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IMCA takes action as countdown to deadline for submission on the Jones Act changes draws close – 3 days to go

Published on 15 April 2017

Myth – Jones Act waivers

The International Marine Contractors Association (IMCA) is selecting a key fact-a-day on the 7-day countdown to the April 18, 2017 U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) comment submission deadline, to highlight the potential risks if CBP revokes 40 years of precedent as reflected in its own rulings. Rulings that have brought decades of stability and billions of dollars in investment to the oil and gas industry in the Gulf of Mexico.

IMCA issued its vessel impact report on April 4, 2017 and it is crammed with information and facts and figures showing that the U.S. coastwise fleet is unable, on its own, to support activities in the deepwater market.

  • Myth: If there are no coastwise qualified vessels available, Jones Act waivers are available.
  • Fact: This is simply not possible as Jones Act waivers are only issued where necessary in the interest of national defense but never for commercial reasons.

Jones Act Waivers are clearly not an appropriate response or practical solution to commercial matters, as such waivers are only issued in the interest of national defense, and are subject to a rigorous review and approval process by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Department of Transportation, Maritime Administration (MARAD). In the current CBP context, in the absence of issues implicating national security, it will be extremely difficult, if not impossible, to obtain waivers for straightforward commercial projects. Equally, it is unrealistic for oil companies to commit to multi-billion dollar deepwater investments on the basis that their contractors might obtain waivers – where it is highly unlikely that such waivers will be granted.