The generation of double-hulled tankers built after the Exxon Valdez oil spill of 1989 and the resulting US Oil Pollution Act of 1990 (OPA 90) is beginning to reach maturity. At the end of last year Mitsui OSK’s 1995-built 311,625dwt Atlantic Liberty was sold for scrap, to be quickly followed by the same company’s 1996-built, 267,000dwt Ohminesan and 1997-built, 259,000dwt Orion Trader, all double-hulled crude carriers that will be broken up in India.

Within a week, Singapore’s BW Group was reported to have also sold its 1994-built 306,000dwt BW Stadt for scrap, the double-hulled vessel going for a price of $430 per light displacement ton (ldt) or roughly $17.6 million, but the company has since denied this report.

Although crude carriers do not usually enjoy long lives, the Mitsui ships are thought to have been caught up in the continuing down-spin of rates, with a company official recently noting that VLCC rates from the Middle East to Asia have been hovering at Worldscale 40-41.5, which translates into earnings of only about $1,000 per day, not enough to cover crewing costs and loan repayments.

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