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IMCA takes action as countdown to deadline for submission on the Jones Act changes draws close – 4 days to go

Published on 14 April 2017

Myth – Vessel equipment is merchandise

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: Previous CBP rulings have incorrectly expanded the definition of vessel equipment.
  • Fact: CBP has always carved out “equipment” of the vessel from the definition of merchandise, based on whether the items are integral or related to the vessel’s mission/operations.

CBP has correctly recognised in the past that deepwater specialist vessels are purpose built for their mission (pipelay, heavy lift etc.) and certain items (such as ROVs) are fully integrated with the ship itself. It is certainly not merchandise. These specialised ships represent very high levels of unit investment, which can range from a lower end of around $200 million to upwards of $1 billion at the higher end. They are purpose built to be the most efficient and safe in the marketplace.

The number of foreign offshore vessels active in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico is minor compared to the massive U.S. coastwise qualified fleet. These foreign vessels, however, are essential enabling assets, without which it would be impossible to explore and extract oil and gas in the offshore deep and ultra-deep water and perform other offshore operations.