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Petron passes buck of checking tanker’s condition to owner

September 1, 2006

By Joel Guinto

ENSURING the seaworthiness of the oil tanker M/T Solar 1, which caused one of the worst oil spills in Philippine history, is the responsibility of its owner and ship captain, an official from Petron Corp. said Friday.

The oil company, which chartered the vessel that sank off Guimaras Island last August 11, only conducts “random” safety inspections on the tankers it commissions, Rolando Salonga, the firm’s distribution manager, told the Special Board of Marine Inquiry.

While a “series of inspections” is done prior to loading of bunker fuel, Salonga said Petron relied on safety inspection documents submitted by owners of chartered vessels, which they would compare against an internationally approved checklist from the Oil Companies International Marine Forum (OCIMF).

Based on documents submitted by M/T Solar 1 owner Sunshine Maritime Development Corp., the vessel was “suitable and rated A,” Salonga said.

“It is really the responsibility of the ship owner to check if something needs to be corrected,” Salonga said.

“We cannot monitor every voyage of the vessel. The vessel master has the knowledge if there are difficulties,” he said.

He said the last safety check on M/T Solar 1 was on Feb. 27, 2006, right after its last dry docking or general inspection.

(Click passing the buck for the story, Sept. 1, 2006.)

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