Chinese energy giant China Petroleum & Chemical Corporation (Sinopec) is planning to build a fleet of 100 barges over the next three years as part of its mission to become a major regional supplier of the IMO 2020-compliant very low sulphur fuel oil (VLSFO).
According to a report from Reuters, this would be one of the top Asian refiner’s biggest shipping investments, Sinopec hopes the fleet would serve its stated ambition to become a top regional supplier of VLSFO.
The fleet would include new orders of 50 vessels of 8,000 to 10,000 deadweight tonne (DWT) each and chartering another 50 smaller vessels each of 3,000-4,000 DWT, said the report.
The cost of buying the 50 new vessels would be around 4 billion yuan ($571.91 million), said the shipping executive, adding that all the barges will be built in Chinese shipyards.
Shihua Nanjing Tanker Co, a joint venture between Sinopec Fuel Oil Company and state-run shipping firm Nanjing Tanker Co, would operate the fleet. It currently operates 10 barges.
Sinopec declined to comment on the speculation over its interest in barging. In June, however, the company did announce that it was aiming to have 10 million tonnes of LSFO production capacity by 2020 – rising to 15 million tonnes by 2023 – and it had earmarked ten refineries for production of the IMO 2020-compliant marine fuel.