Chemical producer BASF has turned to chemical tanker operator Stolt Tankers to design a tanker capable of clearing the low water pinch-point on the river Rhine
BASF’s Ludwigshafen site is above the critical point in the Rhine near Kaub.
BASF European Site & Verbund Management president Dr Uwe Liebelt 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," she said. "We took the initiative ourselves in 2018, because a suitable ship was not available on the market. Today, I am pleased that despite many challenges, we have succeeded in developing this new type of ship and that we will now complete the project with a strong partner."
BASF developed the ship design with a consortium consisting of Stolt Tankers, Duisburger Entwicklungszentrum für Schiffstechnik und Transportsysteme, Technolog Services and Agnos Consulting.
Stolt Tankers will operate the vessel and Mercurius Shipping Group will construct the ship. Commissioning is scheduled for the end of 2022.
Stolt Tankers president Lucas Vos said, “This exciting partnership with BASF supports our commitment to work with other industry leaders to develop new technologies and ship designs for a greener maritime industry. 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 in low water situations, keeping products moving even as river levels are becoming more unpredictable.”
Mr Vos added, “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,” he said.
The dimensions of the tanker are 135 m by 17.5 m, which is considerably larger than the dimensions of the usual tankers on the Rhine, which are usually 110 m by 11.5 m.
The ship will be equipped with 10 stainless steel tanks and three separate loading systems and can also be used for products with high density, such as acids and alkalis.
The new tanker will still be able to pass the critical point in the Rhine near Kaub with a cargo of 650 tonnes even at a water level of 30 cm, which is significantly more than any other tanker available today. At average low water level, the tanker will have a capacity of around 2,500 tonnes, approximately twice that of conventional inland vessels.
The ship will be powered by three electric motors, which will be fed by the latest generation of highly efficient diesel generators with exhaust gas after-treatment.
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