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International Law
Reference:

Ensuring Safety and Environmental Protection During International Sea Transportation of Hydrocarbons

Svetskiy Arseniy Vladimirovich

ORCID: 0000-0002-0678-4841

Junior Researcher of the Environmental, Land and Agrarian Law Sector of the Institute of State and Law of the Russian Academy of Sciences

119019, Russia, Moscow, Znamenka str., 10

arseniy1107@gmail.com
Other publications by this author
 

 

DOI:

10.25136/2644-5514.2022.4.39140

EDN:

FBRXSP

Received:

10-11-2022


Published:

30-12-2022


Abstract: The subject of the study is the norms of international law regulating the activities to ensure safety during the transportation of oil and petroleum products. Special attention is paid to the protection of the marine environment from pollution. The author analyzes the international legal documents regulating the protection of the marine environment during the transportation of oil and petroleum products by sea, the existing mechanisms to prevent the occurrence of possible accidents. Recommendations are given to improve the level of marine environment protection during the extraction and transportation of hydrocarbons. It is shown that liquefied natural gas has a number of environmental, commercial and energy advantages over other types of fossil fuels.   Since a common cause of accidents that entail oil and petroleum product spills is the wear and tear of the equipment used in various cycles of production and transportation of both oil and LNG, it is concluded that proper monitoring of the technical condition of the equipment in operation, improvement of the legal framework in this area, as well as compliance with the requirements of legislation in order to identification of objects whose condition poses a threat to the environment. It is noted that a special role in preventing the negative impact on the state of the environment during the transportation of petroleum products belongs to regional agreements on the protection of the marine environment, since in this case the issue has a more substantive character for each region. The article discusses various directions of using artificial intelligence to increase the level of safety of international sea transportation of hydrocarbons.


Keywords:

oil pollution, shipping, marine pollution, international law, environmental protection, methane emissions, artificial intelligence, law, LNG transportation, marine protection

This article is automatically translated. You can find original text of the article here.

In the modern world, one of the most popular ways of transporting petroleum products and liquefied natural gas is sea transportation, the volume of which is steadily increasing every year. The transport flows of such cargoes pass through various water areas of the world ocean from the places of hydrocarbon production to the places of their processing or consumption, since a large number of industrial processing enterprises are located at a considerable distance from the oil fields, which is due, on the one hand, to the sales markets, and on the other hand, to the discrepancy between the localization of the production of fuels and lubricants using modern technologies with places of extraction of raw materials. The globality of the market plays a crucial role in the methods of transportation of crude oil and its derivatives.

The volume of cargo transportation of hydrocarbons is significant. So, for example, the largest supplier of oil and petroleum products are the countries of the Middle East, which annually supply about 920-930 million tons of these bulk cargoes to various countries (to Asian countries – over 290 million tons, to Japan – about 210 million tons, to European countries – 210-215 million tons and to the USA – 100-105 million tons) (URL: https://infopedia.su/6x63c7.html (accessed: 19.10.2022)). The spatial remoteness of the hydrocarbon production sites from the places of their processing and consumption forms the corresponding cargo flows between the countries, characterized by a certain degree of stability, structure, direction, volume and degree of uniformity (year-round, seasonal and episodic). Many of the existing shipping routes have been stable for decades.

The geography of sea cargo transportation of hydrocarbons is largely determined by the network of ports, sea channels and straits available for navigation by sea vessels of the appropriate class. Cargo flows represent the economic basis for the organization of international sea transportation. To date, the largest volume of cargo transportation falls on the Atlantic Ocean, through which the shortest sea routes between the Old and New World pass. There are three main directions of international cargo transportation in the Indian Ocean: Middle Eastern, Far Eastern and Australian. There are also three main areas of intensive shipping in the Pacific Ocean: American-Asian, two branches of American-Australian and Asian-Australian. In almost all of these directions, hydrocarbons are transported by sea with a greater or lesser degree of intensity.

