Malaysian state energy giant Petronas is homing in on the shipyards and owners that it has selected to build a raft of LNG carriers for the company.

TradeWinds understands that Petronas is expected to split a planned order for up to 14 LNG carriers between three shipyards, as opposed to the four originally expected.

Newbuilding sources named the yards as South Korea’s Hyundai Heavy Industries and Samsung Heavy Industries, plus Hudong-Zhonghua Shipbuilding (Group) in China.

They are indicated that South Korean owner H-Line Shipping is expected to confirm four ships for Petronas at HHI. Compatriot SK Shipping is being linked to three vessels for the Malaysian giant at SHI.

In China, one of two Japanese owners — possibly K Line — is named as the owner that will book two vessels for Petronas at Hudong-Zhonghua.

This would give Petronas a total of nine LNG carriers. But the yards named have surprised some.

In February, TradeWinds reported that Petronas had been forced to spread its enquiry across the four major shipbuilders of LNG tonnage, as berth space for 2025 deliveries evaporated in the face of strong gas and container ship enquiries and Qatar’s huge LNG carrier newbuilding programme.

Petronas was said to have pencilled in up to 14 LNG carrier berths — three or four berths at DSME, four slots at HHI, two to three at SHI and a similar number at Hudong-Zhonghua.

But in the last two weeks, talk began circulating that Hudong-Zhonghua may be off Petronas’ list, as the Chinese shipyard had filled many of its LNG berth slots.

It now appears that it is DSME that is set to miss out on the orders. However, it is unclear, as yet, why Petronas is giving the yard a body swerve.

One South Korean newbuilding observer pointed out that Petronas has worked closely with HHI on its newbuildings for LNG Canada and Hudong-Zhonghua with K Line on midsize LNG carriers.

The energy company has been a client of SHI on its second floating LNG (FLNG) production unit. DSME built a first FLNG unit for Petronas.

Samsung Heavy Industries delivered Petronas’ second LNG production unit the FLNG Dua. Photo: Petronas

Nine shipowners were originally listed by TradeWinds as companies that Petronas had long-listed for its upcoming orders.

These were named as SK Shipping, H-Line Shipping, Mitsui OSK Lines, NYK Line, K Line, MISC, BW LNG, Knutsen LNG and TMS Cardiff Gas.

At the time, sources said each owner is able to work with at least three shipyards on their bids.

South Korean yard offers were said to be priced at more than $220m, with the Chinese berths at a discount.

Petronas first issued its requirement for the vessels in late 2021.

The state outfit asked for offers on nine firm LNG newbuilding slots and either four or six optional berths.

Petronas is believed to need the vessels largely for fleet replacement and its growing international LNG trading interests.

This is the Malaysian energy company’s second large swoop on LNG carrier berths.

In 2021, the company inked time charters with South Korean owner Hyundai LNG Shipping for the six 174,000-cbm vessels to be built at HHI to lift its offtake from the LNG Canada project.