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Tuesday, September 25, 2018


INTERTANKO members based in Singapore held a meeting 28 February specifically to discuss issues arising from the Erika accident. There is increasing concern about how unilateral measures implemented elsewhere in the world, particularly in the US and Europe, could adversely affect shipping safety standards in Asia.

The issue has been brought sharply into focus by the EU proposals to introduce, for ships in European waters, a string of new measures in the aftermath of the Erika sinking aimed at improving shipping safety and environmental protection levels. Of particular concern are the measures calling for an accelerated phasing out of older single hull tankers, as laid down in Annex III of the recent EU communication on the subject (see item 1 for separate report).

Asian tanker owners and operators are concerned that regional initiatives taken in Europe and the US will effectively drive substandard tonnage out of those markets and concentrate them in other parts of the world, including Asia, adversely impacting quality operators. Another worry is that such an influx will put undue pressures on Asian authorities, and that some authorities will not be able to monitor and control the situation due to lack of resources. INTERTANKO's Asian members are fully in agreement with INTERTANKO's stated position on this issue - the shipping industry is a global activity and any initiative to amend the existing international maritime safety regime should be done through the offices of IMO. Apart from ships working in ice conditions, there is no reason why a tanker in one part of the world should be subject to different design and operational standards to tankers in another part.

Asian owners believe that the concentration of substandard ships in certain parts of the world will penalise quality operators and compromise the good safety record that has been achieved by the tanker industry worldwide. This is because an influx of poor quality tonnage will prompt an increase in the number of port state control inspections. Where the inspection programme is not properly targeted, there will be no discrimination between quality and substandard operators, and everyone will be saddled with proliferating inspections. Greater concentrations of substandard ships in certain parts of the world will also increase the risk of accidents at specific regional choke points and congested waterways, e.g. the Straits of Malacca and Singapore.

At the Singapore meeting the participants endorsed discussions already initiated by INTERTANKO's Executive Committee that there is merit in reviewing the already-robust INTERTANKO membership criteria with a view to tightening the requirements if need be. Full support was given to the idea of INTERTANKO being recognised as the shipowner association of quality. The unanimous view was that  regional solutions do not rid the oceans of substandard operators. They just go elsewhere and continue to enjoy the benefits of operational costs which run at 30-40 per cent less than the commitment made by quality operators. Substandard operators will only disappear when all the participants in the shipping chain work together to ensure rigorous implementation of the IMO safety regime on a worldwide basis. As the fallout from Erika has shown, industry cannot afford to relax. INTERTANKO needs to continue to build upon its lobbying efforts with the ultimate goal of global harmonisation in mind. For further information, please contact