Chinese Taizhou Wuzhou Shipbuilding Industry has secured a shipbuilding contract from Norway-based Kanfer Shipping for its first two small-scale liquefied natural gas (LNG) bunker and distribution vessels.

The 6,000cbm capacity bunker tankers are scheduled for delivery by the second half of 2023.

In January, Kanfer Shipping signed a Letter of Intent (LoI) with Taizhou for the construction of the vessels.

The LoI included the option to construct additional ships as well.

Kanfer Shipping founder and CEO Stig Hagen said: “Taizhou has deep experience in building small-scale LNG carriers and Kanfer’s technological partner, CGR Arctic Marine AS, has worked closely for years with the yard. This relationship and their competitiveness have made Taizhou an ideal choice for construction of Kanfer’s 6,000cbm capacity small-scale vessels.”

CGR’s concept design for the vessels includes pure gas-electric power production combined with hybrid battery technology, as well as a mono-tank design with minimal boil-off and environmental footprint.

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The vessels will also feature high manoeuvrability, with Azipull thrusters and bow thruster along with joystick operation in addition to a 500cbm MDO cargo tank.

These technical features will result in capex and opex savings due to minimal boil-off, reduced crew size and lower operational and maintenance expenses.

The LNG-fuelled vs dual-fuelled design will also contribute to capex savings, noted Kanfer Shipping.

Hagen added: “The current very modest order book for new LNG bunkering vessels makes our decision well-timed, especially now that equivalent, new-built vessels to be delivered in 2022 and 2023 have already been chartered out.

“The need for the emergence of new LNG bunkering centres will indeed be critical as the trading pattern for gas-driven vessels will be global and very diversified. The existing hubs will also need to expand to cater for growing demand and for the requirement of different sizes of bunkering and distribution ships that Kanfer is in a position to build.”