Tanker owners to explore piracy ‘war zone’ option

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INTERTANKO is to open discussions with insurers and charterers about reclassifying the pirate infested waters off Somalia as a ‘war zone’ as opposed to a war-risk area to allow its owner members to legitimately avoid transiting the Gulf of Aden in favour of the longer route around the Cape of Good Hope, writes Sean Moloney.

This controversial move was agreed at last week’s INTERTANKO Council meeting in Singapore and negotiating an acceptable outcome could be one of the first tasks to be undertaken by the association’s newly voted-in Managing Director Katharina Stanzel when she takes over as head of the secretariat on July 1st.

Joe Angelo, INTERTANKO’s outgoing Managing Director, told SMI: “We will look into the issue of making the area a war zone. By making it a war zone, it gives the owner the option of whether he wants to go through the zone or not. If it is a war risk area they have to go through it and deal with the issues associated with that. There is a big difference.”

Mr Angelo, who will return to his previous position of Deputy Managing Director and Director for Regulatory Affairs and the Americas, said reclassification of the pirate attack waters would enable owners to better protect their crew. “But there will be a clear understanding between the owner and the charterer on what is happening. It was proposed at our Council meeting and we have to decide how best to approach this. We will start by talking to the insurance market.”

Other issues discussed at the Council meeting including the finalising of a five year strategic plan for the association, whose main objectives will be to look ahead and ensure that, given the realities of today’s regulatory and economic climate, “INTERTANKO is well-positioned to face the challenges expected”.

The Council agreed that the most likely scenario the tanker industry would face in the coming five years would be one of strong environmental concern within an unstable geopolitical state, and that the major issues confronting its members during this period would be sustainability of the tanker industry; the human element; tanker safety and performance; global maritime security threats; greenhouse gas and air emission reductions; as well as ballast water management.

The Council agreed that the overarching aim of the association must be to engage proactively at every level, working with all stakeholders including regulators, to ensure that the interests of its members are taken into account and that operational realities are considered, leading to regulation that is workable and practical.

INTERTANKO said in a statement: “There should also be a focus on developing industry co-operation and on achieving a cohesive and proactive approach in getting governments to understand the consequences of their decisions, thereby influencing the outcomes of the political decision-making process.”