South Korea’s Hyundai Mip Dockyard Company,a subsidiary of Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI), has signed new contracts totalling $340 million for the supply of nine carriers to customers in Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

The largest order from UAE-based Gulf Energy Maritime (GEM) covers the supply of five chemical and petroleum product tankers including three with 37,000-tonne capacity and two with a capacity of 47,000 tonnes. Estimated at AED 661 million ($180 million), the contract also includes an option for four additional chemical tankers valued at AED 514 million ($140 million).

The vessels, which are due for delivery during 2006-7, are part of GEM’s rapid fleet acquisition programme following the company’s creation in May. Emirates National Oil Company (ENOC), Abu Dhabi-based International Petroleum Investment Company (IPIC), Oman Oil Company (OOC)and France’s Thales are the main shareholders in GEM and plan to operate as many as 20 tankers (MEED 14:5:04).

The new vessels will take GEM’s fleet to 10 including two four-year-old panamax coated tankers and four additional panamax tankers scheduled for delivery from HHI in 2005.

HHI has also received an order valued at about SR 625 million ($166 million) from Saudi Arabia’s National Chemical Carriers (NCC)for four chemical carriers each with 46,200-tonne capacity. Scheduled for delivery by 2007-08, the deal is in addition to an earlier order of six ships.

Established in 1990, NCC is 80 per cent owned by the National Shipping Company of Saudi Arabia (NSCA)and 20 per cent owned by Saudi Basic Industries Corporation (Sabic – MEED 9:7:04).