Two new gas tankers have been christened by Imperial Logistics and will join the fleet that operates from the German city of Duisburg, which is the world’s biggest inland port. The state-of-the-art, energy-efficient vessels will be used to transport liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) and pressurised gaseous products – among other things – writes Patrick O’Leary.
If you’re reading this and thinking that Imperial has added two new tankers to its road tanker fleet then you, like me, will be wrong. In fact, you’ll be miles off the mark – as I was. I never knew Imperial Logistics operates ships in Europe. Yet they do. In fact, the company has 17 of them operating in the gas tanker shipping sector. We call them ships; they call them vessels over there.
And how’s this. Imperial Logistics is one of the few providers in Europe that ships gases liquefied under pressure via inland tankers. It is also the only European inland shipping company that meets Tanker Management Self-Assessment (TMSA) on level 2 – whatever that is, but it sounds good. Maybe it’s a ship’s equivalent to our RTMS.
But whoa! You’re getting it wrong again. ‘Inland tankers’ referred to above does not mean ‘on the road’ tankers. These things operate on canals and secondary inland waterways in Europe and can be used in the complete river Rhine area, including its tributaries. The Rhine is a river by the way – thus the ships. Mmmmm!
As you can probably gather, this story has absolutely nothing to do with trucks. What it has everything to do with is raising our levels of pride in the fact that a South African born company has made such dynamic inroads into the European market as a true global logistics company. Given the fact that there is not much going on in South Africa that tends to tap into our national pride – what with crime, corruption, Guptas, Zumas and the rest of the drek we are faced with on a daily basis – this is a really good news story.
And how’s this. Not only does Imperial Logistics operate in the shipping market in Europe but it is also setting new trends for other European vessel operators to follow. As Imperial Logistics chief strategy officer, Cobus Rossouw, says: “The new tankers will set new standards in terms of energy efficiency and load carrying capacity. When in operation, the new gas tankers will consume significantly less fuel than their predecessors.” So a South African company is leading the way in Europe – another reason to be proud.
And the Europeans love what they are seeing as evidenced by the fact that more than 100 guests attended the christening of the new tankers, which have been dubbed “Imperial Gas 92” and “Imperial Gas 93”.
The ‘vessels’ are 110 metres long and 11.45 metres wide and each has a capacity of 2 856 cubic metres. That’s slightly bigger than the 22m long and 2,6m wide combinations run by the company’s local Tanker Services outfit. They are also powered not by one but by two engines.
Rossouw says that the new vessels’ fuel efficiency has been made possible by their “dual Z-drive” rudder propellers, developed by global propulsion specialist Veth, which is based in the Netherlands.
“In the Veth system, the rudders and propellers form a single unit. Compared to older drive systems, this system requires less fuel and maintenance. Operating data from the main engines – such as fuel consumption, position, speed, exhaust temperature, load and speed – will be sent on-line to the control centre.” Aha! That must be a South African developed fleet management system. But why speed? I suppose the captains of these ships also exceed the speed limits like some truck drivers do? I wonder if they include a highjack panic button?
And here’s an interesting bit of information given by Rossouw, especially given the drive by truck manufacturers to make trucks more efficient and eco-friendly.
“Gas tankers are a flexible solution for supplying energy and raw materials to industries and an alternative to transporting liquid gases in pipelines. Gases have to be liquefied before they are transported and the reduction in volume resulting from this enables the vessels to accommodate greater loads. This means that inland waterway vessels have become a very efficient and eco-friendly means of transport,” he says.
Well, this has been FleetWatch’s first venture into the shipping sector – and probably our last. Thanks for that diversion Imperial Logistics. Keep on shipping in Europe while you keep on trucking in South Africa. We prefer your local trucking side by the way – but heck, you’ve made us Proudly South Africa with this great achievement in Europe. It shows that South Africa can compete with – and beat – the best in the world when we put our minds to it. Yeah!