Mediaroom

HNS Workshop in Rome, Italy

David Tyler, WLPGA Director, attended a Hazardous and Noxious Substances (HNS) workshop in Rome on 10th October 2014 which was hosted by the Italian government at the headquarters of CONSAP (the Italian Public Insurance Services Agency).

The workshop on the HNS Convention (or the International Convention on Liability and Compensation for Damage in Connection with the Carriage of Hazardous and Noxious Substances [which includes LPG] by Sea) was organised by the International Oil Pollution Compensation Funds (IOPCF).

Over 50 delegates attended the workshop including representatives from the Italian government, including Elizabeth Rosi who opened the workshop on behalf of the Minister for Environment. His Excellency Antonio Bandini, the Italian ambassador in Oslo, chaired the workshop which was attended by other senior Italian government officials, private industry and overseas delegates, including representatives from the IMO, European Commission and the Chemical Industry.

Over 50 delegates attended the workshop including representatives from the Italian government, including Elizabeth Rosi who opened the workshop on behalf of the Minister for Environment. His Excellency Antonio Bandini, the Italian ambassador in Oslo, chaired the workshop which was attended by other senior Italian government officials, private industry and overseas delegates, including representatives from the IMO, European Commission and the Chemical Industry.

For more background on the HNS Convention please check out this link from the WLPGA website discussing a Q & A on HNS with David Tyler: www.worldlpgas.com/mediaroom/275/85/HNS-All-You-Need-To-Know

The purpose of the workshop was to review progress on the 2010 HNS Convention and debate some of the issues relating to its future ratification. The WLPGA was invited to attend the workshop as an observer, representing the LPG industry. LPG is one of the four accounts within the HNS Convention.

Elizabeth Zhang from The International Tanker Owners Pollution Federation Limited (ITOPF) presented a case study involving LPG. In 2006 the LPG tanker vessel KEW BRIDGE, carrying a cargo of 8,798 tonnes of butane, ran aground near the Finolex Terminal, Ratnagiri, Maharashtra, India. The terminal was closed down by the authorities whilst the vessel was still aground, the surrounding villages were evacuated for a day, and a fishing ban was imposed.  The vessel was lightered by pumping out the bunkers and removing 2,000 tonnes of butane gas to a second LPG tanker and safely refloated without spillage. This is the sort of incident that might be covered by a future HNS Convention if the outcome had been more serious.

Jose Maura, Director of IOPCF, said the workshop is a ‘step in the right direction’ as there is a gap in the regime of liability and compensation that needs to be plugged with the HNS Convention. Currently the registered ship owner is responsible for incidents involving vessels.

He said ‘we need to do something about it’ if we care for the victims of serious incidents at sea involving LPG and other hazardous and noxious substances. The HNS Convention when ratified will achieve that. Jos Verlinden, representing the European Chemical Industry Council (www.cefic.be), described what his industry is doing to support the implementation of the HNS Convention. David Baker from the International Group of P & I Clubs (www.igpandi.org) explained the role of his organisation. The thirteen principal underwriting member clubs of the International Group of P&I Clubs (“the Group”) between them provide liability cover (protection and indemnity) for approximately 90% of the world’s ocean-going tonnage and 95% of the world’s ocean going tankers. He said there were 192 HNS related incidents between 2002 and 2010 but only one would have impacted on the Convention. Although history is no guide as to what might happen in the future this illustrated the relatively low level of exposure the HNS Convention might have to deal with. In the event of such an incident the contributions to support resulting claims would be collected afterwards.

Francois Marier, representing the Transport Ministry within the Canadian government, discussed some of the implementation issues of the HNS Convention. Some states are well advanced with Norway and Sweden in particular likely to have laws in place by 2017. The protocol requires that 12 states are to ratify the convention before it comes into force. Currently eight states have signed the HNS 2010 Protocol, subject to ratification, and it is expected that a further four states will accede/ratify in the very near future. The Protocol will enter into force 18 months after the 12 ratifications have been secured.  The expectation is that the majority of some 100 member states will then sign up, rather like the oil convention that is already in place. He said there is a need to ‘sell the HNS Convention’.

David Tyler explained to the delegation that the WLPGA has committed to communicating the HNS Convention story to its members and suggested it might be useful to have some fictitious case studies that describe the consequences of an incident at sea involving HNS cargoes, with and without the Convention in force. This idea had support and will be developed.

Dr Lemonia Tsaroucha from the European Commission said Italy currently holds the position of President of the EU and that there is support from the 28 member states for the ratification of the HNS Convention from the EU.

In summary Francois Marier said that the international community has developed a framework to fill the gap with the HNS Convention and many states are working towards ratification. There is support from both sides of the industry and he mentioned the commitment of the WLPGA and CEFIC. He said a coordinated effort is needed, with better tools, to ensure the HNS Convention gets ratified soon in order to provide a global regime with benefits for all parties, not least the victims of incidents involving HNS cargoes. Francois said a new brochure has been published describing the 2010 HNS Convention and that copies will be available shortly.

His excellency Antonio Bandini closed the workshop by reminding delegates that public opinion is very different now to what it was years ago and that the Italian government is committed to the early ratification of the HNS Convention.

For more information about the WLPGA’s important involvement in the IOPCF meetings contact David Tyler (dtyler@worldlpgas.com) or visit www.hnsconvention.org