INTERTANKO REPRESENTED AT MEPC CONFERENCE ON 'EVOLUTION AND PERSPECTIVES'

Dr Nikos Mikelis, Chairman ISTEC, and Mr Erik Ranheim, Manager, represented INTERTANKO at the Maritime Safety and Environmental Protection conference entitled "Evolution and Perspectives" in Brest, 11-13 March. Mr Ranheim participated in a panel that focused on "trends and regulatory mechanisms".

The communication director of Bureau Veritas, Phillip Boisson, first made a presentation on all the major shipping casualties in the world, including Titanic and Torrey Canyon, that had caused regulatory changes.

Mr Ranheim was asked to comment on the safety trends in tanker shipping seen from an owner's perspective. In his presentation he stressed that the safety and environmental performance of the industry had been continuously improving and that both statistics and other information showed that tankers today performed well. 99.998%of cargoes arrived safely. He pointed out that the tanker fleet was being renewed at a fast pace. By the end of 2002, some 51% of the tanker fleet would have double hulls, and at least 75% by the end of 2007.

A major problem today was the lack of comprehensive statistics on shipping incidents. Some classification societies, insurance companies and others analysed incidents for the ships they dealt with, but an overall approach was lacking.

Mr Ranheim also said that the world was demanding greater transparency and accountability. It was evident that at least some of the major oil companies were making a great effort to demonstrate accountability both with regard to the environment and society, and they would naturally require the same attitude from the companies they dealt with.

Asked to comment on whether safety could be taken care of when the freight market was low, he said that the owners had no option but to take safety seriously no matter what the income was.

Lastly he stressed the need for co-operation between all the parties involved in the transportation chain to further improve the safety performance of the industry.

A copy of Mr Ranheim's presentation can be viewed on INTERTANKO's web site at: Click here for download

Dr Mikelis questioned the antithesis shown by the environmental sensitivity of local, national and international politicians against their apparent disinterest towards an early ratification of MARPOL's Annex VI. Dr Mikelis pointed out that shipowners building new ships had already invested in advanced engines that satisfied the Annex VI requirements, while to-date Annex VI had been ratified by only a handful of countries.

The rather electric atmosphere of the conference was masterly moderated by Mr Francois Grosrichard, senior reporter of Le Monde. In the two days of the conference, repeated calls were made by speakers and delegates for the speedier adoption of new regulations. The same people also felt that the mechanisms of IMO were too slow. Dr Mikelis questioned and criticised these views by explaining that IMO's mechanisms did allow the necessary time to propose, debate and discuss, occasionally evaluate, modify and agree proposed new regulations. Anything less would be inadequate for an industry that is vital to world trade and economy. On the same theme, Dr Mikelis called for the establishment of an International Independent Maritime Accident Investigation Board. This would be an international centre of excellence for maritime forensic work that would provide reliable input to the regulatory process.

Igor Ponomarev, Chairman of lACS, stressed that the Classification Societies had strengthened their control but they were not policing the maritime industry and could not stop ships, only delete the Class. Bertrand Thoulin, Director of the trading department at TotalFinaElf, said that their vetting could only be based on the certificates of the class and he said that the oil companies/charterers had no formal position in the Maritime Responsibility Chain.

The conference was very well attended and most aspects of ship safety were debated. Although no new angles or arguments may have emerged that could contribute to further progress in the industry, the fact that many people in the industry are coming together to discuss safety may in itself strengthen the safety culture.

Contact: Erik Ranheim, e-mail: erik.ranheim@intertanko.com