Did you know there was a new ship recycling regulation coming into force from 31 December 2018?
I confess I was not aware that the European Regulation on Ship Recycling (EU SRR) is due to come in to force from 31 December 2018. A quick straw poll of half a dozen delegates at the Tanker Shipping & Trade conference this week in London found I was not alone.
The general answer was “I recall there was something due, but I have been so focused on IMO 2020 that it completely slipped my mind.”
Fortunately, the European Regulation on Ship Recycling was the subject of the INTERTANKO Breakfast Briefing which was held on the first morning on the conference. As I listened to the background behind the implementation, I became more and more confused.
The confusion came from how the EU was attempting to implement, for the third time of trying, a measure forcing European shipowners to recycle their ships in Europe.
I understand the environmental reasons for the measure, but surely there was someone in the process of forming this regulation that had enough knowledge of the practicalities of scrapping a ship to know that this is a non-starter.
Take VLCCs as an example. Toward the end of life these tend to migrate to Greek owners. In the first 10 months of 2018, 33 VLCCs have been sold for scrap. Of these 19 were sold by Greek and German owners. None of these VLCCs were sailing under their owners’ home flags.
Even if in 2019, a Greek owner sold a VLCC for recycling while under the Greek flag – where would that VLCC be scrapped? Looking at the list of the EU approved yards, there are only three capable of berthing a vessel of 300 m or more (Keppel-Verolme 405 m, Able UK 337 m, Harland & Wolff 556 m). It would only take two or three VLCCs to occupy all the available capacity, let alone a dozen or more.
So, there you have it, from the start of 2019, European flag tankers must be scrapped in approved European recycling facilities. I confidently predict there will be no European-owned VLCCs scrapped in Europe in 2019, despite the best attempts of the EU.