Following several incidents resulting from structural failure in oil tankers, the Maritime Safety Committee of the IMO has made mandatory certain performance standards aimed at inhibiting corrosion in cargo oil tanks. The MSC has adopted Resolution MSC.291(87), which incorporates into SOLAS Regulation II-1/3-11, “Corrosion Protection of Cargo Oil Tanks of Crude Oil Tankers” (the “Regulation”).

The Regulation will require crude oil tankers contracted for construction on or after 1 January 2012 to adopt certain protective measures against corrosion in cargo oil tanks.

These requirements apply to new crude oil tankers or crude oil/product carriers of 5,000dwt or above, engaged on international voyages, which:

a) have the building contract placed on or after 1 January 2012; or

b) in the absence of a building contract, have their keel laid or are at a similar stage of construction on or after 1 July 2012; or

c) are delivered on or after 1 January 2016.

There are three options available for meeting the requirements. These are:

1. Coating the cargo oil tanks during construction in accordance with Resolution MSC.288(87).

2. Protecting the cargo oil tanks by “alternative means”, e.g. the use of corrosion-resistant steels, which meet the requirements of Resolution MSC.289(87).

3. Exemption by the vessel’s flag state, if the vessel is built solely to carry cargoes or perform cargo handling operations with cargoes that do not cause corrosion.

Lloyd’s Register has produced a useful guidance note on these amendments, which is available on their website.