It has been the case for some time in Dubai that oil tankers of 20,000 tons dwt and upwards, but less than 40,000 tons dwt, carrying petroleum products other than crude oil which have a flash point of 60 degrees Celsius or less, which are not fitted with an Inert Gas System (IGS), will be required to have an equivalent fixed installation in accordance with the SOLAS regulations (in force since 1 January 2016). Tankers not in compliance with this requirement will be refused permission to either load or discharge the said cargoes.

What has changed recently (following an incident at Jebel Ali) is that tankers of 8,000 dwt and over, carrying low-flashpoint cargoes, and constructed (keel laid) on or after 1 January 2016, must also be provided with a fixed inert gas system complying with Chapter 15 of the amended fire safety system (FSS) Code (or an equivalent system – subject to acceptance by the flag administration). This is also a SOLAS requirement in effect from 1 January 2016.

However, even though SOLAS 74/78 has all been ratified by the UAE, it has yet to acquire the force of law. Therefore the UAE Maritime Code remains the overriding legislation. The port of Jebel Ali has issued a circular to clarify any ambiguity between SOLAS and the UAE Maritime Code and which stresses that the inert gas requirements will be enforced stringently. All tankers calling Jebel Ali Port which fall under the 1 January 2016 amendment to SOLAS will, therefore, need to comply with the regulations and there will be no exceptions unless they hold an official letter or an exemption certificate issued by their own administration. Previously, the port would overlook the requirement for such an official letter or exception certificate but this will now not be the case.

The text of the circular is available below. Members are advised to contact local agents or correspondents for more detailed information.

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