Gas shipowner Nakilat has signed time-charter agreements with compatriot QatarEnergy on 25 LNG carrier newbuildings under Phase 2 of the liquefaction giant’s mammoth LNG fleet expansion programme.

The time charterparty agreements, which were inked in Doha by Qatar’s minister of state for energy affairs and QatarEnergy president and chief executive Saad Sherida Al-Kaabi and Nakilat chief executive Abdullah Al Sulaiti, covered 17 ships now on order at HD Hyundai Heavy Industries and eight at Hanwha Ocean.

Nakilat said the 174,000-cbm vessels will be chartered to affiliates of QatarEnergy under 15-year time charters.

The charter deals confirm QatarEnergy’s announcement on 10 February on its selection of Nakilat for 25 of 44 LNG newbuilding berths it has declared across South Korea’s big three shipbuilders.

The addition of these 25 ships and two LNG newbuildings ordered by Nakilat in January will bring the Doha-listed shipowner’s LNG fleet to 96 vessels. However, some of the vessels QatarEnergy is bringing in are for fleet replacement purposes so the total count may change as older ships are retired.

Nakilat is also expected to win other tonnage deals under Phase 2 of QatarEnergy’s shipbuilding project.

TradeWinds reported on Thursday that Nakilat is also being lined up to take on more than half of a new breed of 270,000-cbm Q-Max vessels QatarEnergy is expected to declare at its chosen Chinese yard Hudong-Zhonghua Shipbuilding (Group).

Sources with knowledge of the huge shipbuilding project said Nakilat has been lined up for 10 of what is anticipated to be an increased order spree for 18 of the supersize vessels.

They also named the shipowners said to have been selected for the remaining 19 LNG newbuildings in Korea and the remaining eight in China.

Speaking about this weekend’s signing of the time charters of these first 25 ships for Nakilat, Al-Kaabi said: “These agreements firm up last month’s selection of Nakilat as the owner and operator of up to 25 conventional-size LNG carriers, underscoring our continued confidence in Qatar’s flagship LNG shipping and maritime company.”

He added: “The agreements we signed today play an important role in implementing QatarEnergy’s historic LNG shipping program, which will cater for our future requirements, as we move forward with the expansion of our LNG production capacity to 142 million tonnes per annum by 2030, ensuring additional cleaner and reliable energy supplies to the world.”

QatarEnergy has already signed up to time charters with a raft of shipowners on 60 LNG carrier newbuildings ordered under Phase 1 of its LNG fleet expansion plan. Phase 2 is expected to net the company at least 62 more ships — 18 of them being 270,000-cbm vessels — bringing the total to 122 LNG carriers.

Negotiations are understood to be ongoing at South Korean yards for additional Q-Max vessels.

Nakilat is taking on all 17 of the ships to be built at HD Hyundai Heavy Industries and eight of those at Hanwha Ocean and is expected to be signed up to more Q-Max capacity newbuildings in China. Photo: Nakilat