A source familiar with Lanyue says the energy company is one of the top coal transporters in Guangdong province. Lanhai currently operates a small fleet carrying coal along the Chinese coast.
According to the source, Lanyue has commissioned Yangfan to construct eight supramaxes and Xiamen another two for delivery from early 2011 to 2012.
And the source claims Lanyue's ordering spree will continue. "It wants to build up its own fleet and would like to own up to 100 vessels as the company is looking to expand its domestic and international business."
The price tag on Lanyue's supramax newbuildings has not been disclosed but it is said to be paying at least a 15% discount on last year's level. A shipbuilding broker says a supramax bulker at a reputable Chinese yard was costing $47m to $48m.
A Lanyue official confirms the orders at Yangfan and Xiamen but plays down the company's ambitious fleet plan.
"We would like to own some ships and rely less on chartered-in vessels," he said. "But that will depend on the market demand and the prices of bulkers." Some sale-and-purchase (S&P) brokers say Lanyue is scouting the secondhand market and has inspected two to three bulkers.
The official confirms the move but says that Lanyue found prices for bulkers more than 10 years old to be still on the high side. "When we compare newbuilding prices to secondhand-ship prices, we find it more economical to build ships," he said. "We need to see a further drop in secondhand values if we are to acquire them."
Lanyue adds that the company is looking to own both supramax and panamax bulkers. "For the time being, we do not need any capesizes," said the Lanyue official.