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Monday, October 15, 2018

LAKE MARACAIBO GROUNDINGS Detention of tanker unnecessary and unacceptable says INTERTANKO

Following the grounding of the 89,427 dwt tanker NISSOS AMORGOS on 28th February in the Maracaibo Channel, and subsequent oil spill, the ship remains detained by the Venezuelan authorities and the Captain is prohibited from leaving the country. In addition, the Venezuelan authorities have asked for a bond of US$ 46 million to be put up to cover claims interest and other charges.

Dagfinn Lunde, Managing Director of INTERTANKO, the worldwide association representing 70% of the independent global tanker fleet, says the detention is totally unnecessary and the amount being claimed quite unacceptable.

"Venezuela is signatory to two international Conventions adopted by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) which cover liability and compensation for oil spills of this kind and which are more than adequate to cover the NISSOS AMORGOS spill" he says.

"The Conventions have been implemented in Venezuelan law and are aimed at getting compensation to legitimate claimants - individuals, businesses, or public bodies and contractors - without claimants having to prove how the incident happened or who was responsible" said Dagfinn Lunde.

He continued that the current actions and claims of the authorities were outside the Convention and, if anything, were now hampering the claims and payments process, which was very regrettable.

The two international Conventions under which claims will be met in Venezuela are first the 1969 Civil Liability Convention (CLC). Under this Convention the shipowner and his insurer are liable to pay compensation up to US$ 7.2 million. A bank guarantee for this amount has already been provided from a Venezuelan bank on behalf of the Gard P+I Club, the shipowner's insurers.

For claims above US$ 7.2 million additional compensation up to a total of US$ 85 million is available from the INTERNATIONAL OIL POLLUTION Compensation Fund (IOPC Fund 1971).

The IOPC is a worldwide intergovernmental organisation comprising 73 nation states including Venezuela. The IOPC is funded, not by public money, but by contribution from oil companies and other entities receiving oil in Member States.

INTERTANKO understands that a claims agency covering the NISSOS AMORGOS incident has been established in Maracaibo by the IOPC and the Gard P+I Club, the vessel's insurers. This office will also assist claimants in presentation of their claims.

"The IOPC Fund has been involved in some 70 cases all over the world and in the great majority of cases all claims have been settled out of court" says Dagfinn Lunde. "With the NISSOS AMORGOS, we can see no reason why the international arrangements are not entirely acceptable in Venezuela and we are urging the Venezuelan authorities to release the vessel and Captain without delay."

In addition to the NISSOS AMORGOS, two further tanker vessels have grounded in the Maracaibo Channel in almost the same location in the past six weeks. Pilotage is compulsory in the Channel.

In the case of the NISSOS AMORGOS the local maritime community believes that she may have been holed by the wreck of the EXPORTADOR which partially blocks the Channel.

Local pilots who are responsible for the Maracaibo Channel are reported to have been threatening strike action over the condition of the Channel which ships some 1.5 million barrels of Venezuelan crude daily.

Issued by Patrick Adamson
MTI Network, London Tel: 44 171 600 8331

For more information contact:
Dagfinn Lunde
INTERTANKO Tel: +47 22 12 26 40