Oman Shipping commissions product tanker

Eric Watkins
OGJ Oil Diplomacy Editor

LOS ANGELES, Mar. 10 -- Oman's state-owned Oman Shipping Co., as part of a larger plan aimed at boosting its refined and oil transport capabilities, has commissioned the LR2 Haima product tanker built by Japan's Mitsui Engineering & Shipbuilding.

The 245-m long, 42-m wide vessel, which boasts navigational equipment enabling it to operate in a variety of climatic conditions, can transport as much as 110,000 tonnes of oil products and will become the 18th ship in the OSC fleet.

The LR2 Haima is the second ship of its kind to be taken by Oman, following December's delivery of the LR2 Liwa. The vessel represents the latest move by OSC to step up its ability to carry oil and products.

In mid-December, OSC and Emirates for Trade Agencies (ETA) signed in Dubai an agreement to establish a 50-50 joint venture to own three 300,000-tonne crude oil tankers.

The Omani-Emirates agreement followed an announcement by OSC in September that it planned to raise $4 billion by the end of 2008, aiming to add 15-20 product tankers to its fleet, in addition to the order for 10 vessels it announced in February.

In September, it was expected that the financing arrangements were likely to come via loans from either North Asian institutions or European banks such as BNP Paribas or Societe Generale.

"It is too big for local financial institutions to wholly finance the deal, but we can collaborate with foreign banks to raise the money," said Ahmed Al Abry, Bank Muscat.

In February, OSC placed one order valued at $767.6 million with Hyundai Heavy Industries Co. for the construction of five very large crude carriers (VLCCs) and another order valued at $770 million with Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering Co. for five more VLCCs.

The 10 vessels are due for delivery between November 2011 and April 2012.

In February, Oman's ministry of national economy said the country's nominal gross domestic product (GDP) grew by 52% year-on-year for the first 3 quarters of 2008, to 17.2 billion rials ($44.73 billion).

The growth was due to Oman's petroleum sector which contributed 43.7 percentage points to nominal GDP growth as crude oil production grew 6.7% year-on-year in the first 3 quarters, rising to 767,000 b/d, marking the first increase in oil production since 2001.

Oman's oil minister Mohammed al-Rumhy recently said his country's goal is to increase crude oil production for a second consecutive year, with a target production of 805,000 b/d in 2009.

Most of Oman's crude oil exports in the first 3 quarters—161,068 billion bbl—went 51% to China, 14% to Japan, Thailand 12%, and South Korea 8%.

Contact Eric Watkins at hippalus@yahoo.com.

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