Tanker Owner Lets Ship Drift Hundreds of Miles to Save Fuel

A tanker owned by D/S Norden A/S (DNORD), Europe’s biggest publicly traded commodity-shipping company, turned off its main engine for more than 200 miles to save on fuel as the industry curbs an expense that was a record in 2012.

The Nord Integrity, a 47,400-ton ship designed to transport fuels including gasoline and diesel, sailed by wind and currents on its way to load cargo in Algeria after refueling in the Canary Islands, Hellerup, Denmark-based Norden said in a company newsletter e-mailed today. The vessel saved $17,000 by switching off for 280 nautical miles (518 kilometers) and drifted for three or four days.

“You could see more of this on specific routes, given how fuel prices are,” said Per Mansson, managing director of shipbroker Norocean Stockholm AB, who served on tankers in the 1970s that would drift for as many as 14 days when sailing between Sweden and the Caribbean. “It’s never difficult as long as the currents are right.”

Owners across the industry are cutting speeds to save on fuel costs that now account about 75 percent of average expenses, according to the Baltic and International Maritime Council, the largest trade group. Norden spent $651 million on fuel in 2012, or 67 percent of its voyage costs, according to the newsletter. Prices at the port of Rotterdam averaged a record $640.39 a ton last year, data compiled by Bloomberg show.

The voyage complied with safety regulations, and a ship wouldn’t turn off its engine while carrying a cargo, Jens Malund Jensen, head of Norden’s product tanker operations, said in the newsletter. Wind and currents must move in the right direction and a vessel must have enough time and space to move safely to make such sailing possible, according to the report.

“Owners are trying everything because one ton saved a day is $600 on your bottom line,” said Truls Dahl, a shipbroker at Fearnleys A/S in Oslo who said that he hasn’t seen ships switch off their engines during his 30-year career in the industry.

To contact the reporter on this story: Isaac Arnsdorf in London at iarnsdorf@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Alaric Nightingale at anightingal1@bloomberg.net

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