Japanese shipowner NYK Line has signed up to build six LNG carrier newbuildings worth a total of CNY 8bn ($1.2bn) at Hudong-Zhonghua Shipbuilding (Group) in China against charters with China National Offshore Oil Corp (CNOOC).

Revealing the deal, newbuilding players said the order prices the 174,000-cbm ships at over $201m each, which is nearly $5m more than the previous vessels for CNOOC at the yard but below the $220m figure being paid for LNG newbuildings in South Korea.

Confirming the orders and charters on 2 May, NYK said the long-term time-charter contract with CNOOC Gas and Power Singapore Trading & Marketing and shipbuilding contracts with the yard were inked on 28 April.

NYK said this is the first long-term time-charter contract for an LNG carrier with CNOOC.

The shipowner said the six vessels, which will be fitted with X-DF2.1 engines, are scheduled to be delivered between 2026 and 2027 and will be mainly engaged in LNG transportation to China.

NYK said it has also signed a project heads of agreement with a subsidiary of China Merchants Energy Shipping to own and manage the vessels jointly.

In January, Hudong-Zhonghua — until this year China’s only yard for large LNG carrier construction — won orders for a series of six 174,000-cbm LNG vessels from Mitsui OSK Lines that were contracted against charters with CNOOC.

The ships were priced at CNY 7.5bn ($1.18bn) in total — or about $197m each — and are due for delivery between 2024 and 2026.

The vessels will be built at Hudong-Zhonghua Shipbuilding (Group) in China and deliver in 2026 and 2027. Photo: NYK Line

In early March, TradeWinds reported that Hudong-Zhonghua was expected to snare a further six LNG carriers for CNOOC.

The Chinese LNG importing giant originally invited at least 10 shipowners to submit bids on LNG carriers last year, offering 10-year charter deals on the ships.

Shipowners including BW LNG, Dynagas and NYK were among those bidding for the work.

CNOOC has been beefing up its LNG purchases and building out storage capacity in China.

In mid-2021, CNOOC started its LNG shipping expansion with an order for three vessels at Hudong-Zhonghua.

In December, CNOOC signed two LNG supply deals with Louisiana liquefaction developer Venture Global LNG, marking its first such agreement with a US exporter. These cover a total of 3.5 million tonnes per annum of LNG.

NYK Line's team line up for the virtual signing. Photo: NYK Line