Mitsui OSK Lines is being named as the company behind an order for a single LNG carrier announced by Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering on 12 August, adding to its apparent tally of open newbuildings.

Industry sources following the business said the 174,000-cbm ME-GA engine-fitted vessel is an option that was held by the Japanese owner.

It is due for delivery in the second half of 2026.

MOL, which has been contacted for confirmation, has been quietly stocking up on LNG newbuildings, adding five ships in the past year to give it nine on-order vessels at DSME.

Four of these, ordered in 2021, are specialised ice-class vessels contracted against charters linked to Russian gas company Novatek for its Arctic shipments.

It is also building a single newbuilding at the yard that has been fixed to Japanese trader Mitsui & Co.

Of the remaining four ships, and including this latest order, MOL is understood to have fixed one of its 2026-delivering newbuildings to TotalEnergies, following its recent tender for LNG tonnage.

Brokers said this leaves MOL with one open LNG carrier newbuilding due for delivery in 2023.

According to Clarksons Shipping Intelligence Network, this vessel was contracted in April 2021 at what now appears to be a cheap price of $184.6m. The latest LNG newbuildings have been concluded at around $248m each.

With this latest order, MOL is now sitting on two apparently open vessels for delivery dates in the second half of 2026. While one of these, contracted in April, was priced at just over $214m, the price on the latest vessel is likely to be considerably higher.

But it does provide MOL with open newbuildings to offer in a market hungry for modern tonnage to support future trading requirements and for fleet replacement needs.

Brokers said few slots for 2026 delivery dates on LNG carriers now remain open, despite a long line of shipowners that are seeking berths. The situation is being exacerbated as South Korean shipbuilders are refusing to quote yet on 2027 handover positions due to uncertainties over steel pricing and currency fluctuations.

Affinity (Shipping) this week reported “continued high levels of enquiries from the LNG sector” despite more than 100 LNG carriers already being contracted in 2022 and prices for vessels up 20% since the start of the year.

The challenge for buyers “is finding a yard with capacity they’re willing to sell, as existing clients and projects are being given priority”, the broker added.