Saudi Arabian tanker giant Bahri has emerged as the buyer of four modern VLCCs that were being marketed by SM Korea Line.

It is said to be paying an average of around $116m each for the scrubber-fitted quartet — the 300,800-dwt sister ships SM White Whale 1 and SM White Whale 2, and the 299,700-dwt SM Venus 1 (all built 2019) and SM Venus 2 (built 2020).

Tanker market players described the reported pricing as “strong”. In April, TradeWinds reported that the vessels were originally contracted at prices ranging between $85m and $88m.

Price differentials on the individual ships have yet to emerge. Two of the vessels are due for handover this year and the others in 2025.

All four were due to undergo special surveys at the time they were offered for sale.

TradeWinds has contacted Bahri officials for comment on what is a non-working day in the Middle East.

Brokers said the South Korean owner, which is controlled by SM Line Corp and is now being referenced as SM Korea Line, netted at least five bids after formally opening for offers earlier this week.

Those following the business closely had named Bahri and Okeanis Eco Tankers as the two top contenders for the quartet. But others said Frontline and International Seaways were also making a serious play for the vessels, with Oman Shipping added to the line-up of bidders.

Offers on the ships from the interested parties were said to be around $110m, with SM Korea Line countering at $119m, slightly under its original $120m price guide on the four and five-year-old vessels.

Tanker market players commented that Bahri — which was earlier widely tipped as the most likely buyer — appears to have moved particularly speedily to secure the vessels. One said the company is showing interest in a range of tonnage at present.

In December, Bahri paid about $114m apiece for four VLCCs built in 2019, two each from VS Tankers and Thenamaris.

There was a flurry of interest when the SM Korea Line VLCCs hit the market. They were described as “not prompt, but the promptest deliveries available”.

But brokers said overall owners are proving cautious about moving on large tanker tonnage due to the high pricing and uncertain market.

Clarksons prices a VLCC newbuilding at just over $130m and a five-year-old vessel at around $115m. One to three-year time charter rates for modern, eco VLCCs are averaging $50,000 per day this year.

South Korean shipbuilder Hanwha Ocean has been marketing two VLCC newbuilding slots with 2026 delivery dates, unusually opting for a tender in an effort to sell the berths.

It is said to have been seeking offers in the region of $130m on the early berths.

Although the initial response to the tender was described as “underwhelming”, the shipyard is now understood to be working on a firm deal on one of the slots.