QatarEnergy has signed an agreement with China State Shipbuilding Corporation (CSSC) to construct 18 ultra-modern QC-Max size LNG vessels, marking a significant addition to the company’s LNG fleet expansion programme.

On Monday, the Chinese state-owned conglomerate signed a contract in Beijing with QatarEnergy for 18 superheavy LNG tankers. Qatar’s Energy Minister, Saad Sherida Al-Kaabi, said: “With a total value of almost $6bn for these ultra-modern, largest-ever LNG vessels by size, the agreement we signed today is the industry’s largest single shipbuilding contract ever.”

The new vessels will be constructed at China’s Hudong-Zhonghua Shipyard, a wholly owned subsidiary of CSSC. With a capacity of 271,000m³ each, the ships will feature “state-of-the-art technological innovation and environmental performance”, according to QatarEnergy.

Al-Kaabi also highlighted that Hudong-Zhonghua is currently constructing 12 conventional-size LNG vessels, with first deliveries expected by the third quarter of this year.

Eight of the 18 QC-Max-size LNG vessels will be delivered in 2028 and 2029, while the remaining ten will be delivered between 2030 and 2031.

Al-Kaabi added: “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.”

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In 2023, Qatar supplied almost 17 million tons (mt) of LNG to its main customers in China. In the same year, Qatar emerged as one of the leading suppliers of crude oil (equivalent to 8.6mt), naphtha (2.3mt), LPG (2.2mt), helium (650 million cubic feet) and fertilisers, polymers and chemicals (1.6mt) to the Chinese market.