The Canadian tanker business is in a state of flux, with comings and goings in various fleets.
Algoma Tankers, which took over the Imperial Oil (Esso) fleet in 1998, faced a major shift in its business when Imperial decided to close the refinery in Halifax (Dartmouth) in 2013. Several ships that regularly served the refinery delivering refined products in the Atlantic region were moved around and changed their patterns, working instead from Montreal or on the Great Lakes.
Rumours abound as to the future plans for Algoma, and I have no particular insight, but the following events are worthy of note.
Last year Algoma brought the Algoma Hansa
under Canadian flag, very likely to cover for the troubled Algonova
that seems to have perpetual mechanical issues, and to replace the Algoeast
that was sold. Algonova
is now reported to be for sale too.
Algonova was laid up for geabox repairs for much of the summer of 2015.
One of the older tankers, Algosar
, that serves the Lakes with occasional trips on the St.Lawrence as far as Sept-Iles, was thought to be on the retirement list, but instead it seems to have caught a second wind and is being refitted this winter in Port Weller. (Algoma Central Corp has rented the drydock from the St.Lawrence Seaway Authority and is carrying out the work with its own ship repair unit.)
Algoscotia arrived in Halifax August 13, 2004 fresh from the Quixin Shipyard in China.
Meanwhile their largest tanker, Algoscotia
sailed form Sarnia December 22 for Finland, where it will take up a charter for at least four months. The work is apparently lucrative enough to warrant a transatlantic passage. The ship is high ice class so it will be useful in the winter Baltic.It will be reflagged for this work, and a return date is somewhat uncertain as the charter may be extended.
Algoma seems to be concentrating its efforts in the bulk business instead, with several orders for new Great Lakes ships announced this year.
On January 15 they also announced a joint venture with Nova Marine holdings of Switzerland, that will see Algoma buy a 50% interest in 3 existing and 2 new building cement carriers. The new venture, to be called NovaAlgoma Cement Carriers (NACC) [not much imagination in that name!] will concentrate in the Europe Asia regions.
The tanker branch of Transport Desgagnés is going from strength to strength. It now has both of its large tankers Espada Desgagnés
and Laurentia Desgagnés
under the Canadian flag (the latter was registered January 6) and they are operating the shuttle service from the Montreal terminus of the Enbridge Line 9 pipeline to the Valéro refinery in Lévis, QC.
Among the other members of the tanker fleet Sarah Desgagnés
is working in Europe again this winter as in the past.
Also the fleet will be expanding again when several new tankers are delivered, starting this year..
These include two new asphalt / bitumen tankers under construction in Turkey to be named Damia Desgagnés
and Mia Desgagnés
. They will be approximately 15,000 dwt dual fuel ships (diesel and LNG) and are expected this year. They will likely replace two older tankers, Vega Desgagnés
sold in 2015 (now Fort Abel
under the Panamanian flag and operating between Nigeria and Togo) and Thalassa Desgagnés
Time is running out for Thalassa Desgagnés
A new product tanker is also in the works.
Also recently announced is a joint venture with Stolt Tankers to serve the LNG plant in Becancour with two new build LNG carriers of approximately 30-45,000 cu.m. capacity. They will also be dual fuel.
Work on Irving Oil's new terminal at Woodside, on the Dartmouth side of Halifax harbour will be completed this spring. It will replace a shared facility with Imperial Oil and will allow Irving's tankers to come and go at will, and load directly into their own tank farm instead of routing through Imperial Oil.
McNally Construction has built the dolphins and crib for a new pier at Woodside. Right next door to Imperial's former refinery, it will connect directly to Irving Oil's tanks on shore, and more well inland, not visible in this photo. Imperial will be dismantling the refinery (in the background to the right) over a stretch of several years, but will be keeping some storage tanks for local distribution of imported refined product.
In 2015 Irving completed the installation of exhaust scrubbers on their four ship charter fleet, and in 2014 brought Nor'easter
under Canadian flag as East Coast to join Acadian
East Coast on long term charter from Vroon, carries the Vroon crest on the bow, but wears Irving hull colours and funnel mark.
That leaves two ships under foreign flag, Great Eastern
and New England
, trading from Saint John to the US East Coast. Another ship from the Vroon fleet, Iver Progress
has been on dedicated Irving service in 2015, but has not been given an Irving name.
