Two major shipowners have placed orders for VLCC newbuildings at the same Chinese shipyard in a move that could see 14 VLCCs worth $1.8bn added to the orderbook.

The scale of the deal marks a notable increase in VLCC newbuilding activity following a prolonged period of limited action.

The tankers are attributed to John Fredriksen’s Seatankers and Evangelos Marinakis’ Capital Maritime & Trading, underscoring a resurgence of interest in the market.

News of the shipping giants’ plans to order multiple big tankers at Dalian Shipbuilding Industry Co was first reported in TradeWinds last month.

Now, it has been revealed that Fredriksen’s private company Seatankers has tripled its previously anticipated order for the 300,000-dwt crude oil carriers.

The Norwegian shipowner has raised its investment to up to eight conventionally fuelled scrubber-fitted ships. It includes six firm vessels and two optional tankers, TradeWinds understands.

At the same time, Marinakis’ Capital Maritime has signed up for up to six LNG dual-fuelled newbuildings. His deal is for four firm tankers, plus the option for two additional vessels.

Dalian’s parent company Shanghai-listed China Shipbuilding Industry Co announced the order haul. However, it did not identify the buyers beyond describing them as two European shipowners.

Given the scale of the deal, it equates to nearly 30% of the shipbuilding group’s audited operating income for 2022.

Seatankers is said to be paying about $120m per vessel to be built to the latest IMO NOx-Tier III regulations and Energy Efficiency Design Index Phase 3 requirements.

Brokers said Marinakis is paying around $140m each for the LNG dual-fuelled VLCCs, which will be fitted with high-pressure MEGI engines.

The fuelling choice is in line with Marinakis’ “green revolution” fleet transition programme that started six years ago.

Those following the VLCC market when the shipowners’ plans were first reported said it could just take one or two big names, such as Fredriksen and Marinakis, to potentially steer the market and catalyse a surge in additional orders.

Brokers said several large players are tyre-kicking on VLCC berths, with several highlighting the exceptionally low orderbook.

Maria Angelicoussis, George Procopiou, the Saverys family’s Euronav and Kjell Inge Rokke are among the prominent figures who have recently been actively involved in exploring opportunities within VLCC newbuildings.

Clarksons’ Shipping Intelligence Network listed just 23 VLCCs on order. One vessel is due for handover this year, according to Tankers International.

Shipbuilding sources said DSIC’s subsidiary shipyard CSSC Tianjin Shipbuilding — formerly Tianjin Xingang Heavy Industry — would construct the VLCCs for Seatankers and Capital Maritime.

Tianjin Xingang was declared bankrupt in 2000. It was taken over by DSIC in December 2021. Before the acquisition, Tianjin Xingang primarily focused on building bulk carriers.

The reborn shipyard made its debut in the VLCC arena in July 2023 when it was tasked by DSIC to build two scrubber-fitted crude tankers by Greek shipowner George Procopiou’s Dynacom Tankers Management for delivery at the end of 2026 and the first quarter of 2027.

CSSC Tianjin is slated to deliver the Seatankers and Capital Maritime VLCCs in 2026 and 2027.

According to Clarksons’ SIN, CSSC Tianjin boasts four dry docks and currently has 18 newbuildings on its orderbook, not including the VLCCs commissioned by Seatankers and Capital Maritime.

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