Vessel-hungry shipowners are circling an LNG carrier newbuilding controlled by Sinokor Merchant Marine, but it appears the owner is reluctant to sell.

Brokers named several owners that have been chasing Hull No 2315 — a 174,000-cbm ship under construction at Samsung Heavy Industries.

The vessel, which is being fitted with an X-DF propulsion system, was contracted in February 2019 as part of a four-ship order at a reported price of $193m.

It was originally scheduled for delivery in 2021 — a date that was later pushed back to September 2022 — with the remaining trio scheduled to be handed over later this year.

TradeWinds has learned the LNG carrier is now due to be delivered in February 2023.

One source familiar with the ship said initial offers started on the vessel as newbuilding prices climbed to $210m around the turn of the year, with bids starting at around $206m.

Since then, LNG newbuilding prices have shot up to nearly $250m.

More recently, the market chatter among brokers has been of Sinokor countering with prices of $270m on the ship and talk that it wants to take delivery of the vessel and trade it within its own fleet in what is expected to be an exceptionally hot market at the start of 2023.

LNG carrier resales have been hot property this year, with Eastern Pacific Shipping and Alpha Gas snapping up vessels originally contracted by Russian owner Sovcomflot (SCF Group) and Nigeria’s Bono Energy at hot prices.

Owners are looking for stray modern vessels to meet what is expected to be strong winter and future demand, along with fleet replacement needs. But yards are largely sold out on LNG carrier positions until 2027 and prices for vessels remain high.

The SHI vessel would be the first LNG newbuilding for Sinokor, which made its debut in the sector seven years ago by building up a fleet of secondhand vessels, several of which were laid up.

Sinokor has been contacted for comment on these reports. It has consistently not responded to TradeWinds on questions over the past few years.

The enigmatic South Korean owner made an earlier attempt on LNG carrier newbuildings, contracting two vessels at ­Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering in 2014 to offer in on Korea Gas Corp (Kogas) time-charter business.

But Sinokor was unsuccessful on the Kogas charters and flipped its two LNG berths into four VLCC slots. This resulted in a spat with the shipbuilder, which later cancelled two of these orders and sold the VLCCs on its own account.

The 2019 quartet at SHI were Sinokor’s most recent moves. But newbuilding sources said the company paid the deposit only on this first newbuilding.

In February 2021, TradeWinds reported that the shipowner had asked SHI to pause on the remaining three units.

At the time, it emerged that SHI had made a financial provision of KRW 35bn ($26.3m) on the Sinokor newbuildings.

Sinokor is believed to have retained some forward slots with SHI for the three ships, with one observer suggesting it may have managed to secure 2026 delivery positions on them.