Technical Advice


Purpose of the Plan

The Shipboard Oil Pollution Emergency Plan (SOPEP) is to be regarded as essential information passed on by the owners to the Master of a vessel.
It shall advise the Master how to react in case of an oil spill, to prevent or at least mitigate, negative effects on the environment.
The Plan contains operational aspects for various oil spill scenarios and lists communication information to be used in case of such incidents.
Legal Background
It is compulsory for all ships of more than 400 Gross Tons (Oil Tankers of more than 150GT) to carry a SOPEP onboard.
In the context of Small Commercial Vessels, it is compulsory for all vessels engaged in fuel transfer to carry a SOPEP onboard. The SOPEP document must be approved in form and content by the Certifying Authority acting on behalf of the MCA.
The required contents are as described in MARPOL Convention Annex I Reg. 26.
“Guidelines for the Development of a Shipboard Oil Pollution Emergency Plan” are published by IMO under MEPC.54(32) 1992 as amended by MEPC.86(44) 2000.
The Plan consists generally of 4 Sections, with mandatory contents and its appendices; plus additional information of contact addresses and data plus a set of relevant drawings for easy reference for the Master.
The SOPEP document is to be tailored carefully to the particular vessel, company procedures and policies. Specific instructions should be incorporated according to ship type, purpose, and company requirements.
The individual SOPEP should be prepared in line with the following “Table of Content/Index of Sections”.
Table of Contents
The SOPEP shall consist of the following Chapters:

  1. Ship identification data
  2. Table of Contents
  3. Record of Changes
  4. Section 1: Preamble
  5. Section 2: Reporting Requirements
  6. Section 3: Steps to control Discharges
  7. Section 4: National and Local Coordination
  8. Minimum Appendices:
    List of Coastal State Contacts
    List of Port Contacts
    List of Ship Interest Contacts
  9. Ship’s drawings:
    General Arrangement Plan
    Tank Plan
    Fuel Oil Piping Diagram
  10. Further appendices on owners’ decision
    Special parts to observe
    The ship’s identification data page may contain the owner’s/manager’s address. However, it is advisable to list all communication data in the Appendix “Ship Interest Contacts”, as changes in telephone numbers. etc. can be altered and the amendments need not to be approved.
    Additional entries
    According MARPOL following appendices should be added to the SOPEP:
    • Coastal State Contacts (as annually published but quarterly updated on Internet by IMO)
    • Blank form for listing of Port Contact Addresses to be kept up-to-date by the Master
    • Ship Interest Contact List (communication data including 24 hour contact phone numbers to owners/managers, charterer, insurance, P&I Club, etc.)
    The Coastal State Contact List can be obtained in the Internet pages of IMO under the address under navigator “National Contacts” for downloading and printing.
    Following drawings should be added to the SOPEP for easy reference for the vessels command in case of an oil spill:
    • General Arrangement Plan
    • Tank Plan
    • Fuel Oil Piping Diagram
    Those drawings form the minimum requirement by MARPOL. Further plans may be added if found appropriate.
    Additional voluntary Entries
    Additional Appendices can be entered as found necessary by the owners. i.e.
    • Training and drill procedures
    • Plan review procedures
    • Record keeping procedures
    • Public affairs policy
    All appendices (mandatory or not) have to be kept updated by the owners