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BP Is Buying 13 Oil Ships in Largest 2012 Order for Tankers

BP Plc, the world’s third-largest charterer of ships to carry oil, confirmed an order for 13 of the vessels, 2012’s largest shipbuilding accord for tankers.

The order includes three Suezmax ships, each able to hold 1 million barrels of crude, and 10 smaller Aframaxes, London-based BP spokesman Toby Odone said today by phone. The first vessel is scheduled for delivery late next year, he said. The company also has options to build eight more tankers, Adam Smith, a spokesman for its shipping unit, said separately by phone.

The December contract is for vessels with total capacity of 1.58 million deadweight tons, making the order last year’s biggest for tankers, according to figures from Clarkson Plc, the world’s biggest shipbroker, compiled by Bloomberg. 2003 was the most recent year before 2012 in which BP ordered vessels to transport crude or refined products, Smith said.

BP Shipping Ltd., based in Sunbury-on-Thames, England, manages a fleet of more than 50 vessels that carry crude, oil products and liquefied natural gas, according to its website. Odone and Smith spoke after shipping-industry newspaper TradeWinds said BP, Europe’s second-biggest oil company, confirmed an order for 13 ships with options for a further nine.

$630 Million

The tanker orders were placed with Changwon, South Korea-based STX Offshore & Shipbuilding Co., Clarkson’s data showed. The ships are worth $630 million based on costs of $60 million for a new South Korean-built Suezmax and $45 million for an Aframax, according to London-based shipbroker ICAP Shipping International Ltd.

Orders for all varieties of tankers totaled 270 last year, according to Clarkson. Kuwait Oil Tanker Co. was the second-largest buyer of the ships, ordering vessels with combined capacity of 1.56 million tons.

An Aframax can hold 650,000 barrels of crude. Royal Dutch Shell Plc and China International United Petroleum & Chemical Co., or Unipec, were the two biggest charterers of crude tankers in 2011, according to Poten & Partners Inc., a New York-based consulting firm and shipbroker

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