US oil major ExxonMobil is being criticised for its continued use of single hulls.
US oil major ExxonMobil is being criticised for its continued use of single hulls even though single hulls now make up only 20% of the world's supertanker fleet.
20 years on after the Exxon Valdez disaster, ExxonMobil remains the largest Western charterer of single-hulled tankers to move crude, although Asian players still fix them, some almost exclusively.
But ExxonMobil hired more single hulls last year than the rest of the world's 10 biggest oil companies by market value combined.
Critics are asking why ExxonMobil still employs single hulls even as 151 countries have pledged to ban single hulls by 2015 in an effort to prevent oil spills.
British major BP has been quoted saying it ?won't hire them because of the risk of leaking.?
"While Western majors like ExxonMobil and Shell are still hiring single hulls, their combined fixtures are still "dwarfed" by Asian refiners such as Indian Oil Corp (IOC) and Thai Oil"A recent incident in the Gulf of Mexico involving a suezmax hired by BP saw the tanker's hull punctured, but the US Coast Guard credited the tanker's 'sturdy double-hull' for preventing an oil spill, Sustainable Shipping reported March 12.
The 2006-built double-hulled 158,843 dwt SKS Satilla was moving North Sea crude to the US Gulf and was en-route to an offshore lightering facility near Galveston when it struck the sunken Ensco 74 oil rig, which was lost during Hurricane Ike last September.
An underwater examination of the ship, which was carrying around 1 million barrels of crude oil, revealed a substantial hole in the port side of the vessel"s outer hull, according to the Houston Chronicle newspaper.
The oil was then removed without endangering safety and with no impact to the environment, a spokesperson for the US Coast Guard said.
Dennis Kelso, executive vice president of the Washington, DC-based Ocean Conservancy, said the Satilla accident ?clearly demonstrates the value of double-hulled tankers.?
?This could have been a serious spill. Because of that double hull that suffered damage on its exterior, there was no oil spill at all,? Kelso added.
Top ten oil majors did not hire any single hulls
Other top ten oil majors such as Chevron, ConocoPhillips, Koch and Total did not hire any single hulls at all last year.
Brokers are pointing to savings on freight rates by up to 20% on some routes if a single hull is used instead of double hulls but an ExxonMobil spokesman told that while hull design is one of the ?hundreds of variables? that the company uses in monitoring safety, cost is not one of them.
ExxonMobil saved an estimated $18 million last year fixing single hulls, which amounted to less then a cent a share on the back of its 2008 profit of $45.2 billion, or $8.69 a share, the largest in US corporate history.
Sources meanwhile, have highlighted that while Western majors like ExxonMobil and Shell are still hiring single hulls, their combined fixtures are still "dwarfed" by Asian refiners such as Indian Oil Corp (IOC) and Thai Oil.
IOC apparently fixed single hulls 130 times in 2008 out of 188 recorded rentals, while Thai Oil fixed single hulls 55 out of 60 times.
ExxonMobil's single hull fixtures at 6% of its overall tanker bookings while Shell moved 1.8% of its cargoes on single hulls.
In terms of VLCCs, according to latest statistics from Poten and Partners, ExxonMobil was the second biggest spot VLCC charterer of 2008 with 118 spot fixtures.
Unipec pipped ExxonMobil to the top spot with 120 fixtures after a three-year run in pole position by ExxonMobil.
ExxonMobil was also second in terms of the total number of reported spot fixtures across all sizes.
Shell was the top charterer and BP was third.