Lloyd's Working on Arctic Ice Regime

The region's "extreme and fast changing risks" call for it to support IMO's Polar Code, which would set safety and environmental standards for ships operating in those waters.

Citing gaps in knowledge and disparities in ice regimes as possible hindrances to the effectiveness of the International Maritime Organization's proposed Polar Code, which will introduce mandatory safety and environmental standards for ships operating in polar waters as those regions' oil and gas reserves are developed, Lloyd's announced it is working on an initiative to foster a common ice regime in the Arctic to support the Polar Code and improve safety standards.

The British insurance market's director of Performance Management, Tom Bolt, spoke last week at the Economist Arctic Summit 2014, saying the market supports the draft Polar Code completed earlier this year. Operating in the Arctic and Antarctic exposes ships and their owners and insurers to several unique risks, said Dr. Heike Hoppe, IMO's senior deputy director, Marine Environment Division. Rescue or pollution cleanup would be difficult and expensive because the regions are so remote, and their frigid temperatures and ice may reduce the effectiveness of equipment, machinery, and vessels, she said.

"IMO has long recognized the need to ensure the safety of ships operating in the harsh, remote, and vulnerable polar areas and to protect the pristine environments around the two poles," she said.

She added that a Polar Code is needed to answer the increased volume of shipping in both regions and provide a comprehensive set of internationally agreed standards for ships operating in them.

The draft Polar Code will be implemented through amendments to the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) and the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL).

"It's a genuine frontier environment," said Nick Beecroft, manager, Emerging Risks & Research, for Lloyd's Exposure Management.

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