IMO meeting to consider proposals for accelerated single-hull tanker phase-out, new regulation on carriage of heavy fuel oil

Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) - 50th session: 1 and 4 December 2003

IMO's Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) meets on 1 and 4 December to consider the adoption of proposals for an accelerated phase-out scheme for single hull tankers, along with other measures including an extended application of the Condition Assessment Scheme (CAS) for tankers and a proposal for a regulation banning the carriage of Heavy Grades of Oil (HGO) in single-hull tankers.

The proposed amendments to the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships, 1973, as modified by the Protocol of 1978 relating thereto (MARPOL 73/78) were initially discussed during the forty-ninth session of the Committee in July, during which it was agreed to hold the additional MEPC session in December (the next regular session will meet as scheduled in March-April 2004).

IMO Secretary-General Mr. William O'Neil noted that IMO was the appropriate place for consideration of the proposals, and stated that there was no room for unilateral measures.

"It is imperative that safety, security and environmental standards be established on the basis that they will be applied globally. The role of IMO as the prime forum for technical matters affecting international shipping should also be fully recognized," Mr. O'Neil said.

Calling on all IMO Members and MARPOL Parties to work together to ensure the success of the December session of the MEPC, Mr. O'Neil stressed that they should also act in accordance with all of their obligations under the MARPOL Convention.

"Shipping is an international industry serving the overwhelming percentage of global trade and the world economy and it is therefore vital that any standards affecting the industry be developed and adopted by the international community through IMO," Mr. O'Neil said.

Mr. O'Neil said he would urge delegates to ensure their decisions were "realistic, pragmatic and well-balanced so that they will not cause or lead to any negative repercussions which might:

- damage the concept of universality in the regulation of shipping;
- discriminate against other regions of the world;
- have negative repercussions on the supply of oil;
- undermine the authority of IMO;
- confuse the industry as to which regulations prevail; and
- permit other regions to create their own regimes if in disagreement with IMO."

Following the July MEPC meeting, a number of points within the overall context of the proposed draft amendments to MARPOL were left in square brackets (awaiting final decision). The current meeting will seek to finalize the draft text for adoption.

The MEPC will meet at IMO Headquarters in London, 1 and 4 December 2003, under the chairmanship of Mr. Andreas Chrysostomou (Cyprus). The meeting runs concurrently with the 23rd session of the IMO Assembly which meets from 24 November to 5 December 2003.

The proposals to amend MARPOL 73/78, initially submitted by all the fifteen Member States of the European Union, called for further acceleration of the phase-out timetable for single-hull tankers, an immediate ban on the carriage of heavy grades of oil in single-hull tankers and for the Condition Assessment Scheme (adopted in 2001 in the wake of the 1999 Erika incident) to be applied to tankers of 15 years of age and above.

The status of the proposals following MEPC 49 in July 2003 is as follows, with further discussion scheduled for the current MEPC session:

- The MEPC has agreed on an accelerated phase-out for Category 1 tankers (pre-MARPOL tankers). This would bring forward the final phasing-out date for these tankers to 2005, from 2007.
- The proposal to bring forward the phasing-out of category 2 and 3 tankers (MARPOL tankers and smaller tankers) to 2010, from 2015 received some support in principle at MEPC 49, but there was also concern relating to the phase-out of tankers of less than 20 years old in 2010 that this would lead to. There was a suggested proposal, for further consideration in December, which could see the operational life of these tankers extending to 2015 or until the ship reaches a specified age (e.g. 20, 23 or 25 years), subject to satisfactory results from the Condition Assessment Scheme (CAS).
- The MEPC has agreed, in principle, that the CAS should be applied to single-hull tankers of 15 years, or older (as against being applicable to all Category 1 vessels continuing to trade after 2005 and all Category 2 vessels after 2010).
- The MEPC has noted the proposed consequential enhancements to the CAS scheme which would be needed.
- In relation to the proposed draft regulation on the carriage of Heavy Grades of Oil (HGO) in single-hull tankers, which would ban the carriage of HGO in single-hull tankers, the MEPC has agreed on the need for further technical discussion at the December meeting of the proposed new regulation 13H on Prevention of oil pollution when carrying heavy grades of oil, in particular in relation to the physical properties of heavy grades of oil (including their definition, in relation to density and/or kinematic viscosity) and in pollution combating.


IMO - the International Maritime Organization - is the United Nations specialized agency with responsibility for the safety of shipping and the prevention of marine pollution by ships.

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Lee Adamson, Senior External Relations Officer on 020 7587 3153 ( or Natasha Brown, External Relations Officer on 020 7587 3274 (