Shell has signalled a major commitment to LNG-fuelled tonnage, having gained experience of dual-fuelled Aframax tankers.
As the shipbuilding and allied industries in China begin to revive after the hiatus caused by Covid-19, a project for a series of LNG-fuelled Aframax tankers has boosted the orderbook, writes David Tinsley.
According to Chinese reports, China State Shipbuilding Corporation (CSSC) has sealed a contract with BoComm Financial Leasing covering the construction of 12 tankers of 120,000dwt specified with dual-fuel propulsion systems. BoComm, an arm of China’s Bank of Communications, has been in discussions as regards a long-term deal to lease the tonnage to Shell, and this arrangement may now have been formalised.
The build programme has commanded an overall price of Yuan 4.6 billion (US$652 million), and is to be fulfilled by two CSSC Group yards. Construction of eight of the vessels has been awarded to Guangzhou Shipyard International, and four have been entrusted to Shanghai Waigaoqiao Shipbuilding.
Categorised as Long Range 2 (LR2) tankers, the entire series is scheduled to be delivered before the end of 2023. Designed to ensure IMO Tier III compatibility, the dual-fuel newbuilds draw on both yards’ experience in LR2 production and will incorporate elements from the latest R&D campaigns.
For its part, Shell has already signalled a major commitment to LNG-fuelled tonnage. Last year, Shell Tankers (Singapore) agreed a long-term charter on 10 dual-fuel Aframax crude oil carrier newbuilds from Sinokor Petrochemical Company of South Korea, which has placed the series with Samsung Heavy Industries for completion in 2021.
Separately, Shell entered into long-term charters covering four new LNG dual-fuelled product tankers expected to be ready for service from next year onwards. The quartet has been ordered by institutional investors advised by J.P.Morgan Asset Management.
Towards the end of 2019, the Anglo-Dutch energy group announced timecharter agreements entailing eight LNG carrier newbuilds powered by dual-fuel machinery.
To be constructed at the Ulsan and Mokpo yards in South Korea of Hyundai Heavy Industries and Hyundai Samho Heavy Industries, respectively, the 174,000m3-capacity series will feature WinGD two-stroke X-DF propulsion engines, cargo boil-off management plants, and hull air lubrication systems.
Four of the LNGCs have been contracted to the account of Norwegian company Knutsen OAS Shipping, two are for Korea Line Corporation, and two will be owned by investors advised by J.P. Morgan. Initial deliveries are anticipated during the second half of 2022, with the timecharters under the aegis of Shell Tankers (Singapore).
The various charter fleet developments are seen by Shell as important moves in its drive to “decarbonise” the shipping sector, both as a leading supplier and user of LNG.