For such transportation, including because hydrocarbons belong to the category of dangerous goods, various requirements are imposed on the classes and structural types of vessels, the organization of the transportation process, as well as the technology of loading and unloading. Sea transportation of petroleum products is carried out by tankers, which, depending on the capacity, are divided into classes: Super Tanker (capacity 30-70 thousand tons), Mammoth Tanker (capacity 70-150 thousand tons), Very Large Crude Carrier (VLCC, capacity 150-300 thousand tons) and Ultra Large Crude Carrier (ULCC) (capacity 300-800 thousand tons) (URL: https://novelco.ru/press-tsentr/morskie-perevozki-nefteproduktov / (accessed: 10/20/2022)). Most of the vessels belong to large international corporations specializing in the provision of services for the sea transportation of hydrocarbons.

In addition to crude oil and its refined products, liquefied natural gas (hereinafter referred to as LNG) is also transported by sea, which has a number of environmental, energy, and commercial advantages over other types of fuel, in particular, it is more convenient in terms of selling large volumes, LNG equipment has a longer service life, emissions level into the atmosphere when using LNG below. To date, there is a tendency in the scientific and analytical literature to replace pipeline gas with liquefied gas in the long term (until 2040). At the same time, in recent decades there has been a transition from long-term contracts for the chartering of LNG tankers to short-term or medium-term contracts [1, p. 296]. More and more stringent requirements are being imposed on modern ships transporting LNG in terms of ensuring the safety of transportation, as well as reducing harmful emissions into the atmosphere. In this regard, certain requirements are imposed on the design of cargo ships carrying out such transportation, aimed at minimizing the possibility of leakage of the transported substance (double-circuit structure, the shape of the tanks, embedded nickel or aluminum membranes, the stability of the ship's material to low temperatures for use in high latitudes). Special attention is paid to preventing the release of steam gas into the atmosphere, which is formed during the transportation of LNG in an amount from 0.1% to 0.15% of the total volume daily (API, 2015). For disposal purposes, it can either be used as an additional fuel source for the vessel, or it must be burned in a specially designed device. During loading and unloading operations at terminals, the steam gas can also be sent to special onshore systems for re-liquefaction (URL: https://neftegaz.ru/tech-library/ekologiya-pozharnaya-bezopasnost-tekhnika-bezopasnosti/141836-zagryaznenie-atmosfery-obektami-spg / (accessed: 10/21/2022)). In recent years, a number of logistics methods have been developed and adopted for the transportation of LNG. As an example, the form of the first separate charter for LNG transportation – LNGVOY - developed by the Baltic and International Maritime Council (BIMCO) together with the International Union of Importers of Liquefied Natural Gas (GIIGNL) can be cited.

This form of charter solved four main problems of LNG transportation:

1) an amendment to evaporation has been introduced when the carrier and the charterer agree in advance on the maximum amount of vaporized cargo during transportation. When the evaporation correction is exceeded, the charterer is paid compensation, also agreed and fixed in the charter before transportation;

2) the legal status of the residual cargo has been established (LNG residues in tanks before and after the voyage) as the property of the shipowner, taking into account the system of equivalent payments for such cargo used in the new charter;

3) the terms of payment for work on bringing cargo tanks into proper condition and ensuring their readiness for loading have been changed;

4) all risks arising from the delay of the vessel have been reviewed. Due to the specificity of the cargo during LNG transportation, special attention is paid to the accuracy of the ship's arrival schedule, and any delays can lead to huge fines. The new charter considers in detail and stipulates all possible risks with the most acceptable consequences for both parties.

However, mechanisms for reducing the harm caused to the environment during the sea transportation of hydrocarbons still need additional regulation at the legislative level.

As already mentioned, in the environmental aspect, natural gas has a number of advantages over other fuels. This is due to significantly smaller emissions of CO2, SOx, NOx and particulate matter into the atmosphere, compared with other fuels. However, as in any other production, the life cycle of LNG has its impact on the environment. Since LNG consists mainly of methane, the issue of the consequences of greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere and the impact of LNG production and transportation on global climate change is relevant. According to the findings of the report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the oil and gas sector is one of the five main sources of anthropogenic methane emissions into the atmosphere (IPCC, 2014).

