Background

Subsequent to the grounding of the oil tanker EXXON VALDEZ in 1989, the U.S. introduced the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 (OPA 90) which included provisions for the double hulling of oil tankers. OPA 90 required new oil tankers to be double hulled and established a phase out scheme for existing single-hulled tankers. New oil tankers under OPA 90 included those built after 1990, but for tankers already on order it also included tankers delivered up to January 1, 1994. Older single-hulled tankers were phased out starting in 1995 and the final date for phase out of all single-hulled tankers was 2015. The phase out of any particular single-hulled tanker was based upon its year of build, its gross tonnage and whether it had been fitted with either double bottoms or double sides.

International requirements for the double hulling of oil tankers were introduced by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) in 1993 through an amendment to Annex I of MARPOL. This amendment also required new oil tankers to be double hulled and existing tankers to be phased out, but the scheme was not identical to the OPA 90 scheme. New oil tankers under MARPOL included those built after 1993 but, for tankers already on order, also included tankers delivered up to 1996. The phase out of existing tankers under MARPOL applied only to large tankers (tankers over 20,000 deadweight tonnes carrying crude oil, fuel oil, heavy diesel oil or lubricating oil as cargo and product tankers over 30,000 DWT). Older large oil tankers were phased out starting in 1995 and the final date for phase out of all large single-hulled tankers was 2026. The phase out of any particular large single-hulled tanker was based upon its year of build and whether or not it was fitted with approved segregated ballast tanks (tankers without segregated ballast tanks but with wing tanks or double bottoms not used for the carriage of oil and meeting the requirements of 13E(4) of MARPOL Annex I, covering at least 30 per cent of the length of the cargo tank area for the full depth of the ship on each side or at least 30 per cent of the projected bottom shell area with the length of the cargo tank area may be considered as being fitted with segregated ballast tanks). Large single-hulled tankers must be phased out when they are 25 years old if they are not fitted with segregated ballast tanks or when they are 30 years old if they are fitted with segregated ballast tanks. MARPOL also accepts the use of hydrostatic balanced loading or other approved alternatives as equivalent to double hulling.

The Canadian Oil Pollution Prevention Regulations were amended in 1995 to include both the MARPOL requirements for the phasing out of large single-hulled tankers and OPA 90 requirements for those smaller tankers not covered by MARPOL. These provisions are included in TP 11710, Standards for the Double Hull Construction of Oil Tankers, which was first published in 1993.

Subsequent to the sinking of the ERIKA off the coast of France in 1999, there were proposals to strengthen MARPOL requirements with respect to the double hulling and inspection of tankers. These proposals were aimed at bringing the international requirements more in line with the OPA 90 requirements, including the phase out of smaller tankers and the elimination of single-hulled tankers by 2015.
 

Current Situation

Amendments to MARPOL were adopted in April 2001 and became effective on September 1, 2002. These amendments extend the phase out of single-hulled oil tankers to all tankers of 5000 dwt and above and accelerate the existing phase-out schedule for large tankers. The phase out of single-hulled tankers through this amendment commences in 2003 with the final phase out occurring in 2015. The phase out of any particular tanker is based upon its year of build and whether it is a large tanker with segregated ballast tanks, a large tanker without segregated ballast tank or a smaller tanker. Provisions are, however, included to allow existing tankers that meet the side protection requirements in the International Bulk Chemical Code for type 2 cargo tank locations and the bottom protection specified in regulation 13E(4)(b) of Annex I of MARPOL to continue to operate. There are also provisions in regulation 13G(5) to allow tankers with only a double bottom, double side or a double hull not meeting the requirements of the regulation to operate until they are 25 years old. In addition, other tankers with some protection may operate until they are 25 years old or 2017 (whichever is earlier). these provisions are subject to the approval of their Administration. However, Administrations were given the option of not accepting tankers using this extension of service in their waters.

The amendments to MARPOL also include a requirement for certain large existing single-hulled tankers to comply with the Condition Assessment Scheme in order to operate after 2005 or 2010 until their phase out date.

The U.S. have indicated that they will continue to apply OPA 90 and will, therefore, not implement the amendment to MARPOL.

As noted previously, the regime established in Canada in 1993 combines the IMO and OPA 90 provisions. In implementing this regime, there was no differentiation between tankers on international, domestic, or Canada/U.S. trade, only between large and small tankers. A variety of options were then available for Canada to implement new requirements, ranging from using only the IMO requirements, or using only the OPA 90 requirements, using the most or least severe requirements, to using various combinations depending upon the size of the tanker and the trade it is on. The two regimes are not identical and, because of the different tonnage cut-offs, it is difficult to precisely compare them. The OPA 90 and revised IMO schemes are, however, close enough that neither regime offers a significant difference in environmental protection. It was, therefore, decided that Canada should adopt a system that would be the least disruptive to shipping, as follows:

  • all Canadian tankers over 5000 tonnes dwt requiring international certification and all foreign tankers on international trade in waters under Canadian jurisdiction comply with the revised regulation 13G of Annex I of MARPOL (this results in minor changes from the 1993 Canadian requirements).

