ADNOC signs contracts for 13 newbuilds

Eric Watkins
OGJ Oil Diplomacy Editor

LOS ANGELES, Mar. 25 -- Abu Dhabi National Oil Co. shipping subsidiary Abu Dhabi National Tanker Co. has signed contracts for the construction of 13 new ships for its fleet. All are scheduled for delivery by yearend 2011.

"ADNOC has signed shipbuilding contracts with Far Eastern shipyards for [the] vessels," said Ali Al Yabhouni, general manager of ADNTC. He did not specify the shipyards or the total cost of the orders.

In announcing the plans, Al Yabhouni said the firm believes that weak freight rates will persist only until third quarter, when a relatively stronger market is expected to emerge.

He said ADNOC plans to continue its investments, helping to develop a trend of increased production and refinement of hydrocarbons that will have a positive effect on shipping.

"The ADNOC group is at the forefront of this trend, with major plans currently being implemented, which will lead to a substantial increase in the production of petrochemicals, refined products, and LPG, further increasing trade and shipping opportunities," he said.

The vessels
Meanwhile, Al Yabhouni said that by yearend 2010 ADNTC will take delivery of four Panamax product carriers, two Aframax product carriers, four bulk carriers and an additional two Handy-sized bulk carriers.

Al Yabhouni's remarks build on earlier plans by ADNTC officials who, as long ago as 2006, said the firm planned to invest up to $500 million to double its fleet of crude and products tankers to 22 by 2010.

"We need bulk carriers, tankers, and small bunkering ships to meet the growing demand for our products that are exported to various markets in and around the region," said Adnatco commercial division manager Adel Jebara Albufalah.

"[ADNTC] will have at least 22 vessels of different types by 2010," Albufalah said. At the time, ADNTC had eight crude and products tankers, one molten sulfur carrier and two vessels for heavy loads.

In April 2008, reports emerged that ADNTC wanted to order Handysize bulkers to meet its future demand to transport liquid and granular sulfur, which are exported from ADNOC facilities at Ruwais.

At the time, it also was reported that ADNTC was converting its single-hull tankers into bulkers. The 38,600-dwt Diyyinah, 28,000-dwt Al Dhabiyyah, and 32,000-dwt Arzanah—all built in 1983—were booked into Turkey's Gemak Shipbuilding & Trading for conversion to transport sulfur.

Oil exports
Abu Dhabi's crude oil exports consist mainly of Murban, 40.4° with 0.8% sulfur; Lower Zakum, 40.1° with 1.1% sulfur; Umm Shaif, 37.4° with 1.5% sulfur; and Upper Zakum, 33.9° with 1.8% sulfur.

ADNTC is reported to have been active on the newbuilding front since late 2007, with orders at South Korean shipyards that include four 58,000-dwt Supramax bulkers and four 75,000-dwt long-range-one (LR1) tankers at STX Shipbuilding and two (LR2) 105,000-dwt Aframax products tankers at Hyundai Heavy Industries.

The total cost of the eight ships at STX is estimated at $460.65 million, with delivery originally set for the first half of 2011, while the LR2 tankers at Hyundai will cost less than $80 million each, with delivery scheduled for the second and third quarters of 2011.

Contact Eric Watkins at hippalus@yahoo.com.

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