Home' Ships and Shipping : November 2009 Contents Seaborne cargoes can generally be divided into two types: wet
and dry. Wet cargoes, or sometimes termed liquid bulk cargoes,
include chemicals, crude oil and clean petroleum products and
palm oil. Such cargo is generally carried by tankers.
According to the International Maritime Organisation (IMO),
such tankers now form the greater percentage of the world fleet of
merchant ships. This is supported by Table 1, which shows a
steady increase in the global tanker fleet over the last two decades.
Table 1 -- World Shipping fleet by principal vessel types
(selected years, in mil. DWT)
(for cargo-carrying vessels of 100 GRT and above)
Tanker vessels currently make up approximately 40 percent of
the world's total merchant shipping capacity. As a measure of
growth in the tanker trade, the Institute of Shipping Economics and
Logistics (ISL) from Bremen, Germany, has projected that tanker
vessels will contribute to half of the world's tanker fleet by 2010.
The tanker trade is one of the most important trades in the
shipping sector, carrying much of the world's oil and petroleum.
According to the United Nations Conference on Trade and
Transport (UNCTAD), the share of the tanker trade in the total
world seaborne trade in 2008 amounted to about a third. In the
same year, an estimated two-thirds of world shipments of cargo
consisted of crude oil.
The volume of seaborne trade of oil has been growing steadily
in the last few decades (see Table 2). Although demand for oil has
slumped amid the global economic downturn, the prospect for
seaborne trade of oil is expected to register strong performance in
the years ahead compared to other shipping trades, on the back of
strong global energy demand.
Table 2 -- Volume of seaborne trade of oil
(selected years, in mil. tons loaded)
Cargoes carried by tankers
The performance of the tanker trade has been like a shining
beacon since the global recession reared its ugly head. This is
largely thanks to the global trade in petroleum products which has
been on a steady rise in the last three decades.
This group of products can be separated into the following
• Clean petroleum products (CPP) consisting of diesel, motor
gasoline, aviation gasoline, kerosene, jet fuel, leaded oil,
unleaded oil and naphtha;
• Dirty petroleum products (DPP) which includes condensates,
crude oil and fuel oil.
In addition to petroleum products, there is a wide range of
petrochemical products carried by tankers. These include:
• Commodity grade plastic resins (such as polyethylene (PE),
polypropylene (PP), polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and polystyrene
• Engineering grade plastic resins (such as acrynolitrile-butadiene
(ABS), polyoxymethylene (POM) and polyester co-polymer
• Petrochemical derivatives (such as ethylene oxide (EO),
butanols and acetic acid);
• Specialised and fine chemicals such as food additives and raw
materials for pharmaceuticals.
Various types of hazardous chemical cargoes are also carried
using chemical tankers. These are vessels generally ranging from
5,000DWT to 14,000DWT used to transport chemical cargoes in
bulk. Such vessels are typically equipped with separate cargo tanks
made of stainless steel or covered with special coatings due to the
specialised nature of the cargoes they carry.
The cargoes they carry include ammonia, methane and
liquefied natural gas (LNG) which have chemical properties that
can be hazardous to human health and perhaps pose danger to the
environment and wildlife if released in water.
Types of vessels in the tanker trade
The shipping tanker trade consists of the following categories
• Oil tankers which include crude oil tankers, oil / product
tankers, oil / chemical tankers and other tankers;
• Chemical tankers which include pure chemical tankers
• Liquid gas tankers which include Liquid Natural Gas (LNG) and
Liquid Processed Gas (LPG) and other liquid gas carriers.
The vessel size groups generally used in the oil tanker trade are
shown in Table 3.
Table 3 -- Capacity of vessels in the tanker trade
Trends in the tanker trade
The shipping pattern of this trade shows a distinct trend of
shipments of Russian petroleum products in small tankers from ports
along the Baltic Sea increasing as a result of the damage inflicted by
Hurricane Katrina in 2005 on refineries in the Gulf of Mexico.
The prognosis of this trade is rosy as developments such as the
setting up of Petrocaribe, a Venezuelan-sponsored oil company,
which will supply petroleum products to Caribbean island nations,
and the establishment of new refineries in China, are set to
increase shipments of this cargo in the near future.
In products such as palm oil, increasing demand from
developing nations such as China, India and Russia, along with
high prices, will spur producer countries such as Malaysia and
Indonesia to step up production. Demand for double hull tankers to
meet the IMO requirement for palm oil shipment will continue to
drive shipowners to commission yards to undertake newbuildings
and conversion of single hull vessels into double hull ones.
November 2009 SHIPS AND SHIPPING
Vessel type 1980 1990 2000 2005 2006 2007 2008
Oil Tanker 339 246 282 336 354 383 408
Dry Bulker 186 235 276 321 346 368 391
General cargo 116 103 101 92 96 101 105
Year Volume of
World total Percentage of oil
of seaborne / world seaborne
Ultra Large Crude Carriers -- double hull
Ultra Large Crude Carriers -- single hull
Very Large Crude Carriers -- double hull
200,000 -- 349,999 DWT
Very Large Crude Carriers -- single hull
200,000 -- 319,999 DWT
125,000 -- 199,999 DWT
80,000 -- 124,999 DWT
60,000 -- 79,999 DWT
40,000 -- 59,999 DWT
10,000 -- 39,999 DWT
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