Fifteen newbuilds will be phased into the operating network overseen through the Gothenburg-headquartered Gothia Tanker Alliance, which holds shipment contracts with oil majors and traders, primarily across northwest Europe.
Ten of the vessels have been specified with dual-fuel propulsion machinery, the intention being to maximise use of LNG fuel so as to ensure compliance with the toughest emission controls and, as part of broader engineering strategies, to realise both owners’ and customers’ corporate environmental objectives.
Founded in 2013, Gothia Tanker Alliance now has seven partners from Sweden, Denmark and Germany, six of whom are well established tanker fleet owners with roots in the Baltic and north European coastal and shortsea traffic. The co-operative venture has 32 vessels at its disposal, spanning the 6,000-37,000dwt range, affording both the critical mass and the flexibility to meet the contract of affreightment and spot voyage requirements of clients, notably as regards ensuring year-round shipments throughout the ice-prone Baltic.
Three of the companies involved, Thun Tankers, Alvtank and Furetank, have ordered new tonnage for deployment within the commercial alliance. Thun is having four coastal tankers in the 8,000dwt category built by Ferus Smit of the north Netherlands, and has booked one 16,300dwt and five 17,500dwt intermediate traders from AVIC Dingheng Shipbuilding. Alvtank and Furetank have signed for two and three 16,300dwt newbuilds, respectively, from the Chinese yard.
Dutch shipbuilder Ferus Smit has constructed more than 30 vessels for the Erik Thun group over the years, and the latest deal with Thun Tankers for a quartet of 8,000dwt chemical/oil product carriers extends the business relationship into 2021. The contract represents the opening stage in a replacement programme for some of Thun’s slightly smaller tankers delivered by the Dutch yard since the end of the 1990s.
The new series will provide a 9,540m3 capacity in nine coated cargo tanks, offering the flexibility to transport chemicals and vegetable oil consignments as well as petroleum products. Given the importance of Baltic trade to both owner and the Alliance, the ships will be built to Ice Class 1A standard.
Measures to enhance hydrodynamic efficiency include the fitting of the controllable pitch propeller in a nozzle ring, and the adoption of the builder’s Eco bulbless, canoe-type bow, designed to reduce fuel consumption and enable speed to be maintained at different draughts and in adverse weather conditions.
The nominated primary power installation is a six-cylinder Wärtsilä 34DF dual-fuel medium-speed engine. Running in gas mode will meet both SOx and NOx limits in IMO Emission Control Area(ECA) waters and will also avoid penalisation where national or local NOx taxes apply. A significant feature of the Wärtsilä LNGPac fuel system is the weight- and power-saving, open type tank connection space(TCS), housing the process equipment for the gas supply to the engine. The vessels will also be equipped for ‘cold ironing’ in port, drawing electricity from the landside grid rather than having to bring generators on line.
Thun’s newbuild project for a quintet of 17,500dwt IMO Type II tankers, assigned to AVIC Dingheng, underscores the company’s bid to develop in the intermediate tanker category. The ships will be commercially managed by Furetank Chartering, which is responsible for the intermediate segment within the Alliance.
The six 16,300dwt product/chemical carriers ordered by Thun, Alvtank and Furetank at AVIC Dingheng will also be commercially husbanded by Furetank. The design has been developed by FKAB in conjunction with Furetank and displays an especially strong slant towards environmental protection, to the extent that it is claimed to offer a 49% reduction in CO2 emissions relative to similar-sized vessels built between 2002 and 2012.
The ships will fulfil IMO Tier III criteria, using Wärtsilä dual-fuel propulsion machinery, LNG for inert gas production, ‘floating frequency’ power production and battery back-up for all vital functions so as to reduce auxiliary engine running time. Furthermore, the shaft alternator will feature a ‘take-me-home’ functionality, affording an auxiliary propulsion capability.