Qatar Petroleum is expected to select builders for its LNG carriers within this year, raising expectations of the big three Korean shipbuilders -- Hyundai Heavy Industries, Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering (DSME) and Samsung Heavy Industries.
Earlier market watchers speculated that Qatar might place orders for the LNG carriers next year. But Qatar has flatly dismissed this speculation.
"It's just a rumor," said Sadd bin Sherida al-Kaabi, Qatar energy minister and CEO of Qatar Petroleum, in an interview with foreign media. "There are three bidders who are determined to take orders from us, and we will conclude some contracts with them by the end of this year," he said. Market watchers say this comment put an end to the order postponement rumor.
Qatar is expected to order more than 100 LNG carriers. It is expected to order 40 confirmed units, 40 optional units, and more than 20 units to replace old LNG carriers. "No one knows how many units Qatar will order," said Ahn Young-kyun, a researcher at the Korea Maritime Institute (KMI). “But Qatar officials requested the three major Korean shipbuilders to provide an estimate for 40 units to be delivered from 2023 to 2026 (10 units per year).”
Foreign and domestic shipbuilding market watchers say that the three Korean shipbuilders are likely to sweep orders for Qatar LNG carriers. The large LNG carrier market has been virtually monopolized. In this segment of the shipbuilding market, only 13 shipbuilders are generating earnings, and only eight shipbuilders are receiving orders including three Korean shipbuilders and four Japanese dockyards.
However, when Qatar began a bidding process in May, Japanese shipbuilders reportedly gave up as Qatar demanded that the cargo holds be the membrane type where a cargo hold is integrated with the hull of a ship.
In the first eight months of this year, 27 mammoth-sized LNG carriers were ordered, with all of them being the membrane type. Of the 27 units, Korean shipbuilders landed 24.