Bangalore: Foreign shipowners looking to register single-hull tankers in India may have to rethink plans after the maritime regulator last week scrapped an exemption that would have allowed them to operate these ships along the country’s coast.
Single-hull tankers have to be phased out by December 2010 as per a global regulation, but some nations such as India had granted exemptions allowing such ships to ply along the coast if registered locally.
This had prompted global shipowners to consider registering their single-bottom tankers in India.
But on 31 December, Suresh Kumar, a deputy chief ship surveyor and senior deputy director general (technical) at the Directorate General of Shipping (DGS), the country’s maritime regulator, said in a circular that the exemptions would apply only to those tankers “registered (in India) before the date of publication of this circular”.
Foreign shipowners can still register their single-hull tankers in India, but these ships would find it difficult to get business in the absence of privileges such as cargo support extended to Indian single-hull tankers.
“As per law, we cannot deny registration of ships when somebody wants to do so. But these tankers will not get the advantages and privileges enjoyed by existing single-hull tankers,” explained a DGS official on condition of anonymity. “As such, it will be up to them whether they want to come to India or not.”
The regulator has disclosed that the Indian National Shipowners’ Association (Insa), the local shipowners’ group, had lobbied against allowing foreign single-hull tankers from coming to India.
“Insa had made representations to this administration and the ministry of shipping that foreign single-hull tankers...may be tempted to be registered as Indian flag ships, to be able to enjoy certain advantages and privileges afforded to them for operation of Indian flag vessels along the coast, making India a dumping ground for single-hull tankers,” Kumar wrote.
Single-bottom tankers have to be replaced with double-hull ships by December 2010 globally, according to the International Maritime Organization. In India, such ships can ply along the coast till 2015 or till they reach an age of 25 years, whichever is earlier.
The regulator has, however, said applications for registration of single-hull tankers pending on the date of the circular will be processed and governed as per the existing guidelines.
This is expected to help Malaysian tanker operator AET Tanker Holdings Sdn Bhd, the petroleum-shipping arm of Malaysia’s state-run shipping firm MISC Bhd, which had applied for permission in June to register one of its single-hull tankers in India.