THE MARINE LOG FEATURES CALENDAR FOR 2003
June 5, 2003
EU presses ahead with post-Prestige measures
INTERTANKO says that it now seems clear that the European Commission, the EU Member States, and the European Parliamentan have reached an agreement on the Post-Prestige accelerated phase-out of single hull tankers, the ban on single hull tankers carrying heavy fuel oil and the wider introduction of CAS.
INTERTANKO says everything is set for the adoption of the proposal in early June, keeping it on track for entry into force by July 1, 2003. In the meantime, the IMO is about to consider the EU's submission for similar regulations at an international level.
Following the Council of Transport Ministers' s informal agreement, reached on March 27, the three institutions cooperated closely in order to facilitate the quick passage of the proposal through the legislative process.
On March 27, says INTERTANKO, the Council of Ministers agreed on a definition of heavy oil as oils of a density equal to, or lower than, an API grade 25.7, while also attempting to bring the phase out schedule more in line with OPA-90. Ministers also agreed to provide a transition period until 2008 for banning the transport of heavy oil on single hull tankers in the tonnage segments between 600 and 5000 dwt.
On April 30, the report of the European Parliament's Rapporteur, Wilhelm Piecyk, was discussed in the Transport Committee. It was clear that Mr Piecyk had based his report on the Council's agreement. His report was adopted almost unanimously, indicating that it has the support of all the political parties in the European Parliament.
First reading votes were to be held in the plenary of the European Parliament on June and in the Council on June 5/6. Given the agreement between the institutions, says INTERTANKO, it is almost certain that the proposal will be passed at this first reading. It will then be published in the Official Journal and will enter into force 20 days later.
In fact, the European Parliament duly passed the measure yesterday and issued this statement:
Never a "Prestige" or an "Erika" disaster again! This was the clear message from the European Parliament this morning when it adopted a legislative resolution by 501 votes in favour, 5 against and 14 abstentions on double hull or equivalent design requirements for oil tankers. Old, unsafe and dangerous oil tankers like the 26 year old single-hull tanker "Prestige" will no longer be allowed to transport oil in EU waters. In future, heavy grades of oil will be transported by double hull tankers only. MEPs demanded a "full steam ahead" for the entry into force of the new rules by 1 September 2003 at the latest and therefore refrained from a second reading. It was generally felt that the adoption of this report will contribute considerably to more maritime safety in EU waters.
The main points adopted in the resolution are the following:
* the accelerated phase-out for so-called Category 2 tankers , generally constructed between 1982 and 1986, should also be extended to Category 3 tankers, which are smaller and are often operating in regional traffic. These category would therefore have to be phased out by 2010 instead of 2015 as had been proposed;
* all tankers of the Erika and Prestige type (category 1) may be operated only up to the age of 23 years and no later than 2005;
* the new rules should also apply to vessels leaving ports and offshore terminals and those anchoring in areas under the jurisdiction of a Member State;
* in order not to jeopardise the EU's oil supply, Parliament adds a new clause providing for a transitional period (until 2008) for smaller tankers with a deadweight of less than 5000 tonnes. To ensure that oil supplies are not endangered in the northern regions of the EU (i.e. the Baltic Sea) a new clause has been introduced providing for a two-year transitional period for single hull tankers equipped with special ice protection equipment.
The consequence of the entry into force of these new rules is that the EU and the candidate countries urgently need new and better oil tankers. It is generally hoped that these vessels will not be built at cheaper Korean shipyards, but by EU shipbuilders, even at a higher price. The EU owes this to the citizens of Europe, to the environment and to those affected in the fishing and tourism industries, following the terrible shipping accidents of recent years, MEPs believe. And only this week there was a new incident with a Chinese vessel off the Swedish coast, which also underlines the fact that the new legislation cannot come into place too early.
Loyola de Palacio, Vice-President of the European Commission in charge of transport and energy, welcomed the Parliament's. "These are spectacular steps ahead which are taking place," she said, "and I am very happy to see these crucial initiatives finally approved by the European parliament, which paves the way for a definitive adoption and an entry into force in the coming weeks. The agreement on the accelerated phasing out of the single hull tankers, as well as the prohibition of carriage of heavy oil in single hulls, only 7 months after the Prestige disaster, are a very strong signal for increased maritime safety: Europe was able to react"
INTERTANKO notes that a group of experts within the IMO has been examining a submission made by the EU, EC and 15 member states, based on this proposal. The Marine Environment and Protection Committee will examine it in July and may take it forward to a vote during a yet-to-be agreed specially convened MEPC meeting in December. There is a strong disagreement between the IMO and EU legal services as to whether it will be necessary for the EU Member States to denounce parts of MARPOL before they can implement new legislation in this area.
It is however clear, says INTERTANKO, that the EU states will press ahead with the proposal as it is at present. Many MEPs and EU Member States have indicated their preference for international rules but have claimed that the IMO is not capable of acting quickly enough to meet their concerns hence the need for regional rules.