Singapore-listed Yangzijiang Shipbuilding is said to be poised to ink a deal for four LNG dual-fuel 8,000-teu boxship newbuildings worth about $480m from Asian liner giant Pacific International Lines (PIL).

TradeWinds has learned that a letter of intent has been signed and shipbuilding sources say an official newbuilding contract should be inked imminently.

The sources added that PIL had selected Yangzijiang over Shanghai Waigaoqiao Shipbuilding and Samsung Heavy Industries as its preferred yard because it offered GTT’s Mark III membrane system for the LNG tanks.

They believe the boxships will cost about $120m each and that Yangzijiang is scheduled to deliver them in the first half of 2025.

PIL is late to the party in ordering 8,000-teu vessels. Clarksons’ Shipping Intelligence Network shows more than 120 newbuildings of between 7,000 teu and 8,000 teu are booked at shipyards in China and South Korea.

The compact neo-panamax container ship has been dubbed the future workhorse of the sector as it is flexible enough to trade from the Far East Asia to Middle East, as well as on north-south trades. The vessels are expected to replace existing container ships of between 4,000 teu and 5,000 teu.

Officials at Yangzijiang were not available for comment, while a spokesperson at PIL said the company did not wish to discuss any specific upcoming orders, other than to say it was “constantly looking at complementing” its fleet.

News of PIL’s plans to order the vessels was first reported in TradeWinds in April. Then, the liner company was reported to be seeking at least six vessels.

If the order is confirmed, the contract will be PIL’s second deal this year. In March, it commissioned state-owned Jiangnan Shipyard to build four LNG dual-fuel 14,000-teu vessels at a reported price of more than $160m each. The boxships will also be prepared for ammonia propulsion. The deal ended PIL’s seven-year order drought.

The order for 8,000-teu ships would be Yangzijiang’s third LNG dual-fuel container ship contract. The yard’s first was for a pair of 14,000-teu vessels placed by Hong Kong-based Tiger Group in 2020, which was followed by a deal for 15 vessels of 7,000 teu for Seaspan Corp.

Yangzijiang delivered the first LNG dual-fuel 14,000-teu vessel named MSC Washington (built 2022) to Tiger Group in March. The second, to be named MSC Virginia, will be delivered soon. Both were installed with type-C LNG tanks.

Seaspan is slated to take delivery of the LNG dual-fuel 7,000-teu newbuildings between the fourth quarter of 2023 and late 2024. Yangzijiang will install type-B tanks on the boxships.

PIL is expanding its fleet with four LNG dual-fuel 8,000-teu container ship newbuildings. Photo: PIL