Record Mongstad shipments
A record volume of crude oil was shipped from Statoil's Mongstad terminal near Bergen last year.
This facility loaded 51.6 million tonnes of oil into tankers during 1998 as against 48.1 million tonnes the year before. In addition, 8.7 million tonnes of products were discharged for or loaded from the adjacent refinery.
But the number of ship calls at the west coast facility rose only marginally compared with 1997, from 1,833 to 1,858. This reflects a steady increase in tanker size and consequent efficiency gains, reports Øyvind Øverland, assistant port captain at Mongstad.
The largest crude oil carrier to call at the terminal so far arrived last July to load just over 388,000 tonnes.
"A ship of that size can carry three times as much cargo as three conventional tankers and requires only half the loading time," comments Mr Øverland.
Adviser Dagfinn Uthaug in Statoil's crude oil sales unit confirms that the trend towards larger vessels offers commercial benefits to the group.
"Shipping crude in bigger tankers means we can make more effective use of our berths. That in turn allows us to export larger volumes and increase activity by transshipping other types of crude."
He makes particular mention of oil from the Norne and Åsgard fields in the Norwegian Sea, which can achieve higher prices in transatlantic markets.