Indian ship owners engaged in transportation of crude are a relieved bunch now that the life of a large chunk of their assets stands to get extended as the Government is reconciled to the fact that the country could not hope to switch over to a double hull tanker regime totally by 2010, the deadline earlier set by the International Maritime Organization (IMO), according to BusinessLine.
The Indian Government, the report says, is non-committal about conversion of single hull tankers into double hull, with the result the present tankers will continue to operate, cost of transportation of oil will continue to be at the current levels for some more years to come and the consumers will continue to benefit. After all, the conversion is a costly process. Also, the shipyards being too busy with new constructions have little time for the conversion job.
The Shipping Minister was recently quoted as saying that the present market condition being what it was none of the existing single hull tankers could be offered for conversion into double hull by 2010.
It might be noted that only around 40 per cent of the country's tanker fleet is now of the double hull type as against the international position of around 70 per cent. The Minister conceded that at least 30 per cent of the present single hull tankers needed immediate conversion, but was not be possible by 2010.
Meanwhile, IMO is believed to have indicated that single hull tanker could operate even beyond 2010 provided their age was less than 25 years. However, under no circumstances would these tankers be allowed to operate beyond 2015. In other words, the deadline is 2015 or 25 years whichever is earlier. According to Intertanko, some of the countries accepting single hull tankers beyond 2010 include Japan, Singapore and Panama. The same is true about the port of Fujairah and Hong Kong, but Hong Kong will accept ships up to 20 years of age.
As on July 2006, India's crude tanker fleet comprised 49 vessels totalling 5.497 million dwt, of which 19 vessels totalling 1.175 million dwt were more than 20 years old. There were six tankers (849,289 dwt) between 15 and 19 years, eight tankers (13,76,385 dwt) between 10 and 14 years, three tankers (304,432 dwt) between five and nine years and under five years 13 tankers (17,91,418 dwt).