THUN RAISES SCOPE IN COASTAL TRADES

The latest tanker ordered by the Thun Group will be able to take the bottom during cargo handling.(credit: Erik Thun AB).(Image shows ebb conditions)
The latest tanker ordered by the Thun Group will be able to take the bottom during cargo handling.(credit: Erik Thun AB). (Image shows ebb conditions)
The latest tanker ordered by the Thun Group will be able to take the bottom during cargo handling.(credit: Erik Thun AB).(Image shows flood conditions)
The latest tanker ordered by the Thun Group will be able to take the bottom during cargo handling.(credit: Erik Thun AB).(Image shows flood conditions)

Despite the cessation of trade in oil products to many small, tidal ports and river berths in the British Isles over the past few decades, the NAABSA charter party clause denoting ‘Not always afloat, but safely aground’ remains wholly relevant to the region’s shortsea market, writes David Tinsley.

Affirmation of the continued importance of a NAABSA capability has been provided by a contract for a new class of coastal tanker designed specifically for refined product distribution to ‘drying’ berths.

At 4,250dwt, the newbuild ordered for the Dutch arm of Swedish shipowning group Erik Thun brings a larger scale to vessels that are typically able to call at tidal-restricted, niche ports. Due to be completed by Scheepswerf Ferus Smit of the north Netherlands in October 2020, the so-called NAABSA-Max tanker will transport distillate under a long-term agreement with the Geos Group, a UK-based specialist in marine gas oil (MGO) storage, trading, bunkering and supply.

The project augments the already extensive fleet development plan implemented by Erik Thun to strengthen its Thun Tankers operation in terms of capacity, efficiency and environmental standard. Ranking as the smallest unit in the current newbuild programme, NAABSA-Max vessel will provide a cargo capacity of 4,800m3 within main dimensions of 79.9m length overall, 15m breadth and 5.5m summer draught.

The design has been specified to ice class 1C requirements, and the cargo spaces will be treated with Jotun’s Tankguard Flexline epoxy coating, to ensure the requisite chemical resistance and facilitate the short turnaround times essential in the coastal trades.

Thun’s long experience in resource-efficient, quality vessels has been brought to bear on the design process. The focus has been on maximising cargo intake and increasing in-port performance, affording scope for larger cargoes to be shipped into restricted ports, while future-proofing the vessel in terms of environmental requirements. The selection of Ferus Smit as shipbuilding contractor attests to a longstanding relationship, whereby the Dutch company has delivered more than 35 vessels to date to the Erik Thun Group.

“We have identified the demand for improved niche size tankers with increased performance and cargo capacity,” said Thun Tankers’ chief commercial officer Joakim Lund, adding that “This NAABSA-Max tanker will be built to the absolutely latest design, enabling Geos Group and their clients access to the most efficient transport solution available in this size of shipments.”

Geos Group’s managing director Barry Newton stated “The NAABSA vessel being built by Thun Tankers for our own requirements will help strengthen our North West Europe physical market position. The new vessel will allow us to focus on enhancing our position as the most reliable bunker supplier in our market by bringing in additional ship capability as well as the option of supplying more niche ports.”

Geos is both a trader and a supplier of marine fuel, and timecharters coastal tankers from various operators. The company’s network includes its own MGO storage facilities at six ports in the UK, including a 15m-litre terminal at Blyth opened in 2015. A second MGO tank has been installed this year at Aberdeen.

The Thun NAABSA-Max will be assigned to the Gothia Tanker Alliance, the Gothenburg-headquartered co-operative venture of seven partners which holds shipment contracts with oil majors and traders, primarily across North West Europe.

At its Westerbroek shipyard on the Winschoterdiep waterway in the north Netherlands, Ferus Smit presently has a series of 7,999dwt IMO Type 2 tankers in hand for Thun. First-of-class Thun Eos entered service in December last, and the fourth and final unit is due in April 2021. The vessels feature LNG dual-fuel propulsion and ice class 1A.

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