Compared to commercial aviation, tanker shipping’s three major incidents in 2018 make it a remarkably safe industry, says Craig Jallal
In my opinion, the most remarkable news story in Tanker Shipping & Trade last week was that the number of vessels lost* worldwide in 2018 was 46, the lowest this century and an annual decline of more than 50%.
This is according to the Safety and Shipping Review 2019**, issued on 4 June by Allianz Global Corporate & Specialty.
Drilling down through the report shows that it records only three tanker losses in 2018 – the main loss recorded being Sanchi. And the report can be compared favourably to the long-term trend in tanker oil spill frequencies.
To put this in perspective, in 2018, the total oil tanker fleet over 10,000 dwt numbered 6,702 vessels (Clarksons Research Services’ data). The loss of three tankers was only around 0.045% of the fleet at the time.
Shipping is often compared to the airline industry, but 2018 was not a good year for flying. According to the US Aviation Safety Network, there were 16 major airliner incidents resulting in the death of 555 people in 2018. This was a 900% increase on 2017 and included an incident where an airline struck a mountain in Iran and was not found for two days.
Unfortunately, inter-industry statistics are hard to compare as the airline industry refers to “air miles flown” rather than the loss of airliners compared to the size of the airline fleet.
That said, three tankers lost out of 6,702 vessels is remarkably low, and the tanker industry should feel proud of such a low level of losses.
*Total losses are defined as actual total losses or constructive total losses recorded for vessels of 100 gt or over (excluding pleasure craft and smaller vessels), as at the time of the analysis.
**The primary data source for total loss and casualty statistics is Lloyd’s List Intelligence Casualty Statistics (data run 1 April 2019).