Chinese yard books first VLCCs

The world has a new yard accepting VLCC orders. Hengli Heavy Industry, the yard formerly known as STX Dalian, has been tasked by its oil refining parent, Hengli Group, to build two 306,000 dwt tankers scheduled for delivery in September 2025 and February 2026. The yard’s bulker-focused orderbook now tops 30 ships.

STX Dalian was one of the largest shipyards in the world in terms of area space when it was founded in 2006. It went bankrupt in 2014 due to a financial crisis at its parent in South Korea leaving over 20,000 employees out of work. Hengli Group paid RMB1.729bn ($257m) to acquire all the assets of STX Dalian last year.

While VLCC orders have been trickling in over the past few months the orderbook remains very low, with many of the established VLCC builders maxed out with other ship types – principally LNG and container carriers – occupying their docks. The latest data from Clarksons Research shows there are just 18 VLCCs on order worldwide, representing 2% of the extant fleet.

A recent report from Kepler Cheuvreux forecasts VLCC utilization will hit an unprecedented 99% by 2025 thanks in large part to a very low orderbook.