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    EMSA finalises contracts for standby oil recovery vessels

    News // December 6, 2005

    The European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) announced that it has finalised contracts for the chartering of oil recovery vessels to be stationed in four priority areas around the EU coast.

    Three companies have been selected to provide the services after a nine month tender process. A pool of five vessels will cover the Baltic Sea under the coordination of the Finnish company Lamor Corporation.

    The French company Louis Dreyfus Armateurs will provide one large vessel for the Atlantic Coast and western approaches to the Channel, and the Maltese company Tankship Management will operate in the Mediterranean Sea.

    “This unique operational task is one of EMSA’s major and most visible contributions to maritime safety in European seas” said Willem de Ruiter, EMSA Executive Director. “By chartering these ships, EMSA fully participates in the protection of our seashores. The Prestige accident demonstrated the lack of high capacity response equipment in Europe and this weakness has now been partially remedied."

    "The network of vessels will be strengthened in 2006 and EU Member States will be able to rely on 'a reserve for disasters' which will normally be available within a maximum of 24 hours,” said Mr de Ruiter.

    With the entering into force of Regulation 724/2004/EC, EMSA has a legal requirement to assist Member States in their response to ship-sourced pollution within the Community. In responding to this requirement, the Agency took various factors into account, including the general increase in seaborne oil tanker traffic, specifically from the former Soviet Union, and the socio-economic and environmental sensitivities along the European coastline.

    Given both the limited budget and the requirement to fulfil such a “top-up” role in a cost-efficient manner, EMSA was neither in a position to build, nor to buy, dedicated spill response vessels. Instead, it created a public-private initiative to implement its task in practice.

    The contracted vessels will, under normal circumstances, carry out their day-to-day commercial activities. In the event of a large oil spill, and following a request for assistance from a Member state, the vessel will cease its usual activity and, at short notice, will be transformed into and operate as an oil recovery vessel. The contractor is obliged to respond positively to all requests for assistance regardless of the spill location.

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