An IMO proposal to phase out all single-hull ships by 2008 has received a mixed reaction, particularly in Japan. France, Germany and Belgium jointly forwarded the proposal to the IMO, in part, as a consequence of the Erika catastrophe. The Erika broke-up off the Brittany coast, last December, causing severe pollution and environmental damage.
The Japanese oil industry employs around 70 second-generation single-hull VLCCs, with Japan heavily dependent on imported oil. In a written statement to the IMO, the Japanese Government said: "Very young tankers of around 11 or 12 years will be phased out and this is against the idea of speeding up the phasing out of old single-hull oil tankers”. Adding that such a phase-out "will have a serious impact on shipping and might affect the world oil market."
Japan would prefer a staggered phase-out of second-generation VLCCs, coupled with an investigation into any impact such actions would have. However one Tokyo-based broker suggested the proposal may benefit Japan's fleet and be a boon to its shipyards, commenting: "We already have the discipline to start renewing our fleet. Japanese oil companies are ending charters on single-hull ships and replacing them with charters on older tonnage."
Full article: WorldNews.com, 3 August 2000