INTERTANKO supports International Oil and Chemical Spill Conference held in Singapore

The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore this week held its International Oil and Chemical Spill Conference. The theme of the conference was “Cleaner seas – improved safety and security vs liability and compensation”. The conference was opened by Minister Yeo Cheow Tong, Minister of Transport.


A distinguished list of speakers included two INTERTANKO members from Singapore, Mr Joseph Kwok, CEO, American Eagle Tankers Inc., and Capt AR Sabnis, Managing Director, TESMA Singapore Pte. Ltd. Copies of their papers are available here.

Mr Kwok spoke in a session focusing on the impact of the Prestige incident and concentrated on the shipowners’ perspective. Other speakers included Mr F. Cabioch, Head of the “Intervention” team from the Centre for Documentation, Research, and Experimentation for Accidental Water Pollution (CEDRE), and Mr J. van Rooij, Managing Director of SMIT Salvage BV. The Panel discussion which followed tackled the subjects of places of refuge, the phase-out of single hull tankers as well as maritime security.


Capt Sabnis presented a paper entitled “Ship Vetting for Pollution Prevention – Can it be better standardised?” The paper noted the progress that has already been made through the SIRE scheme but questioned whether even more could be done to harmonise vetting. Whilst a one-size-fits-all approach would be preferable, in practice it has to be accepted that industry players can only work on fine-tuning the current system.

A session on the international oil spill liability and compensation regime provoked an interesting exchange between the speakers. Dr M. Girin, CEDRE, attempted to speak from the public’s view point and more particularly the French public’s perspective in the wake of the Erika and Prestige incidents. His view was that the public will not tolerate any more spills and looked for immediate compensation. Dr T Moller, Managing Director of ITOPF, retorted that given the lessons learnt in the Prestige incident in particular, perhaps the public might demand that the authorities take a more responsible attitude and offer a safe haven for the vessel so that the oil may be removed with little pollution rather than sending the vessel out into a storm and risking the pollution of hundreds of kilometres of coastline. Dr Moller also pointed out that for every one disgruntled victim of a pollution incident there were probably ten times as many that were content with the compensation they had received.

Contact: John Fawcett-Ellis