From T-2 to Supertanker: Development of the Oil Tanker, 1940 - 2000, Revised


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The s also saw the beginnings of the Asian oil trade.

Until , tankers were designed to be able to navigate the Suez Canal. Hostilities in the Middle East which interrupted traffic through the Suez Canal contributed, as did nationalization of Middle East oil refineries. In United States shipping magnate Daniel K. Ludwig broke the record of , long tons of heavy displacement.

The world's largest supertanker was built in at the Oppama shipyard by Sumitomo Heavy Industries, Ltd. Seawise Giant was renamed Happy Giant in , Jahre Viking in , [27] and Knock Nevis in when she was converted into a permanently moored storage tanker. With the exception of the pipeline, the tanker is the most cost-effective way to move oil today.

In Shell Oil developed the average freight rate assessment AFRA system which classifies tankers of different sizes. The ships became larger during the s, which prompted rescaling. The system was developed for tax reasons as the tax authorities wanted evidence that the internal billing records were correct.

Before the New York Mercantile Exchange started trading crude oil futures in , it was difficult to determine the exact price of oil, which could change with every contract. However, the system is still used today. Merchant oil tankers carry a wide range of hydrocarbon liquids ranging from crude oil to refined petroleum products. By only a few ULCCs remain in service, none of which are more than meters long. Because of their great size, supertankers often cannot enter port fully loaded.

The act of hiring a ship to carry cargo is called chartering. Tankers are hired by four types of charter agreements: the voyage charter, the time charter, the bareboat charter , and contract of affreightment. One of the key aspects of any charter party is the freight rate , or the price specified for carriage of cargo. As of [update] , the chartering market is persistently volatile across all tanker sectors. Some particular variables include winter temperatures, excess tanker tonnage, supply fluctuations in the Persian Gulf , and interruptions in refinery services.

In , the sustained rise in oil prices had only a limited impact on demand. In , time-charters tended towards long term. The first half of was relatively strong, but in the second half rates dropped significantly.


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A sudden rise in oil production, longer transport routes, and slow steaming because of high bunker prices led to a shortage in tonnage towards the end of the year. From , the demand for new ships started to grow, resulting in in a record breaking order backlog for shipyards, exceeding their capacity with rising newbuilding prices as a result.


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Prices rose significantly in and early , but delivery of new tankers was projected to keep prices in check. In , oil tankers made up In , 2.

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By comparison, in 1. The United Nations also keeps statistics about oil tanker productivity, stated in terms of metric tons carried per metric ton of deadweight as well as metric-ton-miles of carriage per metric ton of deadweight. International law requires that every merchant ship be registered in a country, called its flag state. In , the average age of oil tankers worldwide was 10 years. Ships are generally removed from the fleet through a process known as scrapping. Oil tankers are often sold second-hand. In , Oil tankers generally have from 8 to 12 tanks.

Individual compartments are referred to by the tank number and the athwartships position, such as "one port", "three starboard", or "six center. A cofferdam is a small space left open between two bulkheads, to give protection from heat, fire, or collision. A major component of tanker architecture is the design of the hull or outer structure. A tanker with a single outer shell between the product and the ocean is said to be "single-hulled". In , the Marine Board of the National Academy of Science conducted a survey of industry experts regarding the pros and cons of double-hull design.

Some of the advantages of the double-hull design that were mentioned include ease of ballasting in emergency situations, [86] reduced practice of saltwater ballasting in cargo tanks decreases corrosion, [87] increased environmental protection, [87] cargo discharge is quicker, more complete and easier, [87] tank washing is more efficient, [87] and better protection in low-impact collisions and grounding. The same report lists the following as some drawbacks to the double-hull design, including higher build costs, [88] greater operating expenses e.

In all, double-hull tankers are said to be safer than a single-hull in a grounding incident, especially when the shore is not very rocky. Although double-hull design is superior in low energy casualties and prevents spillage in small casualties, in high energy casualties where both hulls are breached, oil can spill through the double-hull and into the sea and spills from a double-hull tanker can be significantly higher than designs like the mid-deck tanker , the Coulombi egg tanker and even a pre-MARPOL tanker, as the last one has a lower oil column and reaches hydrostatic balance sooner.

An oil tanker's inert gas system is one of the most important parts of its design. As inert gas is introduced into a mixture of hydrocarbon vapors and air, it increases the lower flammable limit or lowest concentration at which the vapors can be ignited. Operations aboard oil tankers are governed by an established body of best practices and a large body of international law. One method is for the ship to moor alongside a pier, connect with cargo hoses or marine loading arms. Another method involves mooring to offshore buoys , such as a single point mooring, and making a cargo connection via underwater cargo hoses.

In this method, two ships come alongside in open sea and oil is transferred manifold to manifold via flexible hoses. Prior to any transfer of cargo, the chief officer must develop a transfer plan detailing specifics of the operation such as how much cargo will be moved, which tanks will be cleaned, and how the ship's ballasting will change. After the conference is complete, the person in charge on the ship and the person in charge of the shore installation go over a final inspection checklist. Loading an oil tanker consists primarily of pumping cargo into the ship's tanks.

