IMO BLG 12 and regulations concerning ship-to-ship (STS) operations

Last week the IMO's Bulk, Gas and Liquids Sub-committee (BLG) met and discussed forthcoming regulations concerning ship-to-ship (STS) transfer operations.


Currently, there are no specific regulations in any mandatory IMO instrument, but this may soon be changed. The issue was initially introduced at the IMO in 2006 by the Governments of Spain and Mexico, with a proposal to regulate both transfer operations involving oil as cargo and as bunkers through MARPOL, in order to protect the marine environment.


The issue has now been widely debated for two years, and at last week's meeting the IMO finally agreed on a draft regulation, which will be forwarded to the IMO's Marine Environmental Protection Committee (MEPC 58) in October for further consideration and approval.


INTERTANKO, together with its industry partners the Oil Companies' International Marine Forum (OCIMF) and the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS), has been heavily involved in the negotiations, and was of the view that the regulation should be applicable neither to bunkering operations nor to FPSOs and FSUs. At last week's negotiations it was finally agreed to exclude its application to bunkering operations, FPSOs and FSUs, although several delegations expressed the view that such operations should be further regulated by the IMO.


As the draft regulation currently reads it will require any oil tanker that undertakes STS operations to:


·         have an Administration-approved STS plan, based on industry best practice - it could possibly be incorporated into the ship's SMS manual;


·         notify the relevant coastal party if such operations are planned to be undertaken within the territorial sea or the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of a party. The notification should include the ship's name; flag; IMO number; date, time and geographical location of the commencement of the operation; oil type and quantity; planned duration etc.


It is anticipated that the draft regulation will be further discussed at MEPC 58 as some Governments are of the opinion that the regulation could violate the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), due to its application within the EEZ.


INTERTANKO will continue to monitor the issue and report on any further developments.


Contact: Fredrik Larsson