Playing it safe with hazardous cargo
The oil and gas sector has always been a big payer for the Middle East sea freight industry. With the number of ships catering for this sector increasing on a regular basis, it seems demand for related shipbuilding and ship repair services has also risen equivocally.
However, for those wishing to indulge in this thriving industry, it's important to remember that the million dollar contracts come with a hefty responsibility to ensure maximum safety standards in the transportation of hazardous cargo.
For these reasons, it is imperative for those involved in the shipping of such cargo to ensure their procedures meet with international regulations.For those who wish to increase their awareness, the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) provides a series of guidelines on tanker safety and the prevention of accidental pollution.
Fortunately, awareness of such issues in the region's sea freight industry appears to be running high with many ship owners and operators actively looking to improve the quality of service, safety and environmental protection standards.
For example, the Emirates National Oil Company (ENOC) hosted its first Marine Environment, Health and Safety (EHS) conference in Dubai last year - aiming to share best practice and quality assurance.
ENOC is just one of many oil companies keen to unite with the sea freight industry to ensure that it is operating in a safe and environmentally sustainable way.
At the conference, Yusr H. Sultan, chief executive officer of the company's terminals, shipping and LPG division, told delegates that "ENOC believes the marine EHS performance is a partnership between the various parts of the supply chain.
We have therefore run this conference with our esteemed partners to build awareness and discuss how we can contribute to enhancing our operations and controlling EHS accidents.
"The event also included a number of presentations from the Oil Companies Marine International Forum (OCIMF). For those hearing this name for the first time, OCIMF is a voluntary association of oil companies with an interest in the shipment and terminalling of crude oil and oil products.
The association strives to be the preliminary authority on the safe and environmentally responsible operation of oil tankers and terminals, and lots of useful information can be found on its website (www.ocimf.com).
At the end of the day, accidents do happen and will continue to happen during the transportation of azardous goods. However, with the correct safety measures in place, the likelihood of this can be nearly eliminated.
All that is required is a major commitment from companies dealing with the shipping of dangerous goods - and the region itself certainly appears to be upping its game to achieve this.