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Merchant Shipping (Prevention of Oil Pollution) Regulations 2019

Synopsis

These regulations revoke and replace the Merchant Shipping (Prevention of Oil Pollution) Regulations 1996 and its amendments on 1 March 2019.

The 2019 regulations transpose current rules under Annex 1 (Regulations for the prevention of pollution by oil) to the MARPOL convention. The Polar Code, which concerns the protection of ships within and navigation of polar areas, is also transposed.

 
 
 

Summary

The Merchant Shipping (Prevention of Oil Pollution) Regulations 2019 revoke and replace the Merchant Shipping (Prevention of Oil Pollution) Regulations 1996 on 1 March 2019.

What will be updated?

The 2019 regulations consolidate the 1996 regulations and its subsequent amendments. The 2019 regulations also transpose revisions to the IMO’s International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL) Annex I (Regulations for the Prevention of Pollution by Oil) yet to be implemented in the UK and the requirements of the Polar Code.

Scope

These regulations concern discharges by UK ships, whether within the UK waters or anywhere else in the world. This regime also concerns discharges by non-UK ships within UK waters.

The regulations do not apply to warships, Naval auxiliaries or other ships owned and operated by the State and used for government non-commercial service.

Changes Made

The 2019 regulations revise the marine prevention of oil pollution regime as follows:

  • The regime now specifically applies to all UK whether in UK waters or not;
  • The regulations refer directly to technical standards and operational requirements on ships within MARPOL Annex I, rather than transposing them through UK law.
  • An ‘ambulatory reference to MARPOL Annex I is introduced. This provides an up to date reference to the convention regardless of future amendments. This means that in the future, new or amending regulations will not be required to transpose changes to the convention.
  • The 2019 regulations reflect changes to rules on vessels under Annex 1 of MARPOL. This includes:
    • Updated rules on oil residues (Sludge) and on tanks for oil residue storage;
    • Updated rules on the protection of oil fuel tanks;
    • Updated requirements on oil pollution emergency plans;
    • Special requirements for the carriage of oils in the Antarctic area;
    • Implementation of the IMO’s International Code for Ships Operating in Polar Waters (the Polar Code), which concerns the protection of ships within and navigation of polar areas; and
    • Updated rules for the prevention of pollution during transfers between oil tankers at sea.
  • Obligations on offshore installations are clarified. Requirements on the discharge of oil or oil mixtures from machinery space drainage will not be applied to fixed or floating production platforms in the UK continental shelf, unless capable of or engaged in being propelled through water by their own power.

    Floating production, storage and offloading facilities and floating storage units will specifically remain subject to controls on oil and chemical pollution under MARPOL Annex I.

Background

The Merchant Shipping (Prevention of Oil Pollution) Regulations 1996 concerned the regulation of oil pollution by UK ships, whether within the UK waters or anywhere else in the world. This regime also applies to non-UK ships within UK waters. This regime implements Annex I to MARPOL.

Eligible ships must be surveyed and certified against these regulations to:

  • Proceed or attempt to proceed to sea; or
  • Remain at sea, if already at sea.

 

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