Tsakos in talks with South Korean yards for tankers

Greek owner aims to book newbuildings on the back of Chevron charters

Greece’s Tsakos family is in talks with South Korean shipyards for a pair of aframax tanker newbuildings.

Shipbuilding sources say Tsakos is aiming to order the 114,000-dwt crude carriers on the back of charters to Chevron, although details of the charter deal have not been disclosed.

The family, headed by patriarch Captain Panagiotis Tsakos, is said to be holding the newbuilding discussions with Daehan Shipbuilding and Sungdong Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering.

Officials at Daehan and Sungdong declined to comment on their shipbuilding activities. Tsakos executives did not immediately respond to TradeWinds’ request for comment.

Shipbuilding sources add that Tsakos started the newbuilding talks with Sungdong last year.

However, the yard’s uncertain future led the Greek owner to include Daehan in the tanker enquiry, although the yard has not built ships for Tsakos before.

“If Sungdong is given the green light by the Korean government to continue with its shipbuilding operation, there is a good chance that Tsakos may award the order to the shipyard,” said one shipbuilding player. “Sungdong has constructed suezmaxes and LR1s for the owner before.”

Sungdong was recently audited by accountants from Samjong KPMG, a request made by the South Korean government to assess the shipyard’s viability. Officials will release their decision on Sungdong soon.

There is talk in the South Korean market that Sungdong may be switching its business focus to shiprepair due to its thin orderbook and that it has stopped production since November after delivering a capesize.

Sungdong’s orderbook currently consists of only five aframaxes. The 115,000-dwt crude tankers were ordered by Kyklades Maritime last April at $40m each. The newbuildings are scheduled for delivery between this September and May 2019. Export-Import Bank of Korea, which is in control of Sungdong, has issued refund guarantees for the ships.

On the bulker front, TradeWinds has reported that Tsakos Shipping & Trading has inked a letter of intent for up to four kamsarmax bulkers at Yangzijiang Shipbuilding. The deal is for two firm vessels, plus two options, for delivery at the end of 2019 and early 2020.

If the order is firmed up, it ends Tsakos’ decade-long hiatus from ordering bulkers. It last signed up for the ship type in 2007, when it booked capesizes in South Korea.