Vigorous BP fleet development programme
Series-opener: The first of the STX-built aframax class, ‘British Respect’
Comparable to the major periods of tanker ordering and construction in BP’s long history, the fleet rejuvenation programme currently under way will see 32 newbuilds delivered to UK-based BP Shipping over the period between early 2016 and March 2019. David Tinsley reports.
BP Shipping’s owned tonnage is considerably augmented by chartered capacity, but the retention and renewal of a versatile, quality fleet controlled in-house is regarded at the highest level within the oil and gas group as strategically important and logistically beneficial. The current major phase of investment is mainly, but not wholly, characterised by long-term leasing arrangements with financial institutions in the Far East, effectively providing BP Shipping with full operational control and management of the new tankers, albeit under bareboat terms.
The entire newbuild programme, involving crude carriers, handymax and handysize product tankers and LNG carriers, has been entrusted to South Korean yards. All designs have been optimised for key BP trade flows and service profiles, and are embedded with operating experience drawn from a diverse fleet and industry ‘best practice’, applying the latest technology in fields such as ultra-long-stroke propulsion machinery and aft-end hydrodynamic fine-tuning. The company’s seafaring, chartering and operational personnel have evidently made important inputs to the specifications and layouts.
In December 2012, BP Shipping announced its Project Triton initiative, encompassing 14 medium-range product carriers from Hyundai Mipo Dockyard, made up of nine Mariner-class handymax tankers and five Cloud-class handysize units. The specifications met or exceeded product carrier standards in fuel efficiency, waste handling, and ballast water treatment, included new features addressing the growing threat of piracy to merchant vessels, and also provided in some cases for SOx scrubbers.
Later the same month, orders were signed with STX Offshore & Shipbuilding for 10 aframax and four suezmax tankers, under the designation Project Neptune. The vessels were to be “the most technically and environmentally advanced that BP Shipping has ever operated”, and were estimated to be over 20% more efficient than the ships they would replace from 2016 onwards. It is thought that one vessel of each type has been subsequently annulled from the contracts, bringing the total STX-sourced newbuilds down to 12.
Two years later, in December 2014, the third part of the fleet rejuvenation scheme was put into effect in the guise of Project Delphi. This entails six LNG carriers, sized to take advantage of the enlargement of the Panama Canal and powered by electronically-controlled, gas-injected dual-fuel engines, to be completed by Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering in 2018 and 2019.
The completion in February 2016 of the British Respect, leading the R-class aframax series from STX’s Jinhae yard, signalled the start of deliveries under the 32-ship programme. At 109,584dwt on a summer draught of 15m, the crude/dirty products carrier provides a revenue-earning capacity of 122,214m3 and ranks in the upper region of the Average Freight Rate Assessment (aframax) category, which denotes oil tankers that can economically transport cargoes from 80,000 to 120,000dwt.
The tanker is powered by a six-cylinder MAN 6G60ME-C9 engine, enabling a 14.5 knot service speed at 75% of maximum continuous output. In conjunction with the requisite design of the aft body lines, the G-generation of super-long-stroke, low-speed diesel allows the adoption of a larger-diameter propeller, promoting increased fuel efficiency across the engine load profile. At the same time, the engine itself achieves a higher thermal efficiency than previous designs. The reduced fuel burn also results in correspondingly lessened environmental impact, in lower CO2, SOx and NOx emissions.
Kongsberg Maritime of Norway was entrusted with the provision of ‘full picture’, integrated vessel control systems, embracing navigation, communications, machinery and propulsion automation. In each case, the scope of supply also included state-of-the-art tank gauging and monitoring, based on radar technology, plus a vessel performance system, overseeing and affording decision support on efficient energy and fuel usage, and optimal sailing condition.
The first batch of six R-class aframax tankers were all in service by September 2016, to be followed by three further sisterships from STX this year. The beneficial owners of each of the vessels are one-ship KMARIN companies, reflecting the deal struck three years ago with Kukje Maritime Investment Corp of South Korea covering the sale and lease-back of the tonnage.
The other component of Project Neptune, entailing three suezmax crude carriers constituting the Centenary class, is to be realised this year. The series leader, the 159,000dwt British Century, was handed over by STX during January 2017.
Project Triton was given first form in March 2016 with the commissioning of the 46,000dwt British Mariner, opening the nine-ship handymax series. Offering a high cubic capacity in relation to deadweight, the vessels have been optimised for key BP product flows, while affording the flexibility for use in multiple worldwide trades, whether clean or dirty products, crude oil, long-haul or short-haul, eastern or western hemisphere.
Providing a further showcase for MAN’s G-type two-stroke technology, British Mariner and her consorts are each powered by a 6G50ME-B9.3 engine, with a specified MCR of 9,160kW, for a laden service speed at 75% output.
In keeping with the drive for a new level of energy efficiency, BP and HMD entered into an agreement with Becker Marine Systems to conduct tests on the German company’s hydrodynamic improvement device, the Mewis Duct.
Propulsion tank tests had indicated the scope of the appendage for realising improvements of between 3% and 5.5% in various draught conditions. So as to be more certain as to prospective savings, a Becker Mewis Duct was installed on British Mariner, as the first ship in the initial batch of four product carriers of the handymax series. BP then gathered performance data during sea trials to verify whether the numbers obtained from model tank tests would be repeated in full-scale application.
