|Vol 7, No.15, 12.4.01, p22
The European Union's maritime safety campaign risks unravelling following Italy's unilateral decision to ban single-hulled oil tankers from its ports.
The planned prohibition, which will affect single-hulled vessels over 5,000 dead-weight tonnes (dwt) from 24 April, has drawn fire from ship-owners, brokers, and oil traders.
"This is a nightmare scenario for the industry," said Peter Stokes, executive director of Lazard Capital Markets, a leading ship financier.
Confindustria, the Italian employers' organisation, and Confitarma, the ship-owners' group, protested that the action goes beyond EU action on tanker safety. The move threatens to undo the Union's hard-won achievement of forging a united front on maritime safety. This success has helped to avoid accusations of the Union pursuing a go-it-alone policy which would undermine efforts to draw up global rules at the UN's shipping agency, the International Martime Organisation.
"A unilateral ban flies in the face of an established European-wide approach to the shipping industry," Fred Doll, managing director of Doll Shipping Consultancy, told a shipping finance conference in Monte Carlo last week.
The planned ban coincides with technical negotiations at the IMO in London on accelerating the phase-out of single-hulled tankers by 2006. Austria and Germany have protested against the threat to their oil imports that reach them via the Transalpine pipeline from the Adriatic port of Trieste.
Meanwhile shipbrokers are warning that banned vessels may attempt to unload at France's Mediterranean ports, particularly Marseilles which has a pipeline to Austria and Germany. This will put pressure on Paris, which has driven the EU's safety campaign, to take action in the run-up to the holiday season. This could trigger a domino effect as single-hulled tankers seek work in northwest Europe.
Italy has already implemented a ban on the ships in the lagoon of Venice, but owners and traders say this is a special case and are sceptical it will be extended to other ports. They say environment minister Willer Bordon, who announced the ban, is simply fishing for votes ahead of Italy's general election on 13 May.
The European Union's maritime safety campaign risks unravelling following Italy's unilateral decision to ban single-hulled tankers from its ports.
|Mobility and Transport