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AW Shipping’s VLACs join newbuild order book

  • Market: Fertilizers, Freight
  • 12/06/24

AW Shipping, a joint venture between Abu Dhabi's state-owned Adnoc and Chinese petrochemical producer Wanhua Chemical, has ordered up to four Very Large Ammonia Carrier (VLAC) newbuilds.

AW Shipping ordered up to four 93,000m³ VLACs from China's Jiangnan Shipyard in Shanghai. The deal was for two firm and two optional VLACs, with prices estimated at around $120mn each, according to sales and purchase and newbuild vessel sources. AW Shipping has yet to respond to Argus to confirm the prices.

It added five very large gas carriers to its fleet at the end of last year. The 86,000m³ newbuilds — Al Ain, Zakher, Rabdan, Al Salam and Baynounah — were built by Jiangnan and are equipped with dual-fuel engines that can run on LPG, which will be used as the primary fuel, as well as standard bunker fuels, the company said.

Ammonia carrier demand is increasing as it gains traction in the energy and agricultural sectors and plays a part in decarbonisation efforts. It is becoming more popular because of its low-carbon qualities, which make it a desirable option for use in power plants and as an alternative fuel in the maritime sector. Ammonia is also extensively used in the production of fertilizer.

But development of a VLAC market could be delayed by a lack of terminal infrastructure to allow discharge of 40,000-60,000t cargoes, said Steem1960 ammonia shipbroker Lisa Maria Assmann at the Argus Clean Ammonia conference in Tokyo in May. Around 40 VLACs are scheduled to hit the water between 2026-28, when an uptake in clean ammonia trade is likely to be pushed by public tenders from South Korea and Japan.

"VLACs cannot discharge these large volumes using the existing infrastructure," Assmann said. "We have storages that are much smaller than that, terminals with draft issues, LOA (length overall) issues. With all these problems, I do not see these large volumes being discharged in a speedy manner in the short term, not before 2035-40 at least."


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