US energy major ExxonMobil has confirmed charter deals with shipowners on another seven LNG carrier newbuildings, bringing its total order tally at South Korean shipbuilder Samsung Heavy Industries to 13 vessels.

On Friday, Malaysian shipowner MISC said it had secured 10-year time-charter contracts with ExxonMobil’s shipping arm, SeaRiver Maritime, for two 174,000-cbm, X-DF LNG carrier newbuildings.

The vessels will be fitted with X-DF 2.1 engines with intelligent control by exhaust recycling and air-lubrication systems to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

They are due for delivery in 2026 and will be managed by Eaglestar Shipmanagement Gas.

MISC, which did not name the shipbuilder or the price for these latest newbuildings, said this brings its total number of contracts with SeaRiver to four LNG carriers.

In 2019, MISC secured 15-year time-charter contracts from SeaRiver for two LNG carriers at SHI, priced at $202.5m each. These vessels are scheduled for delivery in the first quarter of 2023.

At the start of 2022, ExxonMobil also selected South Korean shipowner H-Line Shipping to contract four of the newbuildings it had set aside at SHI. The quartet is due for 2025 delivery positions.

In addition, TradeWinds understands that SeaRiver recently firmed up another five of its pre-reserved LNG berths with owners at SHI.

Japan’s Meiji Shipping has been named as one of the shipowners that are believed to have been assigned to at least two of the slots.

When it originally signed up to the major’s newbuilding, H-Line was also previously tipped to take more LNG tonnage for SeaRiver.

But the final details on which owners will contract these remaining five SeaRiver vessels has yet to be clarified.

ExxonMobil, through SeaRiver, reserved 14 LNG carrier newbuilding berths at SHI in 2020, signing up MISC and H-Line to charter deals on six of them, theoretically leaving eight remaining.

Options to exercise two of these eight slots were said to have lapsed, which should have left the US energy company with six remaining LNG berths. But those following the newbuilding business said the major had been working closely with long-standing partner QatarEnergy on its shipbuilding needs and had been able to borrow at least one of the berths reserved for the huge Qatari project at SHI.

The major is believed to be lining up the LNG newbuildings to lift the volumes allocated from its shareholding in US project Golden Pass LNG. ExxonMobil holds a 30% stake in this 18-million-tonne-per-annum, three-train development, which is targeting a start-up in 2024.

ExxonMobil’s Asia affiliate company has also signed up to buy 1 mtpa of LNG from NextDecade’s Rio Grande LNG export project in Brownsville, Texas. Start-up is scheduled for 2026.

Speaking about MISC’s latest two newbuildings for SeaRiver on Friday, outgoing president and group chief executive Yee Yang Chien said:The range of eco-efficient technologies that will be implemented on these new LNG carriers reflect our continuous commitment towards promoting a greener and more sustainable shipping industry.

“The LNG shipping industry has evolved in line with the priorities of the global energy transition.”