PCSOPEP Services Requirements & Guidance

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What is PCSOPEP ?

The Panama Canal Shipboard Oil Pollution Emergency Plan (PCSOPEP) is a program that seeks to implement emergency preparedness strategies for Panama Canal waters. The PCSOPEP services aids the Panama Canal Authority (ACP) in minimizing consequences of oil pollution and emergencies by safeguarding life, reducing the impact on the environment, and ensuring the continuous operation of the panama canal.

Vessels have the responsibility to comply with the oil polution regulations of PCSOPEP services and, in the event of a oil polution, shall activate its own plan and notify the ACP canal authority, as stated in the Regulation on Navigation in Panama Canal Waters, Chapter IX, Section Four, following the oil pollution regulations developed here in by the ACP canal authority. However, all efforts shall be in accordance with Article 10 of the oil pollution regulations on Navigation in Panama Canal waters.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]

1. Plan writing 

It’s mandatory for the vessel Owners matching the requirements to submit a PCSOPEP services to ACP for review and approval work.

The International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) has advised to submit a model PCSOPEP services Addendum for ACP’s approval. If it is approved, the model plan may be used by the owners to help them in writing the plan in-house. The ICS will advise its members after the completion of the work.

2. Authorised Person (AP)  

The ACP has given more information on the role of a Authorised Person in its latest Advisory (N12-2014), stating that the Authorised person should act as liaison between the ACP and the vessel and it’s owners in order to provide the provision of a guarantee approved by the ACP, for the charge of cleanup and response following an oil spill.

The ACP has also clarified that the ship’s agent can perform the role of an AP(Authorised Person). As your trusted ship agent Adimar Shipping, Inc. performs PCSOPEP services for a very reasonable price.

3. Oil Spill Preparedness Program

The Panama Canal Authority (ACP) has established a preparedness program for oil spill emergencies in Panama Canal waters. In the response sequence to an oil spill, the activation of the PCSOPEP is the responsibility of the vessel. Besides internal actions taken by the vessel, the ACP will respond in accordance with its contingency plan.

Response Time Planning Standard: The ACP preparedness program establishes an initial response time of six hours, which includes: the time for notification and mobilization of personnel, the time for transportation of personnel and resources to any spill location within the response area, the time for deployment of resources, and the time for start-up of operation.

In case of an oil spill, the ACP will not charge rates for the use of emergency response equipment available under the PCSOPEP program. However, the ACP will assess and charge other expenses of the response and cleanup activities, including items such as the following:

  • The use of equipment with published official tariffs such as tug services, inspection and/or escort services, salvage services, launch services, and any other applicable official tariff published by the ACP.
  • The recovery of the total cost of manpower for the response and cleanup activities, decontamination and cleanup of equipment, and general expense recovery.
  • The recovery of the total cost to replace damaged equipment due to the incident response, expendable equipment, consumable supplies and replacement parts required to return the used equipment to service.
  • The recovery of the total cost related to waste processing and disposal.
  • The recovery of total costs of services from response and cleanup contractors, if necessary, in addition to the planned preparedness established in the PCSOPEP Program.
  • The recovery of any other applicable cost due to the response and cleanup activities not already covered by official tariffs or the PCSOPEP Program.

The Advisories issued by ACP on the PCSOPEP services can be found here.

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pcsopep services

PCSOPEP Services Rules & Regulations

Vessels failing to submit a compliant PCSOPEP at least 96 hours prior to arrival at Canal waters will be classified as non-compliant and will not be given a grace period. In these cases, the vessel will be scheduled as Tier 3 and will be charged accordingly, as well as for additional resources assigned to the vessel due to this non-compliance Moreover, the vessel will only be permitable for transit after the ship owners, operators or shipping agent have paid or provided satisfactory guarantees for the payment of the applicable sanction, which will be set at a minimum of $2,500.00. Following arrivals to Panama Canal waters under similar non-compliance conditions will generate increased fines that may result in denial of transit. Ship owners, operators, and masters are encouraged to ensure that their vessels comply with the PCSOPEP services requirements and other Panama Canal regulations to avoid this inconvenience.

The PCSOPEP services can be a standalone document or an annex to an existing SOPEP or SMPEP with adequate cross references. However, neither the SOPEP nor the SMPEP alone can substitute the PCSOPEP services. Evidence of approval is in two forms, the Confirmation of Compliance (COC) and the Notice of acknowledgement (NOA). The confirmation of compliance takes place after the PCSOPEP services is reviewed by the ACP Canal authority and found to be in order, at which time the ACP Canal authority sends an e-mail to the plan writer confirming the said condition. The plan writer will in turn notify the Operator of the vessel. The NOA (Notice of acknowledgement) is accomplished at the time the ship arrives at the Canal and is boarded by the Authorities, and this can happen several months or even years after the PCSOPEP was originally submitted for verification. It is the NOA what establishes the expiration date of the PCSOPEP services.

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The PCSOPEP services expires four years from the date the NOA is delivered to the ship by an ACP boarding officer. Vessels shall provide, where applicable, the following documents to the ACP for verification:

  • A copy of the International Oil Pollution Prevention Certificate (IOPP).
  • A copy of the Panama Canal Shipboard Oil Pollution Emergency Plan (PCSOPEP), prepared specifically for the vessel.

Additionally, a copy of the Shipboard Oil Pollution Emergency Plan (SOPEP), Annex I, MARPOL, or a copy of the Shipboard Marine Pollution Emergency Plan (SMPEP), Annex II, MARPOL, must be available upon request. A PCSOPEP shall include the following information, as a minimum:

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  • Oil pollution prevention measures for Panama Canal watersPCSOPEP N12 2014
  • Spill notification procedures in a prioritized sequence
  • Spill response procedures
  • Crew training program for the reaction to shipboard and shore spill incidents
  • Record of exercises
  • Identification of the Authorized Person and telephone and facsimile where they can be reached on a 24-hour basis.

If the PCSOPEP is prepared as an appendix to an existing SOPEP or SMPEP, the complete copy of the SOPEP or SMPEP shall be submitted in order for the PCSOPEP to be verified.

We are your “Authorized Person” to represent your good vessel before the Panama Canal.

Email: [email protected]

Office Phone: +507-265-3053

Office Fax: +507-265-3054