  • Canadian tankers on domestic trade or only trading to the U.S. and U.S. tankers trading only to Canada comply with OPA 90 (this results in no change for smaller Canadian tankers – large single-hulled Canadian tankers would be phased out much sooner, but they would be phased out under the new IMO requirements much sooner anyway).

  • Foreign tankers on international trade calling at Canadian ports that are less than 5000 tonnes dwt comply with OPA 90 (this would be no different than the 1993 Canadian requirements).

  • Canada notify the IMO that it does not intend to accept at its ports any tanker given an extension under paragraph 5(b) of the revised regulation 13G of Annex I of MARPOL.

An outline of the regime is provided in the table attached as Annex I.

Such a regime should provide significant increases in the protection of Canadian waters from pollution from large tankers, as certain single-hulled tankers that could have operated as late as 2026 under the 1993 Canadian standards will have to be phased out by 2015. Overall, the protection of Canadian waters from pollution from smaller tankers will be virtually unchanged from the current level, but certain anomalies will exist. For example, a smaller tanker built in 1980 with a double bottom or double sides that would have to be phased out in 2010 under the 1993 Canadian standards, will be allowed to operate only until 2007 under the new international regulations. On the other hand, a smaller tanker with no double bottoms or double sides that would have to be phased out in 2010 under the 1993 Canadian standards will be allowed to operate until 2015 under the new international regulations.

The current Oil Pollution Prevention Regulations specify that tankers must carry either Canadian or international certification, so it is up to the owners to decide which they need to have; in many cases tankers carry both certificates. Because there are inconsistencies in phase out dates between the MARPOL and OPA 90 regimes, it will be important to ensure that Canadian tankers on domestic trade do not flip between Canadian and international certificates, just to delay their phase out, unless they also comply with all other requirements of a domestic or foreign going ship.


Conclusion

The OPA 90 and MARPOL regimes are not identical, but they are close enough that overall neither offers a significant difference in protection of the environment. The revised Canadian regime should then be one that is the least disruptive to shipping.

Canada has adopted the revised MARPOL requirements for the phase out of single hulled tankers on international voyages in waters under Canadian jurisdiction, but will continue to apply OPA 90 provisions for Canadian tankers on domestic voyages or trading to the US and for US tankers trading in waters under Canadian jurisdiction.

These changes have been implemented through an amendment to TP 11710, Standards for the Double Hull Construction of Oil Tankers, effective January 1, 2003.


Annex 1

Regime to use the OPA 90 and revised Regulation 13G of  Annex I of MARPOL schedule for the Phase Out of Existing Single-hulled Tankers

Type of Tanker  < 5000 dwt 5000 dwt to 20000/30000 dwt  > 20000/30000 dwt
Canadian tanker trading domestically OPA 90: no change from 1993 Canadian standards  OPA 90: no change from 1993 Canadian standards OPA 90: significant changes in some cases from 1993 Canadian standards which used MARPOL, but significant changes would also occur with the revised MARPOL - there are currently no large single hulled tankers registered in Canada in any case
Canadian tanker trading only domestically and with the US OPA 90: no change from 1993 Canadian standards OPA 90: no change from 1993 Canadian standards  OPA 90: significant changes in some cases from 1993 Canadian standards which used MARPOL, but significant changes would also occur with the revised MARPOL - there are currently no large single hulled tankers registered in Canada in any case
Canadian tanker trading internationally OPA 90: no change from 1993 Canadian standards MARPOL: changes in some cases from the 1993 Canadian standards but these changes will be necessary to trade internationally in any case MARPOL: significant changes in some cases from the 1993 Canadian standards due to significant changes to MARPOL - these changes will be necessary to trade internationally in any case
US tanker in waters under Canadian jurisdiction OPA 90: no change from 1993 Canadian standards OPA 90: no change from 1993 Canadian standards - requirements for US tankers will be different from other foreign tankers in some cases OPA 90: significant changes in some cases from 1993 Canadian standards which used MARPOL, but US tankers would meet OPA 90 requirements anyway - requirements for US tankers will be different from other foreign tankers in some cases
Foreign tanker on the coasting trade OPA 90: no change from 1993 Canadian standards OPA 90: no change from 1993 Canadian standards but requirements will be different from the new MARPOL requirements in some cases OPA 90: significant changes in some cases from 1993 Canadian standards which used MARPOL, but significant changes would also occur with the revised MARPOL - requirements will be different from MARPOL requirements in some cases
Foreign tanker on international trade calling at a Canadian port OPA 90: no change from 1993 Canadian standards MARPOL: changes in some cases from the 1993 Canadian standards but the requirements will be consistent with international requirements MARPOL: significant changes in some cases from the 1993 Canadian standards due to significant changes to MARPOL - these changes will be necessary to trade internationally in any case
Foreign tanker on international trade not calling at a Canadian port but in waters under Canadian jurisdiction  OPA 90: no change from 1993 Canadian standards  MARPOL: changes in some cases from the 1993 Canadian standards but the requirements will be consistent with international requirements MARPOL: significant changes in some cases from the 1993 Canadian standards due to significant changes to MARPOL - these changes will be necessary to trade internationally in any case
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