North American Panel meeting in Stamford, CT

The Panel was made aware of the recent cessation of the Chemical Carriers Association’s (CCA) activities and its members’ decision to continue the same work in a consolidated form within the INTERTANKO Chemical Tanker Committee. The latter will soon establish its own North American Chemical Tanker Sub-Committee. It was recognized that such an integrated structure would be to the benefit of all chemical tanker operator members of INTERTANKO.

The Panel also had a long discussion on post-Prestige events. NAP was keen to address the matter from a crisis management point of view and consider what lessons could be learned from this accident. NAP has endorsed the recommendation to the Council that all tankers registered with INTERTANKO should be enrolled in an Emergency Response System. This could be an additional membership criterion.

The forthcoming security regulations were another important topic addressed. There seems still to be many inconsistencies in the application of the current security measures, particularly the measures taken by a number of terminals. There are many terminals that have adopted a permanent high security level, which creates disruption of ship activities, typically occurring when the ship is at berth. It was reported that the USCG had requested a tanker to wait for an onboard inspection, but even more than 24 hours after the due time and after the ship had moved back and forth at the CG’s request, the inspection never took place. The cost of the delay was left with the ship.

Lack of legal protection against terrorist attacks for tanker owners is an important item on the NAP agenda. The Panel, in cooperation with other shipowners’ associations and with the P&I Clubs is seeking a usable and workable defence against the cost of clean-up and other related claims which could result from a terrorist attack on a tanker. It is a very slow process and it is of concern that although the new Terrorist Reinsurance Act of 2002 might offer some coverage, this applies only to ships engaged in a MARAD programme. It is also acknowledged that the current limit of USD 400 million coverage is not adequate and might need to be increased. NAP would thus like to see (1) all tankers included under a larger coverage and (2) OPA 90 amended by the addition of a definition for terrorism to the extent that the possible consequences from a terrorist attack are treated in the same way as those from an act of war. The Panel assessed as unlikely that an increase of the USD 400 million coverage would have a detrimental impact on small shipping companies.

The Terminal Vetting Project seems to be a success and the handling of it has been transferred from the NAP to the Vetting Committee. Some oil company representatives have contacted INTERTANKO with a request for information on the assessment of their individual terminals.

INTERTANKO’s North American Panel disagrees with the USCG's new policy requiring prior agreement from the oil terminal to provide AMPD coverage. It has already been proven that terminals will refuse to do this and thus vessels will have to arrange their own separate cover. This will result in duplication of resources and possible additional costs, a situation the regulations were intending specifically to avoid. NAP approved the action taken so far by INTERTANKO and agreed that we have to insist that the USCG revisit their suggestion or implement a change or rulemaking process with adequate cost-efficiency assessment.

Other issues addressed by NAP’s 14th session were: 2002 Update of the PTS Study, EPA Final Rule on Category 3 engines, developments in Lake Charles, as related to pilotage and developments on the issue of exclusive tug contracts on lower Mississippi.

INTERTANKO recently issued a brochure entitled ‘INTERTANKO in North America’, which can be viewed here.

Dragos Rauta