Last week, I commented on the changing crude oil geopolitical seascape following the test loading of a VLCC at LOOP. There were unconfirmed reports that the crude oil cargo had been bought by Chinese refiner Sinopec.
This reinforces the considerable pull Asia has on oil demand, and the tanker market. According to the International Energy Association, China’s oil imports will exceed 10m b/d by 2022. Over the next five years, the IEA expects 60% of the global oil demand growth will be driven by Asia. This is good news for the Asian tanker market.
How companies can position their fleets to take advantage of the projected growth is one of the many issues to be explored at the forthcoming Asian Tanker Conference. The conference will take the same rigorous approach to technical and operational issues that Tanker Shipping & Trade does, and in the run up to the event, we will give you a flavour of what to expect.
I was immediately drawn to the session on the second day, when Shu Jun, general manager of Focal Marine and Offshore, will be discussing the latest developments in tanker design. As mentioned in a previous comment, there have been no significant changes in the size ranges or fundamental capabilities of tankers for years. Of course, at the individual and series level, there have been continual improvements, and Singapore-based Focal Marine has been at the forefront of optimising designs for the local and global market.
The Focal Marine chemical/product tanker designs, available in 18,000 dwt, 25,000 dwt and 52,000 dwt, have a wide range of engine possibilities, including dual-fuel (LNG and heavy fuel oil) or low sulphur heavy fuel oil operation. Focal Marine also claim the deadweight and cargo-tank capacity have been optimised by specifying deepwell hydraulic pumps. However, the feature that intrigues me is the improvement in bulbous bow design called Wave Cutter Bow Asymmetrical Stern. This will be the centrepiece of Mr Shu’s presentation.
In a recent interview, Mr Shu told Tanker Shipping and Trade “We have done rounds of model tests to improve the bulbous bow. Above the water line, we put in the wave cutter to reduce bow slamming in rough seas.” Reduced slamming means less energy required to pass through a seaway, saving fuel and a less tiring voyage for the crew.
That has to be a worthwhile improvement in tanker design.