China launches world’s first intelligent mega oil tanker

An oil carrier with a capacity of 308,000 tons, amounting to 2.275 million oil barrels, is the world’s first intelligent mega tanker, a VLCC, which has been installed with an intelligent operating system and is the first smart carrier in the world.

China is the fourth-largest oil producer in the world, and with the petroleum industry rapidly increasing, it’s easy to see why the country has invested in upgrades of marine technology, as demand to supply oil to foreign countries has risen quickly.

The new VLCC carrier, which some have nicknamed, “The Journey,” stands 55 meters high, 300 meters long, roughly the size of three mega football fields.

The oil tanker forms a part of the fleet, owned by Dalian Shipbuilding Industry, which forms part of China Shipbuilding Association. With features such as auto-pilot navigation, intelligent cargo management, and integrated efficiency management, the tanker is a breakthrough in technological developments for ships, which includes increased maritime safety, energy conservation, and emission reduction. The tanker has completed all mandatory testing and is set to start the course by next year.

China has overtaken the US in oil imports, with an astounding 6.7 million barrels a day arriving on China’s coast. China became one of the primary importers for oil, is when growth and demand exceeded capacity, as floods would destroy China’s oil fields, thus creating the need for China to import oil to compensate for the loss. Currently the number of containers in Chinese ports, amount to more than 150 million.

Meanwhile, the on-going U.S.-China trade dispute would crimp the expansion of U.S. liquefied natural gas (LNG) supply capacity, a senior analyst with the consulting firm Wood Mackenzie has said.

The trade dispute is a barrier to the signing of more long-term deals between China and the United States on the LNG supply, said Alex Munton, principal analyst for Americas LNG research at Wood Mackenzie during a recent webinar of the consulting company. China now has little exposure to the U.S. market, with only one long-term LNG purchase agreement signed so far, according to Munton.

“The longer the dispute rumbles on, the more downside there is with respect to U.S.-China LNG trade,” he said.

Since the trade war began, U.S. LNG export to China has essentially grounded to a halt pending a resolution of trade negotiation, Munton said. “In the events of a resolution, it’s all upside.”

The potential for the LNG demand growth from China and that for LNG supply growth from the United States is huge, said the analyst.

China and the United States are expected to become the world’s largest LNG importer and exporter respectively by 2024, according to the latest forecasts by the International Energy Agency.

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