It is obvious that due to their physical and chemical properties, hydrocarbons are classified as dangerous goods during their transportation. Despite the economic efficiency, the transportation of hydrocarbons by sea is also associated with significant risks, such as pollution of the marine environment, explosion or fire on board the vessel or in the port during loading operations, as well as possible economic losses as a result of pirate attacks or late delivery due to a malfunction of the vessel.

It should be noted that international law does not contain universal or regional international agreements directly regulating the transportation of hydrocarbons by sea. However, provisions regulating various aspects of maritime cargo transportation are contained in a number of international documents. First of all, it is necessary to mention the provisions of the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, which regulate the plan for taking emergency measures in case of pollution of the marine space, and also provide for measures to prevent, reduce and control pollution of the marine environment.

The International Convention on Intervention on the High Seas in Cases of Accidents Resulting in Oil Pollution, 1969, defines the concept of "marine accident", and the convention also provides for the right of coastal States to take such measures in the event of a ship accident on the high seas as may be necessary to prevent, reduce or eliminate the risk of pollution or the threat of pollution of the sea oil.

The International Agreement on the Safety of the Marine Environment is the International Convention on the Prevention of Pollution from Ships MARPOL 1973 (with protocols 1978 and 1997), which provides for a set of measures to prevent operational and accidental pollution of the seas by ship oil, liquid substances transported in bulk, packaging harmful substances, sewage, garbage, as well as ship air pollution Wednesday.

In addition to universal international documents, provisions aimed at preventing damage from pollution of the marine environment by petroleum products are also contained in a number of regional agreements. Thus, the purpose of the 2003 Framework Convention for the Protection of the Caspian Sea is to protect the marine environment in the Caspian region from pollution, including the protection, conservation, restoration, sustainable and rational use of its biological resources. The latest relevant addition to the convention in the framework of ensuring environmental safety of the sea is the signing in Kazakhstan on August 12, 2011 of the protocol on regional preparedness, response and cooperation in the event of incidents causing oil pollution. The 1976 Convention on the Protection and Development of the Marine Environment and the Mediterranean Coast regulates the prevention of marine pollution, the elimination of the consequences of pollution of the Mediterranean Sea area, as well as the protection and improvement of the marine environment of this area. Particular attention should be paid to the 1974 Convention on the Protection of the Natural Marine Environment of the Baltic Sea area, amended in connection with the change in the political map of the world and signed in 1992 by the countries of the Baltic region. It contains 38 articles devoted to the activities of the Baltic States to ensure the environmental safety of the sea area, as well as technical issues of the organization of cooperation.

The most important factor in the implementation of maritime cargo transportation is also the need to ensure the safety of human life at sea. The International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea SOLAS (English – SOLAS, International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea) is perhaps the most important of all international agreements on the safety of merchant ships. Its main goal is to establish minimum standards that meet the safety requirements for the construction, equipment and operation of ships. Thus, the transportation of dangerous goods is regulated by the rules of Chapter 7 of the SOLAS Convention.

In addition to international acts regulating the transportation of cargo itself, there are international acts that regulate the geography of transportation of hydrocarbon raw materials, in particular in high latitudes. Thus, on January 1, 2017, the "International Code for Ships Operating in Polar Waters" (Polar Code) came into force. It is an international legal document regulating safety and environmental protection issues in the framework of navigation in polar waters. The key new terms that are provided for in it are, first of all, a newly developed classification of vessels that are acceptable for use in polar waters, depending on the conditions in which their operation is possible. It is noted that the introduction of this international legal document lists possible risks leading to an increased probability of an accident with an LNG leak or a spill of oil and petroleum products. These risks may be associated primarily with ice, which affect the design of the vessel, its mechanisms, the stability of the vessel, as well as the ability to perform other tasks. Other possible sources of the risk of an accident include the following: icing of the upper structures, long periods of dark or light time of day, as well as critically low temperatures. They also include the lack of experience of ship crew members in polar conditions, remoteness and lack of complete hydrographic data, lack of equipment. Paragraph 3 of this document notes the increased sensitivity of the environment to harmful substances, as well as the difference in risk levels, which depend on factors such as geographical location, time of year, etc. Due to the geographical location of the Russian Federation, the length of its maritime border in the Arctic, as well as the intensification of navigation along the Northern Sea Route, the norms of the Polar Code, after its entry into force, began to play an important role in the development of national legislation regarding additional requirements for vessels operating in high latitudes.

