TotalEnergies is due to receive offers on a clutch of LNG carriers it is seeking to take on long-term charter.
Brokers said the company is being coy about its exact requirement, with some putting the total number of vessels at up to six.
They said the French energy major has floated a requirement for vessels to be taken on charter for periods of between three and five years.
An original bid deadline of 13 June was pushed back to 23 June.
Chartering sources following TotalEnergies — which has repeatedly told TradeWinds that it does not comment on its commercial business — said it generally has between seven and 12 LNG carriers on charter.
One source indicated that it would probably be short of tonnage if the bulk of its shipments need to head east to buyers in Asia rather than Europe.
But on top of this, several have pointed to its move to redeliver the 174,100-cbm SCF La Perouse (built 2020), to Russian shipowner Sovcomflot (SCF Group) to comply with European sanctions against Russia.
The LNG carrier had been fixed on a seven-year charter to TotalEnergies from its delivery at a rate reported to be in the low $60,000s per day.
TotalEnergies has three more LNG carrier newbuildings similarly contracted by Sovcomflot at Hyundai Samho Heavy Industries in South Korea for delivery dates in 2023 and 2024. But it seems impossible that the French company could take delivery of these under the current sanctions.
In July 2021, TotalEnergies told TradeWinds that these Russian newbuildings were part of its plan to renew and upgrade its chartered fleet of around 20 LNG carriers, most of which are fixed for periods of five to seven years.
TotalEnergies has said it plans to boost its LNG portfolio to 50m tonnes by 2025.
Aside from its term-charter requirements, the company has already been seen playing in the short-term charter market this month.
It was reported fixing Thenamaris’ 160,372-cbm Cool Voyager (built 2013) for 12 months from September at $140,000 per day.
Since then, charter rates for LNG carrier tonnage have cooled in the wake of the fire and temporary closure of the Freeport LNG terminal in the US. This has released several vessels into the market, depressing spot charter rates and softening those for time charters.
But market players reported that the fundamental demand for LNG shipping remains high.