First RP-made, double-hulled oil tanker sails

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 17 2008 08:50 AM | Updated as of Jun 17 2008 04:50 PM

By LILITA BALANE
abs-cbnNEWS.com


The first Philippine-made, double-hulled oil tanker, designed to prevent costly and environmentally-destructive oil spills such as the disaster that hit Guimaras in 2006, is now sailing.

“The ship is currently transporting bunker fuel in different parts of the country, from the Pacific Ocean to the Petron refinery in Bataan. It started last April 8. So far, the performance of M/T Matikas is far more than we expected.” George Cottrell, president of the Herma Shipyard Inc., said Monday.

Herminio Esguerra, chairman of the Herma Group of Companies, told reporters double-hulled ships such as M/T Matikas would help lower the incidence of oil spills.

Esguerra said that the ship that sank in Guimaras was a single-hulled oil tanker. With a double-hull, petroleum products are protected on all sides, he added.

"Any leaks caused by punctures will be absorbed by another hull. There is a hollow which will hold the products in case of an accident", Esguerra said.

The Philippine government imposed double-layered ships as carriers of petroleum products after M/T Solar, a single-hulled oil tanker carrying more than two million liters of bunker fuel, sank at Guimaras Strait on August 11, 2006.

The oil spill devasted the marine life and mangrove reserves in more than five municipalities in Negros Occidental.

Esguerra said the cargo tank is designed to provide five-product grade segregation. He said that the possibility of contamination between products is eliminated because of the double-valve system.

Esguerra also stressed that M/T Matikas is equipped with a fully-segregated ballast system, which is designed to prevent contamination between the cargo tanks and the ballast tanks. With these, Esguerra said that the oil tank is clean and ballast water released to the sea is oil-free.

M/T Matikas, which costs 10 million US dollars, was approved by the International Maritime Organization (IMO). The IMO also ordered that carriers of petroleum products must be double-hulled oil tankers to prevent oil spills.

The ship is licensed and certified by Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA), American  Bureau of Shipping, Ships Inspection Report, and the Marine Pollution, an International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution From Ships (MARPOL).

Aside from an oil tanker that is safe to the environment, Esguerra said that "his company is proud to say that the ship was built locally and was built by Filipinos."

"We are not just launching a vessel here, we are launching a history. This is the first oil tanker ship that is 100% Filipino-made. It was built in Hermana Shipyard in Bataan.The design was done by Filipino engineers and naval architects. The welders were also Filipinos. This is a breakthrough in our shipbuilding industry", Esguerra said.

“It is the first time that Herma came up with its new, double-hulled ship. Before, we (Herma) just convert local vessels of single-hull to double-hulled ships.Now, we were able to come up with a new one", a staff of Herma Shipyard, Inc. said.

Cottrell said the company can buy an oil tanker from abroad, but it is more expensive. To import a cheaper ship would mean sacrificing quality, he said.

“Herma Shipyard can buy double-hull ships from abroad, like in Japan or Korea, but it is expensive. We (Herma) may choose to buy those from China, but we cannot sacrifice the quality of the ship. It may be cheaper, but could be of low quality. So we decided to build our own oil tanker here in the country”, Cottrell explained.

Esguerra explained that he was encouraged to build a double-hulled ship when he visited shipyards abroad. He said he saw many Filipinos working in  the shipyards of Korea, Japan, Taiwan, Singapore and China.

"Most of their workers are Filipinos. I realized that the Filipinos have many talents, but they were not utilized inside the country because of the lack of opportunities," he said. "Many overseas workers sacrificed their families to work in shipyards abroad."

Esguerra said that if the Filipinos can show the world that they can create world-class ships for the international market, the country can generate more jobs.