Report from the IMO Sub-committee on Bulk Liquid and Gases 9th session (BLG9) – lubes to count as HGO - MSDS for Annex I cargoes

BLG9 met this week to deliberate on the following issues: 

Definition of  'heavy grade oils' (HGO) – As previously reported, the Oil Companies' International Marine Forum (OCIMF) requested IMO to consider that the current definition of HGO is limited to crude oils and fuel oils, excluding a number of other oil products and residuals with the same densities or kinematic viscosities. BLG9, which was tasked with considering amendments to the definition of HGO, has agreed to follow the European Union (EU) Member States' suggestion in preference to the proposal put forward by INTERTANKO. The difference between the two is that the EU proposal will also include lube oils among the HGO, or in other words any oil which has a density at 15˚C higher than 900 Kg/m3 or a kinematic viscosity at 50˚C higher than 180 mm2/s. 

The new amendment will come into force in July 2007. However, BLG 9 decided to suggest a new Unified Interpretation of Regulation 13H and, in practice, introduce this new requirement as soon as possible. The draft Unified Interpretation will replace the words 'fuel oils' in the current definition of the HGO in regulation 13H (2) with the words 'oils'. This seems to be an unprecedented stretch of the use of a Unified Interpretation and INTERTANKO made the point that it would create a serious procedural precedent. 

The final important element on this item is that the main report of the BLG 9 will ensure that, in conformity with the Regulation 13 F, ship Types 2/3 can carry HGO, like lube oils, in centre tanks protected by adequate double bottoms and by wing cargo tanks which carry suitable cargoes other than oil. In brief, as soon as the Unified Interpretation is applied, lube oils will not be permitted to be shipped in single sided wing tanks. 

Marine Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) – BLG 9 has taken an important decision to suggest to the Maritime Safety Committee (MSC) and the Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) a mandatory requirement for cargo owners to provide adequate MSDS for MARPOL Annex I cargoes. INTERTANKO and the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) have strongly recommended it. The task should be easy if the MSC.159(77) Circular is made mandatory. However, unfortunately OCIMF and others indicated that they would soon propose a simplified standard for the MSDS. INTERTANKO and ICS expressed concerns that a simplified form might dilute the current form contained in the above mentioned MSC Circular. 

Structural recommendations for new ships (tankers) – In its submission BLG9/4/1Denmark suggested an IMO circular with possible structural requirements for tankers aimed at increasing the protection of seafarers and their safety onboard. BLG 9 agreed that this is a complex matter and set up a correspondence group to assess the Danish paper and decide whether the right follow up is for mandatory requirements. ISTEC will be invited to consider the matter. 

Contact: Dragos Rauta