The National Shipping Company of Saudi Arabia (Bahri) has signed a contract with Hyundai Samho Heavy Industries (HSHI) to construct five very large crude carriers VLCCs.

The contract also includes an option to build five additional VLCCs.

Designed to meet the latest international technical specifications, the new vessels will have environmentally friendly technologies, the company stated.

Each vessel in the series will have a capacity of 300,000dwt and will provide high-efficiency of fuel consumption.

"This ship order will ensure that Bahri remain competitive in the shipping market…and ensure reliable and efficient services."

The vessels are scheduled for delivery in 2017.

These developments aim to renew the company’s current fleet, bringing them in-line with standards for local and international markets.

Bahri CEO engineer Ibrahim Abdulrahman Al-Omar was quoted by World Maritime News as saying: "This ship order will ensure that Bahri remain competitive in the shipping market, support its efforts to expand its customer base and ensure reliable and efficient services."

Bahri is now the sole provider of VLCC crude oil shipping services to the Saudi Arabian Oil Company (Aramco) after it acquired Vela’s fleet.

In April this year, Bahri signed a contract of affreightment (COA) with S-Oil Corporation, Seoul, South to transport crude oil cargoes on VLCCs from the Arabian Gulf and Red Sea to Onsan, Korea for a period of ten years.

Commercial operation under the deal is expected to start in the third quarter of this year.