A record number of LNG carrier newbuildings have been ordered in the first six months of 2022 with orders topping the 100-vessel mark and exceeding all annual totals to date.

Clarksons’ Shipping Intelligence Network (SIN) database records that at least 91 vessels were contracted during the period.

According to Fearnley LNG, a further 15 LNG carriers have now been inked for QatarEnergy’s huge newbuilding project, bringing the total ordered during the first half of this year to at least 106 vessels.

The tally tops any of the annual totals for LNG newbuilding contracting recorded to date.

SIN lists 2021 as the record year to date with 86 LNG carriers ordered, followed by 2004 with 71 ships and 2014 with 70.

The bulk of 2022’s order action to date has come in the second quarter. TradeWinds logged 30 LNG carrier newbuildings contracted in the first three months of this year.

Of the contracts reported in the last six months, South Korea’s big three shipbuilders — Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering, Hyundai Heavy Industries and Samsung Heavy Industries — took the lion’s share.

But China’s main LNG shipbuilder, Hudong-Zhonghua Shipbuilding (Group), snared a whopping 19 LNG carrier orders in just six months.

The shipyard was also the only one globally to ink an LNG newbuilding contract on a 2027 delivery slot.

In China, two new shipbuilders entered the large-size LNG carrier sector, with Jiangnan Shipyard netting orders for five vessels for Adnoc Logistics & Services and Dalian Shipbuilding Industry Co (DSIC) securing contracts for two domestic orders from China Merchants Energy Shipping.

DSIC is also understood to have been in talks with foreign shipowners on its first LNG carrier export orders.

QatarEnergy finally sprang into life during the second quarter of 2022 after reserving a slew of up to 151 LNG carrier berths at four yards in 2020.

With the recent orders at HHI, the Qatari giant has firmed up 39 LNG carrier newbuildings with five shipowner groupings. JP Morgan has taken 12 of these and Knutsen OAS Shipping 10.

QatarEnergy has declared on a further 18 of its reserved LNG carrier slots but has yet to assign shipowners to these berths.

QatarEnergy’s LNG carrier newbuilding programme

Shipyard Reserved berths (including options) Declared berths Shipowners No. of vessels Unassigned declared berths
Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering 45 18 K3 4 14
Hyundai Heavy Industries 45 17 Knutsen 10 0

NYK Line 7
Samsung Heavy Industries 45 18 JP Morgan 12

K3 2 4
Hudong-Zhonghua (Shipbuilding) Group 16 4 MOL 4 0
Totals 151 57
39 18

Prices for LNG carrier newbuildings rose throughout the six-month period. Clarksons’ SIN figures show the price for a 174,000-cbm LNG newbuilding in the first week of January 2022 as $211m. But its most recent June price quote for a vessel is $231m.

Capital Gas, however, has already surpassed this figure during June, paying $240m each for a pair of early 2026-delivering vessels contracted at Hyundai Samho Heavy Industries.

During the first half of 2022, US producer Venture Global LNG followed Greek owner Dynagas in extending the orderbook of the new 200,000-cbm LNG carrier size range. Venture Global contracted three vessels at DSME and Dynagas another trio at HHI, bringing the on-order tally of 200,000-cbm ships to 12.

At the other end of the scale, there were fewer small-scale LNG carriers ordered than in the previous couple of years.

Seaspan Corp finally signed up for two 7,600-cbm vessels in China.

But market talk suggests that more small-scale LNG newbuildings and bunker vessels are in the pipeline.