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Wednesday, October 17, 2018


At the end of the GAOCMAO “Offshore Arabia – Clean Sea” Conference in Muscat, Oman, this week it was announced that all the other GCC states and Iran have agreed to ratify Annex I of the MARPOL Convention by the end of 2002. Oman ratified the Convention in 1984. Perhaps even more positive was the announcement that Iran is to establish three reception facilities and Saudi Arabia two – one each on the Red Sea and Gulf coasts. This news was warmly welcomed by the international and national speakers at the Conference. These included Dr Peter M Swift, representing INTERTANKO, who had called for early ratification and for adequate reception facilities during his presentation.

The conference, co-sponsored by PDO, brought together delegates and speakers from most of the regional oil companies, many of the relevant ministries from the regional governments, IMO and IOPCF officials, tanker owners, classification societies and the international representative bodies, including ITOPF, OCIMF and INTERTANKO.

Speakers at the conference covered regional concerns over oil spill preparedness policies, cross border co-operation, spill liability and compensation, local and international environmental challenges, and environmental sustainability.  In his presentation in the “Safer Ships and Cleaner Seas” session, Peter Swift spoke of the challenges of maintaining safe tanker operations, minimising oil and waste into the water and emissions into the atmosphere. He spoke of the need for international legislations to be uniformly applied and enforced, in parallel with self-discipline and regulation within the whole industry. Citing, among others, examples of the continuous improvement in the number of incidents, accidental spills and oil spilt per tonne mile traded, he said that this performance record confirmed the commitment of responsible tanker owners to safer operations and to heightened environmental awareness. He discussed some of INTERTANKO’s environmental programmes including Ballast Water Management and Air Emission projects, including Martob, Globallast and VOCON, and the pro-activeness of the industry in other fields such as ship recycling and its support for Annex VI and the antifouling convention. In the regional context he mentioned INTERTANKO’s support and encouragement for the initiatives of ROPME and MEMAC. Finally he called for the countries of the region to ratify the IMO conventions and Protocols, including MARPOL Annexes I and VI and the HNS and Bunkers Conventions, for the establishment of suitable safe havens, and for consideration to be given to a regional PSC MoU. By working together, he suggested governments, oil companies and the tanker industry could achieve much and “make a difference”.

This latter sentiment was picked up again in the concluding panel session with government representatives and the international associations, which used a tanker collision and spill scenario in the Gulf to demonstrate the need for and benefits of contingency planning, increased cooperation among all the parties involved and the shared responsibility of all present if “safer ships and cleaner seas” were to be achieved.

Peters Swift’s written paper and presentation can be viewed here.

Contact: Peter Swift,

After the Conference it was announced that GAOCMAO will henceforth be known as RCSO (Regional Clean Seas Organisation) to reflect the wider involvement of other countries in the region, including Iran. 

GAOCMAO = Gulf Area Oil Companies Mutual Aid Organisation
GCC = Gulf Cooperation Committee
GloBallast = Global Ballast Water Management Programme
Martob = On Board Treatment of Ballast Water (Technologies Development and Applications) and Application of Low-sulphur Marine Fuel
MEMAC = Marine Emergencies Mutual Aid Centre
PDO = Petroleum Development of Oman
ROPME = Regional Organisation for the Protection of the Marine Environment