x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Gulf Navigation adds oil tankers

Gulf Navigation will purchase new ships and sell others in a strategic shift.

The transport company Gulf Navigation Holding has announced plans to add more very large crude carriers (VLCCs) to its fleet and sell other ships as it restructures its operations as part of a five-year plan.

In the next three years, the Dubai company will receive two VLCCs with a capacity of 2 million barrels of oil each, the company said yesterday.

Gulf Navigation, which also transports chemicals, will operate the crude carriers through a company it is setting up in Saudi Arabia. The company said it would create the venture with GCC partners with a capital of 1.66 billion Saudi riyals (Dh1.62bn). A public listing would follow.

"The kingdom was selected due to its stature in the crude oil market, as the world's biggest exporter and user of VLCC tankers," the company said. Last month, Gulf Navigation bought its second VLCC from Frontline, a major tanker company based in Bermuda. Acquiring two additional VLCCs will bring the company's fleet to four. Last year, the company sustained a loss of Dh236.8 million (US$64.5m), partly linked to its fleet of Probo ships, which are designed to carry liquids or dry bulk cargo. "Gulf Navigation will sell the six Probo ships to avoid future losses, as indicated by its own studies," the company said. Abdullah al Shuraim, the chairman of Gulf Navigation, said: "Our five-year plan reflects a forward-thinking strategy that will take Gulf Navigation Holding to a heightened level of global competitiveness.

"We have multiplied our crude-carrying capacity four times to equal the crude export of Saudi Arabia for one day. We also plan to increase the VLCC fleet to 9 ships by the year 2015, a capacity of 18 million barrels."

Earnings by tanker companies such as Gulf Navigation from shipping Middle East crude oil to Asia, the world's busiest route for supertankers, last week rose to the highest in more than three months on increased cargo volumes.

Daily rates for tanker rentals on the Saudi Arabia-to-Japan voyage jumped 35 per cent to $42,285 on Friday, the highest since November 2, according to the London-based Baltic Exchange.

* with Bloomberg

igale@thenational.ae