All the fifteen Member States of the European Union, each of which is a Party to the MARPOL Convention, submitted a set of formal proposals to change certain provisions of the MARPOL Convention. The proposals call for further acceleration of the phase-out timetable for single-hull tankers, an immediate ban on the carriage of heavy grades of oil in single-hull tankers and for the Condition Assessment Scheme (adopted in 2001 in the wake of the 1999 Erika incident) to be applied to tankers of 15 years of age and above.
The proposals will be circulated among all IMO Member States and Parties to MARPOL prior to their consideration at the 49th session of the Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC), to be held at IMO's London Headquarters in July. In the meantime, IMO has reactivated the Informal Group of Experts, which was commissioned in 2000 to assess the likely effect of post-Erika proposals, to study the impact of these new proposals. The group will take into account criteria such as the volume of oil and oil products carried by oil tankers world-wide and by region; the number of single-hull tankers to be affected by the proposals; the capacity of shipyards needed to replace the single-hull tankers that would be withdrawn from service, the capacity available world-wide; and the scrapping capacity of ship-recycling facilities on an annual basis.
The study has to be completed within a very short period of time and will be undertaken by the IMO Secretariat, assisted by independent experts nominated by industry organizations. The IMO’s Marine Environment Division will coordinate the work. The Informal Group is expected to draw on expertise and experience from any available source, including Member Governments and international organizations. The study is expected to be finalized by the end of May 2003, for dissemination as soon as possible thereafter for consideration by MEPC 49.