The International Sea Organization (ISO) endorsed new regulations for tankers operating in European Union waters. The document requires that single and double hull tankers that have been in use for over 28 years be retired by 2005 and 2010 respectively. The new regulation also considerably increases the material liability and compensation for damages in the case of oil spills. The new regulations have an impact on Russia, as Russia is one of Europe's main oil suppliers.
Commenting on the ISO decision, Russian Deputy Transport Minister Vyacheslav Ruksha said the new regulations do not have much bite and are unlikely to have any negative economic consequences for Russian ship owners.
Not only do Russian oil and transportation experts hail the EU initiative, they are also on a fast track to overhaul their tanker fleets. This also appears to be a priority for oil companies, ship owners and the state, which is made clear in the "Transportation Strategy of Russia up to 2020." Mr. Ruksha said Russia's leading shipping companies are phasing in new state-of-the-art double hull ships as part of their plans to overhaul their tanker fleets.
For example, Lukoil already operates five modern German-made tankers that are strengthened against ice as well as an equal number of Russian-made tankers that feature safer ice protection. Yukos and other firms have modernization programs as well. There is a tender to build seven 100,000 metric ton tankers for big Sakhalin projects.
Mr. Ruksha pointed out that every Russian company has introduced ship safety operation systems as well as ISO 9001-2000 compliant quality management systems.
The deputy minister hopes that in light of the new regulations, efforts to overhaul Russian tanker fleets will not cause a downturn in oil shipping. Today, 100 million metric tons of crude oil passes through the Black Sea annually, and this figure is expected to grow to 120-130 million metric tons and 60 million metric tons of petrochemicals. In the western (Baltic) direction, the oil turnover may amount to 70-80 million metric tons of crude oil and 60-80 million metric tons of petrochemicals. Experts estimate that 7 million metric tons of oil is exported in the northern (Murmansk) direction.