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Meet Leena Asher, the creator of I-Demurrage app

Demurrage is a technical term often used in the shipping industry. Simply put, it is a charge which is payable to the ship owner for extra usage of the ship’s time.

But, it is not as straightforward as its definition is, and it is certainly not a simple calculation, making it a very complex and niche function of the shipping industry.

And, this is where Dubai-raised and Houston-based Leena Asher, an oil and gas industry executive for two decades, made her “breakthrough innovation” by developing an app that allows demurrage analysts to calculate the penalty “on the go when they are not in office”.

I-Demurrage is used by the industry, with about 1,200 demurrage analysts out of the roughly 2,500 operating globally, downloading the app.

First app

I-Demurrage, Leena explained in a phone interview, is the first of its kind app, because no one in the industry took the initiative before.

Leena used her experience and background, working with various ship owners and charterers, to build an app. Most shipping companies are very restrictive about the software used, so no one has been able to come up with an app for calculating demurrage. “I built the app because I realised when I was travelling and out of office, there was no way to calculate the demurrage,” she explained.

Leena, an Indian by origin, is a demurrage specialist for over ten years of the 17-odd years she has worked at a multi-national oil and gas giant in various roles, both in upstream and downstream sides. “I started doing demurrage when I got into oil trading at the firm,” she said.

Demurrage is largely governed by contracts. There are two types of contracts that governs demurrage: the charter party (a legal document signed by the ship owner and the charterer) and the oil contracts.

There are multiple charter parties used globally and every charter party is negotiated individually and its clauses can also be amended during the currency of the charter party.

“In my app, I give users the option to pick the base of the charter party and they can actually eventually, when the calculation comes into the e-mail, whoever they send it across to, see that the demurrage has been calculated basis a particular/specific charter party”.

Leena developed the app with her own funds. “The reason why I kept the app to myself so far, is that it is very hard for me to converse with people who are not in the industry, on how the app works,” the mother of two says.

This may be about to change. “I’m in talks with people who are interested to collaborate with me, maybe we’ll talk about some equity sharing in the app,” she said.

What next?

Leena is now looking to enrol for a masters programme, to learn the management of the business of apps, scale-up the I-Demurrage app and to develop more apps.

“When I speak to people in the industry, they have encouraged me to do more things in the app, but I don’t have the technical knowledge to take it further and it’s also difficult for me to make a coding guy understand what I’m trying to do. That’s the reason why I want to equip myself with that knowledge,” she signs off.

Source: The Hindu