07.01.2008 - South Korea to Ban Entry of All Single-Hulled Ships From 2011

Jan. 7 (Bloomberg) -- South Korea will block all single-hulled vessels from entering its waters from 2011, five years
ahead of its earlier plan, after a collision last month caused the country's worst oil spill.
     The government will also review plans to see if it can impose the ban sooner than 2011, Kim Sam Yeol, an official at the Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries in
Seoul, said today.     ``We are looking at various measures to see if the international regulation will allow such a move and if there are other countries that plan to ban it before the deadline given,'' Kim said. ``We will meet with officials from the refineries and other related businesses to discuss the matter.''

     The UN International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution From Ships was amended in 2003 to force ship owners to use double-hulled vessels, following a November 2002 spill by the single-hull tanker Prestige off Spain's coast. South Korea has banned single-hulled vessels that are older than 25 years from entering its waters since 2005.  

     About half of the vessels that carried oil into South Korea last year were single-hulls, according to the ministry. The ministry in December said it may call for an early ban on single-hulled vessels into its waters.

                            Oil Spill

South Korea is suffering from the world's biggest oil spill in four and a half years after a barge on Dec. 7 crashed into the single-hulled supertanker Hebei Spirit. The tanker was built in 1993 by Japan's Kawasaki Heavy Industries Ltd., according to data on the Bloomberg.
     The collision caused 10,500 metric tons (78,750 barrels) of oil to spill into the
Yellow Sea off South Korea's west coast before the leak halted. The government on Dec. 11 declared the region a disaster zone.      Tankers built before 1977 and those with certain kinds of cargo tank structures were banned from sailing from April 5, 2005, when the United Nations rule was first enforced. Tankers that reach 26 years in age over the next five years must be phased out, according to the UN rules. All remaining single-hull tankers have to be scrapped by 2010.

     If the schedule turns out to be too drastic, the industry may have a so-called get-out clause. Under the convention, individual flag states may authorize single-hull tankers less than 25 years old to carry on sailing until 2015.

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