An oil tanker, also known as a petroleum tanker, is a merchant ship designed for the bulk transport of oil. There are two basic types of oil tankers: crude tankers and product tankers.

Main Types of Tankers

Oil Tanker
  • tanker for the carriage of crude-oil
Shuttle Tanker
  • tanker ship for the carriage of crude-oil directly from the offshore oil fields to terminals or refineries.
Product Tanker
  • tanker for the carriage of refined products derived from crude oil (gasoline, Diesel oil, jet fuel) from the refineries

Breakdown of Various Classifications of Oil Tankers

Size / Classification Deadweight Tonnage (DWT) Avg Dimension (Length | Height | Draft in feet) Average DWT / vessel[i] Approx # of vessels[ii] # of Orders in 2006[iii]
Medium Range 25,000 – 50,000 675 | 100 | 55 41,000 1273 330
Panamax 50,000 – 75,000 65,000 ~809 46
Aframax 75,000 – 120,000 810 | 110 | 60 106,000 ~900 160
Suezmax 120,000 – 180,000 950 | 150 | 60 161,000 ~600 83
VLCC 200,000 – 320,000 1240 | 200 | 100 306,000 474 102
ULCC 320,000+ 86,000 4056 720

Crude tankers move large quantities of unrefined crude oil from its point of extraction to refineries.  Product tankers, generally much smaller, are designed to move refined products from refineries to points near consuming markets.

Average Freight Rate Assessment (AFRA) Scale – Fixed


Supertankers (VLCC and ULCC)

  • “Supertankers” are the largest tankers
  • including very large crude carriers (VLCC) and ULCCs with capacities over 250,000 DWT.
  • Ships can transport 2,000,000 barrels (320,000 m3) of oil/318,000 metric tons.


  • Suezmax” is a naval architecture term for the largest ship measurements capable of transiting the Suez Canal in a laden condition, and is almost exclusively used in reference to tankers.
  • The typical deadweight of a Suezmax ship is about 160,000 tons and typically has a beam (width) of 50 m (164.0 ft).


  • An Aframax ship is an oil tanker smaller than 120,000 metric tonnes and with a breadth not greater than 32.31 m and therefore would have been able to pass through the original Panama canal.


  • Panamax and New Panamax (or Neopanamax) are terms for the size limits for ships travelling through the Panama Canal.

Oil tankers are often classified by their size as well as their occupation. The size classes range from inland or coastal tankers of a few thousand metric tons of deadweight (DWT) to the mammoth ultra large crude carriers (ULCCs) of 550,000 DWT. Tankers move approximately 2,000,000,000 metric tons (2.2×109 short tons) of oil every year.

The average cost of oil transport by tanker amounts to only two or three United States cents per 1 US gallon (3.8 L).

Shipping is by far the biggest transport polluter in the world. There are 760 million cars in the world today emitting approx 78,599 tons of Sulphur Oxides (SOx) annually.

The world’s 90,000 vessels burn approx 370 million tons of fuel per year emitting 20 million tons of Sulphur Oxides. That equates to 260 times more Sulphur Oxides being emitted by ships than the world’s entire car fleet.

One large ship alone can generate approx 5,200 tonnes of sulphur oxide pollution in a year, meaning that 15 of the largest ships now emit as much SOx as the world’s 760 million cars.

Breakdown of Oil Tanker Ownership

Ownership Number of Tankers DWT (millions) Share of total world fleet Avg. Age
Independent 3,588 300.2 84% 11.5
Oil Company 108 14.9 6% 9.0
State Owned 418 32.0 5% 15.9
State Oil Company 211 20.2 5% 15.2
Totals 4,355 370.8 100% 11.5

World Oil Traders Trusted Fuel Suppliers

Rotterdam, Switzerland, London, Singapore, Houston

World Oil Traders – Trusted Distillate fuel suppliers of petrochemical products and derivatives Rotterdam, Switzerland, London, Singapore, Houston:

  • M100/Fuel Oil GOST 10585-75/99/2013
  • D6 Virgin Diesel Bunker Fuel
  • D2 Diesel Fuel/EN 590 GOST R 52368-2005
  • D2 Gasoil L0.2/62 GOST 305-82
  • Fuel Oil 380 CST
  • Jet Fuel (JP54)/Aviation Kerosene
  • #95 Octane
  • Crude Oil (Heavy & Light)
  • Russian Export Blend Crude Oil R.E.B.C.O. GOST 51858-2002
  • Jet A1
  • LNG
  • LPG