ANCHORAGE -- The Cape Lookout Shoals, one of a new class of double-hulled tankers, has been steaming through the waters of Cook Inlet on a regular basis since last May.
The double-hulled design -- implemented years before it is required by federal law -- is a safeguard that Tesoro Petroleum officials feel is an essential component in their corporate prevention effort.
"We wanted to do this, because it is the right thing to do in Alaska," said Tim Plummer, president of Tesoro Maritime Co.
The company has the ship on charter to haul crude oil and petroleum products within Alaska and to the West Coast. Tesoro also has six to 12 other tankers on voyage charter hauling crude and products outside of Alaska, at any point in time, according to Plummer.
The Cape Lookout Shoals is an American tanker built at Newport News, Va., and christened in 1998. It displaces 46,069 deadweight tons and is capable of carrying 342,000 barrels of oil at a speed of 14 knots, or 16.1 mph. The 600-foot-by-105-foot vessel has a draft of 40 feet when fully loaded and is powered by a 9,180 horsepower engine and propelled by a single screw.
The ship is an American Eagle class tanker owned by Seabulk International Inc. and operated by Oil Specialty Tanker Corp.
"I went to the christening of the ship and felt that we really needed to get it on charter," said Plummer. "This ship is the right fit for our business in Alaska. With the strong tidal currents and draft restrictions at Nikiski and Drift River, this particular vessel makes sense for our use in Cook Inlet," he said.
The Cape Lookout Shoals carries Cook Inlet crude from Drift River and Alaska North Slope crude from Valdez to Nikiski for processing at Tesoro's refinery. It also transports fuel oil products from Nikiski to customers on the West Coast.
"Tesoro's focus on safety and environmental protection ... is demonstrated by the commitment of having a tanker that meets the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 standards that do not come into effect for another 14 years, in 2015," said Gene Burden, president of Tesoro Alaska Petroleum Co.
Tesoro also produces low-sulfur gasoline for Alaska consumers. Federal requirements for the year 2006 require no more than 30 parts per million of sulfur in gasoline. Tesoro gasoline currently averages 1.5 parts per million, far below both the current and the 2006 standards, said Tesoro's Burden.
Berthing the vessel in 34 knot, or 39.1 mph, winds at high tide recently, Capt. Mike Stone piloted the Cape Lookout Shoals into position to moor at the Tesoro dock in Nikiski.
"This is a very maneuverable ship and easier to dock than the larger ships," Stone said. "With one of the older ships, we may have had to anchor and wait to dock until the wind died down."
Plummer said the Cape Lookout Shoals must work around tide and current windows for arrivals and departures from Nikiski due to the draft of the loaded ship.
Rob Stapleton is a reporter for the Anchorage-based Alaska Journal of Commerce.
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