A compromise on phasing in of double-hull tankers is close to being worked out by congressional staffers.

The revised bill would gradually phase in double-hull tankers beginning in 1995 at a slower pace than members of the House of Representatives would have liked, but faster than the Senate wanted.The direction of the negotiations was confirmed Tuesday by Suzanne Waldron, press secretary of the House Merchant Marine and Fisheries Committee. The information was initially disclosed by Charles B. Anderson, a partner at the New York law firm of Haight Gardner Poor & Havens.

Under the compromise schedule outlined by Mr. Anderson, all tankers over 40 years old would be required to have double hulls after 1995, and all tankers over 25 years of age would be required to have double hulls by 2005, Mr. Anderson said. He spoke Monday at a New York forum organized by the World Trade Institute.

Ms. Waldron said she believed some form of double-hull rules would pass the House and Senate. "Everybody agrees we're going to have them, it's just a question of how to phase them in," she said, referring to mandatory double hulls on tankers.

The issue has held up oil spill legislation in Congress. The call for mandatory double hulls is part of a wide-ranging package aimed at defining shipowners' and cargo owners' liability for oil spills and compensating those who suffer economic losses due to spills.

Mr. Anderson, whose firm represents tanker owners, said he expected double-hull legislation would pass Congress soon. "The IMO (International Maritime Organization) has previously endorsed double hulls," he said. He said double hulls have enhanced safety features, especially their ability to keep oil cargo separate from ballast.

Mr. Anderson said international agreements that limit liability in oil spills were reasonable and should not be opposed by the Senate.