kept fully informed of the status of their vessels at all times, so that they can rapidly adapt to changing conditions.
There are a lot of players in the logistics field who are also in the Mediterranean. What makes it a good idea for a would-be principal to speak to you in GAC? What are your strengths?
While GAC Spain is celebrating its first year of operations, our core strengths lie in our global reach and the GAC Group’s established track record since our business started in 1956. We can pull expertise from all over the world, from Gibraltar to Singapore, to support our activities. That experience has been vital to the successful establishment of our office in Algeciras and is crucial for successful logistics operations.
Experience and understanding of our customers’ businesses and the sectors in which they operate is what sets GAC Spain apart. Our global network and array of multimodal options that can be tailored to meet specific needs gives our customers the strategic advantage in today’s global marketplace. Ship spares logistics is a speciality.
Globally, GAC has more than 300 offices at almost all major ports, all of which have built successful logistics operations to become some of the world’s leading players. We have been able to set up our own logistics operations based on the success of our peers and are able to offer one of the most cost-effective, efficient and timely logistics operations in the region as a result. Even though we are a young office, the reception so far has been fantastic and we have seen enquires for logistics services from not just Algeciras, but all over Spain, including Bilbao, Barcelona, Valencia and Las Palmas.
GAC is a global outfit nowadays. Thus, do you also work together with other overseas GAC branches on a regular basis?
GAC Spain works closely with other GAC offices in Gibraltar, the UK, as well as the rest of Europe, to share and adopt best practices, provide seamless coverage and ensure we offer the same level of customer service and expertise.
Looking into your crystal ball, how do you see the future for the rest of 2023 and upcoming 2024 from a logistics standpoint?
Some of the challenges that exist this year will still be here next year. Inflation and geopolitical issues in Europe are putting a lot of pressure on the supply chain, so it is vital that we support our customers. However, we can make sure any impact they face is minimal. We are actively seeking feedback from our customers, with surveys sent to them following every port call, so that we can identify ways to improve and keep their vessels and cargo moving through the Strait of Gibraltar and beyond.
Please let our readers know how it is best to contact you.