#13 MEETING OF INTERTANKO’S NORTH AMERICAN PANEL

Regulatory developments within maritime security were the dominant theme of the North American Panel meeting and a high priority was given to the strategy related to shipowners’ liability in the event of a terrorist attack resulting in pollution.

Regulatory developments within maritime security were the dominant theme of the North American Panel meeting. The prospects of IMO concluding most of its deliberations this autumn are good and consequently there is some hope that the US could “absorb” these into its domestic rulemaking. The Panel agreed on a pragmatic approach with regard to the issue of ship crews obtaining US visas and identified the important aspects that needed to be addressed. INTERTANKO will continue to have meetings with INS and the State Department to seek practical solutions to avoid further humiliating situations for foreign crews calling at US and to minimize the requirement for armed guards.

 

A high priority was given to the strategy related to shipowners’ liability in the event of a terrorist attack resulting in pollution. OPA 90, because it imposes strict initial liability on the owner/operator as the responsible party, might lead to substantial, uninsurable liability in the event of a terrorist attack resulting in the release of large quantities of oil or other hazardous cargoes. The P&I pollution coverage would possibly not be available from the first dollar when the cause of the discharge is a quasi-military action such as a terrorist strike against a vessel. To further complicate matters, the proposed vessel security requirements contained in US draft legislation would substantially increase the regulatory burden on owner/operators to create security systems. Because the liability limits under US law are breached in cases of violation of regulations, additional regulatory obligations that might be deemed violated by a successfulterrorist action raise the possibility that liability limits could be breached. The Panel took note of the joint industry efforts, in which INTERTANKO is playing an active role, to make the US Congress aware of these consequences and to protect owners, operators and their insurers through legislative amendments to pending Port Security legislation.

 

The Panel also had the benefit of a presentation given by Odd Hassel of Cambridge Energy Research Associates (CERA). It was indeed interesting to learn that, in the current geo-political circumstances, it is almost impossible to predict the future of the tanker market in the short term. The energy supply in the near future will be influenced by the fear of terrorism, fear of globalisation and concern for possible US unilateral actions. There are a few positive signs that society has gone from a “fear of recession” to “hope of recovery” feeling but this is a very delicate equilibrium which could be upset by unwise political moves. Since oil prices are influenced more by political events than the supply and demand mechanism of a free market, the future of the tanker market is very much dependent on political developments in the near future.

 

The other issues discussed were: multiple inspections of tankers and a strategy to reduce them, an insight into the mechanism of emission trading, pilotage and how INTERTANKO should proceed further in its relationship with American Pilots, the launch of the INTERTANKO Terminal Vetting Programme and members’ participation, as well as a number of US pending regulations (Air Emissions from Category 3 engines; Salvage and Firefighting requirements) and a Final Rule (Tank Level and Pressure Monitoring devices). All these regulations are extremely critical in the sense that they are either impossible to comply with (TLPM), completely unjustified and unfairly applied to the tanker industry alone (salvage and firefighting) or too ambitious and inefficient since they deviate from the well defined international standards (air pollution). In each of these, INTERTANKO, together with other industry representatives, will continue to seek corrective action, including the withdrawal of the proposals.

 

The NAP #13 meeting and INTERTANKO members’ representatives attending the meeting had the benefit of representatives from the USCG, American Waterway Operators, American Petroleum Institute, Chamber of Shipping of America and the Chemical Carriers Association, which facilitated a broader discussion and the development of consensus for joint action.

 

The INTERTANKO Secretariat was represented by Peter Swift, Svein Ringabkken, Howard Snaith, Anders Baardvik and Dragos Rauta. The meeting was chaired by Richard du Moulin, Intrepid Shipping LLC.

 

A further report will be given in the next Weekly NEWS.

For more information, please

Contact: Dragos Rauta, e-mail: dragos.rauta@intertanko.com.