Shipowner BW LNG is being named as the preferred bidder selected by Norwegian energy company Equinor following its tender for a pair of LNG carriers to take on long-term charter.

Brokers and owners said BW LNG has scooped contracts for a pair of vessels that are to be fixed on charters for at least seven years.

One indicated a rate in the mid to high-$80,000-per-day range on the deals. But brokers said this is below where the market is today and $10,000 per day down on the company’s last done deal on an LNG carrier.

BW LNG said it has “no comments on this matter”.

The company’s LNG fleet has now grown to 29 ships, with many of these fixed on term business plus five floating storage and regasification units.

But BW LNG also booked in four LNG newbuildings at Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering, of which all are due to deliver before the end of 2025. The first two ships, contracted in late 2021, were priced at around $207m each with the second pair ordered in March 2022 at nearer $214.5m apiece.

TradeWinds reported in October that Equinor, which traditionally does not comment on its commercial business, had floated a requirement in what was an already tonnage-tight market for a pair of LNG carriers.

The Norwegian energy company was asking for offers on a vessel for delivery in 2023 and a second that could be handed over in 2026.

Equinor was quoted as offering charter deals of 10 years on the ships, with optional periods to extend the hire on the vessels.

Bids were due in on 12 October.

Equinor is thought to require the later delivering vessel to cover some of its newly purchased US volumes.

In early June, Equinor inked a 15-year sales and purchase agreement with Cheniere Energy to buy 1.75 million tonnes per annum of LNG on a free-on-board basis, with deliveries due to start from the second half of 2026.

Since Equinor’s tender process closed, the term market for LNG tonnage has tightened even further as charterers move in to secure vessels from a rapidly thinning pool of open ships for the 2023 to 2024 winter period and beyond.

In October, it emerged that Capital Gas, which is one of the few shipowners sitting on open LNG newbuildings, had fixed one of its two 2023-delivering, speculatively ordered vessels.

The 174,000-cbm newbuilding Amore Mio 1 was reported fixed by QatarEnergy Trading — the trading arm of Middle East liquefaction giant QatarEnergy — for three years at a rate around the $180,000-per-day mark.

In a November results briefing, Flex LNG said it was already having conversations about its vessels that become open from 2026 onwards.

The situation is being exacerbated by the lack of available berth space at yards and sky-high prices for newbuildings, which have topped the $250m-per-day mark.

Brokers said South Korea’s big three LNG carrier shipbuilders have yet to resume marketing their slots for this vessel type and when they do are already half full for 2027 on LNG carriers due to the reserved berths for QatarEnergy and the 17 ships for TotalEnergies’ Mozambique project.