China’s Seacon Shipping is stepping up its presence in the tanker market.

The Hong Kong-listed company revealed it has signed up for four 18,500-dwt IMO Type 2/3 chemical tankers at Fujian Southeast Shipbuilding.

This follows hot on the heels of Seacon’s debut in MR tankers last week with an order for four vessels at Chengxi Shipyard.

Seacon, which is based in Qingdao, said the latest order formed part of its fleet diversification and expansion programme.

Although primarily a bulker company, Seacon said the ongoing conflicts and instability in the Middle East have led to an increase in demand for oil transportation.

“The company’s management believes the market conditions supporting the demand for chemical products will improve, which will drive the global demand for chemical logistics services,” it said.

“By increasing the number of tankers, the group’s capacity to transport petroleum and chemical products will increase and will generate additional revenue and create greater value and returns for shareholders.”

Seacon said it will take delivery of two vessels in the second half of 2025 and two in the first half of 2026.

The company is paying $32.3m for each of the tankers, which will be built to comply with Phase 3 of the International Maritime Organization’s Energy Efficiency Existing Ship Index standards and Tier II NOx rules.

Shipbuilding sources said the design of the Seacon quartet is identical to the eight chemical tanker newbuildings that UK-based Union Maritime has under construction at Fujian Southeast.

Union ordered the quartet last year at a reported price of about $30m. They are scheduled for delivery in 2025.

Price increase

Seacon’s newbuildings at Fujian Southeast appear to show a 7% increase in the price for the 18,500-dwt chemical tankers based on what Union Maritime is paying.

Last week, Seacon was reported to have joined forces with CSSC Shipping — the shipowning arm of China State Shipbuilding Co — to order four 50,000-dwt product carriers at Chengxi Shipyard at $45m apiece.

The state-owned shipyard is scheduled to deliver two vessels in 2025 and two in 2027.

Founded in 2012, Seacon is also a third-party ship management company. The shipping outfit owns 29 vessels totalling 14.5m dwt but manages about 170 ships.

Included in the company’s owned fleet are 21 bulkers comprising a single capesize, six panamaxes, seven supramaxes and seven handysizes.

Seacon’s tanker arm has three handysize product carriers, four chemical tankers and one small asphalt/bitumen carrier.

Online database VesselsValue shows the Chinese owner to have ordered seven newbuildings at Chinese and Japanese shipyards in 2023, all of which were contracted after its listing on the Hong Kong Exchange in March that year.