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Philippines and the chemical shipping industry

PH and the chemical shipping industry
May 8, 2018

AS the costs involved in chemical transportation are as big as the cargos themselves, numerous companies seek the services of outsourced shipping organizations, so they get to minimize the time spent on delivery while saving cash. These logistic companies help in the successful and effective delivery of chemical freight, which are used in a lot of industries, such as food.

However, although the Philippines plays a big role in providing the workforce needed by the industry, the country still lacks the necessary resources to cater to the chemical shipping market.

The Philippines’ role in the international chemical shipping industry

Caloy Paguia, a seafarer, stated that he is unsure of the exact role of the Philippines in the international chemical shipping industry. Nevertheless, he thinks that the country’s contribution would be in the maritime workforce. Paguia said, “our country is the biggest supplier of competent seafarers onboard oil and chemical tankers worldwide.”

On the other hand, Sonny Labrador, a retired messman, described the chemical shipping operations in the Philippines as “okay.” However, he thinks that there is a lot of room for further improvements and developments.
He also recalled some instances when marine personnel, both hailing from foreign and local shores, tend to drift away from the proper waste and chemical disposal at sea. According to him, this was mostly applicable to the discarding of oils. He said that he also remembered some instances of the undocumented selling of some of the ship’s goods to shores across various countries.

It appears that in the Philippines’ case, technological developments are needed. Aside from implementing the needed tech changes, everyone involved in both the local and global chemical shipping industry must also be prepared to deal with chemical-related freight incidents, such as the handling of oils and other toxic chemicals. They must also make themselves fully informed about the regularly evolving rules and regulations within the industry.

The role of the Filipino marine personnel in chemical shipping

A good number of changes and challenges are anticipated to come through within the industry over the next years; thus, it is the responsibility of Filipino chemical shipping personnel to be aware of all the proper standard operation procedures when aboard chemical tankers. They should also adhere to the marine rules and regulations towards the pursuit of the safe and quick transport of goods while taking utmost care of the marine environment.

The future of chemical shipping

There is no denying how vital chemical shipping is in the world. However, 2018 may prove to be a difficult year for the international chemical shipping industry. Last year, there has been an observed increase of chemical shipping exchange by 4%. The entire trade also saw an increase in tonne-mile demand by 5%. Despite these perceived economic movements, though, freight rates within the industry may hit a new low throughout 2018. This was a finding from the various researches conducted by the maritime consultancy company Drewry .

As new tonnage will be deployed, Drewry thinks that this may cause freight rates to continue to decrease. This will also cause older tonnage to be set aside in favor of the newer ones. Aside from this, the retiring of old tonnage will potentially give way to the eventual compliance to the Ballast Water Treatment Convention (BWTS) and other new maritime agreements, with the former under current enforcement. As expected, how the trade of clean petroleum products (CPP), such as jet fuel and gasoline, will perform overall will play a vital role on how things will play out for the international chemical shipping industry.

Despite these findings, freight rates may still be less shaky during the rest of the year, although they may hit a new low for long-haul trades due to a large influx of new tonnage. Drewry also thinks that the present year is expected to see an increase in chemical supply that will exceed its demand. Aside from the replacement that will happen with the older tonnage, the newer tonnage will be bigger than the older ones and such may also cause some additional constraints with regards to charges.

Complying with local and international regulations

Chemical tankers, as established by the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL) Annex II, are ships that specialize in the bulk transportation of fluid products or materials that are specified in the International Bulk Chemical Code (IBC Code).

The products carried by chemical tankers range from the chemicals used in everyday products to the most sensitive, toxic ones, which also goes by the terms “hazardous materials” or HAZMAT and Dangerous Goods within the industry. As such, everyone who works in the chemical shipping industry has the responsibility of maintaining a clean environment, along with a safe voyage.

In picking up the necessary, specialized skills needed in chemical trade, those who work in the industry must learn the rules and regulations that must be followed, for safety and effective business processes as well as for the promotion of the environment’s protection. There are several organizations and treaties that regulate chemical tankers, such as the International Association of Classification Societies (IACS), Oil Companies International Marine Forum (OCIMF), Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS), IBC Code, and MARPOL.

Training is also a necessary part of ensuring maximum compliance. The marine personnel who work in chemical tankers must undergo the essential programs, which are fitted to their obligations, such as the implementation of counteractive actions against pollution, ensuring the safety of personnel during fires and spills, and the proper handling of goods.

In the Philippines, there are many agencies and organizations that provide courses and training programs for these purposes. The curricula of these programs adhere to the standards set by the specified regulations, including the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships, 1973, as modified by the Protocol of 1978 (MARPOL 73/78), and the International Convention on Standards of Training Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW), 1978, which includes the 2010 Manila amendments.

These trainings usually cover topics such as information on chemical tankers as well as their operational features. Moreover, issues regarding safety and pollution prevention are underscored.