Stolt Tankers Develops Unique Shallow-draft Tanker for BASF

Maritime Activity Reports, Inc.

January 21, 2021

(Image: Technolog)

(Image: Technolog)

Stolt Tankers said it has been commissioned by chemicals company BASF to help design and build a unique new tanker capable of operating when extremely low water levels hamper river shipping on the Rhine.

The Rhine, which starts in Switzerland and flows through Germany and the Netherlands before emptying into the North Sea, is a key waterway for transportation in Europe. During dry weather, barges are often unable to fully load, increasing transport costs and delaying products.

Stolt Tankers and BASF set out to develop a new ship that could provide high load-bearing capacity coupled with a shallow draught, ensuring safe operations and full maneuverability at all times, even in extremely low water. The new barge will be able to pass the critical point in the Rhine near Kaub, carrying 650 tonnes of cargo even at a water depth of 1.60 meters, which is more than any other tanker available today, Stolt Tankers said. At average water depths it has a transport capacity of around 2,500 tonnes, twice that of conventional inland vessels, the company added.

Lucas Vos, President Stolt Tankers, said, "This innovative inland tanker is designed with a unique draft and will set a new mark for the transport of cargo on the River Rhine, especially when water levels are low. Keeping products moving even when river levels are becoming more unpredictable. We have a long history of working closely with customers to create solutions that help them adapt in a constantly changing environment and this project showcases our team’s unrivalled experience, gained over 60 years, in building the most innovative ships in the market."

Dr. Uwe Liebelt, BASF European Site and Verbund Management, said, "Following our experience with the low water levels of the Rhine in 2018 and based on our assessment that such events may occur more frequently in the future, we have taken a whole range of measures at the Ludwigshafen site to increase the security of supply for production. An important element of our considerations was to have a ship that can still reliably transport substantial quantities even at the lowest Rhine levels,."

The ship will be built by Mercurius Shipping Group and after scheduled delivery in 2022, Stolt Tankers will operate it exclusively for BASF.

The vessel will be 135 meters by 17.5 meters, which is considerably larger than the standard 110 meters by 11.5 meters tankers on the Rhine. In order to achieve a high load-bearing capacity with these ship dimensions, a hydrodynamically optimized hull with an adapted propulsion was developed. The construction is lightweight, with high structural stability ensured by applying methods from seagoing shipbuilding, maximizing cargo carrying capacity.

The ship will be powered by three electric motors, which are fed by highly efficient stage v diesel generators of the latest generation with exhaust gas after-treatment. The ship will be equipped with 10 stainless steel tanks and three separate loading systems offering maximum flexibility of the chemical products it is able to transport.

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