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Tuesday, October 16, 2018



On 13 December 2002, a Royal Decree-law was published by the Spanish Government which bans all single hull tankers, regardless of the flag, carrying heavy fuel oil, tar, asphaltic bitumen and heavy crude, entering Spanish ports, terminals or anchorages. 

The entry into force will be effective from 1 January 2003. Until that date, single hull tankers transporting heavy fuel oil, tar, asphaltic bitumen or heavy crude will be required to notify the Spanish maritime authorities 24 hours before entering Spanish ports.

INTERTANKO understand that the Spanish Administration is currently working on a precise technical definition of the concerned cargoes.

INTERTANKO's reaction

INTERTANKO is deeply concerned with the ill-conceived measures announced by the Spanish government in the decree-law.

Click here for INTERTANKO’s press statement of 13 December 2002

An English translation of the text follows:

24343 ROYAL DECREE-LAW 9/2002 of 13th December whereby measures are adopted for tankers carrying dangerous or contaminating cargoes.

Spain is a maritime country located, because of her geography, at a crossroads with basic routes which pass off Finisterre, through the Straits of Gibraltar and the Canary Islands. Spain has always defended  the need to make maritime safety a priority in itself before the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) and within the European Union. Among other matters, this means carrying out serious, uniform inspections at all ports and excluding single-hulled vessels for the transportation of oil products. The defence of these principles by the Spanish Government has been constant in all international forums and is, of course, based on international legality.

In connection with the withdrawal of single-hulled oil tankers, the reality is that the draft Regulations presented by the European Commission in February, 2000, supported, among others, by the Spanish delegation, in connection with the withdrawal of single-hulled tankers was as follows:

Crude oil tankers of 20,000 tonnes  dead weight or more and those cargo vessels of 30,000 tonnes dead weight or more (…) may not operate if the vessel is 23 years old or on 1st June, 2005 if this date falls first.

This stance was also debated at the IMO in April, 2001, but in the end was not included in the wording of Regulation 417/2002 of the European Parliament and Council of 18th February, 2002 regarding the speeded up introduction of rules on double hulls or equivalent designs for tankers, which included a more drawn out timetable for the replacement of these tankers. Had the Commission’s proposal, backed up by Spain,  been approved, the vessel “Prestige”  would not have sailed in 1999, the date when she reached 23 years of age.

Taking up the initiatives of the Spanish Government, the Council of Ministers of Transport, and Telecommunications and Energy of the European Union, held in Brussels on 5th and 6th December, unanimously resolved to adopt a series of measures of historic importance for the safety of marine transport and the prevention and fighting of ecological catastrophes like those arising from the sinking or running aground of vessels such as the “Aegean Sea”, “Erica” or, more recently, the “Prestige”. In this regard, it was decided that heavy oil must only be transported in double-hulled tankers, the member States being urged to undertake not to admit single-hulled tankers carrying this cargo into their ports, terminals or anchorages. Moreover, the Member States were urged to adopt measures to allow maritime States to check and, if necessary, restrict the movement of vessels carrying dangerous and contaminating cargoes within  a limit of 200 miles of their coasts.

Mindful of these initiatives, the Government has proceeded to apply these provisions immediately and, therefore, has approved this Royal Decree-Law in which a ban on single-hulled tankers, regardless of the flag they are sailing under, carrying heavy fuel, tar, asphaltic bitumen and heavy crude, entering Spanish ports, terminals or anchorages is laid down. As a complement to this, non-compliance with this ban is specified as a violation and a sanction in keeping with the gravity of this behaviour is laid down. Finally, the Government is authorised to approve provisions and adopt the executive, organisational and budgetary measures necessary for the efficient application thereof. Likewise, in order to facilitate the change-over to the new situation, application of the ban is postponed until 1st January, 2003, but, nevertheless, the requirement is laid down to notify the maritime authorities at least twenty-four hours in advance of the intention of entering a port, terminal or anchorage, so that the authorities may carry out the corresponding control or protective measures from the entry into force of this Royal Decree Law.

The immediacy of the measures decided justify the extraordinary and urgent need which they grant to use the authorisation contained in article 86 of the Constitution to establish these measures by means of a Royal Decree-Law.

By virtue whereof, at the suggestion of the Minister of Development and following the deliberations the Council of Ministers at their meeting on 13th December, 2002


Article 1 - Ban on entering port

Single–hulled tankers transporting heavy fuel oil, tar, asphaltic bitumen or heavy crude are banned from entering Spanish ports, terminals or anchorages, regardless of the flag they are sailing under.

Article 2 – Sanctions

Failure to comply with the ban referred to in article 1 of this Royal Decree Law constitutes a very serious violation, for which the sanction will be a fine of up to 3,000,000 euros.

The individual or company emerging from application of article 118.2 of Law 27/1982 of 24th November on State Ports and the Merchant Navy, will be responsible for the said violation.

The sanctioning procedure will be governed by the provisions of Section IX of Law 30/1992 of 26th November, the Legal Regime for Civil Service Departments, its development provisions and by  the provisions of Law 27/1992 of 24th  November on State Ports and the Merchant Navy.

First final provision – Government authorisation

The Government will approve the provisions necessary for the progress and application of this Royal Decree Law and will adopt those measures of an administrative, organisational and budgetary nature which prove necessary for its effective fulfilment as well as for  strengthening control and inspection measures  for vessels carrying  dangerous and contaminating cargoes  carried out by the competent bodies of the Civil Service in accordance with current laws.

The provisions of his Royal Decree Law will apply within the scope of application specified in community rules.

 .Second final provision – Cancellation of rules

All rules of an equal or lesser degree which contradict the stipulations of this Royal Decree Law are cancelled.

Third final provision – Entry into force

This Royal Decree- Law will come into force on the same day as it is published in the “Boletín Oficial del Estado" although the ban contained in article 1 will be effective from 1st January, 2003. Nevertheless, the vessels affected by the above ban, shall notify  the maritime authorities form the date of entry into force and until the ban becomes effective, at least twenty-four hours in advance of their intention to enter ports, terminals or anchorages, so that the authorities may carry  out the corresponding control or protective measures.

Issued in Madrid, 13th December 2002.



Acting President of the Government