China needs almost 150 VLCCs by 2015
China could need close to 150 very large crude carriers (VLCC)s by 2015 to meet the country's rising demand for crude oil, a leading Chinese shipping executive has projected. ?China's crude oil imports are set to increase between 17 million and 18 million tonnes per year," said Zhu Ning, vice-president of the state-owned China Changjiang Shipping (Group) Corp.
He said that China had imported 163 million tonnes (mt) in 2007 and predicted that by 2010-2015 it would need a fleet of between 104 and 147 VLCCs to meet increased demand. Zhu was speaking at last week's Shipping China Energy 2008 forum in Shanghai.
The top five Chinese shipping companies currently have a combined fleet of 27 VLCCs, Zhu said, which will be sufficient to move just 20% of the country's projected demand for 2010-2015.
?Although the number of VLCCs is expected to climb to 63 by 2011, this number will still only be able to transport approximately 58% of the country's crude oil import demand,? said Zhu.
Despite the apparent shortfall of tonnage for China's future energy needs, Zhu believed that Chinese shipping companies would still be able to boost their capacity.
Zhu highlighted the current credit crisis and the conversion of single-hull tankers to double-hulls as two key factors that would determine the volume of new VLCC tonnage coming on-stream.