September 16 - The National Shipping Company of Saudi Arabia (NSCSA) has exercised the option to build two ro-con vessels with Hyundai MIPO of South Korea.

The line says that this is all part of its strategic development within the general cargo Sector.

HLPFI readers will recall that NSCSA signed the newbuilding agreement with Hyundai MIPO in March to build four ro-con vessels; and an option for two more with the same specifications for a total cost amounting to SAR1,543 million.

NSCSA signed a Murabaha Financing Agreement on June 22, 2011 which will be utilised to finance 80 percent of the cost of constructing the two ro-con vessels and the remaining 20 percent will be financed by NSCSA.

The first vessel will be delivered during December 2012 with one vessel every three months thereafter. Ultimately, these six vessels will replace NSCSA's current ro-ro ships that are operating as a liner service between the US east coast, the Middle East (Red Sea-Arabian Gulf) and the Indian Sub-Continent via Europe.

These vessels are specialised in carrying general and project cargo and several other types of ro-ro cargoes. Equipped with heavy lift cranes, these vessels also have the capacity of carrying containers in the designed area onboard the vessel. NSCSA says that despite their smaller size compared to the current fleet, the newbuildings have greater cargo lifting capabilities with less fuel oil consumption.