January 22, 2003

Oops! EC bans bunker barges?
In its post-Prestige fervor to clean up the tanker industry, the European Commission may have inadvertently drafted proposals that would outlaw most of the European Union's bunker barge fleet.

Ian Adams, secretary general of the International Bunker Industry Association (IBIA) says that proposals by the European Commission for a EU ban on single hull tankers ma says, "The European Commission has proposed a new regulation amending regulation 417/2002 which bans entry into EU ports, offshore terminals or anchorage areas under the jurisdiction of a Member State of single-hull tankers transporting 'heavy grades of oil.' This measure would apply to oil tankers of 600 dwt and above. As drafted, this would effectively outlaw a significant proportion of the current EU bunker barge fleet, as many bunker barges are in effect small tankers within their definition. We believe it could lead to significant supply problems for shipping in EU ports, and we will be asking the Commission to reconsider its proposal, and exclude 'small tankers used in the fueling of ships' from the proposals."

Adams says that IBIA is polling its members to determine how many barges would be affected, and what the impact of the current draft regulations would be. "We shall be asking our members in Europe to lobby their own governments, and we shall also ask the current Greek presidency of Europe to look at this. I believe it is probably all a mistake, and that the Commission has simply not understood the consequences of its actions. We shall seek an amendment to the regulations to allow the bunker barge industry time to adapt to the need for an all double hull barge fleet. We have no problem with the concept, just the timing which could easily lead to real problems for shipping which will not be able to get fuel."

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