Namely, the PRC Maritime Safety Agency (MSA) recently published new Measures of Administration on Agreement for Ship Pollution Response Regime, which will become effective on 1 March 2020.

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Along with these measures, the MSA has also published a Directory of Hazardous Bulk Liquid Cargo Apt to Cause Pollution for which oil booms need to be deployed during cargo operations or an Agreement with a SPRO needs to be concluded.  The International Group (IG) has checked this effective date with the China MSA and it has been confirmed that this date will remain as 1 March 2020 and will not be postponed because of the COVID-19 outbreak.

According to the Swedish Club, there is no material change to the SPRO requirements, but operators will note that from 1 March 2020, no SPRO Agreements will be needed for any of the following:

  • Any ship under 10,000 GT either in ballast or carrying a liquid cargo in bulk not listed in the Directory;
  • Any ship driven by clean fuels and carrying a liquid cargo not in bulk.

Oil booming is only required, inter alia, for ships loading, discharging, transferring over 300mt of cargoes listed in the Directory.

In addition, the MSA no longer publishes its own recommended SPRO Agreement wording and the parties are free to negotiate all terms. A new Committee has also been established under the auspices of the China Diving and Salvage Association (CDSA), which will take responsibility for training and assessing the capabilities of SPROs, establishing a central database for information as to SPRO capabilities and negotiating contract terms.

Furthermore, the Swedish club recommends that operators must also note the following:

  • Where the port which the ship is entering, leaving or operating from does not have a SPRO with the required level of response capability, the Owner is not required to enter into an Agreement with a SPRO;
  • Owners are required to report to the MSA any SPRO that does not fulfil its emergency standby obligations;
  • Owners are required to continue to report to the local MSA any cases of ship sourced pollution in the waters of the PRC.