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Customs to help enforce rules reducing crude spill risks

April 17, 2007

By VG Cabuag
Reporter, BusinessMirror
April 17, 2007

THE Bureau of Customs will start monitoring vessels, particularly those required to comply with the government’s double hull policy which will be implemented next April.

Rogel Gatchalian, chief of the custom’s Run After Tax Smugglers program, told reporters Thursday that the agency has already written the Maritime Industry Authority (Marina), asking the shipping regulator all needed information regarding the country’s ships.

Besides covering import entries and internal revenue declarations, documents include the deed of sale, agreements pertaining to vessel importation of consignees and/or importers.

The letter also sought preliminary computation of market value of the ships, Gatchalian said.

Unlike land transportation in which the customs bureau has a motor vehicle importation compliance unit, shipping vessels have no import windows.

He explained that since the government would not allow tankers to be used for transporting black oil on domestic waters, companies have no choice but to acquire new ships abroad.

Earlier, industry representatives said it converting old tankers to double-hull would be more expensive than buying new ones.

A double-hull, double-bottom tanker with a capacity of six thousand tons costs between $13.5 million to $15 million and is mostly constructed in other countries since local shipyards have no capacity.

Meanwhile, operators will be forced to comply with the new regulations since petroleum firms, such as Petron Corp. and Pilipinas Shell—which both have refineries in the country—want the program implemented by next year.

Petroleum companies belong to an international organization, which sets minimum standards for transporting oil.

Early this year, Marina has issued memorandum circular 2007 001, which was drafted to comply with the International Maritime Organization’s new standard for ocean-going vessels.

The said international guidelines classified tankers into three categories. The first covers oil tankers, which can carry more than 20,000 tons of crude oil, fuel oil, heavy diesel oil or lubricating oil and more than 30,000 tons of other oils. While the second category includes oil tankers which can carry 5,000 tons of oil, the third consists of carriers which can accommodate less than 5,000 tons of oil.

The first two categories, carrying heavy grade oil shall be double-hulled, while category three oil tankers carrying heavy grade oil should be fitted with both double-bottom tank and wing tank.

Sanctions and penalties for violators include immediate suspension of safety certificates of tankers for 60 days, delisting form the Philippine registry, revocation of the vessel’s authority to operate, and a penalty of P50,000 for each day of operation.

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