INTERTANKO has tightened rules for acceptance of new members by requiring tanker fleets of applicants be classed with full members of the International Association of Classification Societies (IACS). Mr Andreas Ugland, chairman of the Oslo-based independent tanker owners' trade association, said applicants for membership in the future also should identify the class with which its fleet was registered. ''The decision to only accept members of fleets registered in classification societies that are full members of IACS was to improve safety of tankers,'' he said at a press conference yesterday following Intertanko's annual meeting which ended on Wednesday. The council also noted with satisfaction the progress within IACS to audit its membership, Mr Ugland said. More than 80 per cent of the Intertanko fleet is registered with four major classification societies which are IACS members. Intertanko vice-chairman Francis Vallet said the organisation would be more stringent with its members if they operated sub-standard vessels by terminating their membership. He admitted it would take some time for such guidelines to take full effect and could not give an estimate of when the rule change would begin to impact on members. Mr Vallet said it was obvious that Intertanko was interested to see sub-standard vessels weeded out as they had given the trade a bad image, causing loss of money and meaning that the good services of serious owners had gone unrecognised. ''We have to face all these sort of challenges, including lack of qualified people,'' he said, adding that serious tanker owners had to hold out for a year or two until the situation improved. Another Intertanko vice-chairman C.C. Tung, who is also managing director of Island Navigation Corporation International, said as a result of the ageing tanker fleet, owners had to renew their fleet which had resulted in a surplus of vessels that had depressed freight rates. As ageing vessels were scrapped, supply and demand would become more balanced and rates would gradually rise, he said. He added that Intertanko, which was in the process of identifying sub-standard vessels so that they could be eliminated, needed time to carry out this initiative. Another Intertanko vice-chairman P. Embiricos said Intertanko was also supportive of promoting port state controls to keep out sub-standard vessels. Regarding the proposal by Mr Paul Slater, chairman of First International Group of Companies, to set up a central register under the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) , Mr Ugland said Intertanko had not yet evaluated the idea. But he said he personally supported any initiative towards ridding the ocean of sub-standard ships. Intertanko managing director Tormod Rafgard said there were similar initiatives in France where 15 port states exchanged data on sub-standard vessels. Such initiatives not only saved money for oil companies but also made their lives easier as they did not have to inspect vessels deemed unsuitable, he said. New members elected to the Intertanko executive committee were Hans Laurin, of Sweden; Stathes Kulukundis, of Greece; and N. Takamiya, of Japan. More than 200 delegates from 26 countries attended the annual meeting held in Hongkong this week.