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VLCC double hull conversions touted

VLCC double hull conversions touted

Hong Kong: Univan Shipmanagement is pushing a new rarified business sector, namely the conversion of single hull VLCCs to double hull. The firm, headed by octogenarian Capt Charles Vandeperre, has developed in association with Lloyd's Register an approved plan to convert giant tankers with the first one - a 1995-built Shinyo International ship - scheduled to be done at an as yet unspecified yard in China soon. Oil majors have helped in the formulation of the plan and remarkably the redesign sees the ship gain 7,500 cu m of cargo space by modifying the slop tanks and the number five wing cargo oil tank as well as rearranging the knuckle tank.

Between 5,500 and 6,000 tons of steel plate will be needed to carry out the conversion. The hardest part of the whole operation, Univan insiders say, is the tank cleaning ahead of coating when converting a cargo tank to a ballast tank. Last year Univan helped Vroon add an extra deck to a car carrier in Nantong, which was 'good preparation' according to Vandeperre.

'As of today there is no single hull tanker changed and trading as a double hull,' says Vandeperre, 'though owners are looking at this possibility.' The reason? Money. Inclusive of six months off hire estimated at US$6m, Univan expects the whole conversion to cost between $19m and $20m. Single hull VLCCs are going for around $30m, while double hulls are far more expensive, the 1999-built 309,000 dwt Emily Maersk sold last week for $114m, for instance. Vandeperre's conversion route gets owners a double hull for no more than $50m, a prospect he is naturally excited about.  [08.08.06]

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