China Merchants Energy Shipping (CMES) is poised to expand its aframax tanker orderbook at Dalian Shipbuilding Industry Co (DSIC).

The Shanghai-listed company, which currently has one 115,000-dwt crude carrier on order at the state-owned yard, is said to be signing up for two more newbuildings there, lifting the order tally to three.

Shipbuilding sources said Shanhaiguan Shipbuilding Industry, a subsidiary of DSIC, will be constructing CMES’ latest two aframax tankers.

Officials at DSIC and CMES were not available for comment on the order.

In October 2021, CMES announced to the Shanghai Stock Exchange that it was given the green light by its board of directors to order no more than three aframax tankers at DSIC.

It started the order spree by signing up for one vessel at a reported price of $51.5m. DSIC is slated to deliver the crude tanker in April 2024.

The price of CMES’ latest two newbuildings was not disclosed. But the shipowner said it will be adding an additional $17m to cover the hike in shipbuilding material costs for the three tankers.

Shipyard managers have told TradeWinds they are increasing their newbuilding prices on the back of inflationary pressures and strong demand for new ships.

CMES’ aframax tanker newbuildings will be a feat for Shanhaiguan as the ship repairer turned shipbuilding yard specialises in building handysize to medium-size bulk carriers.

The Qinhuangdao-based shipyard joined the newbuilding sector only in 2000 and had just delivered three tankers — two panamax crude tankers and one MR1.

Sources said Shanhaiguan is scheduled to deliver the two aframax tankers to CMES in 2025.

A state-owned company, CMES is based in Hong Kong. The company is adding new aframax tankers to its fleet to optimise the age profile of the ship-type on its fleet portfolio and to allow the company to spread the risk of having a large VLCC fleet.

It has 51 VLCCs as well as five aframaxes that were built between 2008 and 2010.

DSIC is one of CMES’ favoured shipyards. The China State Shipbuilding Corp-controlled yard is also constructing two new VLCCs for the company that are due to be delivered in October and December this year. The duo will be equipped with wind propulsion and air lubrication technology.

CMES was also the shipping company that helped DSIC enter the LNG carrier segment. In April, it contracted the shipyard to build two firm 175,000-cbm LNG carrier newbuildings plus the option for an additional two vessels.

Dalian Shipbuilding Industry Co is building VLCCs, aframax tankers and LNG carrier newbuildings for China Merchants Energy Shipping. Photo: Yoshi Canopus/Creative Commons