PortStorage Group B.V.

Supplying the facts

The largest independent tank terminal database of its kind in the world, PortStorage Group’s online system contains information on over 2100 commercial tank storage facilities across the world.

A 50/50 joint venture between UK company Tank Bank and DownStream, a Dutch consultancy, PortStorage Group is Dutch registered and based in Rotterdam. Operating as a unique tool to professionals within the tank terminal industry, the database is fully searchable through a variety of criteria providing clients with easy access to a wide variety of information. Each terminal has its own fact sheet containing approximately 40 individual items of data such as location, contact details, types of transport handled, capacity information, tank type and varieties of cargo that can be stored, as well as a map or satellite picture.

“In terms of competitors, although there are a few smaller databases in the US available, looking at the global market there is no real comparison for the service we offer,” explains Rob Luijendijk, marketing director. “With these other companies the database is an offshoot of their core business – for example a company listing prices for various petroleum products ex terminals, may also use its knowledge of these terminals to offer a database service. What sets us apart is that we are focused and have invested specifically in the business model of this database, which offers any independent terminal across the world an entry in the standard list for no charge. Our income comes from client subscriptions to the full database of terminals, with three different types of account available, from one time use to regional or global packages, to fit the individual requirements and budgets of all potential customers.”

Given the type of information contained in the database, PortStorage Group’s target customers are companies from around the globe looking for empty tanks to meet their storage requirements, such as refineries, traders, chemical producers and oil operators. Another core market is producers of valves, pipelines, measuring equipment and other services for thetank storage industries, which use the database to track the market and identify potential clients. Looking at the wider scope of the system, other customers include government agencies, legal firms, banks, consultants and environmental authorities, as well as tank terminal operators who wish to use the information for their own purposes.

In order to ensure the efficiency and quality of its services, PortStorage Group places great importance on the maintenance and regular updating of its database. Describing the company’s strategy for achieving this, Rob comments: “We never say at any given time that the database is 100 per cent complete, because this isn’t viable. However we do have a couple of systems in place that enable us to keep the information as up to date as possible. We have arrangements with a number of the biggest operators in the world, which provide us, on a monthly or quarterly basis, with detailed information about these tank terminals, which is then semi-automatically uploaded into the database. We also have representatives located within key international areas that are in touch with local companies and upload new information directly. One of the 50 per cent shareholders of the business is downstream, which is a consultancy company within the market of tank storage. Therefore we are in touch with many tank terminal operators and shareholders and remain up to date with any developments in the field.”

Alongside the database itself, PortStorage Group has identified the system as an ideal foundation for developing additional services that offer added value for its clients. “We are working on a module with a number of other parties, which will provide an indication of the current and future availability of storage tanks,” highlights Rob. “There are many empty tanks all over the world, which are leased out and kept temporarily empty for strategic reasons but what we will be focusing on is what is actually available for the market. This information will not be directly linked to the tank operators due to potential commercial impact, but will be an anonymous overall indication of the available capacity of the market or further into the future enabling clients to plan ahead. Alternatively, we are thinking of a sort of auction system whereby terminal operators can offer certain quantities of capacity against which a bid can be submitted. Understandably, the highest bidder will be selected. We are also looking at developing a system that shows what quantities of what sort of products are available in which areas. This will enable our clientele to identify which parts of the world are long or short in certain products.”

It is PortStorage Group’s strong grasp of the market and ability to remain abreast of what’s happening in the sector that has enabled it to successfully gain its leading position, with regards to this type of service. Looking at the current conditions of the market and subsequent opportunities to continue to take PortStorage Group forwards, Rob says: “Obviously there are variations from area to area, but I think that generally tank storage within the oil industry is healthy at the moment. The chemical industry is a much more cyclical market and so is still experiencing the effects of the economic downturn, although to a lesser extent. Interestingly in 2008 and 2009 the recession also caused the development of a market situation called contago, which is a condition where future prices are higher than current and this led to a higher demand for tank storage capacity as clients looked to profit from the difference in prices. There are also more new players within the market such as Brazil, India, and West and East Africa, which are currently building up their infrastructure so that they can supply their end users. This is a real stimulus for the market in terms of constructing new capacity, as well as within the lease sector. A lot of these countries are experiencing high economic growth, which goes hand-in-hand with increased consumption of products and this translates into demand for tank storage.”

Certainly these market conditions have benefited the business, particularly given its unrivalled position in providing vital information about tank storage facilities. In terms of the future progression of PortStorage Group, Rob describes how the business is looking to move into providing a more integrated service: “We are an information service provider and although we sell our products and knowledge on a one-to-one basis, we also want to become an integral part of our clients operations. This is not necessarily through selling our information to them, but by feeding that information into their systems for use as part of the decision making process, and in this respect become an integrated part of these companies.”

PortStorage Group B.V.
Services: Tank storage database