The IMO’s sub-committee on bulk Liquid and Gases(BLG) held its 16th session on 30 January through 3 February 2012. Mr S Oftedal (Norway) chaired the meeting and he was re-elected for the voming year. His Vice-Chairman, Dr R Zhang (China) was similarly re-elected.
Matters of greatest interest to Intermanager Members are as follows :
• BLG considered a Netherlands proposal from MSC89 that an additional regulation should be added to specifically prohibit production processes on board ships that result in new products. Observing that this proposal obviously stemmed from the PROBO KOALA tragedy, OCIMF reminded the meeting that the loss of life was not caused by processing on board, rather it was the disposal of residues on land thus indicating that it is the generation of waste which requires attention. IMCA expressed concern that the text of the proposed ban on production processing during the sea voyage would have the result of outlawing existing, accepted practises for the offshore industry and pleaded exemption for that sector. IBIA also requested that restrictions to blending operations should not apply to bunker barges. This matter will be further addressed at MSC90.
• It was stressed that when considering the operational phases as to when inserting media should be applied, FP had directed that the application of Inert gas to render the tank non-flammable should take place before the commencement of unloading.
• BRAZIL expressed concern on bio-fuel blends and the approval of Oil Discharge Monitoring Equipment (ODME). It was agreed that all interested parties should submit any relevant technical information for consideration at BLG 17.
• 33 Contracting Governments representing 24.46 percent of the world merchant fleet tonnage have now acceded to the Ballast Water Management Convention against the desired figure of 30/30. Regarding B/W sampling and analysis, two sets of draft guidance were put forward by the EC led correspondence group, one on sampling and analysis, the other on PSC guidance. This item was undoubted the most contentious of the whole meeting; it certainly took most time and resulted in an exact split between the EC led group and that of the large flags such as PANAMA and BAHAMAS though the latter group was given an excellent lead by ICS. The Chairman rightly observed that unless the concerns of the large flags were met, the Convention would not come into force and elected to take the item through to BIG 17.
• With respect to a Code of Safety for Ships using gas or other low-flash point fuels into properties similar to LNG, SIGTTO expressed concern with the CG’s report on the current draft of the IGF Code, from the point of view of design and operational aspects of the vessels. In particular, the location of accommodation above the fuel tank/containment system and gas containers/make up equipment. The sub-committee decided that in determining the location of such tanks, a risk-based approach should be pursued in lieu of deterministic. Also it was agreed that training requirements should be developed for inclusion on the STCW Convention. Both these matters were referred to the WG.
• Sampling of fuel oil used on board ships elicited a view from the Cook Islands that quality control of bunker fuel prior to delivery to ships could resolve the compliance problems related to fuel oils, though government reps were (understandably) not receptive to such a suggestion. BAHAMAS felt that the existing G/L’s for the sampling of fuel oil delivered to ships could not be used as a base document for development of guidance for the sampling of fuel oil used O/B ships as they entailed entirely different procedures and that it was not clear how samples of the fuel oil used on board would be handled and analysed. It was agreed to report back to MEPC but not to develop Guidelines/Guidance at this session of the BLG.
• It is noted that no documents on CASUALTY ANALYSIS had been submitted to BLG16. This is particularly shameful given OCIMF’s report that over the past 6 years, approximately 85 fire and explosion incidents have occurred on vessels carrying bulk liquids and gases.
• Black Carbon was discussed under AOB. A number of alternative definitions were advanced and a CG will be set up intersessionally to address the work plan for consideration of the impact on the Arctic.
Capt. Paddy McKnight