An update on the Panama Canal SOPEP (PCSOPEP) requirements

As members will be aware, INTERTANKO has been engaged in a long discussion with the Panama Canal Authority (ACP) on the proposals to require a special Shipboard Oil Pollution Emergency Plan (SOPEP) for transiting the Panama Canal. Regular updates have been given via our Weekly NEWS, which also contains our latest letter to the ACP on this issue.

Following the various letters and comments submitted to ACP, INTERTANKO has now received Advisory to Shipping A-25-2004 from the ACP updating the requirements for PCSOPEPs that ACP will make effective on the 1 January 2005. the ACP has made changes to the Oil Spill Removal Organisation (OSRO) and Qualified Individual (Q.I.). The requirements will apply to all toll-paying vessels that transit the Panama Canal with 400MT or more carrying capacity of oil as cargo and/or fuel.

Below is an overview of the revised requirements:

  • The ACP will act as the sole Oil Spill Response Organisation (OSRO) to provide emergency response to oil spills in Canal waters
  • The Qualified Individual (Q.I.) has been replaced bv the "Authorized Person",
  • The changes will require additional investment by the ACP; accordingly a fee will be assigned to transiting vessels carrying 400 mt or more of oil as cargo or fuel. This fee will depend upon the vessel’s tier classification and hull construction and will be advised over the next few weeks by the ACP.
  • With proper cross references, existing SOPEPs or SMPEPs (Shipboard Marine Pollution Emergency Plans) may be used as the base but cannot substitute for a PCSOPEP
  • Appendix C in the guidelines gives details for preparing the PCSOPEP as an appendix to an existing SOPEP
  • PCSOPEPs must be submitted to ACP for verification. If they satisfy the requirements ACP will issue a notice of acknowledgement valid for 2 years which must be carried onboard the vessel
  • Vessels must keep documented records for 3 years of at least 2 PCSOPEP drills a year

Contact: Howard Snaith