TGP » Topics » Regulation - International Maritime Organization (or IMO)

This excerpt taken from the TGP 20-F filed Apr 14, 2006.

Regulation – International Maritime Organization (or IMO)

IMO regulations include the International Convention for Safety of Life at Sea (or SOLAS), including amendments to SOLAS implementing the International Security Code for Ports and Ships (or ISPS), the ISM Code, the International Convention on Prevention of Pollution from Ships (the MARPOL Convention), the International Convention on Civil Liability for Oil Pollution Damage of 1969, the International Convention on Load Lines of 1966, and, specifically with respect to LNG carriers, the International Code for Construction and Equipment of Ships Carrying Liquefied Gases in Bulk (the IGC Code). SOLAS provides rules for the construction of and equipment required for commercial vessels and includes regulations for safe operation. Flag states which have ratified the convention and the treaty generally employ the classification societies, which have incorporated SOLAS requirements into their class rules, to undertake surveys to confirm compliance.

SOLAS and other IMO regulations concerning safety, including those relating to treaties on training of shipboard personnel, lifesaving appliances, radio equipment and the global maritime distress and safety system, are applicable to our operations. Non-compliance with IMO regulations, including SOLAS, the ISM Code, ISPS and the IGC Code, may subject us to increased liability or penalties, may lead to decreases in available insurance coverage for affected vessels and may result in the denial of access to or detention in some ports. For example, the Coast Guard and European Union authorities have indicated that vessels not in compliance with the ISM Code will be prohibited from trading in U.S. and European Union ports.

The ISM Code requires vessel operators to obtain a safety management certification for each vessel they manage, evidencing the shipowner’s compliance with requirements of the ISM Code relating to the development and maintenance of an extensive “Safety Management System.” Such a system includes, among other things, the adoption of a safety and environmental protection policy setting forth instructions and procedures for safe operation and describing procedures for dealing with emergencies. Each of the existing vessels in our fleet currently is ISM Code-certified, and we expect to obtain safety management certificates for each newbuilding vessel upon delivery.

ISPS was adopted in December 2002 in the wake of heightened concern over worldwide terrorism and became effective on July 1, 2004. The objective of ISPS is to enhance maritime security by detecting security threats to ships and ports and by requiring the development of security plans and other measures designed to prevent such threats. The United States implemented ISPS with the adoption of the Maritime Transportation Security Act of 2002 (or MTSA), which requires vessels entering U.S. waters to obtain certification of plans to respond to emergency incidents there, including identification of persons authorized to implement the plans. Each of the existing vessels in our fleet currently complies with the requirements of ISPS and MTSA, and we expect all relevant newbuildings to comply upon delivery.

LNG carriers are also subject to regulation under the IGC Code. Each LNG carrier must obtain a certificate of compliance evidencing that it meets the requirements of the IGC Code, including requirements relating to its design and construction. Each of our LNG carriers currently is in substantial compliance with the IGC Code, and each of our LNG newbuilding shipbuilding contracts requires compliance prior to delivery.

Under IMO regulations, an oil tanker must be of double-hull construction, be of a mid-deck design with double-side construction or be of another approved design ensuring the same level of protection against oil pollution in the event that such tanker:

  is the subject of a contract for a major conversion or original construction on or after July 6, 1993;

  commences a major conversion or has its keel laid on or after January 6, 1994; or

  completes a major conversion or is a newbuilding delivered on or after July 6, 1996.

In December 2003, the IMO revised its regulations relating to the prevention of pollution from oil tankers. These regulations, which became effective April 5, 2005, accelerate the mandatory phase-out of single-hull tankers and impose a more rigorous inspection regime for older tankers. All of our oil tankers are double-hulled and were delivered after July 6, 1996, so our tankers will not be affected directly by these IMO regulations.

Annex VI to MARPOL, which became effective internationally on May 19, 2005, sets limits on sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide emissions from ship exhausts and prohibits deliberate emissions of ozone depleting substances. Annex VI also imposes a global cap on the sulfur content of fuel oil and allows for specialized areas to be established internationally with more stringent controls on sulfur emissions. For vessels over 400 gross tons, Annex VI imposes various survey and certification requirements. The United States has not yet ratified Annex VI. Vessels operated internationally, however, are subject to the requirements of Annex VI in those countries that have implemented its provisions. We believe that the cost of our complying with Annex VI will not be material.

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