Providing coverage of Alaska and northern Canada's oil and gas industry
July 2014

Vol. 19, No. 30 Week of July 27, 2014

New ExxonMobil oil tanker expected soon

Double-hull Liberty Bay features advanced systems, capacity for 800,000 barrels; delivery of second tanker expected by year’s end

Wesley Loy

For Petroleum News

ExxonMobil is making good progress toward placing two new double-hull tankers into service hauling Alaska North Slope crude oil.

The first of the ships, the Liberty Bay, is expected to arrive in Prince William Sound in late September, an ExxonMobil spokesman told Petroleum News on July 23.

The second tanker remains under construction at Aker Philadelphia Shipyard in Pennsylvania.

The new ships will replace aging double-hull tankers operated by SeaRiver Maritime Inc., ExxonMobil’s U.S. marine affiliate.

Propulsion defect fixed

SeaRiver signed a deal in 2011 for construction of the two tankers. The contract was valued at $400 million.

The tankers are of a size known in the shipping industry as “aframax.”

The Liberty Bay is 820 feet long and can carry up to 800,000 barrels, considerably more than a full day’s production from North Slope oil fields.

The shipyard delivered the Liberty Bay to SeaRiver on June 11.

Prior to delivery, during sea trials in March, a defect in the vessel’s propulsion system was discovered, the shipyard disclosed.

“All remedial efforts to resolve this issue, in addition to owner requested change orders paid for by the customer, were completed as planned,” the shipbuilder said in a July 17 financial report.

Aker Philadelphia Shipyard is listed on the Oslo Stock Exchange.

Redundant systems

The Liberty Bay incorporates the latest safety, navigation and engine room technologies, ExxonMobil said in an April 25 press release.

“In addition to double hulls for all cargo and fuel tanks, the Liberty Bay is equipped with redundant components for key systems, including main engine components and controls as well as fuel, lube oil and electrical systems to deliver energy efficiencies and better performance,” the company said. “These features reflect the results of SeaRiver Maritime’s consultation with independent specialists to complete an extensive evaluation of the vessel’s design using Failure Mode and Effects Analysis, a methodology used by the aerospace industry and the U.S. Department of Defense. This study analyzed key operating systems under a variety of scenarios at sea. The ship’s main engine and auxiliary systems will be energy efficient and generate lower air emissions than what regulatory standards currently require.”

Assigned officers and crew have engaged in extensive training such as control room and bridge simulations for the new class of tankers, ExxonMobil said.

Delivery of the Liberty Bay’s twin, the Eagle Bay, is expected by year’s end, the company said.

Photos of the Liberty Bay are available online at http://exxonmobil.co/1pJM3RC.

The tanker fleet hauling oil between Alaska’s Valdez terminal and West Coast refineries has fully converted from single-hull to double-hull ships. This conversion came after reforms stemming from the Exxon Valdez oil spill in 1989.

ExxonMobil is the last of the North Slope’s top three oil producers to build new double-hull tankers.

BP and ConocoPhillips each built several new tankers some years ago.

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