It is important to ensure the proper implementation of the provisions of international agreements into national legislation. At the same time, since the frequent cause of accidents that entail oil and petroleum product spills is the wear of the equipment used in various cycles of production and transportation of both oil and LNG, it should be concluded that proper monitoring of the technical condition of the equipment in operation, improvement of the legal framework in this area, as well as compliance with requirements of legislation in order to identify objects whose condition poses a threat to the environment [9, p. 5-6].

The existing legal regime for the international maritime transport of goods is not uniform. In particular, it does not sufficiently take into account the modern practice of cargo transportation by sea and the use of electronic transport documents [4, p. 6]. The adoption of up-to-date uniform rules for the regulation of maritime transport will contribute to the onset of legal certainty, as well as increase the efficiency of international cargo transportation and will promote trade and economic development both at the national and international levels, including through the optimization of logistics [1, p. 303].

Sea cargo transportation of hydrocarbons is carried out on specialized vessels chartered for this purpose. A charter party is a contract concluded between a shipowner and a charterer, which is a kind of "free contract". This means that the terms of the contract are accepted by mutual consent of both parties. The peculiarity of such a contract is the absence of international norms containing mandatory requirements for their content, that is, all disputes are resolved in arbitration or in a pre-trial procedure. Any conflict of interests of the parties, disagreements or claims to arbitration arising from the contract entail additional costs for both the shipowner and charterers. It should be noted that the resolution of disputes arising during the transportation of LNG is even more difficult. To unify contractual relations, standard pro–forms of charters are used, for example, the above-mentioned form of the first separate charter for LNG transportation - LNGVOY.

In modern conditions of an increasing division of labor between countries, high rates of development of the world economy and international trade relations, the characteristics of cargo flows can change significantly. The growth in the volume of cargo flows poses challenges to optimize their logistics, including with the help of artificial intelligence. Such a modern phenomenon as multimodalism has revolutionized the organization of transport communications and the control of information. At the center of modern multimodalism is a data processing system necessary to ensure safe, reliable and cost–effective management of cargo transportation carried out by several modes of transport. As an example, Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) technology is an emerging technology that helps companies and government agencies (customs clearance) cope with the increasingly complex globalization of the transport system.

The artificial intelligence system can also be used in the modernization of the freight index calculation system, since the current freight index system as a method of assessing the state of the market has a number of significant drawbacks. The specific weight of various cargo flows, taken according to the data of the base period, often does not reflect the modern structure of transportation, which distorts the weighted average value of the index. As a rule, the differentiation of the dry-cargo linear and voyage index is insufficient and does not allow us to assess the situation in a particular direction of transportation. Inflation and rising fuel prices lead to a constant increase in freight rates. Under these conditions, the index calculated for the previous period no longer reflects the relationship between demand and supply of tonnage. Therefore, freight indexes are used only for short-term market forecast. When making medium-term forecasts (for a quarter, a year), additional indicators of market conditions are used, the ratio of the dynamics of rates for voyage and time-charter chartering of ships, the portfolio of orders of world shipbuilding for the current year, tonnage on the dock, scrapping of ships, the dynamics of prices for ships that were in operation [5, p. 18]. The new system can be developed taking into account the capabilities of artificial intelligence to process a large amount of data.

Taking into account the many external and internal factors affecting the process of cargo transportation, the blurred nature of the data and the volume of the task at hand, when developing a management system for the transportation of petroleum products, it is necessary to resort to intelligent technologies, which, in particular, will allow processing and ensuring the practical application of a large array of accumulated knowledge of specialists in the field of navigation and sea cargo transportation. The literature notes that there is a need to develop a class of software systems that accumulate the knowledge of specialists in specific subject areas and replicate empirical experience for consultations of less qualified users (expert systems). An important component of such an expert system is a database that has such characteristics as completeness and consistency of the data presented in it to obtain high-quality management decisions. It also seems necessary to create decision support systems – interactive automated information and analytical systems that help a decision-maker to use poorly formalized data and models to solve his professional tasks; self–learning systems based on methods of automatic classification of examples of real-world situations; intelligent systems - automated systems based on databases, and also, a complex of software, linguistic and logical-mathematical tools for the implementation of the main task – the implementation of support for human activity and information retrieval in the mode of advanced dialogue in natural language. Thus, the development and implementation of an intelligent system for the organization and management of marine cargo transportation in general, and transportation of hydrocarbons in particular, will allow to formalize knowledge and automate the decision-making process [6, p. 4]. The use of artificial intelligence should serve not only to optimize logistics, but also to reduce the negative impact on the environment during the sea transportation of petroleum products.

