Tidewater Barge Lines

About Tidewater Barge Lines

Operating in the Columbia-Snake River (CSR) system, Tidewater Barge Lines handles the transportation of primarily wheat and refined petroleum products across a fleet of 12 tugboats and 160 barges. Operating up to 24 hours per day, 365 days a year, the fleet’s activity is a mix of pushing heavy loads up the Columbia and Snake Rivers, as well as idling and stop time at the navigation locks. With temperatures that can swing between 115ºF in the summer heat to extreme colds, Tidewater’s full-time staff of mechanics, electricians and welders schedule fleet inspections every year with top end overhauls at 20,000 and majors at 40,000 hours.

"If other manufacturers came knocking at my door, I wouldn’t even consider it. We’re staying with Petro-Canada Lubricants – the proof is in the product."

Marty Wiemann
Port Engineer, Tidewater Barge Lines


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Read the Case Study

Founded in 1932 and headquartered in Vancouver, Washington, Tidewater operates the largest and most experienced barge and terminal network on the CSR system. The company also owns and operates fi ve strategically located multi-modal terminals. Priding itself on highest quality transportation services, Tidewater helps to link shippers, ports, and Pacifi c Northwest communities to the global market.

“Performance reliability is crucial to our operations. For instance, the navigation locks we transit are 86 feet wide, our tows are 84 feet wide. We need our vessels working optimally - ALWAYS”
Marty Wiemann

Prior to working with Petro-Canada Lubricants (PCL), an HF Sinclair brand, Tidewater was using the same conventional heavy-duty engine oil it had used for over 30 years, purchasing up to 2,800 gallons at a time. Always aiming for the highest standards, Tidewater was experiencing issues with its oil, both in terms of product lifecycle and wear protection, with unscheduled repairs causing downtime and disrupting boat operations.

Tidewater was introduced to PCL by Tyree Oil, authorized distributor for PCL, and as they trialed synthetic blend DURON SHP 15W-40 in one tugboat, they observed a reduction in maintenance needs. Alongside a competitive price point compared to their previously used non-synthetic, conventional oil, Tidewater also experienced a total base number (TBN) that remained high even after extended use.

Shortly after, Tidewater switched all its tugboats and equipment to DURON SHP 15W-40 and also started using ENVIRON MV 46, an ashless, inherently biodegradable hydraulic fluid for its hydraulic steering systems.

As consolidation can be a complex process, Tidewater was advised by PCL to contact their Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) to confirm their recommendations were taken into consideration and carefully balanced. They also reviewed other case studies to better understand how other customers had seen the benefits.

The Tidewater mechanics were used to conducting up to 60 oil samples each month and were impressed by an improved system that their new oil analysis provider was using, as well as the much-improved results. Alongside this, the PCL team of experts were always on-hand to offer support and guidance to further interpret the oil analysis and avoid any unplanned downtime.

“Technical expertise is key for us. We place the highest importance on productivity and uptime and look to the Petro-Canada Lubricants team and Tyree Oil to help us make the right decisions for our equipment. They love a challenge and continually impress us with their level of knowledge and insight.”
Marty Wiemann

Lifetime of hydraulic fluid doubled from 10,000 hrs using Tidewater’s previous synthetic, ashless fluid by switching to ENVIRON MV 46, now lasting 21,000 hrs providing much better oxidation stability.

Improved seal compatibility by switching to the coolant offer from PCL.

Saving of up to 30% per tugboat per year by extending fleet inspections, improving reliability and experiencing less wear on engine parts as a result of switching to DURON SHP 15W-40 as well as doubling the length of time before needing a full engine overhaul, from around 20,000 hrs to 40,000 hrs.

Tidewater and its team of technicians have been able to eliminate unscheduled repairs that previously occurred and which disrupted boat operations. Regular data capture enables early detection that is passed onto the maintenance department for review.

“With new technology driving engine manufacturers and emissions, the oil has had to evolve and oil manufacturers need to be technically knowledgeable and versed. That’s when technical expertise from Petro-Canada Lubricants becomes a huge benefit. They advise and recommend how we can save money and increase productivity.”
Marty Wiemann

Tidewater is currently working with PCL to prolong the life of its current fleet, while also looking to future vessels, which will need to meet Tier Four Diesel Engine Standards and Selective Catalyst Reduction (SCR) systems.



The Tougher. The Better.


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