South Korean shipbuilders Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering and Samsung Heavy Industries have signed contracts on 11 LNG carrier newbuildings worth KRW 3.54trn ($2.6bn) in total against previously reserved berths for QatarEnergy and ExxonMobil.

DSME said on Tuesday that it has netted seven LNG orders worth KRW 2.37trn for vessels that will be delivered by February 2026.

The shipbuilder did not disclose the companies behind the orders. But sources following the business named the parties as the K3 grouping led by H-Line Shipping and including Pan Ocean and SK Shipping, which has contracted the ships on the back of charters with Middle East producing giant QatarEnergy as part of its huge LNG carrier newbuilding project.

The seven orders bring DSME’s total business for QatarEnergy to 11 orders to date.

But the shipbuilder is expected to see another eight berths firmed up for the Qatari business in the next few weeks to up its orders for the producer to 19 ships.

Rival compatriot SHI also announced it has secured four LNG carrier newbuildings worth KRW 1.17trn.

All four of these vessels are understood to be have been ordered against QatarEnergy charter contracts.

The shipowners behind are being names as JP Morgan and K3 — both of whom have already signed up to Qatari reserved LNG berths

But one source said two of the vessels are for Japanese owner Meiji Shipping’s account and are backed by contracts with ExxonMobil’s shipping arm SeaRiver Maritime.

ExxonMobil previously reserved a swathe of up to 14 berths at SHI in 2020, which it has been firming up with different shipowners.

In August, this publication reported that the major was starting to move again on marrying shipowners with the remaining slots. But those closest to these latest orders said they are not those expected for the US major.

SHI did not name the companies behind the order, instead detailing that companies in Bermuda and Africa were behind each pair of orders.

The LNG carriers are due for handover dates by September 2025.

Separately, K3 is also expected to be teamed up with at least two of the Qatari berths already reserved at the yard as the Middle East owner moves to conclude phase 1 of its huge newbuilding plan.

LNG carrier newbuilding orders have soared to record numbers in 2022, exceeding the mark of 100 vessels contracted before the middle of the year.

The traditional LNG shipbuilders have almost entirely sold out their positions for 2026 delivery dates, with QatarEnergy’s huge berth reservation deal for up to 151 slots mopping up space.

Hungry shipowners are now being forced to wait until next year before being able to move on newbuildings with some turning to Chinese yards that are looking to break into the sector for slots.

Shipbuilders are bullish on LNG order prospects for 2023 as new US liquefaction project developers start to look for tonnage and existing projects start to move on expansion plans.

The big names are keen to move forward on the now higher-priced orders after filling up on some loss-making contracts in the last two years.