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Saturday, November 17, 2018

INTERTANKO co-hosts international seminar in Shanghai on Tanker Safety, Pollution Prevention and Spill Preparedness

The International Tanker Owners Pollution Federation (ITOPF), the Oil Companies International Marine Forum (OCIMF) and INTERTANKO jointly hosted an international seminar this week in Shanghai on Tanker Safety, Pollution Prevention and Spill Preparedness. The full day seminar was split into four parts:  
  1. Tanker Safety and Pollution Prevention, chaired by INTERTANKO Chairman Stephen Van Dyck.
  2. Liability and Compensation, chaired by OCIMF Chairman Jan Kopernicki.
  3. Spill Response Management, chaired by ITOPF Chairman Helmut Sohmen.
  4. Panel discussion on Post Spill Studies chaired by ITOPF Managing Director Dr Tosh Moller. 

Session 1 was opened by INTERTANKO’s Chairman, Stephen Van Dyck, who emphasised the need for the industry to be responsible and to seek to continuously improve safety standards to reach the goal of zero oil spills. He highlighted INTERTANKO’s initiative of the Poseidon Challenge, which will take place at the Association’s 2006 Tanker Event. This initiative will bring together industry leaders to set the industry’s collective work programme to strive for zero oil spills.  

The speakers in session 1 included INTERTANKO’s Managing Director Dr. Peter Swift, who spoke on the reliability and efficiency of tanker shipping and its impressive safety and environmental performance record. He highlighted tanker owners’ commitment to continuous improvement and to the fullest cooperation with stakeholders and partners, as well as INTERTANKO members’ goals of zero fatalities, zero pollution and zero detentions. 

In his presentation he covered initiatives and actions to enhance overall tanker safety and pollution prevention, including the sharing and analysing of information. In respect of INTERTANKO’s own recording of serious incidents analysis indicates that machinery and auxiliary machinery failure and bunker quality issues appear today to represent a greater threat to environmental safety than do hull structural failures.  

Collisions (including contacts with piers and docks) and groundings represent approximately 50% of all serious incidents and inevitably most of these occur at or near the berth or during port entry/departure. Thus the tanker shipping industry is putting greater focus on its inter-relationships with port service providers – for example pilots, tug operators, traffic monitoring systems, terminal operators, bunker suppliers, etc .- as well as with local maritime safety agencies. 

While there are general concerns about collisions and groundings, in many ports there are also: 

  • specific problems with chart accuracy;
  • problems caused by the unregulated navigation of smaller ships and coastal craft which routinely fail to observe standard international practices;
  • language difficulties and general communication failures with local authorities;
  • less than ideal terminal facilities and operations and inadequate reception facilities. 

He said that a major port-interface issue for many owners is the large number of ship inspections, not least because of the additional burden (and consequential fatigue) they create for senior ship staff and the distractions they often cause during times of critical cargo operations. When compounded by further new pressures, such as compliance with security and administrative requirements, he suggested, these inspections are potentially more likely to jeopardise rather than enhance safety.  

Turning to other port and coastal considerations Swift said that INTERTANKO has actively supported key IMO Conventions to enhance protection of the marine environment, in particular the Anti Fouling Convention and the Annex VI Protocol on Air Pollution, and has encouraged their early entry in to force, and ratification by all member states. The Association also supports the practical application of the Ballast Water Management Convention.  

To sum up, he said that tanker owners believe that port entry issues, such as those highlighted, deserve more attention than they routinely receive. He reminded the seminar that responsible owners and operators are committed to continuous improvement in overall safety and in the reduction of pollution and are “striving for zero”. However for these shared goals to be achieved, it is important for all industry partners to be similarly committed to continuous improvement in the performance of their respective roles. “Working together we can make a difference,” he concluded.  

The text of Swift's representation and his PowerPoint presentation can be viewed on the INTERTANKO web site at: 

The Seminar was an important step in building up the dialogue between the international industry bodies and the Chinese authorities, including the Shanghai Maritime Safety Administration, the Shanghai Salvage Bureau and the Shangdong Maritime Centre of Judicial Authentication.  

In particular, there was discussion on the international oil spill liability and compensation regime. Måns Jacobsson, Director of the International Oil Pollution Compensation (IOPC) Funds, guided participants through the key provisions of the conventions and claims manual. China has ratified both the 1992 CLC and Fund Conventions. However, with respect to the latter it has made a reservation so that the Fund Convention only applies to Hong Kong (SAR-China). China is currently evaluating whether it should set up its own compensation fund as an interim measure before lifting the reservation on the application of the Fund Convention. This is an issue we will follow closely and on which we will keep members advised. 

The Seminar also touched on issues concerning the application of the CLC and claims evaluation methodology. In particular, it was emphasised that the principle under CLC was that all claims rank equally and any hardship payments made soon after a spill has occurred are to be included in the total sum at which the registered owner is entitled to limited its liability.  

Advice was given that experience has shown that to have an early, professional, agreed appraisal of the impact of the spill would ensure prompt payment of claims. The Conventions do allow for the reasonable cost of such a study to be claimed. 

Contacts: John Fawcett-Ellis and Peter Swift