China’s petroleum industry has been increasing rapidly, which undoubtedly places the country as the fourth-greatest oil producer in the world.
China has been exporting massive barrels of petroleum and crude oils to Japan since 1973, as reported by the Energy Information Administration (EIA). And as the petroleum business grows, the demand to supply oils to foreign countries heighten to a booming rate.
This demand eventually pushes the Chinese government to invest heavily in water transport infrastructure and cargo ships to carry substantial barrels of oils. And for several years, China took significant efforts to increase mechanization and containerization in its maritime activities.
China’s effort to once again embody the title of being one of the most advanced countries in the world when it comes to maritime affairs has come to fruition. Recently, it has announced the acquisition of the biggest oil carrier in the world, which is said to equal the size of three football fields. The record shows that it is the first-ever “intelligent” carrier in the world, with a loading capability of 308,000 tons.
The said vessel is China’s first intelligent crude carrier delivered to Dalian, Northeast Liaoning Province last Saturday. It was named as “New Journey,” which primarily belongs to the “very large crude carrier” or VLCC type, and constructed by the company Dalian Shipbuilding Industry Co., Ltd. (DSIC) under the China Shipbuilding Industry Corporation (CSIC).
New Journey is more than 300 meters long, which is equivalent to 35 five-ton trucks. According to its builders, the vessel is too large that one can only touch the upper part of a 300,000 ton VLCC’s cab if he or she stands at a 55-meter high building.
China has been known for possessing ships with massive tankers for business trades, and mostly for importing oils. The country sets a record of importing 6.7 million barrels a day since 2015 and is believed to overtake the U.S. as the world’s biggest crude importer in 2016. According to EIA, China first became the world’s largest net importer of petroleum and other oils since 2013.
With that massive amount of oils, China will need to accommodate them all in a single vessel, large enough to secure the supply until the next five years. “New Journey” guarantees unlimited oil supply during times of crisis, proving China’s forward-thinking strategy, primarily since climate change affects oil resources in the world.
This new vessel offers the most advanced feature that even other developed countries failed to invent. Compared with other oil tankers, “New Journey” brings efficiency, as it is equipped with an “intelligent brain.” Its five significant functions include assisted autopilot navigation, intelligent liquefied cargo management, comprehensive energy efficiency management, equipment operation and maintenance, and advanced ship-to-shore communication.
Aside from safekeeping the oils with its huge tankers, the vessel promotes intelligent navigation with the use of advanced technologies for ships. According to Guan Yinghua, chief vice engineer of DSIC, New Journey will take an essential role in improving maritime traffic safety; from manual maneuver to autopilot navigation.
This vessel is believed to haul nearly three-fourths of China’s oil imports within the next 15 years. Although China is still a major crude oil producer, it became an importer, as economic growth exceeded the domestic oil capacity, especially when floods damaged the nation’s oil fields. Therefore, China imported oil to compensate for the supply loss.
However, it needs more than offshore tankers and oil containers to house its imports. What China also desires is an on-shore large vessel that houses many oil tankers. But aside from creating a storage facility, China ensures a safe and harmless journey when this fleet travels from one port to another. This is where “New Journey” enters in the picture. It can accurately determine the position and speed of some other ships within ten nautical miles, thus giving itself more time to traverse or reroute avoiding collisions or accidents.
It is said that the number of container units handled by Chinese ports extended to more than 150 million, but it is not enough knowing that it still manufactures 90 percent of the world’s containers. But by creating its large fleet that can safely keep oils, China will never worry once the oil crisis plagues the world. After all, China can predict the future, and for Chinese, being prepared is the key to success.