Shipowners selected by Malaysian giant Petronas have inked deals on 11 LNG carrier newbuildings worth almost $2.5bn in total.

Sources following the project said South Korean shipowner SK Shipping has been lined up to sign contracts for a quartet of LNG newbuildings at Hyundai Heavy Industries, H-Line Shipping for three vessels at Samsung Heavy Industries, and a Japanese owner — thought to be K Line — for four ships with Hudong-Zhonghua Shipbuilding (Group) in China.

On Tuesday, Korea Shipbuilding & Offshore Engineering (KSOE), which oversees Hyundai group yards, said it had won a KRW 1.17trn ($910m) order from an unnamed Asian owner to construct four 174,000-cbm LNG carriers. This prices the vessels at $227.5m each.

Delivery dates

HHI and Hyundai Samho Heavy Industries will build two ships each with delivery dates scheduled from the first half of 2025.

Separately, SHI said it had notched up a $671m order to build three LNG carriers, priced at just under $224m each, for an “African shipper”. The yard said the vessels will be delivered by January 2026.

South Korean newbuilding sources said that under the original line-up for the Petronas LNG carrier project, SK Shipping was originally paired with SHI. But an ongoing dispute between the owner and the shipbuilder over the earlier construction of two LNG carriers built with a new Kogas-designed LNG cargo containment system has led to the yard switch.

There were also other shipyard changes during the Malaysian state giant’s LNG carrier project and, at some stage, HHI and SHI’s rival Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering was ousted from the bid process in favour of the Chinese yard.

The LNG newbuilding deals that the shipowners confirm with the yards are expected to include optional slots. Petronas’ requirement was for a total of 13 to 15 LNG carriers, comprising nine firm ships and either four or six optional vessels.

But any options are likely to be for later delivery positions from 2026 onwards as LNG slots are in short supply.

Petronas was forced to divvy up its berth reservations on the vessels between the three shipyards to secure the delivery dates it wants as LNG newbuilding slots evaporated.

Aside from the two South Korean and single Japanese owner who are expected to sign charter deals on the newbuildings this month, Mitsui OSK Lines, NYK Line, MISC, BW LNG, Knutsen LNG and TMS Cardiff Gas were named as among those bidding on the business.

Petronas is believed to be seeking new LNG tonnage for both fleet replacement and to support its growing international LNG trading interests.