May 25, 2017
A shuttle tanker is a vessel specifically designed to transport oil from offshore oil fields or large oil tankers to onshore refineries. While this is typically the function of a pipeline, a shuttle tanker may be preferred due to their flexibility to transport oil to any destination, easy maintenance and ability to safely operate in harsh climates and deep water regions. Shuttle tankers are equipped with computerized technology, known as “dynamic positioning,” which help to keep the vessel on position at all times. They also offer additional benefits that pipelines cannot, including the ability to segregate oil, while pipelines usually blend crude from various oil fields.
These types of vessels were most commonly utilized in the North Sea initially; however, due to an increase in oceanic oil exploration and the vessels’ popularity, they are now deployed in many regions across the globe. Activity off the East Coast of South America has now surpassed activity in the North Sea, as calls are frequently made to 19 FPSO/FSOs owned by Petrobras in the area.
There are currently 90 shuttle tankers (including small MR-sized tankers) in the global fleet, with an average age of 10 years old. Teekay is the world’s largest owner of shuttle tankers, accounting for 31% of the total fleet, followed by Knutsen with 23 shuttle tankers. The shuttle tanker fleet is anticipated to expand by five vessels from 2017-2018.
For a more detailed view of shuttle tanker fleet, download McQuilling Services' 2017 Shuttle Tanker Snapshot