A shipowner's name has emerged in connection with an order for four new LNG carriers unveiled by Samsung Heavy Industries that had previously been reserved for the TotalEnergies-led Mozambique LNG project.

The South Korean shipbuilder said on Monday that it had bagged a KRW 971.3bn ($825.2m) deal from an unnamed Bermuda-registered company to build four LNG carriers.

Several sources said the ships are for the account of US investment bank JP Morgan's investment interests.

TradeWinds has asked JP Morgan for confirmation and comment.

SHI said the LNG carrier newbuildings are due for delivery by December 2024.

Shifting slots

Those following the South Korean shipbuilder's LNG carrier orderbook said the delivery dates on these latest orders fit with four of the yard's eight berths that had originally been earmarked for the Mozambique LNG project.

In 2020, four of these slots were assigned to Greece's Maran Gas Maritime and the remaining quartet to NYK Line. They said the first delivery date was pencilled in for March 2024.

Earlier in October, TradeWinds reported that TotalEnergies and its partners in Mozambique LNG had struck a fresh deal with the two shipyards — SHI and compatriot Hyundai Samho Heavy Industries — to postpone firming up the contracts agreed on 17 vessels for the project.

The vessels, which are worth over $3bn, were originally due to be confirmed at the end of May. But an extension until 30 September was reached after TotalEnergies declared force majeure on the project on 26 April after attacks by insurgents close to the project site. Delivery dates then shifted into 2024.

The deadline has since been pushed out to the end of March 2022.

Enquiries rising

Shipyard marketing executives that TradeWinds has spoken to said they are seeing a rise in the number of enquiries for LNG carrier newbuildings.

They named another three shipowners as among those seeking berths or expected to firm up slots in the near future.

The market for LNG carriers is currently tight on tonnage. Several recent LNG sales deals have been inked without vessels in place and demand for the product is forecast to rise, creating a bullish mood among shipowners for 2022 and beyond.

SHI's announcement on its latest LNG newbuilding deal prices the LNG carriers at just over $206m each.

Market players said this is in line with the price rises that have seen newbuildings for this sector jump from levels in the low to mid-$180m range to over $200m, with quotations for new ships at prices above these for SHI's latest deals.