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Tuesday, October 16, 2018

INTERTANKO at the International Oil Spill Conference, 6-11 April in Vancouver

Taking place at the same time as the INTERTANKO Tanker Event in Washington D.C., the biannual International Oil Spill Conference (IOSC) was held in Vancouver BC, the first time the meeting had been held outside of the United States. The theme of the Conference was ‘Prevention, Preparedness, Response and Restoration – perspectives for a Cleaner Environment’, with a trade fair covering equipment used to combat oil pollution and organisations specialising in oil spill preparedness, INTERTANKO was represented by John Reid of Teekay Shipping and Kristian R. Fuglesang.

John Reid, Teekay’s Director of Health, Safety, Environment and Quality, participated on behalf of INTERTANKO at the opening session in the discussion of Ocean Advocate’s paper: "Oil Spill Prevention: A Proactive Approach".

Mr. Reid illustrated the good development of the tanker industry’s pollution statistics over the years, which he attributed to a number of active measures taken by both the shipping and oil industries as well as the regulators, and thereby challenged some of the remarks made in Ocean Advocate’s paper. This improvement had taken place simultaneously with a marked increase in the trade. However, these good statistics are no consolation to those whose coastlines and livelihoods have been affected by spills and the tanker industry must maintain this improved record, he said. The measures taken included the introduction of the ISM Code, enhanced seafarers’ competence stemming from the STCW regulations, more rigorous Port State Control and a more selective approach by the oil companies in their chartering policies.

Mr. Reid underlined the need for international regulation of an international industry and gave his full support for the work being undertaken in IMO. He referred to the industry’s active participation in IMO, which he saw as beneficial for all, and underlined that IMO is not subservient to the industry, as suggested in the Ocean Advocate’s paper. "This consultation is vital to achieving the best result", he said.

There were many aspects of the paper that deserved the industry’s support, including the emphasis on the need for plans for places of refuge and better provision of reception facilities for oily wastes in ports.

Furthermore, Mr. Reid warned against confusing prompt and adequate compensation of victims of oil pollution with measures aimed at punishing those causing an oil spill.

One of the most important aspects of safety at sea is the proper maintenance of ships. The industry has shown that it is a responsible one, but strict and uniform implementation of internationally agreed standards are also needed to eliminate any rogue operators. The latter objective can also be enhanced through better targeted Port State Controls, and the development in IMO of a Flag State code and audit.

Mr. Reid took issue with those who implied that the tanker industry was only reactive, and referred in this context to the industry’s active and positive contributions to the work in IMO and also mentioned the VOCON procedures as an example of the industry taking good initiatives. In conclusion, Mr. Reid reiterated INTERTANKO’s commitment to maintaining safety, clean seas and freedom of competition, and that the Association would continue to work with all relevant bodies to achieve these objectives through international co-operation.

In his presentation at the special session on the political issues of the Prestige incident, INTERTANKO’s Kristian R. Fuglesang described the political process that had taken place in a European context. He described the European Union’s decision-making process and reported on the course of events so far. The accident had become a very politicised event, with great attention from heads of state and cabinet ministers. This had had the effect of putting very strong political pressure on the European Commission, which had issued suggested measures before their effects had been properly assessed. It now looked likely that the European institutions’ very ambitious timetable may be achieved and that there was a high probability that, for instance, the suggested accelerated phase-out scheme of single-hulled tankers and ban on the transport of heavy grades of oil on single-hulled tankers could be finally adopted and enter into force already in July. The IMO would also discuss these issues in the early summer.

Mr. Fuglesang said that among INTERTANKO’s priorities were:

  • Investigation and learning before any action was taken
  • Uniform and efficient implementation of existing rules
  • Changes in shipping regulations to be done through international negotiations, not through unilateral/regional action

INTERTANKO had provided the European Commission, Member States and the European Parliament with the best possible figures and expert judgement, highlighted the European Union’s international treaty obligations under i.a. MARPOL and UNCLOS, and had strongly supported the "IMO track".

Another important aspect of his presentation was to underline the need for proper planning of places of refuge.

Further details on the Conference can be viewed on INTERTANKO’s web site at:

http://www.intertanko.com/pdf/weeklynews/OilSpillConference6-11April.doc

Contact: Kristian Fuglesang