International Maritime Organization agrees to ban single-hull tankers by 2010

By OGJ editors
HOUSTON, Dec. 9 -- The International Maritime Organization (IMO) Environment Protection Committee agreed to accelerate the phase out of single-hull tankers from international waters by 2010 instead of a previous deadline of 2015.

The IMO also said that heavy grades of oil transported across international waters must be carried in double-hull tankers, subject to certain exemptions. The announcements came out of London last week.

In response, the International Association of Independent Tanker Owners (Intertanko) said the IMO was "the appropriate body for promulgating international shipping legislation."

The European Union had advocated stricter laws regarding single-hull tankers (OGJ Online, Apr. 8, 2003). Tanker safety prompted intense debate in the international community after the Prestige tanker sank off northwestern Spain (OGJ Online, Nov. 27, 2002).

The IMO decision to phase out all singe-hull tankers by 2010 includes a provision that allows some single-hull vessels until 2015 or until the vessel has been in use for 25 years, whichever is earlier. In addition, these vessels must adhere to a newly strengthened condition assessment scheme.

Jefferies & Co. Inc. analyst S. Magnus Fyhr of Houston called the announcement "extremely positive." He expects the tanker market will continue to remain tight and that increasing global oil demand should result in tanker demand growth of 3%/year.

"While 2003 has been one of the strongest tanker markets on record, we believe that tanker supply-demand balance will remain very tight and result in continued firm tanker rates in 2004 and 2005," he said.

"In addition, given increased competition for shipyard capacity from LNG and dry bulk sectors, we believe there will be a challenge for the tanker industry to build tankers to meet increasing trade growth," Fyhr said.


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