Our Levies and Marine Qualifications system will be unavailable on 28th May 8–9:30 pm for maintenance. If you have any questions please contact AMSA Connect.

Oil cargo transfer operations at sea and in coastal waters

Advice for operators and masters on regulations specific to the transfer of oil cargoes between oil tankers at sea for domestic commercial vessels, regulated Australian vessels and foreign flagged vessels.

Transfer of oil cargo between oil tankers at sea 

Operators and masters of vessels need to be aware that international requirements which relate to ship-to-ship (STS) transfer of oil cargo at sea are contained in Annex I of the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL). These requirements apply to STS operations involving oil tankers of 150 gross tonnage and above. 

Chapter 8 of Annex I of MARPOL (Preventions of Pollution During Transfer of Oil Cargo Between Oil Tankers at Sea) mandates the following for STS operations: 

  • The vessel carries a plan prescribing how STS operations are to be conducted (STS Operations Plan) and the person in overall control of the STS operation is appropriately qualified to perform the duties (see regulation 41 of Annex I) 
  • That notification of a scheduled STS operation is provided to the local administration (AMSA) at least 48 hours in advance (see regulation 42 of Annex I for details). 

Regulation 41(5) of Annex I also require that records of STS operations be retained on board for three years. 

These international requirements are given effect in Australian law in: 

  • Sections 11B to 11G of the Protection of the Sea (Prevention of Pollution from Ships) Act 1983 
  • Sections 24 to 29 of Marine Order 91 (Marine pollution prevention - Oil) 2014. 

Transfer operations at sea other than Ship to Ship transfers between oil tankers 

All necessary precautions should be taken to ensure the safety of persons and protection of the environment for any ship-to-ship transfer of cargoes, persons, or other goods undertaken at sea in the vicinity of the Australian coast (outside port limits). 

Early notification should be sent to AMSA when such operations (outside of port limits are planned), this will enable the appropriate maritime safety information to be promulgated. 

It is requested the notification be provided in the manner detailed in s.28 of Marine Order 91 (Marine pollution prevention - Oil) 2014 and include: 

  • the date and location of the proposed transfer and full details of the vessels involved 
  • the purpose of the transfer 
  • if relevant, technical details of the cargo to be transferred (including temperatures and pressures) 
  • whether other craft (such as tugs) are to be in attendance and what equipment is to be provided to assist 
  • arrangements for oversight of other vessels in the transfer area. 

Questions relating to this procedure can be directed by email to AMSAConnect. 

Last updated: 25 November 2022