Ship to Ship Transfer (STS)

Promoting safer STS transfers at sea
(Sep 24 2010)

Lloyd’s Register (LR) is offering a comprehensive plan and checklist to promote safer ship-to-ship (STS) oil transfers at sea.

LR said that it had produced this plan and checklist to help operators to comply with up-coming MARPOL regulations governing the transfer of oil at sea, while meeting best-practice standards for safety and environmental protection.

STS oil-cargo transfers are an increasingly common feature of the tanker trades, making the prevention of spills and the safety of those involved a long-term industry priority.

New requirements to MARPOL Annex I, which will regulate STS transfers, enter into force on 1st January, 2011.

LR said that it is supporting the new guidance, which was developed after extensive consultation with the industry, with a streamlined plan-approval process to help tanker operators prepare for the regime as quickly as necessary.

“The bottom line here is preventing oil from going into the sea,” said Mark Darley, marine client manager, LR EMEA. “Our new plans have been well received and we will help operators to manage this process as efficiently as possible. They still have plenty of time to get ready but, as ever, these deadlines come up fast.”

The plan and checklist, which are expected to serve as an enhanced safety template for the industry, were developed with the needs of operators in mind, said Darley, adding that LR expects to work with operators to provide STS manuals and approve customised plans.

SafeSTS, one of the world’s most experienced managers of STS operations, was one of the companies to lend its expertise during the consultation process.

“The implementation of Marpol Annex I, Chapter 8 is a milestone in the regulation of the STS industry. It clearly defines the minimum standard and complements the OCIMF STS guide,” SafeSTS director, Capt Robert Gilchrist, said. “STS certification, training and equipment will now be more standardised and this, along with enhanced pollution-response requirements, comprehensive risk assessments and transfer plans, will build on the exceptional safety record that the STS industry enjoys.”

Another company closely involved in the STS plan development was BP Shipping.

“The development of Lloyd’s Register’s model STS operations plan is a perfect example of the benefit that can be obtained by pooling the experience and expertise of experts in the STS industry to draft a fit-for-purpose document,” said BP Shipping’s Capt Jim Chapman.

“In essence, the consultative process we followed provided us with the opportunity to define and close procedural gaps over and above those that the document was originally intended to address,” he concluded.

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