Norway-based Odfjell has contracted China Shipbuilding Trading and Hudong-Zhonghua Shipbuilding (Group) to build four chemical tankers with stainless steel cargo tanks.

In August this year, Odfjell signed a letter of intent to build the tankers with a total investment of around $240m.

Once completed, the 49,000 deadweight tonnage (dwt) vessels with a 54,600 cubic metre (cbm) cargo capacity will be the largest stainless steel chemical tankers in the world.

"The vessels are designed to be good for the environment, good for our customers and a good investment for our shareholders."

The first vessel is expected to be handed over in June 2019, with the remaining deliveries planned in three months gaps.

Odfjell CEO Kristian Mørch said: “we are very happy with the agreement we have signed today, which is a significant step in solving our tonnage replacement needs.

“The vessels will be the most efficient stainless steel chemical tankers available, and the vessels are designed to be good for the environment, good for our customers and a good investment for our shareholders.”

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Last month, Odfjell purchased Compañía Sudamericana de Vapores (CSAV) from its Chilean joint venture Odfjell y Vapores, with an aim to provide better service to South American customers and trades.

With the deal, Odfjells has become the exclusive entity looking after the commercial and operational businesses of two stainless steel vessels, Bow Andes and Bow Condor.

The 16,000dwt vessels were manufactured in 2000 and would sail under the Marshall Island flag.

Odfjells said that the vessels’ ship management services will be transferred to the company’s Brazil-based integrated ship owning company, Flumar.