Global Oil Logistics: Ships, Fleets and Tracing. Tips for Traders.

In the world of oil and oil products trading, an efficient transport system plays a key role. From the oilfields to consumers around the world, oil moves in huge volumes, and the main method of this movement is by sea in specialised vessels known as tankers. In this article we look at the variety of ships used to transport oil, the main tanker fleets in the world, the major ship owners and how to track their movements on the seas.

Varieties of oil transport ships

There are several types of tankers designed for the transport of crude oil and petroleum products. Among them, the most common are:

  • Self-Discharge Tankers: Equipped with their own pumps for self-unloading of oil.
  • Crude Oil Tankers: Designed to transport crude oil from oil fields to refineries.
  • Chemical Tankers: Used to transport not only petroleum products but also various chemicals.
  • LNG Tankers: Designed for the carriage of liquefied natural gas.

Tanker fleets in the world

The largest tanker fleets are usually owned by different countries and companies. Among the largest fleets are those of Saudi Arabia, China, Greece, Japan and other countries with active oil industries. The largest ship owners include companies such as Saudi Aramco, National Iranian Tanker Company, and China COSCO Shipping Corporation.

Ship chartering systems and tracing

Ships are chartered by various companies and trading agencies around the world. They can be hired on a long-term or short-term basis depending on the needs of customers. To track the movement of ships at sea, satellite tracing systems (e.g. AIS) are used to provide real-time information on the ship’s location and route.
Currently, there is a huge variety of online ship tracking services available. The most widespread and popular service in our opinion is MarineTraffic (

Ship Registry and Q88

Various resources, including ship registries, exist to obtain information on the technical parameters and operational history of ships. Ship registries are databases containing information on registered ships, their owners, technical characteristics and ship history. These registers are usually maintained by public maritime administrations and other regulatory bodies.
However, in addition to official registries, there are also commercial resources that provide information on ships and their characteristics. One such resource is is an online platform designed for ship owners, operators and charterers. On this site, users can access information on more than 12,000 tankers and more than 30,000 container ships, as well as technical data, certificates and vessel operating history. also provides business management tools such as freight calculation and charter management.

Variety of tankers by cargo capacity

Tankers designed for the transport of crude oil and petroleum products vary in their cargo capacity and tonnage. There are light-tonnage tankers, which specialise in transporting small volumes of crude oil in areas with limited access, and large-tonnage tankers, which can transport huge volumes of crude oil over long routes around the world.

The most common offshore tankers in terms of capacity are

Among the most common types of offshore tankers in terms of capacity, several categories can be distinguished. Among them:

  • Aframax: Medium-capacity tankers capable of carrying 80,000 to 120,000 tonnes of oil. These vessels are often used to transport oil between different regions of the world.
  • Suezmax: Tankers that can pass through the Suez Canal and have a capacity of 120,000 to 200,000 tonnes of oil. They can make long hauls between Asia, Europe and America.
  • VLCC (Very Large Crude Carriers): Very large oil tankers with a capacity of 200,000 to 320,000 tonnes. These vessels are used for long-term oil transport on the world’s largest trade routes.

This is just a small overview of the most common offshore tankers by capacity. Each type of tanker has its own characteristics and purpose, and the choice of a particular vessel depends on the requirements of the route and the volume of cargo to be transported.

Online ship chartering services

With the development of information technology and digitalisation of shipping, online platforms providing ship chartering services have emerged. These services allow ship owners, operators and charterers to quickly and efficiently find suitable vessels for cargo transportation, conclude deals and manage operations in real time.

Examples of popular online ship chartering services

Baltic Exchange: Baltic Exchange provides an online platform for chartering ships, where users can publish freight offers and search for available vessels for the carriage of different types of cargo.

Bulk Marine: This service specialises in chartering vessels for the carriage of bulk cargo. It provides a user-friendly interface to search for available vessels and make deals.

Shipfix: Shipfix is a maritime trading platform that connects ship owners, operators and charterers. Users can search for ships, compare prices and make deals, all in one place.

These services provide convenient tools to manage ship transport and facilitate the chartering process for both ship owners and customers looking for transport for their cargoes. Thanks to them, maritime transport becomes more transparent, efficient and accessible for all market participants.

What a trader needs to know about transporting oil products and ship’s freight

For a petroleum products trader, understanding the specifics of vessel transport and freight is as important as knowledge of the oil and petroleum products market. This helps to avoid potential problems and ensure efficient execution of transactions. Here are a few key aspects to pay attention to:

  1. Ship type and specifications: Depending on the type of petroleum product, its volume and the required transport distance, the trader should choose the right type of ship. For example, for light petroleum products such as petrol, smaller chemical tankers may be suitable, while VLCCs may be required to carry large volumes of crude oil.
  2. Transport region and route: It is important to consider the specifics of the route and the region through which the transport will pass. Some sea routes may be busier or have restrictions that may affect vessel selection and freight costs.
  3. Freight market conditions: Traders need to keep an eye on current trends in the freight market, such as prices and vessel availability. This will help to optimise costs and select the most favourable terms for the deal.
  4. Problems and risks: Transportation of oil products involves various risks such as spills, accidents and changes in wind and sea conditions. Also important risks that must necessarily be taken into account in the operation are the safety of vessel passage at various points of tension – places of military conflicts, political instability, places of pirate and terrorist activity. Tankers with oil and oil products are priority targets for attackers, terrorists and pirates, as they are of great financial and political value. Traders need to consider these risks when assessing potential costs and selecting insurance policies.
  5. Compliance with regulatory requirements and standards: When entering into transactions involving the sale of petroleum products, it is important to consider the compliance of the cargo being transported with international quality and safety standards, as well as compliance with all necessary licences and permits. In the current politico-military environment, an important factor to be taken into account is the presence of international sanctions, restrictions and embargoes, which restrict certain countries and markets from supplying certain types of petroleum products.

The marine transport system for crude oil and petroleum products is complex and key to the global economy. Understanding the different types of ships, fleets and routing methods enables effective management of this important component of global logistics.

Successful trading of petroleum products requires not only market knowledge, but also an understanding of shipping and ship chartering processes. Traders with this knowledge find it much easier to make informed decisions and ensure reliable execution of trades.

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