QatarEnergy has inked a $6bn deal with China State Shipbuilding Corporation (CSSC) for the construction of 18 ultra-modern QC-Max size liquefied natural gas (LNG) vessels.

The new vessels, which will have a capacity of 271,000m3 each, will be built at China’s Hudong-Zhonghua Shipyard, a wholly-owned subsidiary of CSSC.

Among these vessels, eight of them are slated for delivery in 2028 and 2029, while the remaining 10 are scheduled for delivery in 2030 and 2031.

The agreement with CSSC marks a major milestone in QatarEnergy’s LNG fleet expansion programme.

Qatar Minister of State for Energy Affairs and QatarEnergy president and CEO Saad Sherida Al-Kaabi said: “It is our honour to continue working with China State Shipbuilding Corporation and Hudong-Zhonghua Shipyard to develop and build some of the top-tier LNG vessels renowned for their exceptional environmental qualities.

“And as we take this important step together, I would like to affirm QatarEnergy’s determination to live up to our commitment to provide a safe and reliable energy source in the form of LNG, while always giving priority to environmental sustainability.”

Additionally, Al-Kaabi disclosed that 12 conventional-size LNG ships are presently undergoing construction at Hudong-Zhonghua, with the first vessels anticipated for delivery by Q3 2024.

In a related announcement, the Qatari state-owned petroleum company stated that it has entered into long-term time charter party agreements with three ship owners. The agreements are for the operation of nine new LNG vessels, as part of the QC-Max segment of its LNG fleet expansion initiative.

The long-term TCP agreements cover the operation of the vessels by affiliates of China Merchants Group, Shandong Marine Group, and China LNG Shipping.

Al-Kaabi said that the nine vessels are part of QatarEnergy’s efforts to support its expanded LNG production capacity from the North Field, which will reach 142 million tons per annum by 2030. Besides, the vessels will also help the company meet its long-term fleet replacement requirements, said the Qatari Minister.

Last month, QatarEnergy signed TCP agreements with four international shipowners to operate 19 new conventional size LNG ships. The agreements marked the second ship-owner tender under QatarEnergy`s LNG fleet expansion programme, which reached 104 conventional LNG vessels.