American Petroleum Tankers (APT) announced today that it has signed a commitment to build two new state-of-the-art product tankers at the National Steel and Shipbuilding Company (NASSCO) shipyard in San Diego. This order is contingent upon approval of a $340 million Title XI loan guarantee from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Maritime Administration (MarAd) that would be used to refinance APT’s existing five tankers.
Should construction of the vessels proceed, they will be the first new product tankers to be ordered in the U.S. since ExxonMobil signed a similar contract with Aker Philadelphia in 2011.
The government-guaranteed loan program, Title XI, has historically provided between 80 to 87 percent of newbuild construction costs to support the U.S. shipbuilding industry. Construction of the new product tankers will help support the future of NASSCO as a key asset in the U.S. industrial base for military and commercial shipbuilding, will sustain up to 500 jobs during construction, and create some 84 long-term seagoing jobs when the vessels become operational.
Rob Kurz, Chief Executive Officer of APT said, “This is a demonstration of our long-term commitment to the U.S. maritime industry and to bolstering job creation in the U.S. It is a win-win for the Maritime Administration and our company, and we are committed to working with the Maritime Administration and the Department of Transportation to close this financing and support our nation’s important maritime industry.”
Majority shareholder of APT is the global investment and advisory firm Blackstone (NYSE: BX). Sean Klimczak, Managing Director of Blackstone commented, “We have worked closely with MarAd over the past two years to present a loan application that would be the safest loan in Title XI history and that has met every MarAd program requirement. This loan is supported by five modern, state-of-the-art tankers, valued in excess of two times the amount of the loan requested by APT. We are looking forward to receiving MarAd’s approval of the loan so that we may begin construction of these two new vessels without further delay.”
APT was formed in 2006 to construct and operate product tankers in the domestic petroleum trades. APT’s current fleet consists of five double-hulled product tankers which were delivered by NASSCO in 2009 and 2010.