CTC will load at least 12 full shipments a year of crude from the Gulf and East Africa onto NSCSA’s fleet of very large crude carriers (VLCCs).

NSCSA will then transport the oil to North America, Western Europe, Australia and East Asia at a rate band consisting of a floor rate and discounted market rates. At least six shipments a year will be destined for North America.

The contract will allow NSCSA to be less reliant on the more volatile spot market. The company has previously undertaken spot market voyages for ChevronTexaco. NSCSA returned to profitability in 2002 with net profits of SR 80 million ($21.3 million), having posted a loss of SR 139 million ($37.1 million) in 2001 (MEED 27:1:03).

In addition to operating a fleet of nine VLCCs with total capacity of 2.7 million tonnes of crude oil, NSCSA also owns 16 chemical carriers through its subsidiaries National Chemical Carriers Company and Arabian Chemical Carriers Company. Ownership of NSCSA is split between the government, which has a 28.8 per cent stake in the company, and private investors.