FALKLANDS, Argentine, and Chilean cruise ship tourism is likely to be negatively impacted as a result of a ban on the use and carriage of Heavy Gas Oil (HGO) in Antarctic waters by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO).
Falkland Islands Tourist Board (FITB) General Manager Jake Downing told its Directors this week, “FITB are in touch with ships agents and Stanley Services Limited to work out what impact this will actually have on the Falklands cruise industry. Feedback from the Seatrade Convention has highlighted that if this policy is implemented it may have an impact on the large vessels which call into the Falklands as well as some of the expedition vessels.”
He said FITB currently, “…do not have enough information at this stage as to what the impact this will have however we are working on this.”
All members of the International Association of Antarctic Operators recently received information from the IAATO Executive saying that the news from the IMO sub-committee meeting on Bulk Liquid & Gases (BLG) in London will create difficulties for many IAATO operators, since it relates not only to a ban on the use but also the carriage of Heavy Gas Oil (HGO) in Antarctic waters.
He said, “For some IAATO operators, this may seem like a reasonable move on the part of IMO. But what is particularly disquieting about this development is that the intention of the ban seems only to be on tourist, fishing and cargo vessels. Military vessels, supply vessels, salvage vessels and SAR vessels will not be affected.
“Furthermore, no delay in the decision-making was made to consider the true effect of the ban; e.g. any oil spill is problematic, and the pour point of HGO is 30 C, so when cold, it solidifies to a wax ball and most likely would sink. We believe there has been a rush to adopt a ban without sufficient understanding of the behaviour of HGO in cold water.”
The definition of HGO is:
- Crude oils having a density at 15 C higher than 900 kg/m3
- Oils, other than crude oils, having a density at 15 C higher than 900 kg/m3
- Bitumen, tar and their emulsions.
If the document is accepted next March at the IMO MEPC (Marine Environment Protection Committee) meeting, the ban would become effective for the 2011-2012 season.
As Cees Deelstra of Holland America points out, This will have a large economic impact on the Falklands, Chile and Argentina. Other South American ports will suffer as well, as the overall number of circumnavigations of the continent could very well be reduced as a result.
By Lisa Johnson – SeAledPR – Stanley