June 1 (Reuters) - Commodities trader Trafigura will lease up to 32 new oil tankers worth over $1.35 billion with first delivery by the end of next year, the company said in a statement on Thursday.
The Geneva-based firm said it was behind an order by a close Asian financial partner to build 22 new crude and product tankers with options for another 10 vessels. Korea's Hyundai Heavy Industries and privately owned Chinese firm New Times Shipbuilding will build the tankers.
Once delivered, the trader will lease the tankers and have options to purchase the vessels outright. Last year, Trafigura sold to and then leased back five medium-range tankers with China's Bank of Communications.
Trafigura was responsible for around 3,000 fixtures in 2016, up from 1,970 fixtures in 2015.
The global tanker market is forecast to stay under pressure in the coming months partly due to a wave of orders, which has hit freight rates.
OPEC's moves to reduce an oil glut by extending production cuts is also seen reducing demand for tankers, with less oil buying by bargain hunters expected to add to the number of ships available for hire.
Source text: [bit.ly/2qFrtx2] (Reporting by Bangalore newsroom, additional reporting by Julia Payne and Jonathan Saul in London, editing by David Evans)