Maersk Tankers in pilot projects to save cash

Oct 20 2013

To try to help try to reduce costs in a dire market for large tankers, Maersk Tankers recently took the decision to layup two VLCCs and upgrade a 2012-built VLCC.

The VLCCs to go into layup are the 307,300 dwt 2007-built Maersk Nucleus and the 2006-built sistership Maersk Nautilus. They will enter cold layup in Brunei Bay during the first quarter of this year.

Tanker Operator spoke with the head of the technical organisation -Tommy Thomassen - about the plans and hopes for the future.

Thomassen explained; “We currently only have plans for laying up two VLCCs. However, we continuously evaluate the situation and if we consider it necessary, we will consider laying more vessels up.

“We have regretfully considered this a necessary action because of the severe situation on the market. We need to protect our earnings and since we cannot dictate market conditions, we have to focus on what we can do ourselves,” he said.

He also confirmed that both vessels currently operate in the Nova Tankers pool, thus reducing the number in the pooled fleet by two.

Maersk Tankers is also embarking on a pilot project to upgrade the 2012 VLCC Maersk Ilma. She will enter drydock in a so far unspecified yard for a six to seven day upgrade, including equipment retrofits/installations, during the second quarter of this year.

The cost was thought to be in the region of $1.8 mill and when contacted Thomassen said that the company was in dialogue with the relevant shipyards.

He also explained that the pilot project would entail:-

  • The fitting of a Mewis duct to improve the vessel’s propulsion efficiency. He explained that the flow to the propeller is improved by accelerating the hull wake into the propeller and produces a net ahead thrust. This installation will provide the main saving, and is also the installation requiring the drydocking.
  •  By installing a PBCF - propeller boss cap fin, which is a small fin fitted on the central part of the propeller – it is possible to enhance efficiency by reducing efficiency loss caused by the hub vortex – in popular terms the ‘noise’ - created behind the propeller.
  • An auxiliary engine waste heat recovery system that turns waste heat into usable energy is being considered, together with variable frequency drives to improve electrical efficiency.
  • Also a variety of electrical and mechanical improvements covering everything from LED lighting to modification of main engine turbocharger, will be undertaken on board the VLCC.

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