Tankers, which transport liquid bulk such as oil and gas, are subject to very strict, rigorous inspections and legislation. Oil transport must also meet oil companies’ high standards.

Representation of a double hull tanker Credit : Desgagnés
Representation of a double hull tanker
Credit : Desgagnés

Tankers are: 

  • Reliable, safe and environment-friendly
  • A mode of transportation that has the capacity and means to intervene in case of an emergency.

To carry oil, ship owners must meet Transport Canada’s requirements, which include the use of double hull tankers (a type of hull where the vessel’s bottom and sides have two complete layers of watertight hull surfaces).

Foreign tankers transporting crude oil in Canadian waters must meet this requirement as well. Ship owners must also comply with their clients’ rules and those of the International Tankers Owners Pollution Federation, including:

  • A tanker inspection program every 6 months (12 elements covering 750 validation criteria)
  • A verification process (vetting) before travelling that covers:
    • Ship and fleet inspection results
    • Past accident and incident history
    • Crew’s qualifications and experience
    • Authorities’ inspection reports
  • A ship’s structural review program.

Ship owners transporting oil must also:

  • Have an emergency response plan in case of oil pollution
  • Have environmental response equipment
  • Sign agreements with response organizations certified by Transport Canada
  • Implement a safety management and pollution prevention system according to the International Safety Management Code (ISM CODE) – a maritime insurance company requirement

Navigating personnel for tankers:

  • To transport oil by ship, Transport Canada requires officers to have specific qualifications on their certificate of competency (petroleum product transportation)
  • Oil companies apply additional combined experience criteria for senior officers (time with the company, rank and type of vessel)
  • Ships navigating the St. Lawrence must hire a certified maritime pilot between Les Escoumins and Montreal, and in the Saguenay River
  • Oil tankers often voluntarily call on escort tugs to help them manoeuver in difficult areas.

Learn more about tanker safety and spill prevention