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LNG-powered vessels named at China yard for Siem Car Carriers to use on Europe-to US route

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LNG Journal editor

Siem Industries, the company run by Norwegian Kristian Siem and whose interests include shipping and offshore oil and gas engineering and services through the Subsea 7 company and Siem Offshore Inc., has attended the naming ceremony for its two LNG-powered car carriers at the Chinese Xiamen Shipbuilding yard in southeastern Fujian province.

The two roll-on-roll-off vessels, each with 7,500 parking spaces, were named “Siem Confucius” and “Siem Aristotle” and will be part of the Siem Car Carriers fleet delivering vehicles from Europe to North America, according to the bunkering deal set up.

Shell fuel

Siem Car Carriers has already signed an LNG supply agreement for the newbuilds with Royal Dutch Shell.

“Fueled with LNG, each ship has safety features, is environmentally friendly and is energy-saving in performance,” said Li Zhenjun, deputy general manager of Fujian Shipbuilding Industry Group, the parent of Xiamen Shipbuilding, at the shipyard ceremony.

The ships are almost 200 metres in length and 38 metres wide and with 13-storey car decks.

Siem Car Carriers currently operates 11 vessels, two under its ownership, seven chartered and two owned by affiliate Siem Shipping.

Parent company Siem Industries is based in Grand Cayman in the Cayman Islands and noted in the most recent earnings report that the car carrier sector is well supplied by vessels available from owners “who have no operating capabilities” and the market charter rates are favourable compared to the cost of ownership.

“We see the need for ocean transport of cars to continue for the foreseeable future, but with less growth than has been experienced historically,” said Siem.

Shipping companies such as Siem are adapting to tougher pollution regulations and choosing cleaner fuel such as LNG.

This follows the creation in recent years of Emission Control Areas (ECAs) in regions such as Northwest Europe and North America and the International Maritime Organization’s sulfur cap on marine fuel coming into force from 2020.

Shell said in October 2017 that two of its fuel subsidiaries had signed long-term agreements with Siem Car Carriers to supply LNG for the new vessels to be used to transport German vehicles from Europe to North America.

The fuel deals were signed with Shell LNG and Shell Western units.

Shell said at the time that the two car carriers would be the first such vessels to be powered by LNG and the first to operate trans-Atlantic on the commercial trade route between Europe and the US.

Shell plans to refuel the vessels in Northwest Europe and at a second supply point in the US.

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