South Korea’s Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering and Samsung Heavy Industries got a boost on Sunday as QatarEnergy placed orders for the first batch of liquefied natural gas carriers that will support the next expansion phase of the giant North Field gas project.

Daewoo will build four LNG carriers and Samsung will construct two such vessels, with the award's confirmation by QatarEnergy on Sunday following the operator’s Reservation of Shipyard Capacity agreements signed in May 2020.

No value was revealed for the LNG carriers, but then-Qatar Petroleum — recently rebranded as QatarEnergy — last year ordered two such vessels from China’s Hudong–Zhonghua Shipbuilding Company, which maritime consultant Drewry at the time priced at $180 million apiece.

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QatarEnergy chief executive Saad Sherida al Kaabi noted that Daewoo and Samsung "have built 23 Q-Flex and 14 Q-Max LNG vessels for Qatar as part of our previous LNG expansion project" and added: “These orders, and those that will follow in the near future, constitute a significant part of our programme to expand Qatar’s LNG fleet to meet the requirements of our LNG expansion projects, our existing fleet replacement, as well as our LNG trading arm.”

The North Field expansion projects will increase Qatar's LNG production capacity from the current 77 million tonnes per annum to ultimately 126 million tpa by 2027.

QatarEnergy’s LNG carrier fleet programme is the largest of its kind in the LNG industry and is designed to meet the shipping requirements of its LNG expansion projects, as well as replacing part of Qatar's existing LNG fleet.

UK supply talks

Meanwhile, the UK has reportedly approached Qatar to discuss the Middle East state's capacity to act as a "supplier of last resort" of LNG when global gas supplies are tight.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has met on two occasions recently with Qatari emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al Thani in order to discuss the supply issue, according to the Financial Times newspaper.

London was said to be pursuing a potential long-term supply deal due to concerns over increased competition for cargoes from Asia, driven by stronger economic growth and attempts to move away from coal-fired power in that region.

The UK has some of the most ambitious net-zero targets but Johnson is facing questions from within the ranks of his own Conservative Party about the issue of energy security during the transition process.