A big build-out of Jones Act product tankers and large ocean-going barges is well under way, just as the future demand for these vessels is coming into question. Within the next 18 months, a total of 17 Jones Act product tankers and large ocean-going articulated tug barges (ATBs) with a combined capacity of more than 4.5 million barrels (MMbbl) will be delivered, boosting the total fleet capacity of these types of vessels by 20%. These new-vessel orders were made a few years ago in response to increased shipments of crude oil within the U.S. that, at the time, had resulted in a shortage of Jones Act product tankers and large ATBs. This in turn led to higher charter rates and the resulting increased costs of shipping crude oil and petroleum products in the coastwise trade. Now though, the decline in U.S. crude oil production has upended expectations. Today, we begin a series on the impact of hydrocarbon market changes on the Jones Act fleet.
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