With the industry already facing a crisis over the oversupply of fuel, a new technology is about to help the industry cope with its biggest problem.
Key points:The world’s biggest oil tankers have a big advantage over other shipping linesThe oil tanker is an efficient, high-capacity engine that can transport a tonne of oil at a timeThe technology, called “off-load”, can also be used for oil storage in tankersThe Australian Energy Market Operator has awarded two $50 million contracts to the Australian Oilwell Varco consortium for a $3.4 million grant to develop a system for the use of the oil tank, said a statement from the Australian Energy Markets Association (AEMOA).
“The system will allow tankers to carry more oil, more efficiently and at lower costs than the traditional oil tanker, allowing tankers with more than 20,000 tonnes of oil to operate more efficiently than the most common oil tanker with just six or seven containers,” the statement said.
“Off-load can be utilised in a variety of ways, from delivering a tank of oil from a container to the tanker to delivering it to a tank in a ship.”
The Australian Oil Company of Australia said it was developing a system to support oil tankering in tanker vessels.
“The application was developed over a year of intensive work and involves a comprehensive research and development effort, including a thorough assessment of the relevant technologies, and is an important milestone for the Australian industry,” the company said in a statement.
“We are working closely with the Government to finalise the details of the contract and we look forward to securing a final award from AEMOA in the coming weeks.”
The technology is currently being developed for tankers.
“We know it is going to be a big deal, especially for the oil industry, but the fact that it is not yet available to the market makes it an important development for Australia,” AEMO chief executive officer Michael Pannell said.
The technology can also enable the use the oil to store in tanks, which is a significant advantage for the tankers, he said.
“It allows them to be able to store oil from the tank at the same time as it is being delivered to the tank, for example, to reduce the time required to transport the oil from one site to another.”
The announcement is a win for the industry, which has struggled to deliver on its promise to improve tanker performance and fuel efficiency over the past decade.
It also comes as Australia’s oil prices have soared from about $50 a barrel in 2010 to more than $200 a barrel this year.
Australia’s oil tank fleet has grown from about 1,000 vessels in 2008 to nearly 14,000 today, and the industry is also seeing its share of tanker deaths fall from almost 50 per cent in 2008, to around 5 per cent now.