Vela International Marine, the wholly owned shipping subsidiary of Saudi Aramco, has sold five single-hulled very large crude carriers for $117m for conversion into bulk carriers.

The vessels, sold to Brazilian mining company Vale, include the Shaula Star, Polaris Star, Mirfak Star, Markab Star and Perhkad Star, all of 301,000dwt, according to

The vessels had previously traded on the Middle East Gulf to US Gulf route, discharging at the Louisiana Offshore Oil Port in the US.

The mining giant said the company will purchase more ships in an effort to maintain a freight differential that is as low as possible.

Vale currently operates 18 trading vessels and has an additional 20 on order.