S.Korea SK Energy to ban single-hulled tankers 2010
South Korea's SK Energy, which operates the world's second-biggest refinery, said on Friday it will not use single-hulled oil tankers from 2010, a year ahead of the government's new deadline.
SK Energy's move follows its rival GS Caltex, South Korea's second-biggest refiner, which said earlier this week it would ban such tankers from next year in the wake of the country's worst oil spill, which occurred last month. "We will only allow double-hulled tankers from 2010," SK Energy spokeswoman told Reuters over the phone.
The moves come well ahead of international laws that require the vessels to be phased out, but shipping industry sources said the decision could sound the death knell for such tankers, used predominantly throughout Asia, lifting crude oil freight markets as charterers turn to more double-hulled tankers.
Seoul's maritime ministry said earlier this week that refiners in South Korea, the largest discharge area for single-hulled very large crude carriers (VLCCs), had agreed to reduce the ration of such tankers for their crude imports to 42 percent by the end of the year from the current 52 percent.
That would fall further to 30 percent next year.
About 25 percent of the world's single-hulled supertankers usually unload in South Korea, analysts say. Of the 437 VLCCs that entered the ports of South Korea in 2007, 229 of them were single-hulled, according to Seoul's maritime ministry.
In December, a Hong Kong-based single-hulled tanker, Hebei Spirit, was involved in South Korea's worst oil spill, leaking some 10,500 metric tons of crude oil after a crane mounted on a barge punched holes in the tanker's hull.
The discharge was about a third of the size of the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill of crude oil onto Alaskan shores, the costliest on record.
In December 2003, IMO set 2010 as the principal cut-off date for single-hulled oil tankers, with a strictly limited provision permitting some vessels to continue in service until no later than 2015.