Circular 5/95: Shipboard Oil Pollution Emergency Plans (SOPEP)



Dear Sirs,


The requirement for ships to carry on board a Shipboard Oil Pollution Emergency Plan (SOPEP) under Regulation 26 of Annex I to the International Convention for Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL 73/78), has been applied to new buildings delivered after 4th April, 1993. With effect from 4th April, 1995, the Regulation has come into force in respect of every oil tanker of 150 GT and above and every other ship of 400 GT and above, irrespective of the date of delivery. All such ships must now carry on board a SOPEP.

The Regulation affects ships entitled to fly the flag, or operating under the authority, of states which are a party to MARPOL 73/78. It should also be noted that the SOPEP required under the Regulation is the same plan that is required under Article 3 of the International Convention on Oil Pollution Prevention, Response and Co-operation, 1990 which comes into force on 13th May, 1995. It is, however, different, from the vessel reponse plans required under OPA 90 for oil tankers operating in United States waters.

The Regulation requires that the SOPEP must be in accordance with the guidelines developed by the International Maritime Organisation and that it be approved by the administration of the ship's flag state. Copies of the booklet issued by the International Maritime Organisation containing the guidelines are available on application to the Managers. Members who have had any difficulty in complying with the Regulation may also find it of assistance to obtain a copy of the International Chamber of Shipping model plan which has been prepared on the basis of the IMO guidelines. The model plan is accompanied by a w.p. diskette and can be purchased at a cost of £35.00 from the ICS in London: Fax :0171-417-8877; Phone :0171-417-8844.

Members should be aware that any ship to which the Regulation applies which does not carry on board a SOPEP may be subject to a penalty by the ship's flag state or by any state whose waters the ship may enter which is a signatory to MARPOL 73/78 or the International Convention on Oil Pollution Prevention, Response and Co-operation, 1990. It is also important to note that the application of the Regulation has been extended under the laws of Canada and the United States to ships entering their waters whose flag states are not parties to MARPOL 73/78. Furthermore, these and some other port states are already enforcing the Regulation, imposing penalties for non-compliance.

Yours faithfully,


Staff Author