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Sunday, December 17, 2017

INTERTANKO Council discusses key industry issues after no-nonsense address by Netherlands Transport Minister

The highlight of INTERTANKO’s Council meeting in Amsterdam was the dinner address by the Netherlands Minister of Transport and Public Works Karla Peijs. In a no-nonsense, yet human and humorous speech, the Minister called for enforcement of rules (not just ratification and implementation) as well as for a harmonisation of rules. She also called for a better relationship between the European Union (EU) and the International Maritime Organization (IMO), with regional measures introduced only to make global policy work properly, and with restraint on introducing new measures in the wake of disasters.

The Minister criticised the shipping industry for its high emission levels, and urged EU Member States to ratify MARPOL Annex VI as a first step to reducing these emissions.

She concluded that port states, flag states and the shipping industry are all working together to eliminate substandard ships and that by making the proper choices “we can help make the seas a safer place and so improve the still somewhat tarnished image of international shipping”.

The revisions to the international regime on oil spill liability and compensation were high on the agenda of the Council meeting itself. Subsequent to the increase in limits under CLC/FC (the Civil Liability Convention and Fund Convention) and the establishment of the Supplementary Fund (SF) taking total compensation to SDR750m, the International Oil Pollution Compensation (IOPC) Fund’s Working Group is now examining whether there needs to be a more fundamental revision of the regime.

Chairman of the Association’s Insurance Committee Ken Marshall explained that the revisionists are calling for a regime that seeks to penalise sub-standard operators, whereas the status quo lobby (which includes the shipowners) is advocating that the current regime compensates spill victims in an effective way and is not an appropriate tool for penalising sub-standard operators. He stated that the nations in favour of revision and those against are now fairly evenly balanced.

The second big issue facing the Council was goal-based standards (GBS). Post-Prestige pressure for flag administrations to become more accountable for the lifelong standards of ships they register prompted Greece and the Bahamas, both dissatisfied with the strength and durability of ships built under the current system, to suggest to the IMO that it should play a larger role in determining newbuilding standards.

INTERTANKO, via its Safety, Technical and Environmental Committee (ISTEC), endorses the IMO initiative on GBS which should, it says, be defined in a manner that is verifiable, demonstrable and clear, encompassing the elements and standards that would frame the scope of regulations for both the design of ships and for their proper construction.

One point for discussion was the Association’s belief that ‘proper maintenance’ and ‘proper operations’ should not be part of the GBS for ship construction since they are not clearly defined and could become a loophole in that any ship proved unfit for her entire design life would be assumed to have been improperly maintained/operated.

Concern was expressed at the discrepancies in timing and philosophy between the Joint Tanker Project and the Joint Bulker Project, and at the prospect of ending up with two sets of Common Rules.

Contact: Anders Baardvik