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Cosco Shipyard increasingly the destination for heavylift conversion

Cosco Shipyard increasingly the destination for heavylift conversion

Shanghai: John Fredriksen's Frontline is further moving into the heavylift sector by declaring another option with Cosco Shipyard to convert the 150,000 dwt, 1990-built, single hull oil tanker Front Target to a heavylift vessel.

The conversion will begin in May 2007, and completion is expected in August 2007 and is one of six tankers that the Norwegian firm has earmarked for conversion to heavylift. In the first round, the Front Traveller and Front Target, both 152,000-tonne single hull ships, were converted by the end of last month.
"By fitting a new mid-ship section and upgrading all major components of the vessel, we foresee that the vessel will be able to operate for at least 15 years," says Frontline.

"The Board is very enthusiastic with regards to the current heavylift market," says a Frontline release. "There is a limited number of heavylift vessels available in the market, the fleet is ageing, and the rig market is currently booming with a lot of offshore units currently under construction. Front Sunda which is in the process of being converted to a heavylift vessel, is expected to be delivered in April 2007. The company holds further options to convert single hull tankers to heavylift vessels which it intends to use."

"Several owners are considering turning their crude oil tankers into heavy lift vessels," Richard Simpson, DNV's head of Ships in Operations in Region Greater China said in an interview from earlier this year. "The reason for this is the increased demand for special ships that can carry rigs and large offshore constructions. This will also provide a new life for some of the tanker fleet which would otherwise have to be phased out due to international double-hull requirements."

According to Simpson, the volume of conversion work in China is increasing. "In addition to the Frontline vessels, the Odfjell Group is converting five single hull tankers into double hull tankers at the Cosco Nantong yard in Shanghai. Work has already started on the first two. Jo Tankers has also thrown itself into the conversion market and plans to convert two of its single hull tankers. Work will commence in June at the Cosco Nantong yard. The Norway-based owner has an option to convert a further four vessels." [14/12/06]