BoCom declares suezmax tanker duo

Shanghai-based Bank of Communications Financial Leasing (BoCom FL) is adding two more suezmax newbuildings to its extensive tanker programme at Chinese and South Korean yards.

Sources close to BoCom FL say it will definitely declare the two suezmax options at China's New Times Shipbuilding, bringing the total order for that ship type there to six. They add the pair of newbuildings represent options it held when it booked the earlier four tankers in May for 2018 and 2019 delivery.

The suezmaxes are ordered against long-term charters to commodity giant Trafigura. New Times is slated to deliver the latest two ships between the end of 2019 and mid-2020. Sources say BoCom FL still has two more optional ships at the private shipyard but company sources deny this.

In addition to the suezmax tankers, BoCom FL also has four LR2 tankers on order at the Jiangsu-province shipyard for 2018 and 2019 delivery. They were also ordered against long-term charters to Trafigura.

In Korea, BoCom FL has 20 tanker newbuildings — a dozen MR products carriers and eight 158,000-dwt suezmaxes — booked at Hyundai Heavy Industries for delivery by 2019. The newbuildings were also ordered against long-term charters to Trafigura.

BoCom FL is believed to be the largest investor this year in tanker newbuildings.

The 30 vessels at New Times and HHI are estimated to have cost the bank about $1.27bn as the price tag of the MR tankers was reported to be $32m apiece and the 158,000-dwt crude carriers were costing $51.5m each. The LR2 ships were priced at $41m per ship.

BoCom sources decline to comment on pricing, citing confidentiality agreements, but say the final number will depend on whether Trafigura chooses, as expected, to have the ships delivered with scrubbers, or only scrubber-ready.

BoCom's shipping division, which is headed by Fang Xiuzhi, is best known for large containership orders but has been increasingly putting its money on tankers, both in newbuildings and sale and leaseback deals.

BoCom built up an owned fleet of nearly 250 vessels of almost all tonnage types except offshore, including about 190 financed in foreign currency. The rest were renminbi-financed vessels for domestic owners.

Over two thirds of the ships are Chinese built, but the company has made a point of pursuing increasingly international business, including a series of 19,224-teu containerships for Mediterranean Shipping Co at DSME.

BoCom's 190 ships include about 50 boxships and 50 tankers. Most of the rest are bulkers up to valemax, along with specialised units, including LNG carriers, small cruiseships and ropax vessels.