Russian shipping company PAO Sovcomflot (SCF Group) has concluded a $252m seven-year credit facility with a consortium of six international banks to finance six Aframax tankers.

The banks included in the consortium are ABN AMRO Bank, BNP Paribas, Citibank, ING Bank, KfW IPEX-Bank, and Société Générale.

SCF Group chief financial officer and senior executive vice-president Nikolay Kolesnikov said: “This new loan agreement clearly demonstrates the confidence of international partners in SCF Group despite the current challenges faced by the global economy and the shipping market.

“This is the second successful debt financing accomplished by SCF Group in 2018, which now allows the company to address in full its financing requirements for the newbuilding programme of 2018-2019.”

SCF Group’s new purpose-designed vessels will be powered by liquefied natural gas (LNG) and are currently being built with an aim to deliver the same between the third quarter of this year and the second quarter of next year.

“The tanker will comprise an ice class 1A hull to allow safe year-round export operations from regions with challenging ice conditions.”

When completed, the vessels are expected to set new environmental standards for the global tanker industry by adopting LNG as a primary fuel for Aframax tankers.

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Featuring 114,000dwt capacity each, the tanker will comprise an ice class 1A hull to allow safe year-round export operations from regions with challenging ice conditions such as the Baltic.

Two of the six vessels will exclusively serve Shell under time-charters for a period of up to ten years.

Shell will also supply LNG fuel for all the six tankers that will travel across North West Europe and the Baltic.

SCF Group’s engineering centre has previously collaborated with Hyundai Heavy Industries and Russian shipbuilders, including Zvezda shipbuilding complex to develop the technical specifications of the vessels.