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April 30, 2001

IMO's MEPC reaches compromise on double hull phase out
The meeting last week of IMO's Marine Environment Protection Committee appears to have endorsed a schedule for the phase out of single hull tankers that will satisfy the demands of the European Community. That means we likely won't see any unilateral EU legislation on single hulls along the linbes of the U.S. OPA 90.

Last week's agreement was apparently a victory for common sense. At one time it was threatened by Brazil's looking for a 25 year phase out for ships that had either double sides only, double bottoms only, or double hulls not meeting the dimensional requirements set by the MARPOL requirement. Brazil has some 10 ships in that last category under its flag.

The compromise reached gave Brazil what it wanted, but assuaged European fears by reserving port states' rights to exclude such tonnage if they see fit. In the words of the official IMO handout on the subject:

"Although the new phase-out timetable sets 2015 as the principal cut-off date for all single-hull tankers, the flag state administration may allow for some newer single hull ships registered in its country that conform to certain technical specifications to continue trading until the 25th anniversary of their delivery.

"However, under the provisions of paragraph 8(b), any Port State can deny entry of those single hull tankers which are allowed to operate until their 25th anniversary to ports or offshore terminals. They must communicate their intention to do this to IMO. The European Community Member States, together with Cyprus and Malta, indicated that they would make use of paragraph 8(b) and would deny port entry to single-hull tankers beyond 2015."

The phase out will be accomplished by revising regulation 13 G of the MARPOL convention. The new regulation will enter into force in September 2002, the earliest possible time permitted under the MARPOL Convention.

The revised regulation identifies three categories of tankers:

  • Category 1 oil tankermeans oil tankers of 20,000 tons deadweight and above carrying crude oil, fuel oil, heavy diesel oil or lubricating oil as cargo, and of 30,000 tons deadweight and above carrying other oils, which do not comply with the requirements for protectively located segregated ballast tanks (commonly known as Pre-MARPOL tankers).
  • Category 2 oil tanker means oil tankers of 20,000 tons deadweight and above carrying crude oil, fuel oil, heavy diesel oil or lubricating oil as cargo, and of 30,000 tons deadweight and above carrying other oils, which do comply with the protectively located segregated ballast tank requirements (MARPOL tankers),
  • Category 3 oil tanker means an oil tanker of 5,000 tons deadweight and above but less than the tonnage specified for Category 1 and 2 tankers.

The basic phase out schedule adopted last week is as follows:

CATEGORY 1

2003 for ships delivered in 1973 or earlier
2004 for ships delivered in 1974 and 1975
2005* for ships delivered in 1976 and 1977
2006* for ships delivered in 1978, 1979 and 1980
2007* for ships delivered in 1981 0r later

* subject to compliance with a Condition Assessment Scheme(CAS)

CATEGORY 2

2003 for ships delivered in 1973 or earlier
2004 for ships delivered in 1974 and 1975
2005 for ships delivered in 1976 and 1977
2006 for ships delivered in 1978 and 1979
2007 for ships delivered in 1980 and 1981
2008 for ships delivered in 1982
2009 for ships delivered in 1983
2010* for ships delivered in 1984
2011* for ships delivered in 1985
2012* for ships delivered in 1986
2013* for ships delivered in 1987
2014* for ships delivered in 1988
2015* for ships delivered in 1989 or later

* subject to compliance with a Condition Assessment Scheme(CAS)

CATEGORY 3

2003 for ships delivered in 1973 or earlier
2004 for ships delivered in 1974 and 1975
2005 for ships delivered in 1976 and 1977
2006 for ships delivered in 1978 and 1979
2007 for ships delivered in 1980 and 1981
2008 for ships delivered in 1982
2009 for ships delivered in 1983
2010 for ships delivered in 1984
2011 for ships delivered in 1985
2012 for ships delivered in 1986
2013 for ships delivered in 1987
2014 for ships delivered in 1988
2015 for ships delivered in 1989 or later

A Condition Assessment Scheme (CAS) will have to be applied to all Category 1 vessels continuing to trade after 2005 and all Category 2 vessels after 2010. A resolution adopting the CAS was passed at the meeting.

Although the CAS does not specify structural standards in excess of the provisions of other IMO conventions, codes and recommendations, its requirements stipulate more stringent and transparent verification of the reported structural condition of the ship and that documentary and survey procedures have been properly carried out and completed.

The requirements of the CAS include enhanced and transparent verification of the reported structural condition and of the ship and verification that the documentary and survey procedures have been properly carried out and completed. The Scheme requires that compliance with the CAS is assessed during the Enhanced Survey Program of Inspections concurrent with intermediate or renewal surveys currently required by IMO resolution A.744(18), as amended.

The existing MARPOL regulation 13G, adopted in 1992, already legislated for the phasing-out of single-hull tankers but over a more protracted period which would have allowed some ships to continue trading until their 30th anniversary.

The MARPOL amendments follow amendments adopted by IMO in October 2000 to raise by 50 percent the limits of compensation payable to victims of pollution by oil from oil tankers under the International Convention on Civil Liability for Oil Pollution Damage (CLC Convention) and the International Convention on the Establishment of an International Fund for Compensation for Oil Pollution Damage (IOPC Fund).

In addition, IMO’s Maritime Safety Committee (MSC) in December 2000 adopted amendments to the guidelines on the enhanced programme of inspections during surveys of bulk carriers and oil tankers (resolution A.744(18)) with relation to the evaluation of the longitudinal strength of the hull girder of oil tankers. Furthermore, IMO has taken action on several other operational matters and its Committees and Sub-Committees are incorporating work programme items relating to a list of measures aimed at enhancing safety and minimizing the risk of oil pollution, drawn up in response to the Erika incident

Click here to download the text of the resolution adopted by the MEPC, including the full phase out schedule and more details on the Condition Assessment Scheme

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