Korean government to phase out single-hulled tankers in 2010

INTERTANKO has just heard that Korean registered single-hull tankers and single-hull tankers calling at Korean ports will be banned after their delivery date in 2010, including ships with double bottom (or side) only. This was decided on Wednesday this week at a meeting hosted by the Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries (MOMAF). Government officials, the Korean Petroleum Association, refinery companies, the Korea Shipowners' Association and ship owner company representatives were present at the meeting. However, long term chartered ships for coastal voyages only will be allowed to continue trading until end of 2011.


Prior to this ban however, Korean refinery companies, under the guidance of the government and the Korean Petroleum Association, will reduce their commitment to single-hull tankers carrying crude oil from 42% of the total this year (2008) to 30% in 2009. This policy will be implemented as of 31 January 2008.


Furthermore it is understood that certain charterers controlling single-hull tonnage have already requested an extension until 31 December 2010. Officials advised that the extension request will be considered based on another hearing from the parties concerned.


Up to this moment, South Korea had opted to allow single-hull tankers to trade beyond 2010, as per the IMO MARPOL regulation, but not those carrying heavy grade oils. See Implementation Policies on the INTERTANKO website for the South Korean government's current notification to the IMO on single-hull phase-out which is now likely to be superseded.


In light of the government's discussions, the Korean National Oil Company (KNOC) is understood to be preparing to fully implement the state requirement as announced. However, at present, and until advised, the current vetting requirements for KNOC stand.


GS Caltex, however, has been quoted as stating that it will not use single-hull tankers after the end of 2009. Meanwhile the company is believed to be implementing measures to progressively reduce the number of single-hulled vessels being used between now and the yet-to-be-specified end date in 2009.


Finally, SK Energy announced earlier this week that it would follow GS Caltex in banning the use of single-hull tankers during 2009. Again, no specific date has been forthcoming.


While analysts and brokers alike speculate on the effect of such measures being introduced by refiners and the government in South Korea, INTERTANKO will continue to seek clarification on the measures by using statements from the source.


In the international news, and from various industry sources, there have been a number of reports relating to the accelerated phase-out of single-hull tankers by both the South Korean government as well as major South Korean charterers. INTERTANKO has been in communication with its members in the region and hopes that this update and clarification of the various requirements and recommendations issued over the past three weeks will keep our members right up to date.


Contact: Tim Wilkins