Oil Dependence and U.S. Foreign Policy

Loading starts slowly at a low pressure to ensure that equipment is working correctly and that connections are secure. The process of moving oil off of a tanker is similar to loading, but has some key differences. Tanks must be cleaned from time to time for various reasons. One reason is to change the type of product carried inside a tank. On most crude-oil tankers, a special crude oil washing COW system is part of the cleaning process. Fixed and portable automated tank cleaning machines , which clean tanks with high-pressure water jets, are widely used.

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After a tank is cleaned, provided that it is going to be prepared for entry, it will be purged. Purging is accomplished by pumping inert gas into the tank until hydrocarbons have been sufficiently expelled. Next the tank is gas freed which is usually accomplished by blowing fresh air into the space with portable air powered or water powered air blowers. The inert gas buffer between fuel and oxygen atmospheres ensures they are never capable of ignition. Specially trained personnel monitor the tank's atmosphere, often using hand-held gas indicators which measure the percentage of hydrocarbons present.

Some sub-types of oil tankers have evolved to meet specific military and economic needs. This heads-of-state forum is called the Group of Six and later becomes the G8 and then the G7. The oil crisis spurs the U. Congress to mandate a mph limit on highways and to pass the Energy Policy and Conservation Act of , which establishes the Strategic Petroleum Reserve and fuel efficiency standards for new automobiles. Nixon-era price controls remain on domestic oil, depressing production. Between and , U. In , the Carter administration organizes energy agencies into the Department of Energy.

President Carter also puts out his first set of energy proposals focusing mainly on conservation, and signs legislation in to encourage fuel switching and efficiency by electric utilities and other U. In October , thousands of oil workers go on strike in Iran, as part of a cycle of unrest protesting leader Mohammed Reza Shah. Oil output in Iran drops from more than five million barrels a day to zero by December—amounting to about a 5 percent loss in global production. The Shah is forced to leave the country in January Exiled senior Shiite cleric Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini returns to assume control of Iran under an Islamic government.

A group of Iranian students takes over the U. President Carter responds by severing diplomatic relations and embargoing Iranian oil imports. Between January and December , global oil prices more than double. Iran's revolution sparks panic over another oil-supply shortage, and oil prices double. Long gas lines return to the United States. In July, President Jimmy Carter gives his fifth major speech on energy policy , which includes announcing more energy conservation measures and a phase-out of oil price controls. A frustrated Carter admonishes the nation for worshiping "self-indulgence and consumption" and having "a crisis of confidence.

It also establishes the U. Synthetic Fuels Corporation, intended to produce two million barrels a day in liquid fuel from non-petroleum sources like coal within five years. Iran and Iraq go to war in September Though the United States is officially neutral, it renews diplomatic ties with Iraq , which have been severed since 's Arab-Israeli conflict. Continuing attacks on both Iraqi and Iranian oil facilities remove four million barrels a day in oil production from the global market. The Reagan administration issues a national security directive in to increase the U. The war lasts eight years.

Congress imposes a moratorium on new offshore drilling off the California coast in in response to public outcry and lingering environmental concerns caused by an oil spill off the coast of Santa Barbara in Within a few years, the ban is extended to all new leases in U. This ban continues to the present day. However, existing offshore drilling , from leases before the moratorium and from allowed parts of the Gulf and Alaska, represents about 8 percent of all U. Between increasing production in allowed offshore areas and a drop in overall U. The Reagan administration fully deregulates crude prices in , allowing U.

Global demand begins to drop due to high prices and conservation measures, and another oil surplus ensues. By , the United States imports about 28 percent of its oil, down from more than 45 percent in The collapse in price encourages oil companies to shift to cheaper foreign exploration, and U. The super tanker Exxon Valdez strikes a reef in Prince William Sound, Alaska, spilling eleven million barrels of oil and damaging coastline and fisheries. Considered one of the worst environmental disasters in U.

Iraq invades Kuwait on August 2, , following a dispute over the Rumaila oil field on the border. In a speech on August 8, , President George H. Bush says Iraq's aggression poses an economic threat to the United States, which now imports half its oil. Bush also declares the "sovereign independence of Saudi Arabia [a] vital interest" and deploys troops to the country. Nations dependent on Persian Gulf imports, such as Japan, provide much of the funding for a U.

The Bush administration releases thirty-four million barrels of oil from the U. Iraq surrenders in late February In , the Clinton administration announces a partnership to develop and produce affordable, fuel-efficient, low-emission vehicles. But inexpensive oil and a booming economy drive up consumption in the United States. While Japanese and European car companies move ahead with commercialization of the first hybrid passenger vehicle, sales of gas-guzzling sports utility vehicles SUVs —considered light trucks and thus exempted from tougher U.

SUVs make up a large part of the fleet of U. Between and the country's record demand for oil in , consumption increases by 3. In , most of the world's leaders sign the Kyoto Protocol , an international mechanism for countries to reduce and adapt to rising greenhouse gas levels in order to mitigate climate change. But the United States, the largest greenhouse emitter of the time, refuses to ratify the treaty and for the next decade faces international criticism for its slow adoption of emissions-reduction policies.

