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28 November 2023

Fujairah port to ban entry of single-hull lube barges

Fujairah port is implementing global conventions. (MOHAMMED MUNAWAR)

By Ashaba K Abdul Basti

Single-hull tankers of less than 600 tonnes deadweight (dwt) such as lube oil barges will cease to call at the Fujairah port and offshore anchorage this year, according to port authorities.

The port is calling for an end to the use of such lube oil barges by December 2009 in a bid to conform to international maritime environment conventions, as well as requirements by local maritime authorities.

"Accordingly, from January 1, 2010, all lube oil barges based in Fujairah for supplying lube oil at Fujairah Port and Offshore Anchorage area must be double hulled," said an official at the port.

Single-hull tankers older than 25 years will no longer be allowed to call at the Port of Fujairah and Fujairah Offshore Anchorage regardless of their GRT [Gross Register Tonnage], according to the Fujairah Port Authority.

The UAE became a signatory to the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution (Marpol) in October 2006 and has said it will follow International Maritime Organisation (IMO) regulations on the phase-out of single hull tankers.

The IMO, the United Nations agency responsible for improving maritime safety and preventing pollution from ships, says all vessels more than 20 years old must be withdrawn from service, while all single-hull vessels have to be replaced with double-hull ones by 2010.

According to the IMO regulations, single hull tankers in the 600 to 5,000 dwt range can no longer be used for transport of heavy grade oil. This is the size range most commonly used as bunker barges.

Badreya Ahmed Al Dhahri, Director of the Marine Affairs Department at the National Transport Authority (NTA), which is responsible for the registration of all ships in the UAE, told Emirates Business last year that the UAE would not allow any single hull tankers after 2010. "We are streamlining our regulations and we have made it clear that no single-hull tankers will be allowed to trade in the UAE after the 2010 deadline," he said.

Located on the eastern seaboard of the country and about 70 nautical miles from the Strait of Hormuz, the port of Fujairah is the second largest bunkering port of the world after Singapore and has become an important trade link between the Indian Subcontinent, the Far East, the Middle East and Europe. The port acts as a centre to meet the requirements of shipping community in the Middle East and the surrounding region by offering services such as container handling, general cargo, bulk cargo, Ro-Ro (roll on-roll off), anchorage, marine supply and ship repair.

Port authorities are taking serious measures to address growing environmental concerns at the Fujairah coast because tankers and cargo ships that pass through the Strait of Hormuz, one of the world's busiest waterways, often release crude oil, waste and other hazardous substances into the waters.

Ship brokers have estimated that as many as 300 vessels of various sizes are lying idle at the port due to failure to secure employment as demand for commodity shipment continues to declines.

But in a move to protect the port from any environmental challenges, the Port of Fujairah has said it has started penalising all vessels calling at the Fujairah Offshore Anchorage area for each day after the tenth day of stay. The extra charges on idle ships anchored at Fujairah are also to reduce congestion and allow new arrivals access to the facilities.

Vessels that berth for the first five days after the tenth day will be charged Dh5,000 per day, while vessels that continue to berth from the 16th to the 20th day will be charged Dh7,000 per day. Vessels will be charged Dh10,000 per day from the 21st day onwards. Shipping agents and not the owners will be charged the penalties.

Meanwhile, vessels calling at a specific Area D of the Fujairah Offshore Anchorage Area, which has only six anchoring positions for vessels carrying hazardous cargoes, explosives and LPG and LNG, will only be allowed to berth for a maximum of five days. This is due to limited anchoring positions and increase in number of LPG and LNG carriers in the area.