Regarding artificial intelligence, we can cite as an example the gas tanker Prism Courage, which belongs to the Korean SK Shipping. He made the world's first autonomous transoceanic crossing. The gas carrier used autonomous navigation to overcome about half of the 20 thousand km of the route, which made it possible to increase the efficiency of using marine fuel by 7%, as well as save 5% of CO2 emissions (URL: https://globalenergyprize.org/ru/2022/06/15/gazovoz-na-iskusstvennom-intellekte / (accessed: 10/22/2022)). The artificial intelligence installed on this vessel recognized the state of the environment, namely: weather conditions and wave height, the nearest vessels. Taking into account the information received, the program gave the necessary commands to control the vessel in real time (URL: https://neftegaz.ru/news/Suda-i-sudostroenie/739838-spg-tanker-hyundai-heavy-sovershil-pervyy-v-mire-avtonomnyy-transokeanskiy-perekhod / (accessed: 10/22/2022)). The introduction of artificial intelligence in the sphere of transportation of petroleum products and LNG by sea is promising from various sides.

First of all, in cases when all the necessary processes are performed by software methods, artificial intelligence can control all parameters and notify the system operators from among the ship's crew members in advance of the occurrence of certain risks of emergency or other abnormal situations, thereby increasing the time for a person to make the necessary decisions to neutralize such risks.  In addition, the program is able to process a huge amount of input data in real time, which allows it to make the management of the vessel optimal, as well as to prevent possible leakage of oil or LNG, which carries a huge progress in ensuring the environmental safety of the marine environment.

Summing up the above, firstly, it should be noted once again the advantage of LNG over other types of fossil fuels, which is due to less damage to the environment, although in order to achieve the goals of minimizing the climate impact of greenhouse gas emissions, it is necessary to further improve the technologies used on ships transporting LNG. A special role in preventing the negative impact on the environment during the transportation of petroleum products belongs to regional agreements on the protection of the marine environment, since in this case the issue has a more substantive character for each region – it is necessary to take into account the oceanographic and environmental conditions of specific seas, bays and straits, the special nature of ship traffic in them. In practical terms, the issues of interpretation and application of international law in relation to such areas are particularly relevant in the context of the practice of creating marine protected areas in the Arctic.

The use of artificial intelligence in the process of transportation of hydrocarbon raw materials by sea can provide significant logistical and, consequently, economic advantages. At the same time, its role is invaluable in ensuring the environmental safety of the marine environment during the transportation of oil and petroleum products, including in predicting the risks of emergency situations associated with weather conditions, man-made and other external causes.

 

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Peer Review

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The list of publisher reviewers can be found here.

