CHEMICAL TANKER OPERATORS OPT FOR POLYMER COATINGS
Advanced Polymer Coatings LLC (APC), Avon, Ohio, has just announced a significant boost to its forward order book, with recent cargo tank coating contracts secured for this year and 2003 worth more than $11.0 million. In addition, a further $14.0 million-worth of its technologically advanced polymer coating MarineLINE has been specified for the tanks of more than 25 newbuildings planned for construction over the next three years.
The firm orders cover 20 new construction and in-service vessels for a range of chemical and product tanker owners and operators, including Fortnum/Neste of Finland; Simonsen and the Clipper Group of Denmark; Unifleet, Laurann Shipping and the Clearwater Group of Holland; Fairfield Chemical Tankers of the USA; Fatoglu of Turkey, and IMC Shipping of Singapore.
MarineLINE application contracts will be undertaken for these owners in many different shipyards, particularly in Turkey and China, as well as in Portugal, Poland, the Netherlands and Romania.
Tanker sizes range from a 1,400 dwt vessel up to the 46,000 dwt chemical tanker to be coated in China for IMC Shipping, in July, with a series of four 29,900 dwt newbuild chemships for Fairfield to be coated in Turkey between August '02 and August '03.
APC says it has entered a "new and very exciting period of growth." Since launching MarineLINE eight years ago, it says, "there has been a progressive, significant 'shift' in the maritime industry's perception of this unique, high-performance coating."
The company says its polymer-based technology "was and still is revolutionary, and consequently sales suffered in the earlier years from being a very different, unproven tank coating product." Now, with a proven track record over eight years, APC is beginning to see the benefits of its continual investment in and upgrading of the original MarineLINE formulation.
The industry 'shift' noted by APC covers not only the chemship industry's much increased acceptance and specification of MarineLINE, but also the industry's use of the product for differing operational purposes. Initially it was exclusively applied to upgrade and convert in-service tankers, enabling them to be employed for the transportation of more demanding, higher paying cargoes.
Since 1997 MarineLINE has been increasingly selected for anticorrosion protection of the carbon steel tanks of chemical and product tanker newbuildings, introducing a new, much higher standard of cargo handling/'sequencing' versatility, with the additional benefit of faster tank cleaning and drying. The latter advantage results in faster port turnaround times, to increase the number of voyages undertaken each year, in turn leading to improved operational profitability.
APC has also now identified a new, very much more interesting industry trend.
Owners are comparing the cost of newbuildings equipped with stainless steel tanks, vs. new tankers featuring MarineLINE'd carbon steel tanks, and, says APC, they are increasingly opting for its product.
Much lower newbuilding costs and subsequent operating performance advantages clearly favor the MarineLINE alternative, says APC. APC has knownthis from its own and independent cost-comparison studies undertaken in the early- and mid-1990s. It has however taken since then to educate and convince the more conservative, traditional players in this highly specialized sector of the marine industry, of the very significant financial advantages that are delivered by this new technology.
The number of chemships equipped with MarineLINE-protected tanks will be 40+ by end-2002. This number is still only a fraction of the world fleet of these specialised tankers, but it will grow rapidly over the next two/three years and beyond. This figure projects to more than 65 by end-2003, and to well over 160 by end-2005, according to APCs forecasts.