EC ANNOUNCES TIGHTER TIMETABLE TO RESTRICT SINGLE-HULL TANKERS
Under pressure to act following the recent oil spill of the single-hull tanker “Prestige” off the Spanish coast, the European Commission has announced a proposal to ban single-hull tankers from European waters if they carry heavy fuel oil, and to phase out all other single-hull tankers by 2010.
“No single-hull oil tanker will be allowed to carry heavy fuel oil in the European Union once the proposal presented (Friday) by the European Commission is adopted by Council and Parliament,” a spokesman for the Brussels-based body said.
The EC referred to the sinking of the “Erika” in 1999 and of the “Prestige” in November 2002. The “Prestige,” a 26-year-old vessel that flew the Bahamas flag, carried about 70,000 tons of oil.
All single-hull oil tankers of the “Erika” and “Prestige” type aged more than 23 years will be banned from the EU immediately, if the European Commission proposal is approved.
The proposal calls for the elimination of more modern single-hull tankers between 2005 and 2010.
The proposed European phase-out for single-hull tankers by 2010 compares with the existing timetable of the United States to phase out all remaining single-hull tankers by 2015.
The EC also proposed that, during the phasing-out period, those tankers that have not yet reached the age limit will be subject to stricter safety inspections.
“In view of the catastrophic consequences of the ‘Prestige’ accident, the Commission urges the European Parliament and the Council to adopt these measures as soon as possible so that they can enter into force no later than March 2003,” it said.
The EC reported that the share of double-hull tonnage in the world tanker fleet has gone up from 30 to 50 percent over the last three years, while another 60 million tons of double-hull ships has been ordered from shipyards.