The measurements from the ship at sea were compared and corrected in accordance with IMO requirements, and confirmed average power savings of 5% attributable to fitting a Mewis Duct. The results led to the UK operator’s decision to incorporate the energy-saving device on the subsequent batch of five newbuilds of the Mariner-class.
The fourth ship in the series, British Sailor, was phased into operation during November, leaving the five remaining Mariner-class newbuilds to be delivered through 2017.
At marginally under 40,000dwt, the Cloud class handysize newbuilds are the smallest tankers operated by BP Shipping, but offer an especially high degree of trading versatility. British Cumulus opened the series last October, to be followed by four sisterships from HMD over the course of 2017.
The Cloud class will be used to carry clean and dirty products, and occasionally crude oil, on BP business, and also offers pristine tank containment for palm oil and vegetable oil. While the handysize tonnage is expected to play an important role in the North European and Mediterranean distributive traffic, the series also provides the scope to support BP ventures in other areas, notably the US Gulf of Mexico and South Africa.
The series offers a number of options for specialisation in key regional markets. For instance, three of the five will be fitted with stern manifolds, so as to enable loading and discharge over the stern, a particular requirement in certain Mediterranean distillate trades. In addition, three of the ships will be ice-classed and winterised, as well as being fitted with heating coils, rendering suitability for deployment in the Baltic and other ice zones during the winter season. Furthermore, two of the ice-classed tankers will incorporate scrubbers, putting the ships among the first in their category and size worldwide to be so equipped.
Fleet information posted by the Stena Bulk-owned MR tanker specialist Stena Weco lists the fifth ship of the Cloud class, British Altus, as a forthcoming 2017 entrant into its operations.
The second and third vessels of the handysize quintet from HMD, British Nimbus and British Stratus, were specified at an early stage with Allstream exhaust gas cleaning systems (EGCS) developed by the Norwegian company Clean Marine. Each installation allows continued use of heavy fuel oil, without having to switch to more expensive distillate, when operating in ECAs imposing a 0.1% sulphur cap. The investment also ‘future-proofs’ the ships for the 0.5% global limit applicable from 2020 onwards.
The Clean Marine solution is distinguished by its comprehensive scope. On each ship, the plant will remove SOx and particulate matter (PM) from the exhaust produced not only by the propulsion engine, but also the auxiliaries and boilers. In addition, the system is hybrid in nature, enabling operation in either open-loop mode, or zero-discharge closed-loop.
As with the larger Mariner class tankers, the primary power installation is a six-cylinder G50ME-B9.3 engine, albeit at a lower specified rating of 8,580kW.
During the 2015 visit of China’s President Xi Jinping to the UK, Chinese and UK enterprises concluded a number of heavyweight projects in various industrial, infrastructural and financial fields, and this included BP Shipping’s fleet development scheme. Under the agreement, ICBC Leasing is providing a package of 10-year leasing arrangements covering up to 18 of the tankers. The Mariner- and Cloud-class product carriers, which are all registered in the ownership of Hai Kuo Shipping, but under the full operational control and management of BP Shipping as lessee, fall within this pact.
The six neo-Panamax LNG carriers booked with DSME will each have a cargo capacity of about 174,000m3, using membrane containment technology, and have been specified with MAN ME-GI main machinery and the Korean yard’s patented partial reliquefaction system. Four of the newbuilds are expected in 2018, and two in 2019, each employing GTT’s No 96GW membrane tank system.
BP is active in many of the major LNG producing regions as well as the main LNG markets, and the future fleet additions offer operational flexibility as to terminal and port access, trades and routings. It is anticipated that the cross-trading profile for the sextet will include lifting cargoes from the Freeport LNG project in Texas, under BP’s 20-year purchase agreement.
BP Shipping newbuild programme
R-class aframax tankers
STX Offshore & Shipbuilding
British Respect(Yard No 1611)
Centenary-class suezmax tankers
STX Offshore & Shipbuilding
British Century(Yard No 1631)
Mariner-class handymax product carriers
Hyundai Mipo Dockyard
British Mariner(Yard No 2575)
Cloud-class handysize product carriers
Hyundai Mipo Dockyard
British Cumulus(Yard No 2494)
LNG carriers @174,000m3
Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering
6 newbuilds(Yard Nos 2441-2446)
PRINCIPAL PARTICULARS - BRITISH RESPECT (R-class Aframax)
Crude oil/dirty products
Service speed, @75% MCR
Isle of Man
PRINCIPAL PARTICULARS - BRITISH CENTURY (Centenary-class Suezmax)
Isle of Man
PRINICIPAL PARTICULARS - BRITISH MARINER (Mariner-class handymax)
Clean/dirty products, Type 3 chemicals, crude
Cargo capacity(98% full)
Speed, @75% MCR
Isle of Man
PRINCIPAL PARTICULARS - BRITISH CUMULUS (Cloud-class handysize)
Oil products/Type 3 chemicals
Speed, @75% MCR
3 x 1,250kW
Isle of Man