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How water and energy mix

Tanker barges on the Scheldt river near Antwerp.

Nicholas Newman Eniday January 2016

Today, water is not only used to drink, it is used to move large quantities of energy in tankers along world’s rivers, canals, coastal water and oceans in a variety of vessels from ocean-going oil tankers that cross the seas from Australia to Japan to canal barges that transport LNG to customers along the River Rhine in Europe.

Nicholas Newman takes a look at the various vessels that transport energy around the world and the impact that investment of such projects as the widening of the Panama and Suez Canals is having on the global movement of energy. Water is not just a liquid for drinking, washing and cooking; it is also a prime means of moving liquid energy. Every day, large quantities of oil and liquid natural gas (LNG) are carried in dedicated vessels across oceans and in barges along Europe and America’s major rivers and canals. Innovations in design and the creation of new types of such water-borne carriers have enlarged and multiplied the markets for oil and gas and enabled a burgeoning of new sources of supply.


Inland oil shipments by barge

There is a long history of moving oil by river or canal barge. For instance, before the arrival of the railway, oil prospectors in Pennsylvania used barges towed by paddle steamers to transport crude oil to refineries downstream along the Mississippi River system. Barges remain an important means of transporting crude and refined products. Self-powered or towed barges carrying oil and refined products still ply along North American waterways, including the Great Lakes and the Intracoastal Waterway, which runs along the US Gulf and Atlantic Coasts. Read more.


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