A REVIEW of an article on the topic "Ensuring safety and environmental protection in international maritime transportation of hydrocarbons". The subject of the study. The article proposed for review is devoted to the issues of ensuring "... safety and environmental protection in international maritime transportation of hydrocarbons." The author has chosen a special subject of research: the proposed issues are investigated from the point of view of international and international environmental law, while the author notes that "The globality of the market plays a crucial role in the methods of transportation of crude oil and its derivatives." The provisions of the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships MARPOL 1973, the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea SOLAS, the Polar Code, a number of regional agreements, and other international documents relevant to the purpose of the study are being studied. A large volume of scientific literature on the stated issues is also studied and summarized, analysis and discussion with the opposing authors are present. At the same time, the author notes that "The geography of marine cargo transportation of hydrocarbons is largely determined by the network of ports, sea channels and straits available for navigation by sea vessels of the appropriate class. Cargo flows represent the economic basis for the organization of international maritime transport." Research methodology. The purpose of the study is determined by the title and content of the work: "... mechanisms for reducing the harm caused to the environment during the maritime transportation of hydrocarbons still need additional regulation at the legislative level", "Despite the economic efficiency, the transportation of hydrocarbons by sea is also associated with significant risks, such as marine pollution, explosion or fire on board the vessel or in port during loading operations, as well as possible economic losses as a result of a pirate attack or late delivery due to a malfunction of the vessel." They can be designated as the consideration and resolution of certain problematic aspects related to the above-mentioned issues and the use of certain experience. Based on the set goals and objectives, the author has chosen a certain methodological basis for the study. The author uses a set of general scientific, special legal methods of cognition. In particular, the methods of analysis and synthesis made it possible to generalize some approaches to the proposed topic and partially influenced the author's conclusions. The most important role was played by special legal methods. In particular, the author used a formal legal method, which allowed for the analysis and interpretation of the norms of current international law. At the same time, in the context of the purpose of the study, the formal legal method is applied in conjunction with the comparative legal method. In particular, the following conclusions are drawn: "Due to the geographical location of the Russian Federation, the length of its maritime border in the Arctic, as well as the intensification of navigation along the Northern Sea Route, the norms of the Polar Code ... have begun to play an important role in the development of national legislation regarding additional requirements for ships operating in high latitudes," etc. Thus, the methodology chosen by the author is fully adequate to the purpose of the article, allows you to study all aspects of the topic. The relevance of the stated issues is beyond doubt. This topic is one of the most important in Russia, from a legal point of view, the work proposed by the author can be considered relevant, namely, he notes "... international law does not contain universal or regional international agreements directly regulating the transportation of hydrocarbons by sea. However, provisions regulating various aspects of maritime cargo transportation are contained in a number of international documents." And in fact, an analysis of the works of opponents and international documents should follow here, and it follows and the author shows the ability to master the material. Thus, scientific research in the proposed field is only to be welcomed. Scientific novelty. The scientific novelty of the proposed article is beyond doubt. It is expressed in the specific scientific conclusions of the author. Among them, for example, the following: "A special role in preventing a negative impact on the environment during the transportation of petroleum products belongs to regional agreements on the protection of the marine environment, since in this case the issue is more substantive for each region – it is necessary to take into account the oceanographic and environmental conditions of specific seas, bays and straits, the special nature of ship traffic in them." As can be seen, these and other "theoretical" conclusions can be used in further scientific research. Thus, the materials of the article as presented may be of interest to the scientific community. Style, structure, content. The subject of the article corresponds to the specialization of the journal "International Law", as it is devoted to the issues of ensuring "... safety and environmental protection in international maritime transportation of hydrocarbons." The article contains an analysis of the opponents' scientific works, so the author notes that a question has already been raised that is relatively close to this topic and the author uses their materials, discusses with opponents. The content of the article corresponds to the title, since the author considered the stated problems and achieved the goal of his research. The quality of the presentation of the study and its results should be recognized as improved. The subject, tasks, methodology, results of legal research, and scientific novelty directly follow from the text of the article. The design of the work meets the requirements for this kind of work. No significant violations of these requirements were found, except for some invalid links in the article. Bibliography. The quality of the literature presented and used should be highly appreciated. The presence of modern scientific literature and scientific literature shows the validity of the author's conclusions. The works of these authors correspond to the research topic, have a sign of sufficiency, and contribute to the disclosure of many aspects of the topic. Appeal to opponents. The author conducted a serious analysis of the current state of the problem under study. The author describes the opponents' different points of view on the problem, argues for a more correct position in his opinion, based on the work of opponents, and offers solutions to individual problems. Conclusions, the interest of the readership. The conclusions are logical and specific: "The use of artificial intelligence in the process of transporting hydrocarbons by sea can provide significant logistical and, consequently, economic advantages. At the same time, its role in ensuring the environmental safety of the marine environment during the transportation of oil and petroleum products is invaluable," etc. The article in this form may be of interest to the readership in terms of the systematic positions of the author in relation to the issues stated in the article, which should be typical for legal research. Based on the above, summing up all the positive and negative sides of the article, I recommend "publishing".