As China becomes a large oil importer, building the country's own oil tanker fleet to ensure oil security in the future is an urgent task. The fleet should be capable of handling at least 50 percent of China's total oil imports, according to the Beijing-based Economic Information Daily. Based on this estimation, the oil tanker fleet should be able to handle 75 million tons of the oil imports by the year 2010. The figure would rise to more than 130 million tons by 2020, the newspaper said.
Currently, the majority of China's oil tankers are on average six years older than the oil tankers of other countries, the report said. The oil tankers are small and each can carry less than 100,000 tons of oil, compared with the 270,000-ton and 300,000-ton oil tankers commonly used in the international market. Meanwhile, China's two largest oil importers, the China Petro-Chemical and the China National Petroleum, do not have their own oil tankers. During the past couple of years, the oil imports shipped by China's oil tankers made up only 10 percent of the total, and 90 percent were shipped by leasing foreign oil tankers. Although the government has worked on building up strategic oil reserves, the work to build a large tanker fleet has been overlooked, according to Yao Ping, deputy general manager of the China Yangtze River Navigation Group. He cites Japan and Republic of Korea (ROK) as an example, saying Japan has large oil tankers with a total tonnage of 20 million tons, which can ship 80 percent of the oil imported by Japan.