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Thursday, September 28, 2000

Intertanko calls for "reason" on phase-outs
The Council of Intertanko (the International Association of Independent Tankers Owners) has called on IMO delegates meeting in London next week to agree a single hull tanker phaseout schedule which is reasoned and practical.

The subject of single hull tanker phaseouts is being discussed at the 45th Session of IMO's Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC 45) in London on 2-6 October 2000. The European Commission's proposals on the accelerated phaseout of single hull tankers was the most controversial of a series of three initiatives it launched in the immediate aftermath of the sinking of the tanker Erika last December. As a result of lobbying by a number of governments and industry bodies,says Intertanko, the EC agreed to pursue its proposals through IMO rather than introduce its measures solely as a regulation for EU member states. However, the danger of regional action being taken in Europe remains, should IMO fail to agree a solution deemed to be acceptable.

The initial EC proposal has reached IMO, slightly modified, in the form of a joint submission from France, Belgium and Germany.

This and several other initial proposals call for the accelerated phaseout of single hull tankers according to a schedule that, Intertanko claims, could casue problems for the world shipbuilding and scrapping industries if oil deliveries to global markets are to continue at current levels.

Intertanko says the French/German/Belgian proposal would create peaks in demand for new tonnage which need to be smoothed out.

The Intertanko submission to MEPC 45 is in the nature of an information paper, with comments to the various proposals for single hull phaseout.

Intertanko supports an open discussion of the various proposals at IMO, leading to a reasonable and practical solution. It says it has contributed extensive data to ensure that a final decision is based on comprehensive and accurate information.

The Intertanko proposal calls for entire phase-out to be gradually achieved, in a controlled manner, over the period 2010-2015, in a timetable which aligns, generally, with that specified in the US Oil Pollution Act (OPA 90) requirements for the phase-in of double hull tankers. These and other proposals will be considered at MEPC 45, and it is expected that IMO will finalize the issue at MEPC 46 in April 2001.

Intertanko's main thrust, though, is that there are other measures that also need to be considered when addressing tanker accidents, and not only single hull phaseout. Tanker safety depends on a number of factors, including a quality commitment on the part of all participants in the industry. Intertanko also supports the concept of rigorous casualty investigations prior to the promulgation of the new regulations to ensure the regulatory regime evolves in line with industry's true needs. In addition, the standard of ship inspections needs to be carried out to a uniformly high standard.

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