Two Chinese yards have bagged orders to build a total of 14 kamsarmaxes.
Hebei Ocean Shipping Corp (Hos¬co) is back in the newbuilding market after a two-year break. The Chinese owner is said to have splashed out close to $500m on kamsarmax bulkers.
Market sources say Hosco has commissioned Qingdao Beihai Shipbuilding Industry and Wuchang Shipbuilding Industry Co Ltd to build up to 14 units of 82,000 dwt. The owner is said to have booked four firm vessels plus four options at Qingdao Beihai and four firm ships and two options at Wuchang.
Hosco chief Gao Yanming was unavailable for comment, while a company official at the company’s office in Qinghuangdao said he knew nothing about the contracts.
Market sources say the 14 units are set to cost Hosco around $490m or between $34m and $35m per ship. TradeWinds is told that Wuchang will deliver the first bulker at the end of 2011 and the remaining vessels in 2012. Qingdao Beihai is said to be handing over its lot in 2012 and 2013.
Market sources say they are not surprised that Hosco has started ordering ships as current newbuilding prices are low compared to two years ago.
They add that Hosco’s dry-order spree is also part of the company’s fleet-renewal programme.
Gao has been the most vocal supporter of taking the torch to ageing Chinese-flag bulkers. He called on China’s owners to scrap tonnage over the age of 23.
Hosco is said to have scrapped four capesize bulkers built in 1981 and 1983 and one panamax built in 1984. Its current fleet comprises six panamaxes built from 1983 to 1987.
Industry observers say Hosco chose Qingdao Beihai and Wuchang as the company has good relations with China Shipbuilding Industry Corp (CSIC), the northern shipbuilding conglomerate that controls the two yards.
“CSIC is a state-owned enterprise and it is in a good position to help Hosco arrange financing for the newbuildings as well,” said a shipbuilding source.
Between 2007 and 2008, Hosco placed a total of 22 ships costing over $1.5bn at three yards — Dalian Shipbuilding Industry, Qing¬dao Beihai and Shanhaiguan Shipbuilding — under the umbrella of CSIC. The order is for 16 capesizes, four 92,500-dwt post-panamax bulkers and two VLCCs.
Qingdao Beihai and Dalian have since delivered four and three capesizes, respectively, to the owner.
Hosco is one of the largest privately owned Chinese companies with more than 100 vessels in the water, totalling over 10 million dwt.