Initial VLCC Orders Confirmed by Trafigura

AI generated image of a VLCC
Updated Published

Trafigura, one of the leading chartering giants, is tackling the scarcity of contemporary supertanker capacity by venturing into the construction of its very first Very Large Crude Carriers (VLCCs).

The commodities trading powerhouse, with its base in Singapore, has inked a deal with Jiangsu New Hantong Ship Heavy Industry in China to build two crude carriers, each with a deadweight of 319,000 tons, scheduled for delivery in July and September 2026.

This move not only introduces Jiangsu New Hantong into the realm of VLCC construction but also represents the shipyard's largest project to date in terms of deadweight, surpassing the 209,000 dwt Newcastlemax bulk carrier it previously built for Oldendorff Carriers in 2021.

With the industry facing one of the leanest orderbooks across all segments, and very few VLCCs expected to be delivered in the coming years, numerous prominent shipowners like Fredriksen, Marinakis, Troim, and the Saverys family have been quick to secure new building slots.

The sector's aging fleet and a historically low addition of just 22 vessels to the global VLCC fleet last year have amplified the urgency. This year, fewer than 30 ships have been ordered, reflecting a shift towards alternative solutions due to limited yard capacity, predominantly occupied by other sectors. Trafigura's decision to collaborate with a newcomer to the VLCC market underscores the industry's adaptation to anticipated increases in global oil demand.

While the financial terms of Trafigura’s venture with Jiangsu New Hantong remain under wraps, industry insiders suggest a ceiling price of $120 million per vessel. Comparative data from Clarksons points to a going rate for new VLCCs in the 315,000–320,000 dwt range at around $128 million. Meanwhile, DHT has recently committed to up to eight new ships in South Korea, with an average cost of approximately $128.5 million each, highlighting the varied investment scales within the sector.