Alice in Wonderland
Rumours were rife yesterday that the IMO ballast Water Convention, now so close to entering into force with 34.35% of the world fleet signed up, would reach the magic 35% trigger point in early March. It is said that Belgium would be the next to ratify and would do so in March. There has been talk of Belgium being ready to sign for some time but the same is true for India, Finland and several other countries as well. Even Panama was said to be passing laws in time for an April ratification, although Panama has since said that the disparity between US and IMO rules is still a barrier. Apparently Belgium accounted for 0.6% of the world fleet in the most recent recount which would certainly bring the figure close but still a 0.05% whisker away and there are no prizes for even the smallest miss. Some faith is being put in the fact that recently the Belgian flag has been swelled recently by delivery of new tankers. It is true that Alice, a 154,379gt crude tanker, did join the Euronav fleet in January and there are indeed two sisters due later this year. However, Euronav has a policy of operating vessels under many flags and its website suggests that a choice has not yet been made for Alice’s sisters and even were it be Belgium then they will not count until they leave Hyundai’s yard. It should also be remembered that Alice’s contribution could well be offset by the almost 400 other ships that have also been delivered so far this year. Just like the character in the children’s story, Alice might well find herself shrinking to almost nothing. Still with the convention so very close it must be expected that people will be wondering when it will be triggered and we must expect speculation as to when the big day will come.