The Red Ensign Group is to carry out a trial of electronic oil record books across the thirteen British shipping registries. It was agreed by the REG's Technical Forum, with the Isle of Man Ship Registry taking the first steps and providing industry guidance for the rest of the group. The trial was decided upon at the last forum - which looks at technical aspects related to the work of the REG - held in May this year. Oil record books are used to record all oil or sludge transfers both internally and externally to and from the vessel. One of its main functions is to ensure that the Port State and Flag State authorities can monitor and verify that all oil and sludge transfers are carried out in accordance with the MARPOL requirements. Until recently Oil Record Books have always been a paper publication completed by the Engineers onboard the ship. The advantage of an electronic Oil Record Book (eORB) is the calculations are carried out by the software, which will reduce mistakes and simplify the onboard process. Cameron Mitchell, deputy director of the Isle of Man Ship Registry said: 'So much of our life is lived online - from shopping to paying taxes - it makes sense where we can move over to this kind of technology. We worked with industry on this which included a very useful presentation from Prevention at Sea on the use of eORBs. This helped to clarify and explain how the software works and how it complies with the MARPOL requirements.' 'There are some caveats to this trial - for example, the software must be approved by one of our recognised organisations to make sure it complies with the appropriate regulations and requirements. 'We've issued a Technical Advisory Notice setting out the criteria for the acceptance of electronic oil record books.' Richard Pellew, who chairs the Technical Forum on behalf of the Maritime & Coastguard Agency, said: 'There are practical challenges of regulation which can draw on the expertise from across the REG. The REG Technical Forum agreed all REG members would allow trials and the Isle of Man were the first to get this under way. They've provided their industry guidance for the reference of the other members.' Representatives from the Isle of Man Ship Registry will report back on the trial at the next meeting of the Technical Forum in November.