Chinese buyers have continued to snap up older VLCCs, pushing asset values up again.

European brokers said John Fredriksen’s Frontline has agreed a deal for its 297,000-dwt Chinese-built Front Signe (built 2010) at $63m, with a drydocking passed.

An unknown Chinese group has been linked to the purchase.

VesselsValue rates the tanker as worth $56.4m, against $49m a year ago.

The ship has been owned by Frontline since delivery.

Eva Tzima, head of research at Seaborne Shipbrokers, said: “There are several tanker owners who are currently selling vintage tonnage and also looking for/offering on modern candidates simultaneously; a vote of confidence in the sector for sure.”

In May, Frontline logged a useful profit from selling its third ship this year.

The Oslo-listed company, backed by John Fredriksen, said the 156,000-dwt suezmax Front Njord (built 2010) went to an unnamed buyer for a firm $44.5m.

This generated net cash of $28.2m, after repayment of debt.

The new owner took delivery of the tanker in the second quarter, when Frontline will book a gain of $9.4m.

Earlier this year, Frontline sold its first tankers in seven years as asset prices rose.

Another ship cropping up on sales lists is the 319,000-dwt Athenian Freedom (built 2013), owned by Greece’s Athenian Sea Carriers.

Chinese interests, potentially Fujian Shipping Group, are said to have paid a firm $78m for the vessel, against current valuation ideas of $75.5m, a rise from $66.7m a year ago.

Asyad selling again?

Meanwhile, Oman’s Asyad Shipping has been linked to a sale of its 319,000-dwt scrubber-fitted VLCC Habrut (built 2012).

Sinokor Merchant Marine of South Korea is in the frame as a buyer.

No price has been given, but VesselsValue assesses the tanker at $70m, up from $64m a year ago.

Sinokor was said to have bought three VLCCs sold in June by Asyad, the former Oman Shipping Co.

These were the 316,373-dwt Fida and Sifa (both built 2011) and 299,991-dwt Saham (built 2010), for an average price of about $64m each.

Frontline, Asyad and Athenian Sea Carriers have yet to comment on the reports.