Tankers Explained – Part I: Product Tankers

Product Tankers

Oil Tanker

Link Ship Chandlers offers expert chandling support in Cape Town, Saldanha, Port Elizabeth, Coega, Durban and Richards Bay. The relationships we build with our valued clientele are based on quality service, punctual delivery, affordable pricing and mutual respect.

As such, we find ourselves up to the elbows in ‘industry-speak’ most of the time. However, we realise that the world of shipping is full of lingo that is not exactly part of the everyday lexicon, which is why we like to illuminate the terms we take for granted right here on the blog. In this series, we’re discussing various types of tankers.

In previous articles, we took a look at specialised dry cargo vessels. Today we continue our journey by venturing onward into the world of tankers:


The refining process turns crude oil into a variety of products, some of which are termed ‘clean’, while others are termed ‘dirty. I.e.:

Dirty products

  • Fuel oils

Clean products

  • Gasoline
  • Kerosene
  • Gas oil

As such, product tankers are divided by a) their size, and b) their suitability to carry clean or dirty products. Clean takers are suited to carry both clean and dirty oil products, while dirty product tankers are only suited to carry the latter.

Clean product tankers need to be cleaned very regularly, ideally before each new load. To handle this level of corrosive cleaning action, their tanks are painted with special products. These tankers also feature specialised segregation systems that make it possible to ferry various cargo grades without fear of contamination.

Dirty product tankers have to be able to heat up fuels of a higher density in order to make it suitable for pumping, so these ships are normally equipped with heating coils to get this done. Since these vessels don’t need to be cleaned as regularly as the clean tankers, they don’t have special coatings, and because contamination is not an issue there are no segregation systems.

DID YOU KNOW? Oil is measured in barrels, which is equal to 42 US gallons or 159 litres. The United States consumes more oil than any other country – upwards of 1.85 billion barrels per day.

There you have it – product tankers in a nutshell. In our next blog on this topic, we’ll take a gander at crude tankers. In the meantime, feel free to get in touch with a member of the Link Ship Chandlers team if you would like to learn more about the services we provide from South African ports.

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