VLEC to be built in Korea by Samsung Heavy Industries.

(Houston) ABS, a leading provider of classification services to the maritime and offshore industries, has been chosen to class the world's first contracted series of very large ethane carriers (VLECs).

The class contract for the ships, which will be built in Korea by Samsung Heavy Industries (SHI) for an Asian shipowner, represents another gas ship milestone for ABS.

"We are delighted to have received the class contract for the world's first large ethane carriers," says ABS Vice President of Global Gas Solutions Patrick Janssens. "As a result of the shale gas boom in the US, ethane is developing as an exciting new market with great potential, requiring the development of new ship types. This award is an industry testament to the diversity of ABS' technical knowledge and our commitment to remain at the forefront of classification for gas carriers."

The contract is for six 87,000 m3 VLECs and available options. The ships will be built at SHI's main shipyard in Geoje, Korea. ABS, which currently has the largest share of the global orderbook for LNG vessels being built to its class, has built a large team of qualified gas surveyors at shipyards across Korea.

ABS is a pioneer in the safe transport and handling of gas, classing the world's first LNG carrier and responding to the evolving technology demands of the largest and most modern units currently in service. ABS has extensive technical experience with the full scope of gas-related assets, ranging from LNG bunker barges to FLNG units and was recently awarded the classification of the first compressed natural gas (CNG) carriers. In May, ABS announced its first classification contract for a floating LNG facility from PETRONAS, Malaysia's national oil company.

The VLEC award marks one year since ABS unveiled its Global Gas Solutions team, a multidisciplinary group of gas specialists formed to respond to the rapidly escalating number of gas-related projects, including LNG and LPG transportation, and the growing use of LNG and LPG as fuel for the commercial fleet.

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