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Saturday, October 20, 2018


INTERTANKO has called on Middle East states and oil companies active in the region to support responsible tanker owners’ efforts to secure further improvements in tanker safety and pollution prevention.

Addressing delegates to the Gulf Area Oil Companies Mutual Aid Organisation/Saudi Arabia Texaco (GAOCMAO/SAT) Conference 2000 in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on 16 May, Dagfinn Lunde outlined those measures the tanker industry is taking to identify and eliminate substandard shipping, as well as the key roles that oil companies, flag states and port states, amongst others, have to play in the implementation of these measures.

Mr Lunde also stated that there is a pressing need for Middle East nations to ratify the 1973 Marine Pollution (MARPOL) Convention and to provide adequate reception facilities in the region. The lack of oily waste reception facilities able to cope with the requirements of the busy Middle East tanker traffic constitutes a major gap in the global anti-pollution network built up under MARPOL, and should be addressed as soon as possible. In addition, oil exporting nations may need to contribute appropriate funding if, as is being discussed, a decision is taken to revise the current limits of the international oil spill compensation regime substantially upwards.   

The recent sinking of the tanker Erika has shown that not only are there gaps in the implementation of the existing tanker safety regulations, but also the general public has a zero tolerance for tanker oil spills.  The power of this public pressure is evidenced by the speed at which oil companies changed their chartering policies and the European Union prepared a tranche of new regulatory requirements. A rationalisation and tightening of the ship inspection regime and a greater level of transparency in the information on both ship condition and the responsible parties associated with the vessel will help weed out substandard operators. However, for full benefits to be achieved, it is important for all principals bearing a share of the responsibility for safe shipping, including shipowners, charterers, flag states, classification societies, insurers and port states, to exercise their obligations and work together towards the common goal. For public fears to be assuaged, it is necessary for all parties to learn from past mistakes and to commit to quality tonnage.

“Tanker pollution has been dramatically reduced over the past two decades, to the extent that tankers are responsible for only about 10 per cent of the oil polluting the sea,” Dagfinn Lunde told the GAOCMAO/SAT meeting. “Of this tanker pollution, approximately 70 per cent is operational and 30 per cent is accidental. INTERTANKO members are committed to reducing legal discharges of oil into the sea and the elimination of all illegal discharges. To achieve these aims, INTERTANKO supports regional efforts to provide reception facilities where existing capabilities are inadequate and current initiatives aimed at providing incentives for ships to deliver their wastes to port rather than dumping them at sea.”

In concluding his presentation, Dagfinn Lunde said that the issue of spill liability had been raised once again as a result of the Erika spill. “By means of the International Oil Pollution Compensation (IOPC) scheme tanker owners and oil importers contribute considerable resources to cover pollution damages and compensation. The scheme has worked effectively in the past but pressure for consideration of increased compensation limits is growing. If this was to happen, rather than place an excessive additional financial burden on the existing parties, it would make commercial sense for oil exporters, the other primary party deriving benefit from the oil trades, to also contribute to the scheme.”

For the full text of the presentation,