Commission proposes legislation to ban single-hulled oil tankers

On 20 December 2002, the European Commission issued legislative proposals to speed up the exclusion of single-hulled oil tankers from EU waters, as promised in a Communication adopted in early December.

The proposal to amend Regulation EC 417/2002 includes three main elements:

  • an immediate ban on the transport of heavy oil grades in single-hulled tankers

Under the new regulation, the carriage of heavy fuel oil, heavy crude oil, waste oils, bitumen and tar in single-hulled tankers would be prohibited with immediate effect.

  • a faster phase-out schedule for all single-hulled oil tankers

In line with the conclusions of the 6 December Transport Council, all single-hulled oil tankers of Erika and Prestige type aged more than 23 years would be banned immediately, while the elimination of more modern ones would take place between 2005 and 2010.

  • stricter controls on tankers having not yet reached the age limit

Inspection of all single-hulled tankers would be reinforced. Tankers of that type would have to comply with the so-called “Condition Assessment Scheme” (CAS), an additional inspection scheme for single-hulled tankers, as from 15 years of age.

The proposed rules are stricter than those applied by the US. According to the Commission, they are aimed not only at reducing the risk of environmental disasters, but also at giving a further boost to the modernisation process of the European tanker industry.

 

According to theInternational Association of Independent Tanker Owners(Intertanko), a ban on single-hulled vessels would distort shipping markets but would not cause widespread disruption, as any shortfall would be made up by modern double-hulled vessels.

 

Following the Prestige accident off the Spanish coast, the Commission announced in its Communication of 3 December 2002, inter alia, legislative measures to improve maritime safety at EU level. One of those was a regulation to ban the carriage of heavy fuel oil in single-hulled oil tankers (seeEURACTIV on 5 December).

At their meeting of 6 December, EU transport ministers opted instead for administrative agreements with their respective industries to achieve the same goal (see

EURACTIV on 9 December).

 

The Commission called on Parliament and Member States to adopt the proposed measures as soon as possible so that they can enter into force in March 2003.

 

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