Marine Log - February 2008 - (Page 31)
BY NICK BLENKEY TANKERS PUTTING TOGETHER A MORE ADVANCED JONES ACT TANKER To get the advanced product/chemical tanker it requires, AHL Shipping is building it modularly at multiple locations, with final integration at Atlantic Marine’s Alabama Shipyard ith two major U.S. shipyards offering Jones Act tankers almost off the shelf, why is San Antonio, Tex.-headquartered AHL Shipping building three 49,000 dwt, 338,000 barrel product/chemical tankers it owns—and putting them together from modules built at a number of yards? The answer starts with a little bit of history. AHL is a Jones Act tanker specialist with a clientele that includes Shell, Chevron, Citgo, Phillips, BP, Valero, Exxon/Mobil, Tesoro, and the U.S. Government. Starting operations in 1985, with vessels from the former Gulf Oil U.S. fleet, it was the first Jones Act tanker owner to operate double hulled, OPA ’90 compliant product tankers, transforming its four ships between 1995 and 1997 with a series of conversions that saw Avondale, New Orleans, replace the existing forebodies with double hulled units. AHL itself acted as the conversion/construction project manager. PROJECT GOALS In 2003, anticipating rising Jones Act rates and a decline in the spot market in favor of time charters with extended durations, AHL started looking to expand its fleet and got indications that selected charterers would consider time charters of sufficient duration with accompanying charter rates to support new construction. www.marinelog.com W AHL set project goals that required obtaining tonnage that would: • Meet and exceed the latest regulatory requirements; • Anticipate tanker market trends and charterer demands for enhanced environmental and tanker safety; • Achieve the lowest cost per delivered barrel for charterers. However, no suitable ship design or shipyard capability to meet these project goals was available in the U.S. in 2003. Nor, according to Al Nierenberg of Ship Construction Strategies, Inc., a key player in the AHL newbuild project, does it exist today. That opinion reflects some significant differences between the two Koreanbased designs on offer “off-the-shelf” and the AHL tanker. One of these is that the AHL vessel is a twin-screw, diesel electric ship. Another is that it complies to the new IACS CSR (common structural rules) for tankers. With no suitable design available, shipyard and fabrication resources becoming scarce, and Gulf Coast region prices, in particular, rising, AHL decided to independently develop a project approach and structure that would allow it to achieve its project goals for the newbuildings. That approach and structure was to: • Adopt the best and proven practices of domestic shipyards, offshore projects, and international shipbuilders; • Develop a ship design as a tailored Jones Act trader and to meet Common Structural Rules (CSR); • Project participants selected with shared vision of project goals; • Individual work scopes tailored to suit the expertise and resources of project participants; • Reduced construction schedule with concurrent activities; • Continuous focus on low risk project structure and risk mitigation to assure project is financeable and insurable. The commercial structure of the project sees affiliates of AHL owning the vessels, AHL Shipping Company as the operator and Shell Trading US Company as the Charterer. The Royal Bank of Scotland is providing the credit facility while Nierenberg’s Ship Construction Strategies, Inc. and AHL Shipping Company are collectively “Construction Manager” under contract to each vessel owner. For functional and detail design of the ship AHL brought in Aker Yards Marine, while Newfoundland, Canada-based Genoa Design International is handling Construction Work Packages. The AHL ship is a twin-screw, dieselelectric, double hull, IMO Type II and III product/chemical tanker. The design is specifically tailored for efficiency in the unique trading demands of the domestic FEBRUARY 2008 MARINE LOG 31
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