Port Security Conference

April 11, 2003

EU takes post-Prestige package to IMO
IMO Secretary-General William O'Neil yesterday recived proposals for changes to the MARPOL convention from all 15 European Union member states. Each is a party to the convention.

Effectively, this means that the EU is submitting its "post Prestige" package to the IMO process. What remains to be seen is how the EU will react if any of its proposals are significantly weakened during that process.

The proposed amendments to MARPOL Convention consist of the following measures:

  1. Further acceleration of the single-hull phase-out scheme as follows:
  2. Category 1 tankers by 2005 (currently by 2007 under MARPOL regulation 13G)
    Category 2 tankers by 2010 (currently by 2015)
    Category 3 tankers by 2010 (currently by 2015)

  3. Expanded application of the Condition Assessment Scheme to Category 2 and Category 3 single-hull tankers of 15 yeas of age and over;
  4. Immediate prohibition of the carriage of heavy oil by single-hull tankers over 600 DWT, with a period of grace until 2008 for tankers of less than 5000 DWT.

The proposals will now be circulated among all IMO member states and parties to MARPOL prior to consideration at the 49th session of IMO's Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC)in July.

MEPC will hold an extra meeting in December at which any measures arising from the proposals will be considered for formal adoption. (The June meeting of the IMO Council will be asked to sanction this extra MEPC meeting).This arrangement will give IMO Members the minimum six month period required by the convention to consider any proposed amendments and will allow MARPOL parties to consider introducing new international measures at the earliest date.

So that IMO Member States have as much relevant information as possible when considering the proposals, O'Neil has reactivated the Informal Group of Experts, set up in 2000 to assess the likely effect of post-Erika proposals, to study the impact of the EU proposals. The group will examinse such things as the volume of oil and oil products carried by oil tankers world-wide and by region; the number of single-hull tankers affected by the proposals; the shipyard capacity needed to replace them; and the scrapping capacity of ship-recycling facilities on an annual basis.

The study has to be completed within a very short period of time and will be undertaken by the IMO Secretariat, assisted by independent experts nominated by industry organizations.  The work will be co-ordinated by IMO's Marine Environment Division. The Informal Group is expected to draw on expertise and experience from any available source, including Member Governments and international organizations. 

The study is expected to be finalized by the end of May 2003, for dissemination as soon as possible thereafter for consideration by MEPC 49.

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