An LNG tanker under construction in Shanghai. [Shen Chunchen/For China Daily]
Four LNG tankers, each able to hold 174,000 cubic meters of liquefied natural gas, will be constructed by China State Shipbuilding Corp's Hudong-Zhonghua Shipbuilding (Group) Co Ltd, CSSC and Qatar Energy jointly announced on Tuesday.
The LNG tankers are among the first batch of some 100 LNG tankers ordered by Qatar Energy.
The shipbuilding contracts clinched by CSSC are credited to Hudong-Zhonghua Shipbuilding's advanced design concept, excellent shipbuilding capability and complete service system in competing with global peers, and this is also regarded as recognition of China's shipbuilding manufacturing prowess, experts said.
The vessels, each measuring 299 meters in length and 46.4 meters in width, will be tailored to fit Qatar Energy's technological standards for the world's largest LNG carrier fleet, according to Song Wei, deputy chief engineer at Hudong-Zhonghua Shipbuilding.
Adopting Hudong-Zhonghua Shipbuilding's independent research, development and design, the LNG carrier model is characterized by high speed, low emissions, advanced technology, wide applicability, lightweight features, large capacity as well as balanced and flexible energy consumption, said Song, adding that the vessel is compatible with various types of LNG facilities at major ports worldwide.
The latest contract is the third bulk order recently won by shipyards owned by CSSC-strong proof that Chinese shipbuilders have greatly strengthened their global competitiveness in building LNG carriers, experts said.
Building LNG tankers is considered a very complicated undertaking due to high requirements in technology, construction difficulties and added value. Before 2022, only four shipyards in the world were capable of building large-scale LNG carriers, namely Hudong-Zhonghua Shipbuilding of China and three South Korean shipbuilders-Hyundai Heavy Industries, Samsung Heavy Industries and Daewoo Shipbuilding.
As two more Chinese shipbuilders have entered the sector, the market landscape will be changed as well, industry insiders said.
On March 30, Shanghai-based Jiangnan Shipyard, a unit of the world's largest shipbuilder CSSC, signed a contract with Adnoc Logistics & Services, the shipping arm of Abu Dhabi National Oil Co, for two 175,000-cubic-meter LNG carriers.
On March 31, Dalian Shipbuilding Industry signed a contract with China Merchants Energy Shipping for 175,000 cubic meter large-scale LNG carriers, Securities Daily reported.
Hudong-Zhonghua Shipbuilding has won contracts to build 11 LNG carriers so far this year, the same as Hyundai Heavy Industries, according to CSSC.
Launching LNG vessel research as early as 1997, Hudong-Zhonghua Shipbuilding successfully delivered the first homegrown large-sized LNG ship in 2008.
Being a pioneer and industry leader in China's LNG carrier sector, Hudong-Zhonghua Shipbuilding has mastered the ability to develop a complete LNG industrial chain, and the shipyard has completed and delivered more than 30 LNG vessels to date, public information showed.
He Jianghua, chief architect for LNG carriers with Hudong-Zhonghua Shipbuilding, said Chinese shipyards are still in an inferior position compared to South Korean counterparts in terms of research and development, design, marketing, manufacturing management and construction efficiency.
Whether Chinese shipbuilders can catch up with or even surpass South Korean shipyards in LNG ship construction is also a reflection of China's overall capability in shipbuilding, He said.