And though a third of manmade emissions come from petroleum, U. Environmental advocates target the U. Asia's economic crisis in causes a drop in demand in what has been a growth region for oil markets. The downturn, plus an increasingly constrained environment for oil concessions globally, encourages a string of oil mergers among the world's largest private oil companies, including ones between BP and Amoco the largest foreign takeover of a U. In February , Hugo Chavez assumes office as president of Venezuela, and embarks on a social revolution that includes financing new social programs with the country's oil revenues.

Venezuela continues to be one of the largest sources of U. Both Venezuela and Russia nationalize much of their oil resources and restrict access by international oil companies. In , Canada surpasses Saudi Arabia as the largest single exporter of oil to the United States, providing 1. A decade before, Canada begins investing heavily to develop its oil sands, which requires more money and effort to extract and refine than conventional oil. In , oil sands represent about 15 percent of total Canadian crude production, but by oil sand production is nearly half.

Still, heavily polluting oil sand production increasingly becomes an environmental concern. Congress passes the Energy Policy Act , which includes new incentives for transportation fuel alternatives and flex-fuel cars as well as new subsidies for domestic oil exploration. The law mandates that 7.

In his State of the Union address , U. President George W. Bush says "America is addicted to oil. Some energy experts criticize U. In , a time of near record-high U. Experts debate the cause of the record prices , blaming it on factors such as the economic rise of India and China, commodity market speculation, and basic issues of supply. Fuel prices and high food prices begin to cause unrest around the world. In the United States, high gas prices in a presidential election year invigorate debate about increasing domestic production, especially ending the moratorium on offshore drilling and in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Reserve.

Shortly after the global financial crisis begins in , oil prices plummet. The law also mandates greater production of non-corn-based ethanol, and requires biofuels blended with gasoline and diesel to be at least 20 percent less in greenhouse gas lifecycle emissions than the petroleum-based fuels. In May , the Obama administration announces accelerated CAFE standards of 39 mpg for cars and 30 mpg for light trucks, which the administration highlighted as part of its climate change policy goals. In the spring of , U. President Barack Obama lays out his plans for U. But in April, a deepwater drilling rig explodes and sinks in the Gulf of Mexico, causing a massive, four-month oil spill.

The Obama administration, in response, places a temporary ban on all new offshore drilling projects in order to review U. Calls renew for strengthened measures to reduce U.

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In February , Libya becomes the first major oil-producing nation to join a spate of popular uprisings in the region, which topples regimes in Egypt and Tunisia. With the largest reserves in Africa, Libya represents about 2 percent of global oil production. Global oil prices spike nearly 10 percent in one day. Though the country does not supply oil to the United States, concerns grow that the situation in Libya and potential unrest in other oil-producing nations could lead to a new global oil crisis.

In a March 30 speech , U. President Barack Obama says: "We will keep on being a victim to shifts in the oil market until we get serious about a long-term policy for secure, affordable energy. The Obama administration announces it will release thirty million barrels from the U. Strategic Petroleum Reserve over thirty days. The administration says the move is to offset the loss of Libya's 1. The IEA says "greater tightness in the oil market threatens to undermine the fragile global economic recovery.

The administration's decision draws criticism from some analysts and political opponents for its timing, rationale, political overtones, and uncertain impact on oil markets. Imports of crude oil and petroleum products fall to less than , barrels per day, the lowest in almost two decades, according to the U. Energy Information Administration.

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The reduced reliance on foreign oil is the result of both declining demand and a domestic energy revolution which, through the combination of hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling, unlocked vast reserves of "tight oil" in shale rock formations. Tight oil production surges from less than one million barrels a day in to over four million barrels a day by December , exceeding the individual production of every OPEC member except Saudi Arabia. OPEC members meet in Vienna, where, despite opposition from some members who want to cut OPEC oil production to halt the price slide, Saudi Arabia pushes the group to maintain a production target of thirty million barrels per day.

President Barack Obama rejects the proposed Keystone XL pipeline , which would have transported more than , barrels of oil per day from Canada to Texas. Subject to multiple rounds of State Department review since its conception in , supporters said it would have created jobs and enhanced energy security, while opponents worried about potential damage to the environment from spills and increased carbon emissions.

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From T-2 to Supertanker: Development of the Oil Tanker, 1940 - 2000, Revised From T-2 to Supertanker: Development of the Oil Tanker, 1940 - 2000, Revised
From T-2 to Supertanker: Development of the Oil Tanker, 1940 - 2000, Revised From T-2 to Supertanker: Development of the Oil Tanker, 1940 - 2000, Revised
From T-2 to Supertanker: Development of the Oil Tanker, 1940 - 2000, Revised From T-2 to Supertanker: Development of the Oil Tanker, 1940 - 2000, Revised
From T-2 to Supertanker: Development of the Oil Tanker, 1940 - 2000, Revised From T-2 to Supertanker: Development of the Oil Tanker, 1940 - 2000, Revised
From T-2 to Supertanker: Development of the Oil Tanker, 1940 - 2000, Revised From T-2 to Supertanker: Development of the Oil Tanker, 1940 - 2000, Revised

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