The European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) has strengthened its network of stand-by oil spill response vessels by finalising tenders for the Black Sea and North Sea.
In the Black Sea, Romanian shipowner Grup Servicii Petroliere (GSP) will provide a pollution response capability using an offshore supply vessel which services the oilfields off the coast of Romania. In the North Sea, Belgian shipowner DC Industrial will provide a service based on two hopper dredgers which operate in this sea area. All vessels will be pre-fitted and specially equipped for oil spill recovery activities and are expected to enter into operational service during the first half of 2009. The vessels are contracted over the next three years.
Regulation 724/2004/EC gave EMSA the task of assisting EU/EEA Member States in their response to ship-sourced pollution within the Community. Accordingly, a network of pollution response vessels has been phased-in covering the whole of the European coastline. The system is based on the contracted vessels (following technical modifications as per EMSA requirements) being multi-purpose in terms of the types of activities they can perform.
The vessels carry out their normal commercial operations and when needed are transformed, at short notice, into oil spill response vessels. They then operate, deploying “state-of-the-art” specialised equipment, under the operational command of the affected Member State.
Newly Contracted Vessels
In 2008, the Agency launched two tenders in order to conclude contracts for stand-by oil spill recovery vessels - one for the Black Sea and North Sea areas and a second procurement procedure for the Atlantic European coastal area (from Porto, Portugal to and including Brest, France). The latter is still ongoing and it is expected to be finalised in December 2008. With reference to the completion of the first tender, the following contracts have been concluded:
For the Black Sea, EMSA has contracted the ship GSP Orion, based in Constanta, Romania. It is an offshore supply vessel with capacity of 1334 m³ and services the Constanta oilfield area, which is 30–50 nautical miles offshore.
The arrangement for the North Sea area includes two hopper dredgers trading with sand along the Belgian and Dutch coastlines. The vessels contracted are Interballast III (storage capacity 1886 m³) and DC Vlaanderen 3000 (storage capacity 2744 m³). Both vessels are classified by the Bureau Veritas and are Dutch flagged.
(Source: European Maritime Safety Agency)