Vard Holding (VARD), the Norwegian subsidiary of Italian ship builder Fincantieri, has secured a $300m contract to design and build 15 module carrier vessels (MCV) for Topaz Energy and Marine (Topaz).

The vessels, which measure 123m by 16.5m, will be based on the Vard 9 21 design and will be suitable for navigation of shallow river systems to ferry modules through the Russian waterways to oilfields in Kazakhstan. They will be equipped with a capacity to carry high deck loads of up to 1,800t.

Topaz will operate the newly built vessels through a consortium led by Blue Water Shipping for the end-client Tengizchevroil.

“This project strengthens our relationship with Topaz and our foothold in the region.”

Five of the vessels will be built at Vard Braila and four at Vard Tulcea in Romania.

The remaining six vessels will be built at Vard Vung Tau in Vietnam, with the delivery scheduled for between the end of next year until the second quarter of 2018.

VARD CEO and executive director Roy Reite said: "VARD has long history of projects for the Caspian region, with seven vessels specifically developed for shallow-water operations delivered since 2010.

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"Topaz currently operates three vessels built by VARD in the Caspian, and has two light construction vessels for international operations on order from VARD. This project strengthens our relationship with Topaz and our foothold in the region.

"It also provides significant employment for our Romanian and Vietnam yards for the next two years, at a time when investment in new vessels for the oil and gas sector is limited elsewhere."

Vard, recently signed a letter of intent to design and deliver four luxury expedition cruise vessels for French cruise company Ponant.

Image: An artist’s impression of the future MCVs to be built by Vard. Photo: courtesy of VARD.