Malaysian gas shipping giant MISC is poised to make a move on LNG carrier newbuildings and has set aside berths for tonnage.

TradeWinds understands that MISC has signed a letter of intent at Samsung Heavy Industries for two ships.

Details remain sparse on the booking, which industry sources said could mark a return to LNG ordering for the interests of Petronas, rather than for project business.

Asked about the order, an MISC spokesperson said: “MISC explores strategic opportunities that align with our long-term goals, as a normal course of business.

“MISC will certainly communicate with relevant stakeholders if and when there is material development on the opportunities we explore.”

The shipowner has been a regular at shipyards for LNG tonnage over the years and has moved through different technical preferences on ship specifications.

It has two LNG carrier newbuildings ordered at Hanwha Ocean in South Korea, but these are part of QatarEnergy’s huge 122-vessel newbuilding programme and are contracted against berths pre-reserved by the Qatari giant.

In addition, MISC is a partner in a consortium that includes NYK, K Line and China LNG Shipping that is building a series of LNG carriers that will be chartered to QatarEnergy.

MISC is listed on Clarksons’ Shipping Intelligence Network database as having 30 existing LNG carriers, including two that serve as floating storage units for a jetty-based import terminal.

Four of its LNG carriers are listed as idle, while a fifth — the 137,100-cbm Puteri Delima Satu (built 2002) — is listed as laid up. Kpler data shows the steam turbine vessel as in ballast off South Korea, where it appears to have been since the beginning of this year.

Last October, MISC said it had signed an agreement with Petronas Gas subsidiary Pengerang LNG (Two) to convert the steamship into a floating storage unit to be deployed at the Petronas LNG Regasification Terminal Pengerang in Johor. It is due to be in operation by mid-2025.

There is speculation that MISC’s planned newbuildings could be a sign that it is moving on fleet renewal. The company has also spoken in a results briefing about fleet growth to meet expected demand from liquefaction growth.

The shipowner has been selling off some of its older tonnage.

It offloaded two midsize steam turbine sister ships, the 65,000-cbm Portovenere (built 1997) and Lerici (built 1998), earlier this year to Turkey’s Karpowership for $9m each. Both appeared idle at the time of sale.

In September 2023, MISC sold two unnamed vessels to Japanese shipowner Nissen Kaiun in a first sale-and-leaseback deal for the Malaysian owner in the LNG sector.

Earlier in 2023, MISC offloaded its 137,489-cbm Puteri Intan Satu (renamed Trader III, built 2002) to Capital Gas for about $35m.

Petronas will probably be instrumental in any MISC fleet renewal moves.

Petronas has been moving to grow its LNG carrier trading operations globally and will most likely be keen to gain access to larger, modern and more efficient tonnage than some of older, smaller steam turbine and diesel-electric vessels in the current MISC fleet.