THE BLOG
04/04/2013 04:02 pm ET Updated Jun 04, 2013

Tanker Turns off Engine and Drifts for 280 Miles to Save Fuel

As a student, did you ever put your car into neutral when on a hill and coast along under the power of gravity in order to save those precious few drops of fuel? Well it seems as though that sort of practice is even in use in the international shipping business.

As an attempt to cut back on rising fuel costs, the largest cost center in the shipping and transport sector, a tanker owned by Europe's largest publicly traded commodity shipping company, DS Norden, turned off its main engine and drifted for more than 200 miles.

The 47,400-ton Nord Integrity was on its way to Algeria to pick up a cargo of transport fuels, such as gasoline and diesel, when the conditions aligned enough for it to turn off its engine and float along for three to four days, covering 280 nautical miles and saving $17,000.

Jens Malund Jensen, head of Norden's product tanker operations, assured that the voyage complied with all safety regulations, and that this practice would never be attempted with a tanker that was carrying a cargo. In order to successfully carry out such a maneuver, the wind and current conditions must be perfect, and the vessel must have enough time and space to move safely if necessary.

Per Mansson, the managing director of Nor-Ocean Stockholm, believes that we "could see more of this on specific routes, given how fuel prices are. It's never difficult as long as the currents are right."

In 2012, Norden spent $651 million on fuel, accounting for 67 percent of its total voyage costs.

Cross-posted with Oilprice.com

James Burgess is an analyst with Oilprice.com. He is a successful small cap investor with a focus on early stage renewable energy companies. More of his articles can be found on his authors page at Oilprice.com.

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