Circular 11/96: US Oil Pollution - Certification Under OPA 90



Dear Sirs


The following press release has been issued jointly by the managers of the Steamship Mutual, the Gard Club, and Thomas Miller & Co Ltd.


New COFR Facility

The managers of the Steamship Mutual, the Gard Club, and Thomas Miller & Co Ltd. have worked with Stockton Re and other interests to develop an improved facility for shipowners needing to obtain COFRs from the US Coast Guard.

Subject to final regulatory approvals, from 28 December 1996 COFR guaranties, as required under OPA/CERCLA, will be available to shipowners trading with the United States from a new company.

The Shipowners Insurance and Guaranty Company Ltd (SIGCo) has been set up in Bermuda with the sole objective of providing guaranties to the US Coast Guard on a fixed cost basis and will be open to all shipowners who choose to obtain their COFRs through SIGCo and meet the underwriting criteria set by SIGCo.

The ordinary shares in SIGCo will be held in trust for the benefit of the shipowner clients. Preference share capital will be provided by Stockton Re and other investors. SIGCO will be independent and will have its own management team. None of the three Clubs nor their managers will have a financial interest in that management. The Club managers involved have sought to facilitate the development of the new company, but none of the P&I Clubs they represent will be shareholders in the new company. Our as sistance does not imply any Club commitment to this Facility over any other and the decision on which COFR Facility to utilise rests solely with the shipowner.

The UK Club and the other International Group Clubs have not changed their position over COFRs in any way. The Clubs are not to become guarantors under OPA 90. We will continue to give members exactly the same assistance in obtaining COFRs, whether through SIGCo or any other means, as we have hitherto.


We can confirm that the Association's position on COFRs has not changed and that we will apply to any new COFR facility the same criteria as are currently applied to existing schemes.

We understand that SIGCo will be announcing details of its arrangements in the next few weeks. Members will no doubt wish to make their own assessment of this scheme in the light of the information available from their brokers.

Yours faithfully

Staff Author