International Seminar Attracts a Crowd

Thursday, November 07, 2002
Close to 300 delegates joined the International seminar with the theme 'Tanker Safety, Pollution Prevention, Spill Response and Compensation'. Co-hosted by ITOPF, OCIMF and INTERTANKO, the event took place in Hong Kong on 6 November and formed part of a busy week for the three organizations involved, which included the INTERTANKO Executive Committee and Council meetings. SESSION ONE Welcoming the delegates, Jan Kopernicki, Vice President of Shell Shipping and Trading and Chairman of OCIMF, outlined the role of OCIMF and current developments in the industry. Important issues that OCIMF had recently been closely associated with were: encouraging the major Classification Societies to bring about transparent change, reducing the risk of oil pollution from tankers, and reviewing the financial liability of shipowners for pollution damage. John Hughes, Director of OCIMF, explained the role and contribution of OCIMF's Ship Inspection Programme (SIRE). Reports submitted by OCIMF members on a voluntary only basis addressed operational safety and pollution prevention issues. SIRE operating statistics showed that the total number of reports received was now 69,800 from 25 submitting members and 112 programme recipients. The average number of monthly reports received was 750 and of the total 9,900 were less than one year old. Capt Hughes said "industry's continued use of SIRE is a key factor in our ability to charter and employ only ships of high standard". William Jenkins, President and Managing Director of International Marine Transportation Ltd., presented the OCIMF view of recent classification society progress. "OCIMF and INTERTANKO have been working closely with the leading societies over the past two years to generate some of the recent progress that has been achieved," said Jenkins. He went on to review the roles of the 'industry stakeholders' from the beginning in 1760 through to modern times highlighting the fundamental importance of the Classification Societies to maritime safety. In concluding remarks he said, "The basic need that led to the formation of classification societies almost two and a half centuries ago still exists today - but the stakes are even higher and the need even greater,". SESSION TWO INTERTANKO's Chairman, Lars Carlsson, said that tanker shipping was safer and of a higher standard than ever before, but that there were still many challenges to be met. INTERTANKO would continue to seek efficient solutions for minimising accidents by prevention schemes aimed at the root cause rather than new legislation which often aimed at the symptom. He also said one should concentrate the main efforts on the ships trading in the most environmentally sensitive areas. "If the charterers were to select the better quality ships instead of stating that all approved ships are equally good, they would create a quality competition", Mr. Carlsson said. Peter Swift, INTERTANKO's Managing Director, underlined the need for information sharing, whilst accepting that there were some very serious impediments to such sharing, e.g. for understandable commercial competitiveness, legal liability, professional jealousy and incentives. He made a strong plea for much greater adherence to the need for proper accident investigations, and again underlined that there were many good forces that could help the responsible flag authorities in this respect. Only by analysing the real cause of accidents could one learn from them. In concluding remarks Dr Swift said: "There is increased expectancy among all stakeholders in the tanker industry and from society at large for more openness and transparency. This implies the greater sharing of relevant information and the establishment of a reputation for this, as well as, of course, greater trust between the respective parties,". Jayant Abhyankar, Deputy Director, ICC International Maritime, addressed the continuing threat of piracy and maritime violence and the trauma from an attack that can leave a mariner scarred for life, both physically and mentally. Emphasising that modern day piracy, in various forms, is a violent, bloody, ruthless practice, Mr Abhyankar analysed developments and identified possibilities for future action to minimise the impact. He said that the last decade had seen five specific types of piracy, varying very much according to the region in which the practice was found and described these in his presentation. Mr Abhyankar, in his concluding remarks, said: "Worldwide reported piracy incidents in 2001 totalled 335, nearly three and half times more compared with 1991,". SESSION THREE The concluding speakers on the afternoon panel focused on a complicated oil spill scenario set in the region with Dr Helmut Sohmen, Chairman of World-Wide Shipping Agency and Chairman of ITOPF, opening the session. He described a typical oil spill scenario from a shipowner's perspective saying that an understanding of the relative roles and responsibilities of those likely to be involved in an oil spill before it happened was important. However, "neither tanker owners nor governments are 100% prepared for all contingencies and the fewer spills of recent years probably means that preparedness is more lax all around," he underlined. The next panellist, Mans Jacobsson, Director, International Oil Pollution Compensation Funds, delivered a paper entitled 'Recent developments in the International Compensation System - the 1992 Civil Liability Convention and the 1992 Fund Convention'. His paper is a very good reference document and ought to be compulsory reading for all who want and need to know about the subject. Concluding Mr Jacobsson said: "The international compensation regimes established under the Civil Liability and Fund Conventions are one of the most successful compensation schemes in existence over the years. Most compensation claims have been settled amicably as a result of negotiations,". Robert Seward, Deputy Chairman, Tindall Riley (Britannia) Ltd delivered a presentation on the role of Protection and Indemnity (P&I) Clubs. In every oil spill of any consequence there was likely to be a P&I Club involved, at least in the critical area of approving and funding expenditure and "most often in a wide ranging advisory and organisation role," he concluded. The final speaker, Patrick Adamson, MTI Network, turning to the role of media response, explained that the speed with which the media worked in today's environment meant that to be in a position to effectively provide any form of timely public information and media response, an owner or manager needed to have a plan and strategy in place well before the event. This was in line with the main theme of the afternoon session from the speakers highlighting the need for all parties to constantly undertake drills in order to be prepared for an accident, and once an accident happened to ensure that there was close cooperation among all the interested parties. "Keep calm, get on with the job, keep the public properly informed," was the advice. The most certain way to ensure bad outcome was to start feeding the press by blaming other parties.
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