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2018 May 15

Bunkering companies to hold exercises

Olga Sarkova, Director General of OOO Industrial Safety Systems, tells IAA PortNews about practical application of new requirements on oil spill response plans (OSR plans) which came into effect on 7 November 2017 for oil transshipment and bunkering operations.

- Ms Sarkova, what has changed for organizations involved in crude oil / oil products transshipment and bunkering with amendments to the Federal Law No 155 coming into effect?

- According to the amended law, OSR plans required for transshipment of crude oil and oil products as well as for bunkering (fuelling) of vessels have been excluded from the list of subjects of state environmental review. Thus, those amendments have confirmed the legitimacy of the approach applied by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment to determine the necessity of state environmental review of OSR plans for bunkering ships which was provided by the Ministry in the form of an explanatory letter in 2016.

The procedure for approval of transshipment/bunkering OSR plans has been changed as well. Now, organizations performing transshipment of crude oil and oil products as well as bunkering of vessels with the use of bunkering ships approve OSR plans upon completion of exercise and obtaining of an approval from Rosmorrechflot (Federal Marine and River Transport Agency).

- Can we say that such amendments streamline the approval of OSR plans for bunkering companies?

- In my opinion, approval of OSR plans upon obtaining of exercise results is a more appropriate approach as compared with the practice of state environmental review because, first of all, OSR plan is a document regulating the activities on preventing and responding to emergency situations caused by oil spills. Secondly, the practice of state environmental review of OSR plans for bunkering ships showed that this procedure is pointless and unreasonable when it comes to seagoing ships used for bunkering because it is a complicated, expensive and time consuming procedure. However, it is too early to make final conclusions about the effectiveness of those amendments.

- How will this reflect on the market players’ costs and time expenditure?

- As of today, it is difficult to estimate since the procedure of holding exercises and obtaining conclusions on their results is still being developed. The regulations for exercises have not been finalized, hence the absence of practice in application of the new requirements on approval of OSR plans for oil transshipment and bunkering. Therefore, the cost and time can be estimated only after the exercise regulations come in force and in practice. Anyway, exercises involving representatives of different authorities are not among the cheapest.

- OSR plans are to be approved by operating companies upon completion of exercises. How many of them should be held and what is the frequency required?

- The current legislation, Cl. 2.1 Article 16.1 Federal Law No 155 only says that OSR plans should be approved after the exercises are held. No time or frequency is specified.  There is only a reference to certain regulations that have not been approved yet. Apparently, the time and frequency of exercises will be set forth by the anticipated regulations.

As for the frequency of exercises to be held by organizations operating inland water facilities, Cl. 2н of the “Rules for arranging activities to prevent and respond to oil spills” approved by RF Government’s Decree No 1189 says that exercises should be held at least once in three years. However, with OSR plans subject to a new approval procedure from November 2017, I would not say that this clause is expressly applicable to transshipment and bunkering. This issue should be forwarded to Rosmorrechflot if it is not covered by the expected regulations.

- What challenges do the operating companies face when they obtain an OSR plan?  How should they be handled?

- As a rule, major challenges are faced when OSR plans are being developed and approved. If a company has an approved OSR plan and a valid agreement with an emergency response team, it faces no significant problems. 
If a plan should be amended, all the procedures should be repeated. Of course, it is sometimes difficult to implement the activities required by OSR plans but the difficulties are usually associated with amendments introduced into in-house regulations and resolutions.

The problems should be handled through adequate approach to compliance with legislative requirements by both operating companies and regulatory authorities. It should absolutely clear, what are legal requirements a company should comply with to ensure that requirements set forth by regulatory authorities are not redundant. 
It is also important to start arranging all the events in advance so that OSR plan could take into consideration all nuances of regulatory requirements, agreements could be signed with third parties and negotiations could be held with regulatory authorities to escape redundant requirements and possible noncompliance penalties. 

The issue will be discussed in details at the XI Russian Forum “Current State and Prospects for Development of Russian Bunker Services Market” to be held on 21-22 June 2018 in Saint-Petersburg >>>> 

Interviewed by Tatiana Vilde