Sir: Recent correspondence on pollution from supertankers neglects developments that are already rendering the supertanker obsolete. New sources of crude closer to consuming countries than the Gulf reduce the ton/mile factor and need for economies of scale in transportation. Crude from the vast upcoming reserves of Central Asia cannot be loaded into VLCCs (Very Large Crude Carriers) in the Black Sea because of Bosphorus restrictions. Finally, "just in time" crude purchase policies adopted recently by refiners obviate the need for huge slugs of crude that tie up capital or incur pointless interest charges.
Global warming looms large in the considerations of potential contractors of new VLCCs. Current contracts for replacement of these ageing dinosaurs are dangerously few. Why not just let them die out?