Following discussions at IMO Bulk Liquid and Gases Sub-Committee’s 10th Session (BLG 10) this week regarding proposals by Spain and Mexico to amend Annex I of MARPOL to prevent marine pollution during Oil Transfer operations at Sea (STS Operations), an IMO Correspondence Group has been inaugurated to address these issues.

INTERTANKO commented in the plenary discussion that whilst we expressed our support in principle to the concept of regulations regarding certain aspects of STS operations, we nevertheless held some concerns that, before agreeing to such regulations, there should first be demonstrated a compelling need to instigate such regulations.  INTERTANKO also expressed some concern that bunkering operations and STS operations appeared to be regarded as effectively the same operation within the proposals and highlighted that although both involved the transfer of oil there were none the less significant differences and that they should not necessarily be covered by the same requirements.  INTERTANKO also requested that the question of banning STS operations in MARPOL special areas and/or PSSA's needed careful consideration and should be reviewed by the IMO Legal Committee.  In addition, INTERTANKO highlighted that there was an associated risk that such regulations could force these operations further offshore and subject vessels to worse sea conditions and potentially greater risks.

BLG concluded that an IMO Correspondence Group would be incorporated that would investigate options further. 

The Terms of Reference for this Group are as follows:  

  • To develop a new Chapter 8 of the revised MARPOL Annex 1 containing draft regulations for the prevention of marine pollution during oil transfer operations between ships at sea on the basis of Annex 1 to document BLG 10/15 in particular
  • To explore if additional generic requirements are necessary for special areas and PSSA's taking into account the sub-committee’s decision that a total ban is considered inappropriate
  • To consider whether different requirements should apply to STS bunkering operations
  • To further consider the advantages and disadvantages of including FPSO's and FSO's in the scope of the new Chapter 8.

INTERTANKO will be participating in the Correspondence Group and will keep members advised.

Click here to download a copy of the full submission and proposals made by Spain and Mexico.

Contact: Howard Snaith