A Bermuda-based ship holding, owning and chartering firm Ship Finance International Limited (SFL) has signed an agreement with Hunter Group to purchase three very large crude carriers (VLCCs).

The oil tankers with 300,000dwt capacity are currently under the construction by South Korean ship builder Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering (DSME).

Norwegian investment firm Hunter Group placed the order for the VLCCs last year.

According to the agreement, Ship Finance International will pay nearly $60m for each tanker and a total of $180m for all three VLCCs. The tankers are scheduled to be delivered within the next two months.

Featuring eco-design, the tankers will be fitted by exhaust gas cleaning systems. This will reduce the emissions of sulphur oxides (SOx) and other pollutants, as well as meet International Marine Organisation (IMO) regulations.

Once the tankers are delivered to SFL, the vessels will start a five-year charter agreement to Hunter Group with an option to acquire the ships during the charter period.

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SFL Management CEO Ole Hjertakersaid: “In an environment where traditional bank financing for maritime companies is becoming increasingly scarce, this transaction highlights SFL’s unique position as a specialty financing company.

“With a versatile toolbox, including time charters, bareboat charters and senior financing structures, we are able to provide our customers with competitive tailor-made solutions, whilst at the same time creating shareholder value on the back of our strong balance sheet and our unique access to attractively priced capital.”

In December 2018, SFL acquired two 2016-built 19,400 twenty-foot equivalent unit (teu) container vessels. The company contracted the vessels until late 2033.

SFL operates a fleet of over 90 vessels, including tankers, bulkers, container vessels and offshore assets.