Questions & Answers

Am I a Member or Associate of ITOPF?

If your ship is insured for pollution liability by one of the 13 P&I Clubs that is a member of the International Group P&I Clubs (IGP&I), then the answer to the question will probably be yes. If your insurer is not one of these IGP&I Clubs, it is still possible that you could be a Member or Associate. If you are unsure, your pollution insurer can advise whether or not your ship is entered with ITOPF. 

What is the difference between a Member and an Associate?

Members are individual ships that are designed, constructed or adapted to carry liquid in bulk, primarily oil and chemicals but also liquefied gases, wine and even water. Membership extends to ships that are not self-propelled, e.g. barges. All other types of ship are Associates and include bulk carriers, container ships, car carriers, cruise ships, ferries, supply vessels, etc. The full definition of Member and Associate is provided in the Terms & Conditions section of our Handbook.

How do I become a Member or Associate of ITOPF and how much will it cost?

An owner or demise charterer of a ship is eligible to become a Member or Associate of ITOPF. Entry of a ship will normally be made via your P&I insurer. Annual dues are decided by ITOPF’s Board of Directors and levied across all shipowners. The amount payable is calculated according to the tonnage of the ship/s entered. For example, the 2019/2020 dues rate is set at 0.42 of a UK penny per GT for Members plus a £20 Administration fee per tanker and 0.38 of a UK penny per GT for Associates (no Administration fee). Thus, for a 50,000 GT tanker the amount payable for the year is £230 and for a non-tanker the amount payable is £190. For administrative ease, payment of dues is normally done via your P&I insurer. Members are entered individually because ITOPF is legally obliged to keep a record of Members and account for VAT where applicable. Associate tonnage is entered en-bloc by the P&I insurers.

Can I enrol an FPSO or FSU as a Member of ITOPF?

Floating Production Storage and Offloading (FPSO) units and Floating Storage Units (FSU) qualify as Members. Please enquire with your P&I Club or ITOPF if you have a similar facility that you wish to enrol as a Member.

How is ITOPF activated?

ITOPF is normally activated by your P&I Club. Occasionally, we might be contacted by a shipowner directly, the cargo owner, a local correspondent or surveyor, or by the local authorities. We also subscribe to Lloyds Casualty Reporting Service and often receive alerts of new casualties this way. 

If a particular ship is not a Member or Associate how might I gain access to ITOPF’s services during an incident and what would this cost?

For a ship that is not a Member or Associate, access to our services may be available on a consultancy basis at ITOPF’s discretion. In this case, technical assistance for a ship that is not a Member or Associate would incur a daily fee plus expenses.

Does ITOPF provide advice for incidents where there is a threat of a spill but no spill has occurred?

Yes, ITOPF will provide technical assistance for incidents where there is the risk of a spill. In many cases, prompt advice given as a contingency in the event of a spill can mitigate pollution damage. This advice can be provided on-site or remotely depending upon the severity and circumstances of the incident. If the likelihood of a spill is high we recommend travelling to site as ITOPF can work with responders and government agencies locally to protect sensitive resources and build trust. 

Does ITOPF provide advice for spills of other marine pollutants and cargoes?

Yes, our remit includes response to incidents involving spills of oil, HNS, and other cargoes that may adversely affect the marine environment. For example, we have responded to spills of wheat and coal and lost shipping containers.

Does ITOPF provide advice for incidents involving physical damage?

If, for example, a ship goes aground or drags anchor, we can provide advice in the case of physical damage to sensitive resources, e.g. corals, fish cages etc. We can also assist with identifying appropriate remedies and damage assessment.

Does ITOPF respond to incidents that do not involve ships?

Our shipowners have first call on our services. However, we have previously provided advice on-site for spills of oil originating from offshore platforms, pipelines, storage tanks and other facilities. Such advice is provided at our discretion and on a consultancy basis, for which we would charge a daily fee plus expenses.

Does ITOPF respond on-site for all incidents?

If the incident is unlikely to result in pollution damage or the spill is small, our attendance on site may not be needed and we can provide advice from the office. In some cases, ITOPF’s advice on the assessment of claims for compensation from an incident that occurred some time ago is needed. In such cases we may carry out much of the work from the office although our support at meetings to settle claims is sometimes called for. 

Is there anywhere you won’t travel?

ITOPF's primary role is to provide emergency support and advice for incidents and we aim to be on site as quickly as possible, if warranted by the severity of the incident. Nevertheless, we are committed to ensuring the safety of our staff and prior to travel our team will carry out a risk assessment.

There are usually two risk factors that will affect our ability to travel to an incident:

Travel risk: i.e. if there are no means of transport that meet our safety criteria.

Personal risk: i.e. if there is no way of travelling to site without passing through zones that are considered dangerous, for example, due to political instability, risk of kidnapping or for environmental reasons. In such cases, we will explore ways to mitigate the risk but if the risk is deemed too great we will attempt to assist remotely or possibly, from a safer location nearby.

Who should we contact if we have a technical query?

For non-urgent queries, you can contact one of our technical advisers during normal office hours, either by telephone or email. Our technical team has a broad spectrum of expertise and, as such, it is not necessary to identify a particular individual as all are available to answer queries.

To contact ITOPF in an emergency, for example to notify us of a spill of oil, please follow the emergency contact procedure accessed at the top of this page.

Is ITOPF able to assist with company contingency planning, training and spill exercises or drills and would this incur a charge?

ITOPF has assisted many industry and government organisations with their training and exercise programmes and the review or preparation of contingency plans. We consider these services to be an important part of our non-emergency work. All of our Members and Associates have access to these services and pay only ITOPF’s out-of-pocket expenses. These services may also be provided to shipowners that are not entered with ITOPF on a consultancy basis. Savings can be made if it is possible to combine these activities with other work that ITOPF may be undertaking in the same location, or if they can be organised in conjunction with other interested parties. To enquire about costs and for further details of your specific requirements, please contact us.

Why is the organisation called ITOPF?

ITOPF was established in 1968 as The International Tanker Owners Pollution Federation Ltd. Its original purpose was to administer a voluntary oil spill compensation agreement called TOVALOP (Tanker Owners Voluntary Agreement concerning Liability for Oil Pollution) in the wake of the TORREY CANYON incident. The Agreement remained in place until 1997 pending widespread ratification of the Civil Liability Convention which provides compensation in the case of spills of persistent oil from tankers. Over this period ITOPF established a reputation as the industry’s primary source of objective technical advice for spills of oil and chemicals from ships. Although originally established by tanker owners, the growing proportion of fuel oil spills arising from other types of ship led to ITOPF extending its services to all ships in February 1999. Whilst the full name no longer accurately reflected our remit, it was felt at that stage that a change of name might be detrimental as it was so well known within the industry. Over time, however, the acronym has increasingly been used in favour of the full name and the full name was officially dropped altogether on the occasion of our 50th anniversary in 2018.

Find out more about ITOPF

Our highly skilled international team are ready to assist 24 hours a day, 365 days a year to provide objective technical advice.