Chemical tankers in high demand

The specialized tankers responsible for carrying chemicals back and forth between the United States and Asia are currently in short supply. This is largely due to the recent surge in chemical production in the United States fueled by the cheap natural gas in the country.
It is predicted that by 2015 the chemicals needing transportation will outpace the capacity of the current global fleet of tankers, which is allowing companies such as Ardmore Shipping Corporation, Stolt-Nielsen Ltd. and Odfjell SE to command higher rates for their vessels.
The tankers are more complex compared to an oil tanker or dry bulk carrier. A state-of-the-art chemical carrier can carry up to 50 tanks, each encased in stainless steel, to segregate low volumes of possibly hazardous materials. There are few shipyards that have the expertise and experience to build these vessels. “There are not a lot of operators with the ability to place orders for sophisticated tonnage or yards that can build them at competitive prices,” said Julian Villar, a spokesman for Stolt-Nielsen. Because of this, a tanker ordered today most likely would not be delivered before 2015.
Odfjell currently has the largest fleet of chemical tankers at 96, but by 2015, Ardmore is planning to increase their fleet to 20 tankers, which will include 18 ships capable of carrying chemicals.
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