Archive for March, 2008

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Avoiding another Guimaras

March 19, 2008

By Jojo Robles
Mla. Standard Today/opinion
Mar. 19, 2008

Now that crude oil is trading at all-time record high prices in the world market, it’s easy to forget that while the oil companies have a very expensive product, they also need to ensure that its delivery is safe. Two years ago, it seemed that we learned that lesson the hard way—even if it now appears that we haven’t learned anything at all.

In the aftermath of the disastrous sinking of the M/V Solar I in August 2006 off the coast of Guimaras Island, President Arroyo instructed the Maritime Industry Authority to immediately order operators of oil tankers to use double-hull vessels when transporting their expensive—and extremely toxic—cargo. Now, when many Filipinos living away from that disaster area have forgotten the horrors of that incident, some players in the tanker contracting industry are hell-bent on stopping Marina from implementing that presidential directive, way beyond the deadline for compliance with local and international regulations.

That most of the 20 or so companies engaged in transporting 75 percent of all of the imported oil used in the Philippines are fighting the implementation of the double-hull rule is understandable, given the expense entailed in the rental of compliant ships and the refitting of their existing vessels. That doesn’t mean they should be allowed to continue using dangerous single-hull ships to ferry their cargo—unless we want a repeat of Guimaras.

For those who may have forgotten, the Petron-contracted Solar I dumped more than 2 million liters of industrial fuel oil along 200 kilometers of pristine Guimaras coastline, destroying 1,128 hectares of mangroves and the livelihood of 22,000 fishermen in what was once rich fishing grounds. While Malacañang released P20 million in calamity funds to the area’s residents, this was a mere pittance compared to the actual damage and the clean-up costs, which were estimated in the neighborhood of P400 million.

(Click Avoiding another Guimaras for the rest.)

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Marina defers ban on single-hull tankers

March 7, 2008

Manila Standard Today
March 7, 2008

The Philippines’ maritime regulator has extended the deadline to ban single-hull oil tankers from its waters to April 30 from April 1 to give charterers more time to switch to vessels fitted with two hulls.

The Maritime Industry Authority has issued a circular prohibiting single-hull ships from calling at Philippine ports from April 30, Transportation Undersecretary Len Bautista said in a mobile phone message yesterday. In January, Bautista said single-hull vessels carrying crude oil and marine fuel won’t be allowed to dock at ports from April 1, two years earlier than planned.

The extension came after “some operators asked for an allowance,” Bautista said. “It’s also to allow oil companies to have better rates in negotiating vessels,” he said, adding the extension still falls within the directive of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo to ban the one-hull tankers by April.

The Philippines decided to ban single-hull tankers after the worst oil spill in the country’s history and a separate leak in South Korea. Asia is the biggest market for single-hull supertankers, Citigroup Global Markets Inc. said in a December report.

The single-hull crude oil supertanker Hebei Spirit caused the worst spill in South Korea’s history in December after it was struck by a crane. In August 2006, the tanker Solar 1 leaked 2.19 million liters of marine fuel, killing marine life and fouling the coastline of the Philippines’ Guimaras islands.

The Philippines has yet to schedule a ban on single-hull tankers that ship gasoline, jet fuel and other refined petroleum products, Bautista said.

(Click Marina defers for the rest.)

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Oil rehab fund for Concepcion to be used for ecological camp

March 7, 2008

By Maricar M. Calubiran
The News Today
March 5, 2008

Presidential Assistant for Western Visayas Raul Banias yesterday said the P6.5 million oil spill fund intended for the municipality of Concepcion in Iloilo would be spent for the establishment of an “ecological camp” in said town. The P6.5 million came from the special budget allocated by the national government and coursed through the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

Banias, who has been the municipal mayor of the town for nine years said the ecological camp includes mangroves reforestation, protection of marine protected areas, establishment of additional marine protected areas and organizing of small fisherfolks.

The August 11, 2006 oil spill in Guimaras did not only affect the island but some coastal towns in Iloilo. In Concepcion, 10 barangays were affected by the oil spill. The MT Solar I was carrying 2.2 million liters of bunker fuel when it sank off the coast of Guimaras island. It was Petron that chartered the tanker to transport fuel from its Limay port in Bataan to Zamboaga City.

Banias said DENR is now on the process of transferring the fund to the municipal government of Concepcion. The P6.5 million oil rehabilitation fund is different from the fund to be released by the Department of Social Welfare and Development Office, said Banias.

Meanwhile, Banias stressed the importance of good governance and responsible tourism. He was very proud of his accomplishments during his term as the town’s municipal mayor. The town has been recipient of both national and international awards for the successful outcome of the projects he introduced to the town.

In yesterday’s workshop on The Environmental Security on Tourism (TEST), Banias told the attendees that he refused an offer from an international Japanese salvage group to salvage a sunken Japanese vessel in the Pan de Azucar.

The former town mayor said he wants to preserve the area for tourism and historical purposes. Banias said his decision is a manifestation of good governance. Until now, the vessel stays in the area where it sunk number of decades ago.

Local history said that on September 1944, a Japanese transport vessel and a convoy of naval boats were attacked by American air and naval forces. Four days after the fierce battle not one of the Japanese vessels remained afloat. Today, the mast of a ship could be seen protruding above the water during the low tide at the Pan de Azucar island.