Norwegian shipowner Kare ­Misje & Co plans to renew its bulker fleet with a series of hybrid powered newbuildings.

The family-owned company has approached shipyards in Norway, China and the Nether­lands for offers on vessels of between 4,500 dwt and 5,000 dwt.

It already owns and operates 14 bulkers in the size range.

Initially, the contract will be for two ships, with a series of ­options.

“Basically, we need to replace much of our fleet,” managing ­director Nils Magne Fjereide told TradeWinds.

He declined to say how much these ships will cost. Misje has so far received price indications from China.

Fjereide is open to bringing in partners on the project, as there is a challenge in financing the project.

The eco-bulkers will use ­hybrid technology aimed at cutting emissions by 45.6% compared with today’s ships of the same size.

They will use batteries when entering and leaving port, and normal diesel machinery while at sea.

Misje has worked with Marine Design & Consulting and Norwegian Electric Systems to develop the design.

“We believe the future is ­hybrid,” Fjereide told Norwegian daily Finansavisen, adding that Misje wants to take a leading role in the move towards environmental shipping.

The company’s financial figures for 2018 are not yet ready, but according to Fjereide, they will be better than the previous year’s €1.7m ($2m) profit.

Misje employs 200 Polish and Russian seafarers and a shore staff of 19 in Bergen and Kaliningrad.