State-owned Kuwait Oil Tanker Company (KOTC) expects to award three contracts worth as much as $1bn for the design and construction of nine new crude oil tankers of various sizes by the end of the year.

KOTC invited shipyards to bid on four very large crude carriers (VLCCs), four medium-range (MR) tankers of about 50,000 dead weight tonnes (dwt) and an aframax crude oil tanker of 120,000 dwt, equivalent to 825,000 barrels of crude.

The deals were tendered in January with bids originally planned for the end of February, but were delayed without reason. Bids were finally submitted in June, although prices and bidding firms have not been revealed.

“You have to look at the bid validity, not the submission dates. It will be done by the end of the year. This is critical for Kuwait’s plans to increase production and exports, so who would delay it,” says a senior source close to the company.

Prequalified firms include:

  • Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering Company Limited (South Korea)
  • Hyundai Heavy Industries (South Korea)
  • Hyundai Mipo Dockyard Company (South Korea)
  • Samsung Heavy Industries (South Korea)
  • Sasebo Heavy Industries (South Korea)
  • Kawasaki Shipbuilding Corporation (Japan)
  • Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (Japan)

The ships are expected to be delivered at the end of 2012 or early 2013 and form part of the third phase of KOTC’s fleet-renewal programme, which began in 2003. Phase one added 10 new ships of various sizes between 2003 and 2007. Phase two provided an additional six ships from 2008 (MEED 28:1:11).

Kuwait took delivery of a South Korean-built tanker in October, the first of a fleet of four 318,000 dwt tankers. The remaining three oil product tankers are expected by the end of the year. KOTC signed a contract in August 2008 with Daewoo Engineering & Construction.