Irving Oil does do ship bunkering in Halifax, but delivers the fuel by truck to ships that are tied up. With the new facility they may be able once again to bunker ships from their own dock.
Although not in the tanker business in Canada, Shell does a brisk ship bunkering business in Montreal and Sarnia. The motorized bunkering barge Arca
(ex Murex-03, Josee M-03, Imperial Lachine-03), which began operating for them in Montreal in 2003 was laid up in December 2014 and was not operating in 2015 at all. Ships taking Shell bunkers in Montreal were doing so at Shell's dock, but I am sure this was unpopular with foreign shipping lines that do not want to hire pilots and tugs to shift docks just for fuel.
Opening of the Enbridge pipeline may have been a factor in Shell's decision to acquire a new bunkering tanker. That vessel, currently name Milo
arrived in Halifax today (January 17) from South America.
Built in 2004 by Miura, Saiki, Japan, the 2191 grt, 1952 dwt ship is a miniature tanker, built specifically for bunkering work. Originally named Alios Apollo
it worked for BP among others and was renamed Elin Apollo
in 2010 for Elinoil.Its last port was Rosario, Argentina.
After such a long trip in ballast, with some very bad weather on the way, I am sure the delivery crew could sing their own version of "Rolling Down to Rio". The ship was rolling a bit even in the harbour.
The big deck crane could be used to handle lube oil in drums. Shell is one of the few producers of that product in this region.
will likely remain in Halifax for a time to be Canadianized, and may get a more typical Shell name before taking up duties in Montreal. Its seagoing ability will allow it range outside the confines of Montreal harbour if need be to fuel ships in other river ports.It was flying the Belize flag on arrival in Halifax.
Newfoundland based Coastal Shipping Ltd, part of the Woodward Group does most of its work seasonally, supplying northern ports in Labrador and the Arctic, but recently it has been supplying Wilson Fuels in Halifax.
The tanker Nanny
is due again this month at pier 9 where it will pump ashore to Wilson's tanks on north Barrington street.
Nanny at pier 9 in November.
The supply boat Skandi Flora taking on Wilson fuel at pier 9.
Interestingly the same pier 9 berth has also been supplying fuel to the support craft for Shell's offshore drilling ship Stena Icemax
in the Shelburne Basin. This is the first time that I am aware of that Wilson has been done ship fueling, and is apparently in association with Shell Oil, since that is the ultimate user of the fuel.
Sterling / McAsphalt
Sterling Fuels still provides the bunkering fuel in Halifax that is delivered by the tanker Algoma Dartmouth
. It is the only fuel company in Halifax that can deliver fuel to ships at anchor. Some of the fuel comes from Imperial Oil (likely diesel only). From time to time Algoma Dartmouth
goes to Point Tupper to take on other grades of ship's fuel from the NuStar Energy storage facilities.
Algoma Dartmouth makes an early morning run up the Narrows to bunker CSL Atlas at anchor in Bedford Basin.
Sterling's parent company McAsphalt continues to operate its two tug/tanker barge combinations, primarily on the Lower Great Lakes and Seaway, with very occasional trips to Saint John and Newfoundland. Both units carry only heavy fuel/ bunker C/ asphalt and are wintering on the Great Lakes this year.
The Oil Majors
Oil companies themselves have generally remained at arm's length from tanker ownership and operation for many years, after several infamous oil spills and ship wrecks.
Irving Oil (see above) is a notable exception.
Exxon Mobil's Canadian operation Imperial Oil (marketing under the Esso label) now imports most of its Atlantic Canada supply or refined product from the US. Paying for that fuel in low value Canadian dollars, even with depressed oil prices, must still be painful. A steady stream of handysize foreign tankers comes and goes from Imperial's Dartmouth storage facility (and former refinery.) All that fule is for local consumption or is transported by truck in the region.
Imperial also supplies refined product from Montreal to Cape Breton and Newfoundland by ship, but not is own. It uses Algoma tankers for the most part.
Valéro's huge refinery in Lévis produces Ultramar brand product which is distributed by Desgagnés' PétroNav tankers. Valéro has a storage facility in Eastern Passage (also a former refinery) but it is seldom visited by ships.
Other nationally recognized brands such as PetroCanada and Shell purchase their product for this region from competitors and distribute it by truck.
Smaller local fuel suppliers such as Wilsons and the many independent furnace oil dealers, buy their products where they can from whom they can, and aside from Wilson (see above under Coastal) use truck and train to distribute.