OSLO-based Intertanko is optimistic that poorer classification societies will be eliminated when minimum industry standards, now being developed in the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), come into force. Mr Andreas Ugland, the chairman of the independent tanker owners' trade association, said he hoped those acting on behalf of flag states also would ensure a consistent standard when the standards were introduced. ''In spite of all the checks that have been established by governments and the industry, sub-standard ships continue to slip through the net,'' he said. The International Association of Classification Societies (IACS) had shown its concern at improving its own performance by imposing compulsory quality certification, he said in Intertanko's 1992 annual report. Unified requirements for enhanced surveys had been developed and would be mandatory for all IACS members from July 1 this year, he added. These also had been incorporated into the enhanced survey programme for oil tankers, which was being adopted by the IMO as guidelines in accordance with Regulation 13G of MARPOL (IMO's International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships),and which should achieve consistency in the conduct of surveys, he added. Mr Ugland emphasised that restoring confidence in class surveys and certificates was essential to the maintenance of a safe fleet. Last year the global economy was in its worst recession since World War II, which production having fallen in the United States and flattened in Japan. Western Europe had stagnated while high interest rates were coming down, and the transition process in central and eastern Europe was worse than expected, he said. Latin American countries had registered a slight growth, but signs of other improvement were scant, he added. Mr Ugland pointed out that demand for tanker transport had risen slightly last year despite the recession. The tanker market, he said, had for part of the year not generated enough income to cover even daily operational and voyage costs, let alone capital costs or new investment. Low freight rates had prevailed worldwide, irrespective of the condition of the tanker or the quality of the operations. He noted that there had been no evidence to back claims by charterers that they were prepared to pay more for higher standard tankers. ''This fall in income has come at a time when the demands for quality placed upon shipping companies are increasing, and the need for fleet renewal becomes more pressing,'' he said. Mr Ugland said despite increased global environmental awareness, new tankers were frequently penalised by higher port and canal dues because of the practice of some port authorities of basing fees on gross registered tonnage, which meant that the volume of the segregated ballast spaces was included in the calculation. It was ironic that a 15 to 20 per cent extra investment should result in a 15 to 20 per cent rise in port costs, he said. Deduction of this volume had been agreed in IMO, and Intertanko had fought a hard campaign to persuade maritime authorities to implement the respective IMO resolution, he added.