By Daniel Canty
Growing Middle East refinery capacity is fuelling demand for product carriers.
Gulf Energy Maritime (GEM), the Middle East's largest independent commercial product tanker operator, has awarded South Korea's Samsung Heavy Industries (SHI) a US$160 million contract for building of two high specification double-hulled Aframax tankers - the first in GEM's growing fleet.
The Aframax tankers are to be delivered before end of 2011 and will be named Gulf Vision and Gulf Valour. The two fully coated vessels with a capacity of 114,700 DWT each are capable of carrying both clean petroleum products and dirty products such as crude and fuel oil.
The order boosts the Dubai-headquartered company's US$ 1.1 billion asset value by 15%.
"This contract reflects GEM's continued expansion and its extensive servicing of regional and international customers, indicative of the company's current fiscal strength," said Ahmed Al Falahi, GEM's CEO. "These tankers will be state-of-the-art and fitted with the latest equipment and meet all international environment safety requirements of being completely double-hulled."
The contract was awarded to the Geoje-based ship builder following extensive consultations with a number of international shipbuilders.
Current expansion in the region's production capability has spurred the decision to invest in more finished product carriers. "By 2012, many refineries in the Middle East will be up and running. The West is slowing down on building new refineries and GEM will be ideally placed by then to transport either dirty or clean petroleum products to the West. With these two Aframax orders, GEM has invested for the future."
These two vessels will join the existing GEM fleet which currently comprises of 11 modern Panamax and chemical/product tankers and another eight which will be delivered before end of 2009.
GEM recently secured over US$ 137 million in charter revenues on its existing fleet.