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What Is the Average Capacity of an Oil Tanker?

by Anne Davis

As of November 2010, there are 11,127 oil tankers in operation hauling anywhere from 500,000 to 4 million barrels of oil each. The most common haulers are divided into classes based on their deadweight tonnage, the total amount of weight that they can carry, including crew, ballast water, cargo, fuel and provisions.

Panamax

These crude oil tankers weigh up to 70,000 dead weight tons, with a capacity of 500,000 barrels of oil. This is the largest size vessel that can travel through the Panama Canal.

Aframax

These tankers weigh from 70,000 to 120,000 dead weight tons, with a capacity of 750,000 barrels of oil. These tankers are the largest tankers in the Average Freight Rate Assessment (AFRA) tanker rate system.

Suezmax

These vessels weigh from 120,000 to 200,000 dead weight tons, with a capacity of 1 million barrels of oil. This is the largest size tanker that can travel through the Suez Canal.

Very Large Crude Carrier

These carriers, also called VLCC, weigh from 200,000 to 325,000 dead weight tons. They have a capacity of approximately 2 million barrels of oil. These carriers are used mostly in the Mediterranean, North Sea and near West Africa.

Ultra Large Crude Carrier

These carriers, also called ULCC, weigh from 325,000 to 550,000 dead weight tons. They have a capacity of up to 4 million barrels of oil. These tankers are used in routes from the Arabian Gulf to Europe and America to Asia.

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