Showing posts with label Panamax tankers. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Panamax tankers. Show all posts

Monday, April 02, 2018

Admiring the Panama Canal: A true engineering marvel

A vessel passes the Panama Canal's Miraflores Locks
The Oilholic finds himself on this glorious sunny day roughly 5,300 miles away from his abode of London town, admiring a marvel of modern engineering – the Panama Canal. In fact, yours truly got to do so both from the shore and on the water aboard the Pacific Queen.

Being a creature of habit, a Forbes piece will follow later down this month. However, this outing is no 'crude' assignment, rather a bid by this blogger to fulfill a long held desire to see the Canal. This maritime shortcut – in operation since 15 August, 1914 built after a decade of construction – serves to connect the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans at the narrowest point of the Isthmus of Panama and the American continent.

The journey, north to south or vice versa, takes around 8 to 10 hours over a distance of around 80km (50 miles) depending on traffic, saving shippers of bulk cargo and commodities, including oil and gas, almost 15 days of circling around Cape Horn.

And for those privileged enough to have travelled on the Canal, as the Oilholic did today, would notice its locks – including the iconic Miraflores and Pedro Miguel locks – serve as water lifts to raise or lower ships from the Pacific or Atlantic Oceans, depending on their North or Southbound routes, either side of the Isthmus of Panama, to the artificial Gatun Lake 27 meters above sea level; the Canal's connecting water body for transit.

The Panama government pumped in $5.3bn towards the Canal's expansion in 2007 following public consultation, and the expanded Canal – inaugurated on 26 June 2016 – saw its capacity double. So atop Panamax vessels, it can now handle Neo-Panamax vessels (or Aframax class).

These days toll fees charged for the largest vessels per crossing could be in the range of $500,000 to $800,000. The Panama Canal Authority, a public body entrusted with running the Canal since Panama took over the administration of the waterway from the US in 1999, argues that a trip around Cape Horn would cost way more both in monetary terms and time of passage.

Not content with visiting the Miraflores center, The Oilholic also lapped up views of the waterway from Cerro Ancon - Panama City's highest point.

But of course, the main show came on board the Pacific Queen, when one got a feel of the Panama Canal going southbound from the Atlantic to the Pacific crossing Gatun, Pedro Miguel and Miraflores locks, being first raised to Gatun lake, and then lowered on the journey to the Pacific, heading under the Centennal Bridge and the Bridge of the Americas before ending a memorable voyage.

All in all, an amazing outing and to have been here and seen it. And with that done, it's time to head back. Photos from the outing - with captions - are spread across this post (and below), along with a video of a tanker crossing the Miraflores locks (above). But alas, that's all from Panama City folks! Keep reading, keep it 'crude'!

ADDENDUM: April 16, 2018: As promised here is The Oilholic’s report on ‘crude’ traffic on the Panama Canal for Forbes.

The Oilholic's glimpses of the Panama Canal:

Miraflores Locks, Panama Canal

Tanker makes its way through Miraflores Locks

Pedro Miguel Locks, Panama Canal

Vessel crossing Pedro Miguel Locks

Gatun Lake, Panama Canal

Bridge of the Americas

View of Panama Canal & Albrook Port from Cerro Ancon

© Gaurav Sharma 2018. Photos © Gaurav Sharma, April 2018. 

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Sunday, December 24, 2017

GS Caltex's rare buy & tankers in English Bay

It is great to be back in Vancouver, Canada for Christmas. Of course, no trip some 4,700 miles westward goes without the Oilholic taking his customary walk from the City’s Waterfront facing Vancouver Harbour to Beach Avenue facing English Bay, and watching both waterways interspersed with oil tankers of all description heading in and out of the Burrard Inlet to Port Moody. 

Business is ticking along even in trying times, if this blogger's unscientific assessment of traffic volume is anything to go by. At the moment, the Western Canadian Select (WCS) is seeing its weakest price since the first quarter of 2014, and hit sub $30 per barrel levels at one point this month with regional inventories at a record high. 

Kinda feels like the marginal oil price recovery of 2017 didn’t really hit these shores customarily used to trading their benchmark at a steep discount to the WTI (roughly $5-7 per barrel in the old days, typically $12-15 and currently well above $20). But such a pricing level brings in fresh interest too, and of course arbitrage opportunities depending on what’s afoot elsewhere. 

According to a Reuters report, South Korean refiner GS Caltex recently picked up a rare cargo of heavy Canadian crude from Vancouver.

It seems 300,000 barrels of Cold Lake heavy sour crude were loaded onto the Panamax Selecao on 13 December. The consignment may not be the last; the Cold Lake heavy sour is quite close to pricier Middle Eastern heavy crudes. 

Sources here also suggest other Asian refiners might want to go down GS Caltex’s path, including its domestic rival Hyundai Oilbank. If that were to materialise, as opposed to what is quite frankly a small trial consignment taken by GS Caltex, the crude world could see meaningful cargo dispatches from Canada to South Korea for the first time since 1995, and well more tankers on the English Bay horizon. 

Away from here, the latest rig counts from Baker-Hughes point to a decline in the number of Canadian rigs by 28 to 210, while the US rig count was broadly unchanged at 931, up one on the week before. Finally, here's the Oilholic's latest Forbes post on the 'OPEC put' versus direction of the oil market in 2018.

That’s all from Vancouver for the moment folks! Keep reading, keep it ‘crude’!

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© Gaurav Sharma 2017. Photo: Oil tankers at sunset on Vancouver's English Bay, British Columbia, Canada © Gaurav Sharma 2017. 

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

On the Firth of Forth with an ethane tanker

As a mad month of travelling nears its end, the Oilholic was up earlier today in the small hours of the morning sailing on the Firth of Forth, Scotland, observing Panamax tankers load up Forties crude from the North Sea at the Hound Point Terminal at sunrise (see left). 

If you are lucky enough to catch the morning din with the weather holding up, it is quite a sight. However, the main purpose of being anchored in the middle of the Firth of Forth so early was not to see Panamax tankers fill-up, but rather to take a peek at the Ineos Insight; a ship carrying ethane sourced from the Marcellus shale stateside to British waters. Lo and behold she surfaced soon enough too (see below right).

This first consignment of US shale gas to the UK has given yours truly plenty of talking points for better parts of a fortnight. So here’s a take on its geopolitical significance for IBTimes UK, and a chat with Ineos director Tom Pickering. And well here is a spot report of the day’s event too, bagpipes, boat rides, canapes and all. 

However, if the back story is your thing, here it is as described for Forbes, and a more holistic account on this blog

With plenty of column inches dedicated to the event by yours truly to it, there’s little more to be done other than to pass on the links above to you and enjoy a view of oil and gas industry history in the making. That’s all from Scotland folks! It’s on to Edinburgh and then back to London. Keep reading, keep it crude!

Update 29/10/16: Furthermore, since this historic shale consignment arrived in Scotland, which has a moratorium on shale exploration, here is the Oilholic's IBTimes UK column touching on the hypocrisy of the Scottish Government’s stance on shale.

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© Gaurav Sharma 2016. Photo 1: Sunrise at Hound Point Terminal, Firth of Forth, Scotland, UK. Photo 2: Ineos Insight arrives in British Waters © Gaurav Sharma, September 2016