QatarEnergy picks shipowners for 18 giant LNG carriers

LNG giant QatarEnergy has selected shipowners to own and operate 18 Q-Max LNG carriers as part of its massive shipbuilding program, according to shipbuilding sources.

In January, LNG Prime was the first to report that state-owned QatarEnergy has signed a shipbuilding deal with China’s Hudong-Zhonghua for the construction of eight Q-Max LNG carriers.

After that, this publication reported in February that QatarEnergy was looking to book ten more 271,000-cbm vessels at Hudong-Zhonghua.

Sources said on Thursday that QatarEnergy has decided to select compatriot Nakilat to own and operate nine of these vessels, China Merchants Energy Shipping (CMES) will own four, Shandong Marine will own three, and China LNG Shipping (CLNG), a joint venture of Cosco Shipping and China Merchants will own two of these ships.

All of these vessels, which will serve QatarEnergy under charter deals, are slated for delivery until 2031.

The deals are expected to be finalized “soon”, the sources said.

The price tag of the vessels has not been revealed.

They each could be worth about $330 million and the total price for the 18 vessels could reach about $5.94 billion.

SHI vessels

Besides this move, the sources said that QatarEnergy has also selected shipowners for the 15 174,000-cbm vessels it booked at South Korea’s Samsung Heavy Industries in February this year.

For the SHI vessels, QatarEnergy selected Shandong Marine and CMES each to own six ships, while Malaysia’s MISC will own three ships, the sources said.

The 15 vessels are worth about $3.45 billion or some $230 million per ship.

SHI will sequentially deliver the LNG carriers by October 2028.

Nakilat deal

QatarEnergy recently signed time charter agreements with Nakilat for 25 conventional-size LNG carriers as part of the second phase of its shipbuilding program.

Each of the 25 vessels will have a capacity of 174,000 cubic meters and will be chartered out by Nakilat to affiliates of QatarEnergy under the 15-year TCP agreements.

According to the firm, seventeen of the 25 LNG vessels are being constructed at the Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI) shipyards in South Korea, while the remaining eight are being constructed at Hanwha Ocean, formerly Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering, also in South Korea.

Last year, QatarEnergy signed a deal for 17 LNG carriers worth about $3.9 billion with HD Hyundai Heavy, kicking off the second phase of the shipbuilding program.

Hanwha Ocean previously signed a memorandum for 12 LNG carriers tied to QatarEnergy’s shipbuilding program and it recently said it has secured an LNG carrier order worth about $1.84 billion for 8 carriers.

These vessels are also each worth about $230 million per ship.

Huge expansion

In total, QatarEnergy now has signed or will sign deals for 44 174,000-cbm LNG carriers worth about $10.1 billion and 18 Q-Max ships. This includes the four vessels mentioned in the Hanwha Ocean memorandum.

QatarEnergy previously entered into deals with Hudong-Zhonghua and South Korea’s three shipbuilders to reserve LNG shipbuilding slots for its giant shipbuilding program which includes the construction of more than 100 vessels.

The firm signed in 2022 a series of time charter deals for the long-term charter and operation of 60 conventional-size LNG ships, concluding the first phase of its program.

Including both phases, the total number of vessels now stands at 122 ships.

The shipbuilding program aims to support and meet future requirements of QatarEnergy’s North Field East and North Field South expansion projects, as well as the Golden Pass LNG project in the US.

In addition, part of the program is intended to cater for replacement requirements of the existing Qatar LNG fleet.

The first phase of the North Field expansion project will increase Qatar’s LNG production capacity from 77 to 110 Mtpa, while the second phase will further boost capacity to 126 Mtpa.

Besides these projects, the company also recently announced the third North Field expansion phase to boost Qatar’s capacity to 142 mtpa.

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