USA: OPA 90 - Final phase out of single hull tankers


Published: 9 December 2014

It has been a long road since the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 (OPA 90) was first implemented and as of 1 January 2015 single hull tank vessels will be phased out for use in the USA.

The Association has had reference to the Coast Guard Maritime Commons update of 5 December 2014 in preparation of this update.

The development

As of 1 January 2015 the US will have phased out all single hull tank vessels and all single hull tank vessels with double sides or double bottoms which would operate by carrying oil in bulk in both US territorial waters as well as the exclusive economic zone of the United States.

Republished here for member's reference are:

  • 46 USC 3703A - Specifying tank vessel constructions standards
  • 33 CFR 157.10D - Double hulls on tank vessels design standards
  • NVIC 10-94 - US Coast Guard guidance

Hot tip: It is important to note that vessels not constructed to the standards of 33 CFR 157.10D will be considered as single hull vessels.

Loss prevention advice

Members trading to and from the US with tankers will no doubt already be familiar with these provisions, although it may be prudent to review the same in advance of 1 January 2015.

In case an owner or charterer operates a vessel that is classified as "single hull", which means that it is not in compliance with the standards set out in 33 CFR 157.10D, need to ensure that their vessels are not trading in US waters for the carriage of oil in bulk on or after 1 January 2015.

This means it will be necessary to review existing charter arrangements with respect to trading liberties and to ensure future charters are not simply based on older pro forma terms which may no longer be suitable.