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Order vs. oil spill out soon

January 17, 2007

By VG Cabuag
Reporter
BusinessMirror, Jan. 17, 2007

AN order further preventing occurrences of oil spills may be approved by authorities next week after its “grammatical errors” have been fixed, according to Maria Elena H. Bautista, the transport department’s maritime affairs undersecretary.

“All of those people who need to sign have already signed. It is now at the desk of Department of Transport and Communication (DOTC) Secretary Leandro Mendoza for his final signature,” Bautista said, adding that the document, once approved, would be implemented by the Maritime Industry Authority (Marina) by this year.

Earlier interviews with transport officials have indicated that the order, which will also mandate the installation of double hulls for oil tankers, is merely a formality.

Since February last year, Marina, which regulates the shipping industry, had already consulted top tanker associations in the country regarding the order.

But local tanker operators have no choice since petroleum companies are already requiring them to use double-hulled vessel whether or not they deliver black oil.

Of the estimated 214 tankers registered in the country, 21 are capable of carrying black oil.

Last August, the country’s first double-hulled tanker, MT Aston, arrived in Manila and two more double-hulled ships will be delivered between now and March.

Meanwhile, interest in the said order grew stronger after the MT Solar 1 sank off Guimaras Island last August, spilling 2 million liters of oil and contaminating neighboring islands.

The circular was supposed to be signed last September but was deferred after DOTC executives were reshuffled.

Since 2003, European ports have refused access to single-hulled tankers carrying oil.

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