Gunvor and Solvang form JV, order five carbon capture-ready VLGCs

Geneva-based energy trading firm Gunvor Group and Norwegian shipping company Solvang ASA have formed a joint venture to own and operate next-generation eco-vessels for the liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) market.

Illustration. LPG carrier built by Hyundai Mipo. Courtesy of HMD

The joint venture has placed an order for five very large gas carrier (VLGC) newbuilds with Hyundai Heavy Industries that are scheduled for delivery from September 2026 to July 2027. All five vessels will be on long-term time charter to Clearlake Shipping, Gunvor’s chartering arm.

“Gunvor’s partnership with Solvang demonstrates our commitment to investing in the future of shipping, with the latest, most environmentally responsible vessels,” said Frédéric Meeus, Member of Gunvor’s Executive Committee and Head of Naphtha & LPG.

“This JV also underscores Gunvor’s expanding presence in the growing global LPG market.”

“We are very pleased to strengthen and expand our relationship with Gunvor with the JV to co-own five VLGC newbuilds,” said Edvin Endresen, CEO of Solvang ASA.

“The VLGC newbuilds will be designed for onboard carbon capture, a solution we believe will be defining the next generation of LPG vessels.”

Gunvor said that the VLGC newbuilds would incorporate environmental technology developed through 12 years of Solvang’s ECO LPG carrier program.

The package includes hull optimization, shaft and propeller improvements, exhaust gas recirculation, and open-loop scrubber designed by Wärtsilä.

Accordingly, the newbuilds will be ready for zero-emission technology – the carbon capture system currently being installed for testing onboard Solvang’s vessel Clipper Eris.

Solvang believes that the environmental performance is a combination of fuel type, engine efficiency, and cleaning technology – rather than fuel choice alone. In the specific case of the Solvang-Gunvor JV, dual-fuel LPG did not come out as the optimal solution.

The single fuel system with exhaust gas cleaning is suitable for both HFO, low-sulphur fuel oil, MGO, bio-fuels, or e-fuels.

“These Panamax VLGC newbuilds are a particular compromise between loading capacity, fuel consumption, operational speed and physical dimensions of the hull to pass through the canal locks. All these factors add up in the environmental performance of the ship,” said Solvang’s fleet director, Tor Øyvind Ask.

“We went for a single liquid fuel system, one set of tanks, scrubber and EGR, ready to combine with shipboard CCS.”

The vessels will have capacity of 88,000 cbm, which is the largest LPG load currently able to transit through the old Panama Canal, and they will be the largest of the existing VLGCs in the Solvang Panamax fleet.