Yesterday morning, the tanker, Stena Primorsk, ran aground in the Hudson River about ten miles south of Albany, NY after suffering a steering gear failure. No oil was reported to have been spilled. There are a whole range of interesting aspects to this story, the least of which is the grounding. These are:
There was no oil spill. The Stena Primorsk is a Stena MAX design intended to incorporate high efficiency with environmental safety. This time it worked. The outer hull was damaged but the inner hull remained intact. The use of double bottoms on tankers was mandated by the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 (OPA 90) following the grounding of the Exxon Valdez and the resulting oil spill. The grounding of the Stena Primorsk is another example that OPA 90 is working.
The Stena Primorsk was exporting oil from in Albany. She was loading oil for export. For export. In recent years, the oil passing through the Port of Albany was all imported. But nevertheless, the Stena Primorsk loaded around 40,000 tons of low sulfur crude from the Bakken shale formations in North Dakota for export to Irving’s St. John refinery in New Brunswick, Canada. There is an oil glut in the Midwest and so some of that oil is being exported to Canada. Canada is still the largest oil supplier to the US, but with these Midwestern oil shipments they may be supplying just a bit less. This year the US became a net exporter of petroleum products for the first times since 1949. There projections that suggest that the US will also become a net crude oil exporter by 2030.
This was to be the first of many voyages between Albany and St. John. The grounding will delay but should not otherwise interrupt the contact. The ship was scheduled to return to Albany every eight days, which would make the shipment rate about 35,000 barrels a day.
The Hudson isn’t really a river. Many people are surprised to hear it, but the Hudson River south of Albany isn’t tecnincally a river. The Hudson River should more properly be called the Hudson River estuary. The tide flows in and out of the estuary for over one hundred miles between the Atlantic at New York City and the rapids at Albany. The Hudson River estuary is also quite deep. Ships of up to around 40,000 DWT can navigate the river all the way to Albany. Ships can carry a draft of around 31 in the Port of Albany. The Stena Primorsk has a deadweight of 65,000 tonnes at a salt water draft of 37′. She only loaded around 40,000 tonnes due to draft and fresh water constraints.
Thanks to Ulrich Rudofsky and Christina Sun for contributing to this post.