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Intertanko takes aim at unreasonable inspection burden

Intertanko aims to rationalise oil companies’ tanker vetting practices by reducing the $300m-and-rising annual burden to one inspection per vessel every six months.

The move would use the existing Ship Inspection Report (SIRE) "in the spirit that it was created". SIRE was developed by the Oil Companies International Marine Forum (OCIMF) to share inspection reports amongst its members, but the valid, standardised reports on SIRE are being shunned for inspections based individual charterer criteria, according to Intertanko. It added that the cost of inspections, which should be borne by both parties, are not.

At the autumn meeting of the Intertanko council in Hong Kong, tanker vetting joined late payments of freight and demurrage at the top of the priority list of the association's sustainability project.

"Vetting plays a vital role in safety, one which our members respect and welcome," said Intertanko chairman Graham Westgarth. "The highest quality owners want to distinguish themselves from those with lesser standards. However there are some very real concerns on the fact that the SIRE system is not being used by OCIMF members as it was intended, resulting in a multitude of unnecessary inspections: Intertanko's Council expressed alarm at this trend."

The association estimates that an inspection costs on average $5,000, including what it calls unreasonable extra costs. "We want to see better transparency over vetting costs – especially inspectors' travel expenses which can cost almost as much as the inspection itself, but for which we don't receive a full breakdown," commented one Intertanko member.

As a means to stop the proliferation in frequency of inspections and focus vettings on safety as opposed commercial concerns, the association has been developing a code of conduct as part of its sustainability project, similar to the one it has developed for charterer best practices.

Katharina Stanzel, Intertanko's managing director said, "Intertanko's council wants to encourage charterers, including traders and brokers, to use the SIRE system in the spirit that it was created by the oil majors, and to drive down the number of inspections and associated costs. This means aiming for one inspection per ship every six months by an accredited inspector, the report of which will be used by any OCIMF member wanting to vet that ship."

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