Relevant topics

2020 February 4

Last year oil spills

According to Marine Rescue Service, over 100 offshore oil spills were registered in 2019. Rosprirodnadzor attributes them to insufficient equipment of emergency response teams and violation of bunkering regulations. Meanwhile, Rosmorrechflot announced earlier approved OSR Plans to be invalid over which Rosmorrechbunker applied to the Prosecutor's Office.

Supply but verify

In 2019, Marine Rescue Service (MRS) registered 104 spills of crude oil and oil products. Russia’s Federal Supervisory Natural Resources Management Service (Rosprirodnadzor) says that the total area of contamination exceeded 800,000 square meters.

As Rosprirodnadzor told IAA PortNews, the key cause of oil spills is “insufficient equipment of ships with oily water separators, accumulating and discharging systems, violation of bunkering regulations as well as lack of clean-up boats, bilge water removing ships and dedicated shore stations in ports, shortage or absence of rescue units responsible for oil spill response activities”.

In 2019, MRS took part in 95 OSR operations with the bulk of them held in the Primorsky Territory (50 cases). The number of operations held in the Azov-Black Sea Basin – 17, in the area controlled by the Arkhangelsk branch – 12, in the Caspian Basin – 9.

According to earlier statements of MRS, its annual demand of financing for execution of state tasks is covered by the budget by only 12-15%. The remaining amount is raised from commercial activities of the Service, primarily its participation in offshore projects.

Emergency response teams are to perform their OSR operations in compliance with the approved OSR Plans. Meanwhile, Federal Marine and River Transport Agency (RMRF) has announced plans approved for a period between 24 November 2014 and 10 November 2018 to be invalid. The bunkering company are to approve new plans in compliance with the current legislation requiring exercises and obtaining of a positive conclusion from Rosmorrechflot.

Repeated approval of OSR Plans requires additional time and finance investments from the business. According to Russian Association of Marine and River Bunker Suppliers (Rosmorrechbunker), the dev of a new OSR Plan will cost RUB 500,000 on the average, exercises – RUB 600,000-800,000 while the approval procedure can take to 61 working days and more.

Rosmorrechbunker says OSR Plan approval used to foresee comprehensive exercises within 30 days upon approval and at least once in three years. Such exercises were to involve representatives of the federal authorities including Rosmorrechflot.

The Association considers the requirement of Rosmorrechflot to approve new OSR Plans as a violation of the laws. Therefore, Rosmorrechbunker applied to the Prosecutor's Office with a request to cancel the instructions of Rosmorrechflot.

Federal Marine and River Transport Agency decline to comment on the situation.

As Kirill Maslov, Managing Partner, St. Petersburg Law Offices “Inmarine”, told IAA PortNews, OSR Plans are not lifetime but they cannot be declared invalid post factum due to regulatory changes.

Nevertheless, the situation with oil spills remains alarming, especially in the Far East Basin. Perhapse, Rosmorrechflot’s requirements are not legally correct but the business should offer some alternatives for minimization of oil spills’ negative impact and, what is even more important, for their prevention. Otherwise, the state can opt for toughening of requirements in this respect.

Read more in the new edition of PortNews magazine available in the Editor’s Office of the company. 

Vitaly Chernov