Singapore-headquartered AET Tankers Pte Ltd (AET) says that up to four of the Aframax tankers that it has under construction at shipbuilder Samsung Heavy Industries Co Ltd (SHI) in Korea will be equipped with the LNG dual fuel option.
AET is the petroleum logistics unit of Malaysian energy logistics group, MISC Berhad.
The 113,000 dwt vessels, due for delivery from third quarter 2018 onwards, will replace existing tonnage as part of an ongoing fleet renewal program and will join AET's fleet of petroleum and chemical tankers operating worldwide.
AET's announcement comes soon after the news that four Sovcomflot Aframax newbuilds will also be LNG dual fueled. Those ships, on order at shipbuilder Hyundai Samho Heavy Industries, are also due for deliveries starting in third quarter 2018 — so it now remains to be seen which owner will be the first with an in-service LNG-fueled Aframax.
AET anticipates that up to half of its Aframax fleet and other petroleum assets, including VLCCs, will also adopt the LNG dual fuel option over the next few years.
The new ships will have global trading flexibility but their initial operations will focus on areas with LNG bunker availability. Fitted with twin LNG tanks, the vessels will have the ability to trade on LNG fuel for about a month before refueling and will likely operate in North America, Northwest Europe and Asia. The company is actively working with potential LNG suppliers to ensure reliability of the LNG bunker supply chain globally.
AET has been conducted its own LNG fueling feasibility study since 2015 and expects significant growth in the global fleet of LNG-fueled vessels. It has also conducted a comprehensive fleet review that has mapped expected LNG bunkering infrastructure expansion across strategic locations, alongside traditional bunkering for LSFO and MGO, to ensure security of supply and optimum operational efficiency across its global operations from 2020 onwards.
Mr Yee Yang Chien, Chairman, AET and President/Group CEO, MISC Berhad, commented: "As an organization, operating in a responsible manner and improving our environmental stewardship is key to the way business is managed at MISC. We have complete confidence that LNG will play a significant part in the marine fuels mix in the coming years, and we have been reviewing the feasibility of developing a dual fuel LNG fleet since 2015. MISC is a leading global transporter of LNG, with unparalleled experience in handling LNG cargoes and a complete understanding of the entire supply chain. We are utilizing this experience with the new AET ships which we believe sets us ahead of other operators with similar vessels. Our experience allows us to have confidence that the required infrastructure for LNG bunkering will develop at pace as we approach 2020 giving much more trading flexibility in the future."
Captain Rajalingam Subramaniam, President & CEO, AET, said: "At AET we are fully committed to building a sustainable fleet and working to develop solutions that improve our carbon footprint. Our Green Sustainable Agenda aims to provide innovative solutions based on our experience across our different asset classes."
Mr Dae-young Park, Presidient and CEO of shipbuilder Samsung Heavy Industries commented: "These new vessels represent a milestone for AET, the tanker sector and the commercial shipping industry as a whole. We are proud to be able to play our part in what is a truly innovative project. By choosing the LNG option, AET has raised the bar and it will be only a matter of time before other operators follow."