After struggling for two years to land its first customer, the Kvaerner Philadelphia Shipyard is in serious negotiations on several potential orders. There are clear signs that potential customers that had been holding back in hopes of a special deal now fear that the yard's shipbuilding schedule may soon be full for three years or longer. Two other orders are under serious negotiations, and there is strong interest from other buyers.
The Oil Pollution Act of 1990, which passed in the wake of the Exxon Valdez Alaskan oil spill, is helping Kvaerner revive shipbuilding in Philadelphia. It requires that single-hull tankers be phased out over the next few years. Only nine of the 60 tankers that carry cargo between U.S. ports - and therefore must by law be U.S. built - comply with that law, an industry source said.
Keystone Shipping Co., of Bala Cynwyd, which signed a preliminary agreement with Kvaerner Philadelphia last month, has filed for federal loan guarantees for four smaller tanker ships, to be built at a total cost of $240 million.
FastShip Inc., of Philadelphia, signed a memorandum of understanding with Kvaerner earlier to build four high-speed container ships here. All three of these potential orders would require loan guarantees from the U.S. Maritime Administration, a unit of the Department of Transportation.