Specialized foreign vessels to soon service PH gas project


The Philippine Maritime Industry Authority (Marina) will soon allow special-purpose foreign-flag vessels to exclusively service the Malampaya deepwater gas-to-power project in Batangas, south of Manila.

Special purpose vessels are those used in oil exploration and drilling activities, offshore surveying, dredging, construction, and underwater cable laying, among others.

Marina deputy administrator for planning Atty. Nicasio Conti told PortCalls memorandum circular (MC) 105 excludes liner and containerized cargo vessels. The circular has been tabled for Marina Board approval this month.

“MC 105 is specific as it will only cover specialized vessels for the Malampaya project as local units are not enough to address the demand,” Conti said.

“The fear of local liner operators that such order will allow foreign vessels to compete with them is not true as the guidelines will still be the same just like before,” he added.

“The interest of local operators is protected as Marina will not allow entry of any ‘specialized vessel’ as long as there is enough bottoms in the local market.”

It may be recalled that the Philippine Liner Shipping Association (PLSA) earlier expressed opposition to the MC, claiming it could be used by foreign carriers to circumvent the country’s cabotage law.

PLSA explained that even under existing laws, foreign vessels can operate on local waters and compete with local liners.

Marina allows foreign-flag vessel to operate in the domestic trade as long as there is a deemed shortage of vessels.