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Wednesday, September 19, 2018


On 1 March 2000 the European Commission (EC) presented its proposals, which are aimed at improving maritime safety and pollution prevention in European waters in the aftermath of the Erika spill, to an audience of representatives from industry and professional organisations.

Dagfinn Lunde and Robert Bishop attended on behalf of INTERTANKO, and several other shipowner bodies as well as ICS, OCIMF, IACS, ESPO, BIMCO, ITOPF, the International Group of P&I Clubs, ITF/ETF, the European Shippers Council, European charterers, European shipbuilders and European insurers were represented at the meeting. 

The measures which the Commission tabled - in the form of a communication in three annexes - focused on three areas, i.e.

  1. Changes to the EC Directive on Port State Control (95/21/EC)
    These include enhanced surveys for tankers over 15 years, increased flow of information between class, port state control (PSC) and flag state, and listing of the charterer in PSC detention data.
  2. Changes to the EC Directive on Classification Societies  (94/57/EC)
    These include the increased possibility for the Commission to prevent class societies from doing statutory work for member states, and increased EU surveillance of the quality standards of classification societies)
  3. Faster phasing out of single skin tankers in European waters by outlawing the derogation made for hydrostatic balance loading (HBL) under MARPOL. This initiative includes tankers below 20,000 dwt in the MARPOL phasing-out rules and pulls forward the 25 and 30-year age limits under MARPOL by two years, respectively, with a final deadline for single hull tankers, irrespective of age, of 2015.

Georgette Lalis, the European Commission maritime policy advisor, opened the meeting by presenting the European Union’s proposals to industry. She pointed out that the EU was sensitive to political pressures emanating from member states and that the EU was obliged to provide an effective maritime safety net. Furthermore, the measures in the three annexes are based on existing internationally agreed standards. There is nothing new in the measures, she said, and the EU hopes to make certain IMO proposals mandatory which are not yet mandatory. Ms Lalis went on to make the following specific points:

  1. PSC inspections prior to the sinking did not detain the ship. Perhaps if the PSC regime had worked better, the accident might have been prevented.
  2. Even though casualty investigation results have not yet been made available, classification societies clearly could have helped prevent the accident.
  3. Although it is acknowledged that double hulls would not necessarily have prevented the accident, the region¹s politicians are now clamouring for the introduction of a requirement for double hull tankers in European waters.
  4. These politicians believe that the quality tonnage will serve the US, while second rate ships will operate around Europe. Hence, there is a need for EU to go one better than the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 (OPA 90).

INTERTANKO made detailed submissions on the proposals contained in each of the three annexes and the meeting generated wide discussion. In general terms, industry has no difficulties with the proposed port state control and classification society measures contained in Annexes I and II. Indeed, IACS has already taken some important decisions to tighten up the classification society regime covering older ships. However, industry, for the most part, does not agree with the Annex III proposals for an accelerated phase out of older single hull tankers in European waters. Such proposals should be directed through IMO to ensure that any action taken to control a global industry is international in nature rather than a solution for one particular region. Furthermore, industry believes that the proposed measures, which are aimed at reducing the risk of accidental pollution, do not accurately address the problem of structural failure of the type suffered by Erika. The EU will push ahead with all three sets of proposals in a regulatory process which could take up to 30 months, so there will be opportunities for industry to structure its case against the Annex III proposals.

Please follow the links for a full report of the 1 March meeting, including all the INTERTANKO submissions, the specific points raised by the EU and the input from other organisations

Annex I - port state control
Annex II- classification societies
Annex III - phase out of single hull tankers
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