While tanker shipping continues to deliver ever-improving performance, the tanker industry is definitely not complacent.
It is wedded to maintaining its aims to develop and adopt best practices in shipping through its commitment to continuous improvement, according to INTERTANKO's managing director Dr Peter Swift.
He was speaking last week to the IMarEST/RINA joint branch on the Isle of Man.
Against a backdrop of reduced demand for most ship types coming at a time of rapid growth in fleet supply and consequentially lowered freight rates, the challenges for tanker owners today are particularly pressing, he said.
Additionally, the developing surplus in world shipbuilding capacity, besides being a headache for shipbuilders and creating its own problems, also contributes to the present and longer-term uncertainties for shipowners and their bankers.
Swift continued that as an international industry, tanker owners seek consistency in international regulations and standards, with global governance for a global industry, while providing safe, secure, reliable, cost effective and environmentally sound maritime transportation.
The environmental challenges are themselves wide ranging from managing toxic air and GHG emissions to biofouling, waste management and recycling and also embracing emerging issues, such as the avoidance of whale strikes and the minimisation of radiated noise.
He added that the already challenging quantity and quality issues associated with the future manning of ships are frequently compounded by the failure to accord fair treatment principles to ships' crews and by the growing tendency to unjustifiably criminalise seafarers after marine accidents.
In his concluding remarks, Swift suggested that the maritime industries also collectively suffer from their failure to develop appropriate mechanisms for incident reporting, accident investigations and information sharing.
While feedback and lesson-learning procedures are still generally relatively weak, the shipping community is nevertheless becoming more aware of the value of co-operation and partnership as necessary processes to deliver on their continuous improvement programmes.
*Intertanko has announced that its 40th Anniversary Dinner will be held in London on the 6th May this year. This event will be followed by an oil & tanker market seminar the following day.