South Korea to Ban Single-Hulled Tankers after Spill

Friday, January 11, 2008
Reuters reported that South Korea will ban single-hulled tankers from traveling in its waters by 2011, earlier than the international regulation that calls for a ban from 2015, Seoul's maritime ministry said. A single-hulled tanker was involved in South Korea's worst oil spill last month, leaking around 10,500 tons of crude oil after a sea-bound crane mounted on a barge punched holes in the tanker's hull.

As of January, 43 per cent of the crude imported into South Korea was carried by single-hulled tankers.

This is the first time the ministry has officially set a time frame for banning the tankers. The ministry had previously said it was aiming to phase out single-hulled tankers as soon as 2010. In December 2003, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) set 2010 as the principal cut-off date for single-hulled oil tankers, with a strictly limited provision permitting some vessels to continue in service until no later than 2015.

European countries have been accelerating efforts to phase out single-hulled tankers, and EU member countries are to ban vessels that are 15 years old or more from loading heavy fuel oil within 200 miles of their coastlines. The very large crude carrier Hebei Spirit was about five miles outside a South Korean port on December 7, waiting to unload its cargo of some 260,000 tons of crude oil from the Middle East, when it was struck by a barge.

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