Ships carry most of the world"s consumer goods, but at huge cost to the environment and human health.
The Shinyo Ocean is 354 metres long, 61 metres wide and (depending how full it is) about 20 metres high. It is technically a Very Large Crude Carrier (VLCC) - an oil tanker. It"s certainly a big boat. We"re carrying 180,000 tonnes of oil from Fujarah in the United Arab Emirates to the port of Mailiao, on Taiwan"s coast, facing directly across the Taiwan strait towards mainland China. The oil is all being delivered to one of Taiwan"s largest companies, Formosa Plastics Group.
This moving island is an expensive piece of property - the boat alone is worth $130m, while even with falling oil prices we are carrying a cargo worth over $60m. In addition, we need 62 tonnes of bunker fuel a day to power the ship. At $800 a tonne that means we"re spending nearly $50,000 a day to keep moving. Factor in the costs of all the lubricants, fresh water and food we need aboard and you start to see how expensive it is to move the ?black gold? around the world.
We are miles out at sea but we are far from alone. In a week on the South China Sea we experience only a few hours when there is not another large ship - carrying either containers, gas or oil - within sight.