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Landmark new Cosco LNG-fuelled VLCC heralds new supertanker era

China has given the world a glance of the world’s first LNG dual-fuelled VLCC with new data showing the swathe of alternative fuelled supertankers on order around the world. Conventionally fuelled VLCC newbuilds are now very much on the wane.

Cosco Shipping’s new 332.6 m long, 318,000 dwt dual fuel tanker, built by Dalian Shipbuilding Industry Co (DSIC), is now undergoing sea trials off northern China.

The ship features a WINGD low-pressure dual-fuel main engine, and is equipped with dual-fuel generators and dual-fuel boilers. The vessel can travel 12,000 nautical miles in gas mode, while the combined endurance of fuel oil and gas is 24,000 nautical miles. The deck mounted storage tanks, located in front of the deckhouse, are made of 9Ni steel and provide the vessel with a range to complete one round trip voyage to the Middle East and back to Asia.

The landmark ship was originally ordered as a standard fuel oil vessel back in 2017, but a year later Cosco decided to upgrade the tanker to make it dual fuel.

New research from Cleaves Securities shows the swift move by VLCC owners to order ships with alternative fuels capabilities in recent years (see chart below).

In total, 44% of the 71 VLCCs currently on order are either LNG dual-fuel or LNG retrofit capable while three ships ordered this year also have ammonia retrofit capabilities.

Main engine fuel type for VLCC’s by contract year

Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.
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