Age limits being imposed on tanker chartering by oil companies do not address the use of ships like the Erika, which broke up off France
in December, shipping industry sources said. Companies are opting not to use large vessels, above either 80,000 or 100,000 dwt, more than 20 years old unless they have extra safety certificates.
However, the age limit is higher for smaller tankers - at 25 years - partly because there are not enough newer ships. As a result, the restrictions might not stop oil companies using vessels like
the 25-year-old 37,283 dwt Erika, sources said.
Additionally, oil traders
and tanker brokers warned that the cautious approach might fade once the public outcry over the Erika had died down. Brokers say that nearly 20 percent of the world fleet of 1,744 tankers between 10,000-50,000 dwt are 25 years of age or over. More than 50 ships still operating were built in the 1960s.