South Korea’s K Shipbuilding has landed two newbuilding contracts worth $392m.

The Chinhae-based shipyard disclosed that two unidentified companies have ordered product carriers worth KRW 540bn. It said one company ordered four 75,000-dwt LR1 tankers, while the other signed up for two MR tankers.

Shipbuilding sources named Dubai-based Gulf Energy Maritime (GEM) as being behind the LR1 order, while Vietnam’s Asia Pacific Shipping (ASP) ordered the pair of 50,000-dwt MRs.

The shipyard did not provide pricing guidance, but brokers believe the larger tankers will cost slightly more than $70m each.

K Shipbuilding — formerly STX Offshore & Shipbuilding — said that although they are conventionally fuelled, they are dual-fuel ready and can be upgraded to run on LNG, methanol or ammonia.

It added that the K Smartship Solution developed by the yard will be applied to the new tankers.

New customers

This is the first time GEM and ASP have ordered newbuildings at K Shipbuilding.

The order shows that GEM is rebuilding its LR1 fleet. It sold four vessels last year, leaving only one 15-year-old ship — the 75,000-dwt Gulf Coral (built 2009).

This is the second time GEM has ordered newbuildings this year.

In May, it signed for two 50,000-dwt MR product tankers at Hyundai Mipo Dockyard for delivery in 2026. GEM was reported to have contracted these ships for at least $50m each.

As for ASP, this is the first time the Vietnamese shipowner has ordered newbuildings in South Korea.

Founded in 2021, ASP signed its first-ever newbuilding contract early this year for three conventionally fuelled 115,000-dwt LR2 tankers at China’s Dalian Shipbuilding Industry Co for delivery in 2027.

It followed this up in June with an order at Guangzhou Shipyard International for two methanol dual-fuelled 50,000 MR tankers for delivery in 2026.

Both shipyards are under the control of China State Shipbuilding Corp (CSSC).

In May, APS was reported to have sold two of the LR2 newbuildings for $105.3m to CSSC (Hong Kong) Shipping in a sale-and-leaseback deal.

The company, backed by shipowner Nguyen Quynh Anh, is taking the duo on 10-year bareboat charters for $128.7m.

K Shipbuilding, a medium-size shipyard specialising in MR, LR1 and LR2 tankers, has set an order target of around $1bn for 2024. It has achieved nearly 63% of its budget so far, with orders for 11 newbuildings — six LR1 and five MR tankers — including GEM and ASP’s vessels.

Other companies placing orders at K Shipbuilding this year include International Seaways, Sea Pioneer and Chemnav Navigation.