Details of trader Trafigura’s bold move to acquire up to 32 tankers worth an estimated $1.35bn have started to emerge.
As TradeWinds went to press, newbuilding sources said New Times Shipbuilding of China and South Korea’s Hyundai Mipo Dockyard (HMD) had sealed contracts from China’s Bank of Communications Financial Leasing (BoCom FL) against bareboat charters to the trading giant.
The orders total 22 ships, plus options for another 10 vessels.
As TradeWinds reported last month, the firm vessels are believed to comprise eight suezmaxes, four long-range-two (LR2) tankers and 10 products carriers.
Trafigura is understood to have purchase options.
The trader plans to use the ships both for its own cargo requirements and to charter them out.
New Times is understood to have won contracts to build at least four suezmaxes priced at about $51m apiece.
One shipbuilding player says BoCom FL inked the contract for the 158,000-dwt crude tanker newbuildings last month but the order was not disclosed.
The Jiangsu-based yard is also believed to be in line to take a raft of LR2s at $41m each.
Separately, HMD is also understood to have been contracted to build six medium-range (MR) products tankers at $32m each.
The 46,000-dwt newbuildings are scheduled for delivery between the second half of 2018 and 2019.
Industry players say the Trafigura-linked tankers’ contract with HMD was brokered by Clarksons Platou in a deal dubbed “Project Stealth”.
Officials at New Times and HMD were unavailable for comment when TradeWinds went to press this week.
Trafigura has been at pains to keep details of its upcoming newbuilding orders under wraps, ordering a blanket “no comment” from anyone connected with the business.
This will not be the first time Trafigura and BoCom have done business together.
The two companies clinched a sale-and-leaseback deal involving Trafigura’s five remaining MR newbuildings last October.
Rasmus Bach Nielsen, Trafigura’s global head of wet freight, said at the time: “While we have a significant growing cargo programme, it is not a must for us also to own the steel.
“This is our first transaction with BoCom Financial Leasing and we look forward to working with them in the years ahead.”